January 6, 2010
IT IS COMPLETE! Today I’m proud to present the last two entries (Chapters 19 and 20) in Max Pitchkites’ series of mixed-media illustrations of The Order of Odd-Fish. It’s been a long, exhilarating ride! You can see all 28 beautiful illustrations, with Max’s and my commentary, here.
Above we have the scene when Jo and Ian first visit the seedy prizefighting venue in Eldritch City known as the Dome of Doom, and they are menaced by “a ferocious man with blue skin and a face bristling with grotesque moles, decked out in an ornate military uniform from an army that existed only in his overheated imagination.”
I’m a sucker for the multicolored silhouettes, a Pitchkites trademark that he exploits in the same way cinematographers use deep focus. The monstrous shadows give the scene a foreboding Star Wars cantina feeling, and the overlapping yellow-orange-red layers in the background give it visual depth, but the hilarious, nostalgic masterstroke is—well, I’ll let Max have the last word, because it’s seven kinds of genius:
“Since this is the Dome of Doom, I decided to, well, turn it into a game of Doom, which is an old but spectacularly awesome first person shooter game . . . Jo is armed with that vile glass of black milk that the blue guy is so upset about, by the way. And 50 shots, to boot.”
Brilliant! (But alarming: 0 health and 0 armor for Jo? Get her to a power-up, stat!) For those among you who’ve never played Doom, the screenshot to the right should give you an idea of what’s going on. Max has used video game iconography as a motif throughout this series, and it works because he does it differently every time—always pushing the motif in a new direction. It’s one of the many touches that rewards repeated viewings of the whole series.
Above is Chapter 20, when Ken Kiang plots his intricate sabotage of the Belgian Prankster’s plans—and a musical, to boot. Max beautifully combines both ideas in this dreamlike music notation, which is also a sly reference to his earlier illustration Ken Kiang’s first appearance in Chapter 4. All of Ken Kiang’s methods of sabotaging the plan are represented here; it also ingeniously references how Eldritch City becomes a giant, intricate chess game between Kiang and the Belgian Prankster. Daring, imaginative, and totally true to the spirit of the chapter! I love it when something is both a conceptual triumph and beautiful to look at. Max takes risks, and they pay off.
Thanks again, Max, for such a awesome, creative series. We’re no longer writer and reader, but collaborators. Again, here’s the whole series.
But I’ve got more than Max’s stuff to share! Here’s a quirky, cool portrait of Jo from Mangamoo1 from DeviantArt. I love the feeling of this one, which catches Jo’s quiet humor. She seems both dainty and punk, both poised and otherworldly. The golden thread and the fish are smart references to the plot, but it’s the eyes that really sell me here—they seem to go beyond merely large manga eyes—all the way to the hauntingly huge eyes of a Margaret Keane painting. Great work!
This one’s by Karen Alexander (Azro on DeviantArt), a sober, contemplative portrait of faded starlet and ex-knight Lily Larouche. I love when artists take an unexpected perspective on the subject—Karen doesn’t focus on Lily Larouche’s wackiness and glamor, but on her secret sadness.
That’s a hard emotion to pull off, but Karen does great justice to Lily’s character, deepening it so that Lily Larouche feels like a real person with a tragic past and not just a caricature. I imagine that this is the look Aunt Lily sometimes get in her eyes at the ruby palace—and when Jo asks what’s wrong, Aunt Lily just smiles vaguely and changes the subject.
Karen writes, “I don’t know why I drew her with a hat, maybe because every time I think of crazy older women I see a a floppy sun hat?” Ha!
Bonus! This looks a bit like Judi Dench, whom I think would be perfect to play Aunt Lily if there was ever an Odd-Fish movie—well, either her or Helen Mirren.
This art that’s been pouring in for the Odd-Fish gallery show in April has been beyond top-notch. I am humbled and grateful. And there’s more to come! Remember, you can participate too. Here’s the details about submitting Odd-Fish art for the show. I can’t wait for it.