The Gate of Ivrel Slide Show
This is the original "Fancheristics" logo.
Made a lousy business card, but a great T-shirt design.
However I get ahead of myself. Let us turn back the pages a year or two to...
Back in 1980, with a degree in Anthropology (liberally salted with a whole bunch of physics and math and astronomy) under my belt, I was working at the Washington State University Book Store when the Boston World Con changed my life.
|I'd gone to the convention mainly to meet with Richard
Pini of WaRP Graphics. For about a year prior to the convention, I'd been in
correspondence with the Pinis about their entrancing graphic novel, Elfquest. I'd quite happily agreed to take on the
task of helping organize a fan club for the graphic and was there to meet them in person
and work out the details for the club. The fact the C.J. Cherryh was also attending
the convention was simply an added bonus.
||I had the pleasure of meeting CJ that same
trip. From the moment I'd encountered her first novel, Gate of Ivrel (in
its first few months on the shelves) I'd had a new favorite author: Carolyn's work
spoke to me then and continues to do so in ways no other author's work has matched. It was
a thrill to discover she is as marvelous a person as she is writer.
actually written to her as well, in the previous year (quite a feat for someone who has
written only four fan letters in her life!) Typical fan-letter stuff, but also to
ask her permission to print the first of my depictions of M&V:
Being a truly lousy salesman, I still have a few left. If interested,
contact me at email@example.com. Who knows,
bribe me enough and I'll not only get Carolyn to sign it as well, I might convince her to
add a sketch to the wide border!
However, Companions notwithstanding, I was still a long, long way from considering doing anything more in the realm of art. I was a math and physics major with some background in computers. Art was my number one hobby.
|My meeting with Richard Pini changed all that. What began as a part-time cross-country hobby grew into a job in New York State. Originally I was to help Richard with the paperwork side of the business, and fill in the blacks and some of the background textures for Wendy on the black and white. Between the color volumes and the WaRP graphics issues, she was understandably swamped.||(For the collectors out there, the first issue I worked on was
#12. The others I worked on have my name in the credits.)
But when Wendy discovered I knew which end of the paintbrush to stick in the watercolors, she commandeered me to help with colors on the second and third color volumes as well.
This is the first page I did "all on my own."
|Working with Wendy was a real eye-opener. I'd never done brush inking, and whatever skill I have in that area is due to her instruction. I'd had no previous training to speak of, and none whatsoever in color theory, but I had good instincts for design and color, a good touch (if a bit pastel and hesitant) with the paint brush. Wendy taught me to have confidence in my strokes and more significantly clued me in on those all-important postulates that give an artist the tools to analyze their work and make it better. Those postulates have stood me in very good stead in all the subsequent years, and I'm very grateful to her. I encourage you to go to the Elfquest Website where life for Cutter and his crew has gotten very interesting indeed. There's even a movie just over the horizon....|
|My time with WaRP came to an end in 1982 when, with the color volumes having caught up with the black and white, Wendy decided to go back to the way it was at the beginning for the final few issues, when she and Richard were the only names on the credits and they had a chance to enjoy doing each and every aspect of the production. So I packed up Elrond, and my books, hooked my car to the back of my rental truck, and headed back to Washington State, out of New York, out of WaRP, but not out of the creative trenches.|
|I'd discovered I liked this
story-telling with pictures thing. I still didn't know there were stories of my own
waiting to be told, but I knew if there was one book out there I'd like to take a stab at
adapting, it was Cherryh's Gate of Ivrel. I'd played around with the characters over
the years, and decided to see what I could do with laying out a scene or two.
Baltimore WorldCon 82. I knew Carolyn was going to be there, it was within driving distance. I contacted her through the mail and we agreed to get together and talk about the possibilities.
These two pages are the first semi-complete images I did for the graphic. They are the first page layouts I ever attempted, the first lettering, the first inking top to bottom .... I often wonder what brand of hubris drove me to believe I could do a complete book, and as it turned out, each page truly did take two or three times as long as it would have for a properly prepared artist. Nonetheless, the end result was worth every moment.
I met Carolyn formally at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend at Balticon, but it was the next day that sealed both our working relationship and our friendship. I attended her last panel intending to touch base with her afterward and maybe make an appointment to meet later that day to talk about the graphic.
But I wasn't the only fan lying in wait for her. We all have them, the fans who are just too enthusiastic for their own good, who drone excitedly in a monotone as they stand on your foot, and one was waiting for Carolyn as she moved through the crowd to the door. I got this rather wild-eyed look from her. Recognition! She pointed a finger at me, said something to the people around her and worked her way quickly over to me.
"You're my appointment," she said, and without further ado, we made a mad break for the hall. I had my portfolio with me, she had nothing more scheduled that day, so we just headed for her room, where we could be sure of a quiet hour or two. Several hours later, the agreement was made and I had all the notes I needed to start production.
My thanks to Wendy and Richard Pini for allowing me to reference their project.:
Elfquest art copyright 1999 Warp Graphics, Inc. Elfquest, its logos,
characters, situations, all related indicia, and their distinctive
likenesses are trademarks of Warp Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved.