Illustration for the story "Tall Spirits, Blocking the Night" by Jay Lake for the collection Greetings from Lake Wu, to be published by Wheatland Press.
The book will also be sold in a special very limited (26 copies!) Box of Wonders edition in a handmade wooden box, with the book, a set of color prints of the illos, a bag of tchotchkes (hand-picked from fossils, crystals, coins, medallions and other cool little bits), the only copy of a one-off story by Jay about a letter from the alphabet, and an accompanying one-of-a-kind illo by me.
This was a fun piece to do. The model for the guy in the lower left is Jay Lake himself. He's wearing a Hawaiian shirt, because Jay always wears these at sci-fi conventions, which is the only time I see him. To see Jay not wearing one would be akin to seeing a cheetah with stripes or a zebra with polka dots. The other guy is Patrick Swenson, editor of Talebones magazine, who over the years has published a number of pieces by Jay and me, including this story (illustrated by someone else). The angle of Patrick's head is such that you can't really see him well, which is probably just as well, since I had to age him several decades to match the story. Sorry Patrick.
I thought I'd have some fun with the tall spirits that block the night, too. They are just described in the story as tall, but if an artist can't fool with the design of things which are meagerly described, well, why bother doing art? I thought it'd be fun if the spirits had sculpted bodies like Rodin's Walking Man and similarly didn't have heads, but wouldn't it be cool if they had tentacles instead of arms? Like human equivalents of Frank R. Paul's Martian war machines. With a jaunty step, like a Frank Kelly Freas sprite. Oh, and if they had extra knees. Oh, yeah, and if all their feet were right feet (did you notice that?). Also, they wear long coats, which are reduced to stringy gossamers that drag and cross each other, like a fine network of cobwebs. Definitely a lot of fun.
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Image (c) 2003 Frank Wu