The Fifth

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In each image the man’s eye has been replaced by a substitute.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’.

6 thoughts on “The Fifth

  1. 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!

  2. 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?!

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