order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Odd-Fish Art: Prequel Edition!

April 1, 2010


First things first: I judged an Order of Odd-Fish contest at Margo Gremmler’s blog. Contestants had to create their own “Unlikely Musical Instrument” in the Oddfishian style. Competition was fierce, and there were many great entries, but I have spoken. Thanks, all contestants!

It’s only two and a half weeks to the Odd-Fish fan art show extravaganza on April 17! And I’ll be sharing great fan art all the way to then. The above picture is by powerhouse Karen Alexander, whose tapestry fragment depicting the mythical creation of the Eldritch City blew my gourd (and it’s, um, huge—almost 16 square feet!). The picture above is of another ancient story from the tapestry, which is only briefly mentioned in the book: “a ballroom full of laughing girls dancing with beautiful monsters.”

Karen takes this little phrase and goes to town! This is one of the things I enjoy most about fan art—how some artists take something that’s offhandedly mentioned, just a line or two, and expand it. And what a humdinger of a picture! I particularly appreciate how the women are all obviously totally smitten by the monsters, and the monsters are laughing flirtatiously. And the variety of fashions, and the variety of monsters, are wondrous! I want to go to this party.

Karen has also drawn companion pieces to her charcoal drawing of Aunt Lily: a young Sir Nils before he became the Belgian Prankster (left), and a young Colonel Korsakov (right)—rivals in their prime:

Order_of_Odd_Fish__Sir_Nils_by_Azro_export OooF__Young_Korsakov_by_Azro_export

Seeing these puts me in the mood of writing the Odd-Fish prequel! Karen writes that this is Sir Nils “right before he enters the service of the Silent Sisters. I kind of wanted to show him contemplating betraying his fiancee and Order (as well as his city and all of humanity but that’s another story.) ” Karen got the brooding, “contemplating betrayal” emotion spot on. The shifty expression and sidelong grimace seal the deal. An tense, threatening portrait!

For Korsakov, Karen writes, “this is a young(er) Korsakov, probably when he was first assigned to capture the Schwenk. I imagine he looks a bit spacey because his digestion is telling him two things at once.” Spacey, yes; and fierce; and, somehow, rather bohemian? I guess it’s because Karen gave him longer hair—it gives him a raffish, artistic vibe that offsets nicely his military background. Korsakov let himself go a little when he settled into Eldritch City.

Great job on all of these, Karen! I appreciate how you made the charcoal drawings serious and foreboding. It restores to the characters their proper dramatic weight, a heft that can get lost in all the wackiness of the book.

And finally, by Mercedes (offbyzero on DeviantArt) two more characters from before Odd-Fish begins—Sir Martin and Dame Evelyn Hazelwood, the parents of our heroine Jo.

A family portrait taken just before Jo’s birth! I especially like Dame Evelyn’s haunted look, with the darkness under her dead-to-the-world eyes, and Martin’s muddled, slightly-worried-but-I’m-not-quite-sure-what-for air. Mercedes deftly captures the awkwardness of the young couple as Dame Evelyn’s nightmarish secret festers between them. Another inspiration for a prequel! The events leading up to Jo’s birth, and the still-unrevealed surprises around it, are all worked out in my head. I just need time to sit down and write the story.

Thank you, Karen and Mercedes, for yet more outstanding Odd-Fish art. With these pictures you haven’t just illustrated the story; you’ve expanded it, added to it, and enriched it.

Odd-Fish Art: Two Views of Jo Hazelwood

March 25, 2010


The Odd-Fish art show on April 17 is fast approaching, and the art has been piling up! Today I want to honor two different takes on our heroine Jo Hazelwood.

The portrait above is by Britnee Berman, who goes by the name Slimyfrogz on DeviantArt. It’s a knockout! I appreciate how Britnee’s packed it with symbolic heft—Jo’s mask, hood, and finger-to-the-lips indicating her secret life, the ingenious candlestick that is a fish vomiting out a building (I especially love that), the fish ring, the subtle fish barrette. The atmosphere of hushed secrecy is cunningly reinforced by the muted blues and grays. It’s beautiful. Thanks, Britnee!

Here’s another view of Jo, by collage artist Carol Mollica, whose work I’ve shared on the blog before:


I like the goth look of Jo here—worthy of a Tim Burton character!—and how Carol runs the gold thread alongside the prophecy about being “the bride of the apocalypse” and Ian lurking in the margin. The Chinese (Japanese? Eldritch City?) coins are a nice touch as well. Carol’s got a totally unique collage style of arranging illustration, text, and emblems, and it’s a very welcome addition to the show! You can visit her blog “Artist In Progress” here.

A few more links: I wrote an essay for the Guide to Literary Agents about the Odd-Fish fan art show about collaborating with readers. And here I do an audio interview with Nancy Carpentier Brown of the American Chesterton Society. I’m fascinated by G.K. Chesterton’s work (especially The Man Who Was Thursday and The Club of Queer Trades, so how could I resist the invitation? (The interview itself is about 20 minutes in.)

Odd-Fish Art: Guns and Dolls!

March 22, 2010


Whoa! Imagine my delighted shock when I got this entry for April 17’s Order of Odd-Fish art show spectacular: the Apology Gun from Sir Festus’ collection of ludicrous weaponry!

The gun is four and a half feet long. I love the bristling spikes, the flared end, the threatening ferocity of it!

I had the honor of meeting the artist Amanda Baylie (a.k.a. Hollywood Horrorz) at a recent high school visit. She made the gun purposely beat up and aged looking (spot welds, rusted metal, etc.), since the weapon has been handed down through generations of squires. Not visible in this photo is the detail she built onto the top of the gunstock: a switch for setting the intent of the apology from “sincere” to “sarcastic”. Brilliant!

Amanda says that future models of the “Apology Gun of Epic-ness” might include an actual way to fire apologies. OH YES PLEASE DO THIS. Thank you, Amanda, for an amazing piece!

Going from totally fierce to totally cute, here are two beautiful chibi dolls of Jo by the impressively talented Kenta-Rin of DeviantArt. First, Jo in her waitress uniform from the Dust Creek Cafe:


And Jo in costume armor as Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit. Hold on to your hats:


These are beautiful, beautiful! I love the idea of chibi-fying characters; especially how the Aznath Jo is both cute AND fierce! (And is that wind-blown hair?)

That elaborate silver kitten armor rocks my socks—the paw gauntlets, the beaded chain mail and helmet, the silver crisscross mesh, the chest plate, the lance—it’s really a triumph. Kenta-Rin wrote, “This is the most complicated doll I have ever done.” Thank you, Kenta-Rin, for an amazing job!

The waitress Jo has this innocent look to her that’s a great contrast to the armored Jo. I like the idea of two dolls of the same character in different clothes. It gives a great sense of how Jo has changed throughout the story.

I’m table-poundingly proud to have three-dimensional art like these dolls and the Apology Gun for the art show. The response I’ve received from so many artists has been beyond any reasonable expectation. Thank you—stay tuned for more Odd-Fish art to come.

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