Here’s the fifth of six page division designs for Marly Youman’s forthcoming novel, Maze of Blood, due out in September this year. The book lightly fictionalises the life and death of American novelist Robert E. Howard. There are examinations throughout it to the ‘pulp’ genre Howard’s work occupied. He was published throughout his career in ‘Weird Tales’ magazine, and is probably best remembered today as being the creator of Conan the Barbarian.
The drawings, which are variously embellished versions of a man’s head, are intended as poetic expressions of the text rather than as representing specific episodes. Because I had only six images to play with, I tried to densely layer my ideas, so any one drawing might be seen to be referencing multiple aspects of the narrative. Vegetation and flowers figure strongly in Marly’s text, as do the imaginative universes the protagonist conjures in his novels and short stories. I wanted to combine both in this image, and so while the ‘flowering’ has been informed by aspects of American folk-art… particularly appliqué-quilts… by setting it like the crest of a headdress, it can simultaneously echo of some of the writer’s elaborate inventions of ancient and mythic cultures.
In each image the man’s eye has been replaced by a substitute. There’s been a beetle, a flower, the sighting of a revolver and a coiled ribbon of paper. Here a ‘folk-art’ bird is the stand-in, and I like that the plumes of its tail might be seen as ‘tears of blood’.
Getting the chance to illustrate a book by Marly called ‘Maze of Blood’ sounds almost too good to be true, but I’m floored by these drawings and the cover image, they’re knockout and totally befitting that to die for title, bravo Clive!
I think your preference of calling yourself an illuminator, as opposed to an illustrator, is the perfect description of what you do Clive.
I was introduced to Marly’s wonderful writing, because of you, and the multi-layered approach you take to illustrating her work very much befits an author who revels in what lies beneath.
Like Liz, I am looking forward to reading ‘Maze of Blood’. Who wouldn’t be intrigued to find out more about a character who has all that you have depicted going on in his head?!
Once again a magnificent drawing. The eye is wonderful! With the hints you have given us on the text, I am so looking forward to buying this book!
xx Happy Easter xL
Oh, that’s a lovely comment! Hi Liz! They are wonderful, aren’t they. All six. Just leaving a link for Clive (but maybe you will want it too. I’m listening to podcasts while I do some dull things, and think he will like this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05nsx41 Carroll, Alice, medieval monsters!)
Thanks Marly, it’s good to meet you here, I will look that up. I am a podcast addict. Whilst you are at the podcast page, try and listen to the drama called Far Side of the Moore, you probably don’t know him in the U.S. but he was a wonderful astronomer, and this is a play about him, it’s full of humour and is an excellent depiction of his personality and eccentric ways. Clive , if you haven’t heard it you will like it too. Excuse me talking to Marly on your Artlog! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05nt1vb
(You only have another 24 days to listen)
Thanks, Liz! Shall bookmark it…