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You are in the Annotations section > Chapter 1 > Part one (pages 1 to 10)

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Page 1

I spent days trying to find this view of St. Peter's, each day going to another bit of high ground in or around Rome. I didn't find it. It didn't exist so I had to make it up. Returning to Rome a year later and showing this page to some Italian friends, I was overjoyed by their response: in the world of the story, Mussolini never rose to power and so never had all these foreground houses bulldozed to make way for the huge boulevard that, on our parallel, leads up to the Vatican!

I drew the pomegranates and figs from life; both represent fertility, (a reference to the twins) the pomegranate with its many seeds also immortality (the Homo Novus) and I personally have a soft spot for it through Rossetti's inclusion of it as a vulvic symbol in his painting Proserpine (also see the notes for page 129) They are in season at this time of the year.

Via Bottini is a tip of the hat to the Villa Bottini in the Via Bottini in Lucca, Tuscany, the headquarters of the organisers of the twice-annual Comics Festival. I've been several times and one year had an exhibition of the artwork from The Tale of One Bad Rat there and the cracked and dusty frescoes on the walls and ceilings directly inspired the look of Barberini's chamber.

The composition is based on the Golden Section.


Page 2

1. La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") by Guiseppe Verdi: a real piece of music, the title being one of the themes of the story and, indeed , of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

That's my wind-up gramophone.

3. The likeness of Barberini was inspired by Italian comics artist Davide Fabbri, who looks terrifying, especially in his motorbike leathers, but really is a gentle giant. He's a lovely man and I must apologise for the harsh caricature I made of his face.

The Barberinis were a powerful Italian family that produced several cardinals including Maffeo Barberini who became Pope Urban VIII. He was the Pope who, after a period of being Galileo's patron, turned on him and brought in the Inquisition who found him guilty of heresy.

I've recently come across some sort of chocolate cake inspired by him called Barberini's Persuasion!


Page 3

3 - 5. Quite pleased with this: a three panel pan and zoom-in, with Barberini obviously turning his head in the foreground to view them.

The mythological scenes all have resonance in the story: The god Zeus in the form of a Swan impregnates the moral Leda who gives birth to twins (in this parallel - in ours she lays two eggs which contain Pollux and Helen, Castor and Clytemnestra). Statues of Castor and Pollux appear later in the story - they obviously have a slightly different mythology here, (as pointed out in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright ). This is a direct reference to the Homo Novus Arkwright (Zeus) and Homo Sapiens Queen Anne (Leda) and the twins Victoria and Henry.

The last image is of Perseus and Andromeda, threatened by the sea monster whose form and tentacles echo the true state of Henry and his confrontation by Victoria and Luther at the climax of the story

The first image is from a classical dish design, the second is based on the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, the third is invented.


Page 4

1. I had some friends, a young married couple, pose for this scene with him saronged by a blanket so I could get the folds correct in the habit. Unbeknownst to him, she was having an affair at the time and was regularly performing this delightful service to a mutual friend, so it turned out quite ironic. They divorced shortly after this.

2. Gabriel, written by Riccardo Secchi, is an independent Italian comicbook that stars a freckle-faced nun with superpowers. Not on this parallel, though!

5. The bullets are dum-dummed. This guy's serious.


Page 5

Ponte Sant' Angelo: one of my favourite places in Rome.

4. The Vatican cloisters by the side of the Piazza San Pietro.

5. The column is a twin reference showing Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. There are quite a few references to twins throughout the story, hinting at the importance of Henry. As an aside, I'll just mention here that Angus was assisted in the colouring by his wife Judy and his twin brother, Ian.


Page 6

1. The birds: we know by page 113 why the Pope's having them shot: he must know a little of Anne's powers, though he makes no distinction between a hawk and a dove. Inspired by the fact that Pope Barberini had all the songbirds in the Vatican garden killed because they were disturbing his afternoon nap.

2.The soldiers: the informal uniform of the Vatican Swiss Guard.

This really is what the entrance to the Papal apartments looks like and panel 3 shows one of its elaborate antechambers.

The cardinals were a personal joke. They're some of my Italian friends, plus the great Hugo Pratt, who I only met a couple of times. They are (from left to right) comics and novelist Lorenzo Bartoli, Hugo Pratt, Daniele Brolli (writer and owner of Phoenix, my Italian publisher), Giovanni Tarquini (owner of The Infinity Shop in Rome) and comics reporter Riccardo Corbo. Comic artist Saverio Tenuta is the sixth, seen on page 7.

5. Faux visage: I plant here one of the themes of the story: things are not as they appear. This applies to our first impressions of many things including the weak and sickly Victoria, the image and character of Arkwright in this parallel's culture and even the Empire itself. It also applies to the first three pages where we assume that the monk is enraptured by the music, only to find that his ecstasy is the product of a different stimulus. We only realise that the cardinal's telling the absolute truth here by page 196. (see also that page for the inspiration behind Barbi's disguise) Kray is the reverse of Barberini: he looks more impressive than his body (see page 70) actually is. Hirst, Dee, the mild professor Lang's "firework device", the Queen, the dead Henry and even Angela are all, to some degree, not consistent with our first assumptions.


Page 7

3. The cardinal to the right with arms crossed was based on Saverio Tenuta. (See previous page notes).

4. Pope's bedchamber. This is the first time I've tried this colouring technique. It involves pencilling the whole, including all the shadows, but inking only up to their edge: see the inks of this page. The shadow then becomes pure colour, gentler than stark black and white shading and very atmospheric. I wanted to be completely sure that this worked, so did very complete colour guides to these three pages. (see the colour guide for page 7, page 8 and page 9)I also used this technique on pages 57 - 60, 67 - 69, 94 - 99, 187 - 191 and 249.

The Pope's bed is another one of my little jokes. It's a scaled-down version of the great high altar in the Vatican which, incidentally, was made from bronze ripped from the ceiling of the Pantheon, the temple to the Pagan gods of Rome built by Marcus Agrippa, seen on page 11.

The statue is Michelangelo's famous David.

See also the actual colour guide for this page.


Page 8

5. The hand: a five-limbed echo of the recurring simulacrum, - see page 247 - the imprint of what Henry has become, something so powerful it sends ripples throughout external reality.

Here's the first rough character sketch I did of the Pope.

See also the actual colour guide for this page.


Page 9

The thing about computer graphics is that, if something goes wrong, it tends to go wrong properly. The page here is how it was intended (I hope!) When this appeared in its first (comicbook) incarnation, for reasons nobody's ever figured out, an earlier, cruder version of the colour file was used. We ran an erratum in the 2nd issue to make the best of a bad job and turn it into a joke.

See also the actual colour guide for this page.


Page 10

1. The Piazza San Pietro or st Peter's Square is usually more crowded than this on our parallel! Tourism is a pastime only for the elite here.

2 & 3. This amazing crypt is right in the centre of Rome, just next to the Barberini metro station. It's free to enter, apart from a voluntary donation to the Franciscan Cappuccini order of monks whose burial place this is. As well as the skulls that line the rooms, the walls and ceilings are covered with bones, embedded in the plaster and arranged in tasteful designs. There's a grim reaper, made from a baby's skeleton, a wonderful fan motif, made from hundreds of scapula and, as seen in panel 2, lampshades made from coccyxs. I took a snap of the Monk in charge as reference for Barberini's habit.

The significance of him kissing his crucifix only acquires its true meaning on page 85.

Go to the next page of notes.


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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