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The Order of Oddfish


Odd-Fish Art Update #1

November 20, 2009

It’s the spitting image of Colonel Korsakov! Hot on the heels of my call for submissions for next spring’s Order of Odd-Fish art show, I already have some stunning contributions to show off to the world.

This magnificent portrait of Colonel Korsakov is by Danie, an aspiring illustrator whose DeviantArt profile is already quite impressive. She describes how she made it: “The figure is scrap pieces of framing mats super-glued together then painted with oil . . . hot glued onto a piece of spray-painted cardboard.” In a cunning move, “the tassles on his shoulders are real . . . I envisioned him fatter though. Ah well. It’s Korsakov on a diet.”

I love the mixed-media approach, and most of all, THOSE EYES! That quizzical-bordering-on-outrage expression is priceless. And his luxurious beard and mustache! His formidably bristling eyebrows! Thanks for a gorgeous job, Danie. I see a bright future for you as an illustrator. (Yes I am looking at you, bigwigs at Random House.)

But wait, there’s more! Below we have two more goofy, witty illustrations from my talented protégée Freya. To the left, a disgracefully drunk Sefino. To the right, a boy dressed as a hedgehog threatens Korsakov, Aunt Lily, and Jo at the costume party:

sefino_drunk_by_freya hedgehog_threatens_by_freya

There’s lots to love here: the glazed, half-focused look in Sefino’s eyes, his off-balance stance, his uncertain waving of his walking-stick (Freya has clearly put in her fair share of time with inebriated insects). And the composition of the hedgehog picture cleverly puts us in Korsakov, Jo, and Aunt Lily’s shoes, with the hedgehog pointing the gun at us! Good revelation of character through gesture: Jo seems to be reaching out for Korsakov’s hand for reassurance, but Korsakov defiantly has his hands on his hips. Check out the gallery for larger-resolution versions of drunk Sefino and the threatening hedgehog. Well done!

Freya has been quite en fuego lately. She’s appearing in A Doll’s House in a couple weeks, and she just finished playing Tevye’s grandmother Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. She only has one scene, when she appears in Tevye’s nightmare, but it’s fair to say she stole the show. Not only because she can sing, dance, and act, but because SHE LOOKS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING:

Tzeitel_upper_body Tzeitel_full_body

Finally, it’s time to catch up with our friend Max Pitchkites, who in a sustained fever of inspiration is creating cut-paper illustrations for all twenty-eight chapters of Odd-Fish. Today we have chapters 6, 7, and 9 for our enjoyment. (You can see the gallery of all of Max’s work so far, complete with his explanations and my commentary, here.)

The aesthetically restless Max, never content to merely iterate a formula, has begun exploring more abstract ways of representing the chapters. For instance, for Chapter 6—in which Ken Kiang’s stylishly evil Fleet of Fury shoots down Colonel Korsakov’s rattletrap plane the Indignant—Max ingeniously represents this as a game of Galaga:


I especially like how he worked in the Ken Kiang emblem he invented for Chapter 5—and, with scrupulous fidelity to the text, decorated the missiles with artwork from the Battle of Agincourt and the Crimean War! FLAWLESS VICTORY.

In the next two chapter illustrations, Max courageously ventures into the realm of abstraction. Below, on the left, we have a kind of avant-garde, almost nightmarish cornucopia of countless pies Ken Kiang offers to Hoagland Shanks:


Here Max augments the pies I mention with his own menu of mind-bending pies, including pies that look like monsters from a side-scroller like Super Mario Bros.; a pie-within-a-pie-within-a-pie is probably the world’s first recursive pastry; not to mention a radioactive pie, a pie made entirely out of music, a pie that is a kind of 404 error, a pie that is a bold refutation of Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” . . . I love the fertility of invention here.

Then, for chapter 9, Max shows us the actual “terrifying document” used for the construction of the Inconvenience—a gleeful mashup of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, 1980s video game, the mandala for some severely confused religion, and a Martian barometer. I won’t even try to explain this, but I sincerely hope that one day, an earnest Max Pitchkites fan will get this baffling diagram tattooed somewhere on her body:


Tremendously fun. Relentlessly ingenious. The experience of receiving such brilliant fan art is proving to be more fun than actually writing the book itself. Thank you, Danie, Freya, and Max—and I’m eagerly looking forward to what’s next!