Slowly the strange music came closer, and then the first shapes emerged from the fog. They seemed to be dancing, but it was a dance without charm or gaiety. The dancers jumped grotesquely, rolled on the ground, crawled on all fours, leapt into the air, and carried on like crazy people. But all Atreyu could hear was the slow, muffled drumbeats, the shrill fifes, and a whimpering and panting from many throats. More and more figures appeared, the procession seemed endless. Atreyu looked at the dancers’ faces; they were ashen gray and bathed in sweat, and the eyes had a wild feverish glow. Some of the dancers lashed themselves with whips.
they’re mad, Atreyu thought, and a cold shiver ran down his spine.
When last we saw him Atreyu was on Falcor’s back searching for the edge of Fantastica, but a terrible storm has separated them. And what’s worse he has lost AURYN, the amulet of the Childlike Empress. Washed up on a strange shore he finds himself on an island populated by the dark creatures of Fantastica: witches, ghosts, vampires, kobolds and night hobs.
But they’ve all gone mad, the procession Atreyu witnesses ends with them all giving themselves over to oblivion by walking into the Nothing.
Whew! It’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve been rather busy, moving to America, getting married, finishing projects, getting violently ill, moving again. It all rather took up a bit of time. But after all that it would seem I have a lot more time for fun things like Picturebookreport.com (Well, most of the things I listed above were fun too of course).
As so many others here have experienced, one can be quite busy as illustrator, especially when one’s deadlines all seem to conspire to fall roughly on the same date. So unfortunately I haven’t had the time this month to deliver you all a fresh new illustration (in so far as they are fresh and new at all). I’m currently working on a picturebook, a book for early readers and drawing for a computer game, all the while trying to get ready for my move abroad, so my responsibilities are weighing rather heavily and my time is stretched somewhat thin.
However due to the fact that I’m also spending quite some time in trains these days I can show you some doodles I’ve been making in preparation for the upcoming illustrations. Currently I’m trying to get a decent looking troll design.
Here then, are some sketches for various creatures and plants needed for the next two drawings. (I’ve obscured the sketch for one of the pictures as I don’t want to spoil it already).
Once I’ve gotten everything done and hopefully have landed securely in Portland I’ll get back to posting what I’m supposed to be posting here.
Last time we saw him Atreyu was on his way to see the Southern Oracle to find out if she knows the cure for the Childlike Empress. She tells him, after he passes through the magic gates and comes face to face with Bastian in the mirror gate, that only a child from the real world can cure the Empress by giving her a new name, and thus restoring Fantasia.
When Atreyu returns from his visit with her, a visit that is cut short when the nothing swallows the temple Uyulala resides and silences her voice that was also her entire corporeal body, he sets out with Falcor to find the border of Fantasia and beyond it: the real world.
Finally here’s Falcor the luck dragon, he’s probably the most iconic character from the book and the films. Though why they decided he had to look like that in the films I’ll never understand.
This drawing was sort of inevitable therefore, one can’t not decide to draw the Neverending Story and not have Atreyu riding Falcor. Not quite sure if this is exactly what it should have been, but here you go!
When we last saw him Atreyu had just set out on his quest to find a cure for the Childlike Empress. Since visiting the glass towers of Eribo he has ridden through many wondrous parts of Fantasia, he has encountered the Nothing itself in the Howling forest. In his dreams a great buffalo told him to seek out the Ancient Morla, a giant turtle and perhaps the oldest creature in their world.
Morla lives in the swamps of despair however and Atreyu loses his dear little horse Artax, when the poor creature becomes to sad to go on and lets herself sink into the mud of the swamp.
Though he manages to find the aged turtle, Morla scoffs him and tells him the end of the world doesn’t matter to her. She’s so old, she doesn’t care about anything befalling Fantasia, she’s outlived everything so far. But if he does insist on an answer, perhaps Atreyu should seek out the Southern Oracle.
The Southern Oracle however lives on the other side of Fantasia, and Atreyu continues his journey, though much sadder, slower and wearier. Still he does encounter Falcor a luck dragon and it is the nature of those creatures to bestow good fortune on their friends and companions. So Atreyu does make it to the Southern Oracle, where he is received into the care of two gnomes who can tell him all about the three gates that anyone who wishes to visit Uyulala, the oracle, must pass.
So that is where we find him now, standing before the two sfinxes who guard the first gate.
A slightly different picture this month, as I realised too late that the drawing I had made for the scene I wanted to illustrate, was lovely, spiffy and all that, but that I had no way to finish it on time, seeing as how I have no scanner this week. The unfortunate consequence of house and dog sitting for my mum, while she’s in France. So while I do get the advantages of a week in a nice house to myself, said nice house does not have any device for putting drawings on the internet.
That’s why I decided to go back to the style of the very first thing I made for Picturebook Report, the title page. You see in the actual book, every chapter has a wonderfully illustrated title page with the first letter of that chapter in beautiful calligraphy. This is then my version of those ‘official’ illustrations.
So here you are:
Chapter : The Three Gates
Falcor was still sleeping when….
After their meeting in the forest the will o’ the wisp, the rock biter and the other creatures resume their journey to the Ivory tower. Where they find countless other beings from every corner of Fantastica. Everywhere the Nothing is consuming the land, and ominously the childlike empress herself has fallen ill.
She has chosen a champion to find a cure for herself and Fantastica, someone who will have to undertake the Great searching. She has given him her sign, a golden necklace of two snakes biting each other’s tails, called AURYN.
The hero she has chosen is the boy Atreyu.
So here we have Atreyu on his little horse Artax. He’s still at the beginning of his quest and he’s now reached the glass towers of Eribo. I wanted to show something of Fantastica before the Nothing swallows all of it. Though the little creatures in the bottom left have been displaced by it already.
As you can see I’ve decided on a slightly different style after the somewhat improvised drawing last month. The colours I’ve chosen are the colours the book is printed in: red and blue.
So I’ve changed the first one accordingly, I hope you still like it.
The Neverending Story starts with the theft of the book named The Neverending Story by Bastian Balthazar Bux; a fat little boy who was hiding in an antique bookstore from the bullies that chased him home every day. Finding himself fascinated by an old leatherbound book with two serpents entwined on the cover he surprises himself by putting it in his schoolbag when the store’s owner, mr. Koreander isn’t looking.
Realising he is now a thief, he decides he can never go home anymore and hides himself in his school’s giant disused attic. He puts an old musty blanket over his shoulders and starts to read the mysterious book.
Which whisks him away to the land of Fantastica, where a Will o’the Wisp named Blubb is making his way through the vast Howling Forest to the Ivory Tower of the Childlike Empress. In the woods he meets a Rock biter: a giant whose kind eat nothing but stone, a night hob and a tiny. All three have come from different regions of Fantastica with the same mission, to tell the Queen about the Nothing that is eating away at their land, and to ask for help.
Sitting in the forest they share stories of how the Nothing suddenly appeared. Where once there were lakes, trees and hills, there is now absolutely nothing. The eye can’t even see it. Scariest of all is that those who come close to these areas find themselves irrevocably drawn to the Nothing, coming closer and closer until they are swallowed by it.
I have huge shoes to fill here, and this drawing is not what I had intended my first illustration to be. Unfortunately, the past few weeks I’ve been swamped with assignments and I wasn’t able to give this project quite the time I would have liked. So when I found out that my idea wasn’t working the way I had intended I didn’t have enough time to fix it. So here’s the drawing I made without all the terrible terrible colours I inflicted on it.
Once I’ve finished a version that I am satisfied with, I will of course unveil it forthwith.
posted by: Chuck Groenink