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You are in the Annotations section > Chapter 1 > Part three (pages 21 to 30)

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Page 21

2. New Amsterdam: the original name of New York.

Hiram Kowalsky returns from The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. I took the name Hiram from the stories of an American reporter in 30s Germany, The Adventures of Hiram Holiday by Paul Gallico. I was very fond of the book when young. There was also a 60s American TV series. Although Polish, Kowalsky always strikes me as being a typical American name and I probably pulled it from Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5.

Angela Russ: Her name originated with me thinking of 60s Black American revolutionary Angela Davies and is another angel reference. Her surname is that of SF writer Joanna Russ. She's invented, but I had in mind an actress (whose name I never knew) who was in the Dennis Potter TV drama Cold Lazarus. James insists that I based her on his beautiful bride-to-be Vanessa but, even though they do look remarkably similar, I'd already pencilled the whole story before I met her.

4. Stenodactylo: a job I invented that used a portable dictation machine loosely inspired by the Senate stenographers I saw in the Capitol Building in Washington. I introduced Angela as a device for Hiram to deliver his reports to. In The Adventures of Luther Arkwright his reports appear as straight printed text and I wanted to make them more accessible. As is often the case, the character took on a life of her own. Stenodactylo is simply French for typist, but sounds brilliant.


Page 22

The week before I drew this page I was in Paris and thought that this was a great opportunity to take some reference photos of the Eiffel Tower, then simply trace them off when I got home. Silly me. Not only did the photos turn out too dark, but the proportions of the real tower base are such that, if I did a trace (which would have taken quite a bit of time anyway) it wouldn't have fitted comfortably on the page - the actual thing is far too wide - so I had to draw the whole bloody thing from scratch anyway.

Did you know that there were once plans to build an aeroplane terminal at King's Cross? A ludicrous scheme involving ariel runways raised above the rooftops. The thing was cancelled after they belatedly realised that if planes overshot, they'd fall on the buildings below! See London as it Might Have Been by Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde (John Murray 1982), one of the books I referred to several times in the creation of Victoria's London.

Certain readers have been amused at the likeness of the tram to a giant phallus. I'd like to point out that it is, in fact, a design based on a dragonfly and any similarity to a huge dick rests solely in the dirty mind of the observer.

Islington: another angel reference; The Angel Islington is an area of London.

Hermia: from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The tram signs were loosely based on the Art Nouveau ones of the Paris Metro stations.

The figure boarding the bus was loosely based on a photograph of a woman boarding a streetcar in 19th Century Paris by a very, very famous French photographer whose name I've completely and irrevocably forgotten.


Page 23

Note that Britannia is introduced on page 23 for unutterable mystical reasons. See the 23 Enigma.

Note the straight compositional line that travels through Victoria in all three panels and her relative size on the page to the other characters; she's the important character here.

1. Hallway: loosely based on one at Versailles.

2. Joshua Hirst: the name's a mixture of the 18th Century artist and first President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds and contemporary conceptual artist Damien Hirst, famous for cutting in half and pickling sheep and cows, hence the poetic justice of his demise on page 279.

The black "beauty spot" patches we see on his face were a popular method with members of 18th Century aristocracy of hiding syphilis sores.

"God's Death": an Elizabethan curse and precisely what happens near end of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright .

4. St Geoffrey's day: "I'll pay you come St. Geoffrey's day" was a 17th Century phrase meaning "You'll never get paid", as the day didn't exist.

Painting: the front cover of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright Trade Paperback volume 3 published by Proutt.

The statues in this sequence are all based on ones in the Louvre.


Page 24

3. "A mighty lion...etc.": which is exactly what happens near the end of the story.

4. Painting: this painting was a device to enable me to deliver a little exposition without it seeming forced. I wanted to design a romanticised image of events near the end of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, showing the way that real events are sometimes turned into legend.

The dove above the Queen's head represents the Holy Spirit (sometimes interpreted as Pentecostal fire - basically psychic energy) in Christian iconography. I wanted it to look like the sort of giant tableaux one sees in the Louvre or The National Gallery, something like Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, and so used old compositional techniques to simulate it, as follows:


Pencil grid

All the divisions here are based on the Golden Section . The area of the painting is made up of two Golden Section rectangles. I then produced a grid of Golden Section divisions, coming outward from the centre, each subdivision repeating the proportion of 1:1.618. The heads of the main characters are placed on major intersections of the Golden Section divisions.

Circle template

Hirst's intention was to glorify the Queen and so she is the centre and hub of the painting. I next drew a series of concentric circles rippling outwards (er, from the Queen's pussy, actually). You can see them quite clearly in some cases; the banners behind the Queen, Diana's body, Fairfax's scabbard, the edges of the areas taken up by Rose's shield, cloak and the Queen's flag.

Radiating Lines

Next I laid down a series of radiating lines, giving movement and leading the eye to the centre. Some of these compositional lines can be easily seen in the painting, such as along the spears and the pointing arm of the figure bottom left, some are subtler such as in the angle of the angel's wings and the vanishing point of the upper surface of the tank.

I had to pencil the whole scene over this mass of compositional lines. I never thought to make a copy of these pencils or subsequent inks. In fact, the above compositional lines were redrawn for this CD-Rom.

After a thin ink line over the pencils to stop them vanishing under the watercolour, I overlaid the whole with a dark wash of Van Dyke brown to tie it all together and give an aged feel, then applied the colours over that. Finally I went over the whole with sidelighting of white gouache to the left and red to the right to bring it into three dimensions and added a touch of white airbrushing for the rays of light.

The original is over 700mm x 450mm and took ten days of solid work, which is why I decided to self-publish it as an art print - it seemed a hell of a lot of time to spend, just for a few panels! The original is now in the collection of a millionaire art collector.

All it needed now was for Angus to use his computer wizardry to drop the painting into the frame in the correct perspective.


Page 25

1. Diana Spencer

6. Daughters of Albion

9. Painting: cover illustration from the Valkyrie comicbook series edition #4 of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright .


Page 26

1 & 3 Stairs: based on some in Buckingham Palace.

2. Background: from a design by William Morris.

4. Stairs: from a photograph of the interior of Glasgow City Hall, taken during the first Glascac comic convention.

5. Something you're not supposed to do as a general rule - have the action going from right to left (which fights against the urge to read from left to right.) This was made possible by the underlying background composition of the whole page, which also keeps the ascending stairs sequence separate from panel 7, giving it its own detached atmosphere: a brief pause.

6. Stairs: based on the steps in Newcastle Castle Keep.

See the inks for this page with the compositional lines drawn in.


Page 27

1. Dr Dee: a crackpot version of Dr John Dee, spy, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, mystic and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.

2. This scene was my chance to do a classic Alchemist's Lair, so I pulled out all the stops. As well as my own pile of illustrated books on the Occult, I made several trips to the Preston reference library to amass the alchemical and magical artefacts, Lawrence Dean eventually tracking down the orrery over the Internet for me. I had in mind the atmosphere of the wonderful watercolour by Edmund Dulac, but I also looked at all the classic paintings of alchemists' labs and magicians' dens including the ones by Gustave Doré and Reubens. One thing I refused to do was put in that bloody stupid stuffed crocodile they all seem to have hanging from their ceilings; what the hell do they actually do with it?

I had to make a floorplan of Dee's Lair and orchestrate the action around this to keep the scene consistent. For less complicated scenes the location is held purely in the mind and mentally rotated to suit each panel's viewpoint.

I feel the need to point out the magnificent diagonal compositional line to this page. Isn't it lovely?


Page 28

Dee's brew: his migraine remedy was concocted after consultation with a professional herbalist and a quick look through an old herbal almanac. I added the Cannabis Sativa flower tops and laudanum (opium tincture). Really it should have been given a lot more than one panel to brew, but the needs of the narrative drove ever onwards; she needed to drink it pretty soon to give it the chance to have had some effect before the end of this sequence.

5. Scatological examinations: a very common medical diagnostic method during the 16th and 17th centuries.


Page 29

2 - 5. I distorted the perspective and asked Angus to sepia tone the flashback sequence to give it an old feeling and differentiate it from the "present day reality" setting.

The Futurist assassins: a note to younger readers: it's only in the last ten years that shaven heads have become trendy on our parallel. Now anybody who's going bald, even the nicest wimp who wouldn't say boo to a goose, can shave their head and be thought of as a fashion beast rather than a moronic and violent racist. Before this ludicrous trope the only people who wore their hair like this were prisoners or fascist thugs. After this remarkable coup of turning a deficit into an asset by reinventing their baldness, I confidently predict that men will now be striving to make beer bellies and body odour fashionable. They've already successfully done it with stubble, which used to be thought of as an indication of laziness, criminality and lack of moral fibre.


Page 30

6. Doxy: pejorative 17th Century term for wench/girlfriend/prostitute.

Go the next page of notes.


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Heart of Empire Directors Cut
Contents | Annotations | Pencils | Inks | Colours | Hi-res colours | Index

Introduction | About the author | Dramatis Personae | Interviews | Back covers
Biographies | The Adventures of Luther Arkwright

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