Sunday, August 19, 2012

N is for Nemo

This week's entry for AlphaBooks is a little fellow with big dreams: Nemo, the star of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland. Yes, I know this is stretching the book definition a bit, but I first encountered Nemo in a Dover book (from which I scanned these panels), so there you go. It might have been more kosher to do Captain Nemo, but I'm not nearly as fond of him as I am of this guy. Nemo truly has magnificent, bizarre, dramatic, one might even say cinematic, dreams, & McCay makes them all look spectacular.

I'm afraid I rather obliterated McCay's gorgeous scenery here, but I was aiming for an effect of the dream fading as Nemo awoke. And of course I completely changed the small panel below (although I left the original text).
His bed doesn't really look like an "N" (though if it did it would surely explain his troubled sleep)-- nor was he quite so N-ishly contorted himself in the original panel. I threw in a few more dreamy "N"s for good measure.

Acrylic on 2 panels of a page from the aforementioned Dover book,
~4" x 9" (The book is out of print, but apparently still available, by the way!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

M is for Mathemagician

A thousand apologies for the long silence, folks! It has been a hectic Summer... I missed last week's AlphaBooks entirely, & I'm late with this week's, but I hope to be back on schedule by next week. Always depending on what free-lancing & family life throw at me in the next couple of months, I do plan to fill in the gaps (F & L) before the alphabet ends!

The Mathemagician is the number-obsessed ruler of Digitopolis in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth. I first found this book in the school library in 5th grade, & I remember very distinctly the sensation of joyful recognition I felt after reading the first page or two. I knew at once that this was going to be my kind of book: full of deft wordplay & deep philosophical musings, playful & serious at the same time. It didn't let me down!

Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for this alphabet-oriented project if I'd chosen to illustrate the Mathemagician's estranged brother, King Azaz the Unabridged, who is as obsessed with words as his sibling is with numbers. But A had to be Alice... A will always be Alice for me...

I wish I had had more time to do this character justice! I was so rushed I almost forgot to work some stealthy "M"s in there. Of course there are some in his robe & hat, but do you see the others?

Thanks to my math-whiz son, James, for providing the actual equations & formulae for the robe. I hope I didn't mangle them too badly in my haste. There are also a few silly word-puzzle ones thrown in there, just for fun.

Acrylic on text scanned from this modern paperback version, ~5.5" x 8.5" I couldn't find our original copy so I had to buy a new one! Yet another reason for the delayed post...

Edit: Once again, I seem to have mysteriously illustrated the Illustration Friday topic before it was announced! Although I had some real interest in math as a child, most of my math teachers were nothing like the Mathemagician, & I found the classes dreary & repetitive. But I had a great geometry teacher in 10th grade, Helen Compton (who went on to teach at the NC School for Science & Math). Thanks to her enthusiasm-reboot, I got as far as college calculus, which I enjoyed despite the endless homework because it really seemed to explain things, but after that class other interests prevailed. I still have a sort of sideways fascination with math... especially stuff like fractals & chaos theory, studies that apply to patterns in nature... but I'm far too lazy to get back into it in any serious way. I'll leave that to James!