A few months back, my buddy Pete (a.k.a. A. S. Peterson) asked if I would be up for doing some art for his wintery, Twilight Zone-like, Civil War-era tale, The Timely Arrival of Barnabas Bead. Pete had actually contacted me about this same story sometime last year, but scheduling conflicts prevented us from working together and my pal Jonny Jimison did some art for the tale.
This year, when Pete asked, I was actually right down in the thick of the largest book project I’ve been involved in to date. I was inking anywhere from one to four illustrations a day, sometimes seven days a week, for months on end. Inking that much can really wear you out! I didn’t actually know that until now. Pete was really hoping for art that was gestural, smokey, mysterious, and anything but the typical detailed ink work I am usually asked to do.
And that was just what I needed, right when I needed it.
Barnabas Bead became my warm-up and cool-down art for a week straight. It was a total joy to just pull out sheets of printer paper, grab my Ebony pencils, technical pencils, and my good ol’ Ticonderoga HB #2 and go at it (cue giggling from Rob Collins for my love of good pencil lead like he did at Hutchmoot this year). I had been painstakingly scratching away on 2-ply Bristol board with my Hunts 102 quill for months, seeing nothing but tiny black lines against clean, flawlessly smooth, stark white board every day. But with Bead’s arrival, I could get messy, get my hands dirty, smudge my fingers into the slick Ebony pencil lead and not even care if I got fingerprints all over the page. It was like recess for me on a muddy playground.
Pete asked for whatever I could afford to provide with my free time. I enjoyed it so much that we ended up with eleven drawings, almost entirely from my imagination and generally without use of photo reference, and each done in one take. That kind of freedom provided a lot of fun for me as the artist. I hope you order yourself a copy of this book and have just as much fun reading it.