Work on the Tale of the Crippled Imp had to be set aside recently as a number of jobs needed attention. I haven’t decided whether being interrupted on a big project is for the greater good, or a pain in the fundament. On the one hand, it’s good to step away for a while and return with a clearer eye, on the other hand it rather damages the flow of things. Certainly my right hand is grateful for the rest, as the method I’ve chosen to execute the Imp with is physically demanding – I have to press quite hard with the pencil to achieve a nice clean line for scanning and it can result in achey knuckles.
Achey Knuckles – good name for a dodgy East-End character?
Achey doesn’t appear in the latest Ben Kingdom book (a detail of the cover appears above), but there are plenty of other interesting protagonists with cool sounding names. As well as the cover, I’ve just finished some illustrations for the inside. The world of Ben Kingdom is set in Victorian times, infused with a heady aroma of Steampunk (it’s not about cooking so that little metaphor is rather redundant), so I like to revisit my Larklight style of old. This pen and ink technique conjures up the feel of old etchings, but is primarily borrowed from Franklin Booth, an American illustrator from the early 20th century. It was also used to great effect by Berni Wrightson in his amazing version of Frankenstein made in the seventies.
Here’s a picture from the previous Ben Kingdom book, the Feast of Ravens by Andrew Beasley:
I also squeezed in a couple of book covers, Nightmares and Magic Park 2:
And a map for the Spook’s Apprentice series, featuring the county of Lancashire. I used an old John Speed map from the 17th century as a guide; it was interesting to see which place names had changed. For example Liverpool was called Lerpool. I’m not sure when the ‘Liver’ bit was added. See? Children’s book illustration can be educational as well as fun!