Assisting the artist

This week, The Raven’s Child comes out. It’s a graphic novel written by New York Times best selling author Thomas Sneigoski, and illustrated by my other half, the adorable and very talented Tom Brown.

It’s proof that myspace wasn’t a total waste of time – thanks to the more famous Tom spotting the art of the arty Tom back in the days of myspace, this has happened.

I’ve included some art here from the development stage.

It’s about 200 pages of graphic novel, and those 200 pages were planned, drawn and toned last year, which meant that my Tom was working most days, and for long hours. I did what I could to take care of him.

One of the things I contributed, was shading. Large areas of straightforward black can be slow, dull things to put on paper, and ‘make that bit really dark’ is an instruction I can follow. On my more ambitious days, I shaded raven feathers and did the lines on the rattan armour.

What rattan armour is this, I hear you cry? Well, it’s in the book, and if you look for the slightly less good bits, those will be mine. I did A Level art a long time ago, barely scraping a pass. I’ve dabbled since. I have neither the skill nor the discipline to be a serious artist. It can be fun to dabble. What it isn’t fun to do is spending hours and hours shading things in very dark. (Watch out for the eye sockets in the skulls, I did the insides of those.) On the whole, Tom did far more of the less than entirely exciting shading bits than I did.

It’s an odd thing to look at a book and know it’s pretty much a year of someone’s life. The energy that goes into making a graphic novel is huge. The hours, the physical skill, the knowledge. We lived with these characters, with their world. We talked about them in bed. We talked about them when we went out to do the shopping. The number of pages left to go was the measure of our days, shaping every choice we made in the long months Tom was working on this. If a page was easy to draw, it might mean a few hours off, a rare chance to go out, or just curl up and rest.

I also did some modeling, getting into assorted poses so Tom could figure out what went where. I was the test reader (the resident idiot) on a lot of trickier panels. I’m not very visually literate, and some of the pages have to be pretty intense in terms of what happens. Whether I could make sense of what was on the page was often the measure.

It was a journey. It was the year of The Raven’s Child. Nothing will ever be quite like that again. Early reviews have suggested it’s the new Buffy, and this cheers us greatly. There are ideas in this story we’d really like to see out there, getting people thinking.

More here:

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

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