Coyote Dances with the Stars

AliDrawings for Fairy Stories

Ah, Coyote.  He’s one of the many glories of Native American folk stories and, for me, perhaps the prime glory.  He’s a lot like the fox in European folk stories, in that he can be good or bad, wise or foolish, or all of these things at once.  In short, he’s very human, and that’s why I love him.  Now, after seemingly endless airbrushing, I’ve finally finished work on one of my favourite Coyote stories.  It’s a Cheyenne tale, and one of the places you can find it is in the fantastic American Indian Myths and Legends. Originally I was just going to draw a few quick sketches and post them up along with a link to the text.  Then I started having trouble drawing stars – thank you to those on twitter who heeded my pained cries.  The stars in the story are living beings, so I wanted to draw them as such, rather than as big balls of gas.   But how?  I didn’t really ever figure that out, so when I wrote up my own version of the story I left the visuals out and decided instead to draw my own ideas together into one giant picture of the galaxy.  Click on the final illustration to explore it close up.  It’s quite large, as space should be, so I hope it loads okay and doesn’t reduce your monitor to smoke and exposed springs (which is what monitors are made of, right?). Here’s Coyote Dances with the Stars.

AliCoyote Dances with the Stars

Stars, Turned Inside Out

AliDrawings for Fairy Stories, Recommendations

The book industry’s an odd one.  About three weeks ago I finished handwriting the first draft of my third novel, which I’ve since been typing up to see what I’ve got on my hands.  In the meantime my second book, The Man who Rained, is at the printers being turned into something glossy and pretty and ready, come January, to go out into the big wide world.  Always as a writer you’re working on something a step ahead of where it appears you are now.  I was writing The Man who Rained when The Girl with Glass Feet came out, and I hope to be writing something new when/if the novel I’ve recently started sees the light of day. All of that makes me really appreciative of those of you who’ve taken the time to read this blog, or comment on twitter or facebook or by email.  It’s preciously immediate, and that (along with the fact that you’re all such lovely people) is the reason why I enjoy sharing things with you.  For a while now I’ve been hoping to give you a new fairy tale.  It’s taking me longer than anticipated so, in the meantime, here are a few previews. The reason for the delay is the drawing of stars.  There are stars in this story, but they aren’t just orbs of fire.  They’re living beings, and working out how to portray them as such has stumped me.  Maybe I’m just burnt out with personification (The Man who Rained is all about the weather coming to life) but I’ve at least decided I want to use a certain technique to draw stars: I want to make negative images with graphite sticks and pencils, then invert them using paint software to get a luminous effect. Here’s a test run I did.  This won’t make the final cut, but it gives you an idea of how the game works.  This becomes this So maybe next week, maybe the week after, I’ll have cracked it and can finally post the fairy story.  For now I’d better get back to the typing.  My handwriting is a tangle and unravelling it is a slow process.  Some parts I simply can’t read, and I have to hold them up to the light or stare at them like magic eye patterns.  It’s fun deciphering it, but it’s slooooowww. In the meantime I want to recommend this.  I hope that Ghostpoet goes on to festoon his pork pie hat with awards, for he richly deserves them.  This is a track that writers are bound to relate to, and the album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam is swiftly becoming the soundtrack to the pitter-patter of my keyboard.  Enjoy…

AliStars, Turned Inside Out

Luke Pearson


In the last couple of years I’ve waited until the end of the year to put together a list of things I’ve loved from the preceding twelve months.  I probably shan’t be doing that this year, because I’ll have a new book out in January and lots to say about it.  So, in the meantime I have a few things I’m itching to recommend to you, things I’ve recently enjoyed that I hope might tickle your fancy too. I discovered Nobrow Press after a trip to the fabulous Gosh Comics in London.  I’d just been to see the Afghanistan exhibition at the British Museum, and Gosh had Nobrow’s Bento Bestiary featured on their shelves.  Ancient History + Comics + Bestiary = A Super Day Out (and I know I couldn’t get much geekier – just you wait until later in the blog when I start talking about video games). Nobrow publish some beautiful hardback comics.  If you were raised on Ladybird books and the like, holding these A5 delights in your paws will give you a sweet nostalgic kick.  Via Nobrow’s website I came upon the intriguing Everything We Miss, by Luke Pearson. The entire book is coloured in the shades of grey and orange you see here, which give it a dead-of-night tone befitting its dreamlike subject matter.  We follow the misfortunes of the hapless Will, who we watch over as his relationship unravels.  Meanwhile, all around but unbeknown to him, beautiful mysteries are taking place.  You’ll see what I mean from the preview on Luke Pearson’s site.  The hairball aliens were a favourite of mine. This is a comic to read and reread.  To me, it has a lot to say about the myopia of day-to-day life, with the background magic – the things that are overtly missed – directly equivalent to the elusive magic that can occur between two people.  It also showcases how peculiarly susceptible men are to this insensitivity.  Indeed, for those of us possessing a Y chromosome, the comic provides plenty of tooth-paste smearing, milk-spilling, toilet-bowl-missing moments that are all too depressingly familiar.  Hopefully, those of you who got two Xs from the genetic lottery will find these moments touching, but Pearson delivers them with such bathos that I’m sure you’ll be laughing either way. Pearson has also provided the artwork for an interesting little browser-based game called The End.  This from the game’s blurb: “The game takes the player on a metaphysical journey, recording their interactions in the world to reveal their attitudes towards mortality. These views are presented alongside their friends and some of the most important thinkers of our time, such as Gandhi, Descartes and Einstein.”  You also get to make yourself look funky.  Here’s me, stuck at the second part of level 1.  If you play it and get past this, please write to tell me how.  I’ve been pulling those switches and playing with shadows all morning. Best of all, Pearson has some new work about to come out.  … Read More

AliLuke Pearson