The Righteous One

righteous.jpg

Another week, another new book cover. Author Neil Perry Gordon was in touch earlier this year asking if I could create something for his latest novel set in New York City. Gordon’s previous novels have been historical narratives about the city’s Jewish community; The Righteous One (subtitled “A Cobbler’s Journey into the Dreamworld and Beyond”) follows suit but is slightly different in having more of a fantasy theme:

The Righteous One is the story of Moshe the cobbler, a gentle, sixty-year-old tzaddik—a righteous and saintly Jew—who is called upon to rekindle his divine connection to the Almighty in order to destroy the notorious New York gangster and rasha Solomon Blass, a man who uses his power of foreseeing events via his vivid dreams to advance his own financial interests.

For a guide to the visual content I was given this illustration from Camille Flammarion’s L’Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (1888), a picture whose antiquated appearance has often led it to be taken as a much older engraving. It’s also one of those occult or mystical illustrations you see reproduced in many books about magic or the supernatural without any reference to its origin.

flammarion.jpg

Neil’s request was for his book cover to show a similar barrier between the worlds with his cobbler character being caught between the wake world and the dream world. An engraved style wouldn’t have suited a story set in New York City (even the NYC of the recent past) but I also didn’t want the cover to look like a piece of typical fantasy art filled with Photoshop mists and translucent layers. The final design is modelled on the bolder art styles of Tarot cards, hence the flattened perspective, simplified colouring and distinct outlines. I spent some time researching old New York for this one as I wanted the buildings and street lamps to look accurate. Did you know those old “bishop’s crook” lamps come in a variety of different shapes? I didn’t until working on this.

The Righteous One will be published next month as a Kindle paperback.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Les Terres du Ciel

A view from a hill

f1.jpg

This week I’ve been rushing to complete a series of illustrations so there’s been no time to write the post I had in mind. In its place, here’s a preview of another series I was working on in September which I’m told should be published soon. More about that later, and yes, the similarity to Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog was intentional.

Les Terres du Ciel

lesterres01.jpg

Frederic Thompson’s amusement ride attempted to give exposition visitors in 1901 the experience of a journey to the Moon; Camille Flammarion’s Les Terres du Ciel (1884) is a pictorial voyage around the solar system which includes the Moon among its ports of call. Subtitled Voyage Astronomique sur les Autres Mondes et Description des Conditions Actuelles de la Vie sur les Diverses Planètes du Système Solaire Flammarion’s study presented the science of the time but complemented this with a strange selection of illustrations ranging from serious attempts to show the surface of the other planets together with scenes of outright fantasy. Serious or not, the engraved plates are pretty good. A few of these illustrations turn up in books on the history of astronomy so—once again—I’m pleased to find their source. Flammarion’s book may be browsed here or downloaded here.

lesterres02.jpg

lesterres03.jpg

lesterres04.jpg

Continue reading “Les Terres du Ciel”