Last Saturday, as I was recovering from a debilitating stomach flu, my brother, my sister, and I went to meet the celebrated and Newbery award-winning author Neil Gaiman. It was a marathon event, filled with transportation snafus, rain, and a seemingly endless line, but in the end, we were able to meet one of our favorite authors. Turns out, he's excessively cool, funny, and good-natured. Though there were hundreds of people there, he took the time to talk to everyone, shaking hands, giving hugs, and drawing pictures in our favorite books. He understood that those few minutes are how fans are made--and kept.
Sunday night my sister sent me a link to a contest Neil Gaiman was hosting. He had written a series of twelve short stories that were inspired by his own fans' answers to questions he had posed on Twitter. They coincided with the months of the year, and he wrote stories to incorporate the most unique answers. He is now asking for artists to imagine what those stories look like as illustrations in any media. You can read all of the stories here.
All of the stories were cool, and two months stood out to me. But in the end I decided on February, maybe because I started the work in that dreary month. After getting some portfolio advice from Adam Rex (pictured above), I decided to try something a bit different. I composed a picture with very little drawn detail, and it turns out that using pencils on Arches Hot Press paper gives a sort of grainy, old-film texture that was perfect for the scene I'd envisioned, inspired by Gaiman's words.
The story, February Tale, begins like this:
Grey February skies, misty white sands, black rocks, and the sea seemed black too, like a monochrome photograph, with only the girl in the yellow raincoat adding any colour to the world.
Here is the work in progress:
And the finished work, bigger. This one's for you, Neil!
Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations is the name of Jessica Boehman's blog and illustration shop. It is named after her favorite fairy tale about a hedgehog boy who becomes king of the forest. All other pages redirect to: