The connections between idea and art


Developing Elysium Flare has been really exciting because it’s the first time I’ve collaborated with a graphic artist. I’m working with Juan Ochoa, a Colombian artist with a wide range of skills and he’s helped me out starting with some conceptual work and then moving on to more directed interior illustration. His work is so exciting that I’m thinking I might have to print in colour.

Aaru in progress

I know that’s not in colour but if I show you all the colour stuff it will blow your mind. I’m saving that for the book. Instead that’s a conceptual drawing based on my own art direction sketch:

Aaru pre-sketch

And this is the part that really has me enjoying this project so far: Juan and I are feeding ideas back and forth: his visual ideas are entering the text and the text is driving my own art which is shaping Juan’s art. There’s a nice feedback loop happening here. And like all positive feedback loops, it’s very dangerous. In this case it’s dangerous to my pocketbook: I want to buy everything Juan ever draws for starters.

I also need to buy art supplies because I am really having a great time adding my own work. Now, I like consistency in a book, so I will be using Juan’s art for all the aliens. That leaves some work for me, though, and it’s the kind of thing I love to do (and I like to think I’m good at): technology. So I bought a couple of Rapidographs (I am already thinking about buying at least one more — I haven’t used technical pens in ages but they were my first art-love) and started working up some sketches of spacecraft:

fighter technical

It’s been ages since I’ve done this and it’s really exciting. Makes me feel like a kid again, reading Vaugh Bodé at a friend’s kitchen table and sketching cross-sectional submarines and space ships and weapons. And that made me realize that I owe a debt to someone other than Juan or Bodé, someone I haven’t thought about in a long time. Someone I looked up to and much later looked down on unfairly, and now remember with nostalgia and regret.

I don’t know where Richard Lang is now, but I don’t expect it’s anywhere good. He was not a happy young man but he played D&D with us when we were just kids, and I played war with him all over the block since he had all the best stuff for that, and most importantly he could draw. And he and I would draw and I would wish I was him. Well I know more about his life now and I don’t wish that any more but I do know what I debt I owe him.

Richard, I’m sorry for everything. You made many things possible for me that I might not have discovered on my own. I miss you.


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