If you have been wondering why things have been a little quiet here at Eibonvale recently, here’s one reason:
Rhys Hughes’ collection Tallest Stories has been hanging around unfinished for far too long as I slog through the 60, count ‘em, SIXTY interior illustrations I was crazy enough to dedicate myself to producing. I have allowed other books to jump the queue for obvious reasons (the press would have stopped completely and authors would have given me sulky looks!) but now getting this finished is my number one priority! Then I can relax again and hopefully things here at Eibonvale Towers will start to look a bit less like a particular kind of asylum.
I have a regular repeating whinge here about interior art. Every time I take this on, it seems to get more ambitious. The Smell of Telescopes had 26 illustrations, Experiments at 3 Billion AM 40 illustrations – and now I have blown even that out of the water by setting myself the task of providing an illustrated title page for every one of the 60 stories and miniatures included in this remarkable book. Every time I do this, I swear to myself never again – it takes just so much time and brain space. But then soon enough another one comes along and the temptation catches me again. But in spite of my grumbling, I believe that books always look better for having a bit extra attention lavished upon them, so I hope (with desperate manic laughter) that the wait will be worth it!
Stylistically, illustrating Rhys Hughes is always a challenge as well. It would be too obvious to respond to his gloriously loopy stories with a kind of silly sketchy cartoon style, and for precisely that reason, I went with something else entirely. (Well ok, coupled with the fact that I can’t DO a silly sketchy cartoon style (in spite of that one illustration in Experiments at 3 Billion AM that haunts me to this day!)) I wanted to focus more on the macabre foundations and the sometimes extreme surreal oddness of the writing. Quirky is the word – and a touch of classic decadent styles meets modern digital and conceptual. Maybe!
Anyway – here is a first glimpse of some of the artwork for this book (along with a few little teasers from the first pages!). Please note by the way that these are still prototypes and may change before the final book is ready. I shall be editing and agonising over them for a while yet!
The printing technology available at my printers has progressed a bit since we did our first book by Rhys Hughes – The Smell of Telescopes (was it really six years ago?). Most notably, matte covers are now available, adding a really nice touch of luxury to the books, as demonstrated by Feather and Where Are We Going? I shall almost certainly be making use of this matte dust jacket for Tallest Stories, as well as cream paper rather than the white stock used before back in my green early days. It is possible to re-jig The Smell of Telescopes as well to take advantage of the new possibilities. It is a little expensive, but it might be worth doing it to coincide with the launch of Tallest Stories. Any thoughts/opinions on that issue would be very welcome!
In spite of my focus on Tallest Stories, there have been other developments here recently. I will soon be announcing some new titles that I couldn’t pass up in spite of my engagement with this project – some from familiar Eibonvale names but also some new names for the press. Watch out for news of that in a few days.