Notes from the Underground, the literary freepaper, is relaunching- and this time they're backed up by The Man, in the friendly form of the Arts Council.
They kindly asked me to help with a cover illustration and sent me a couple of pieces for me to choose between to illustrate. I opted for one called A Shorter Story about a Trade Union Dispute (For Kids). It goes like this: racing horses go on strike, hilarity ensues.
The obvious image is anthropomorphised equine characters waving placards, and so I very quickly made this visual. I just wanted to see if the tone was appropriate really, so I sent it over. And they seemed to like it. In fact, they really liked it. Too much, for a sketch. It was almost unnatural. Like horses waving placards.
They said they like the sketchy feel, which is really the least you'd hope for from a sketch. If you make someone a sandwich and they compliment you on the sandwichy feel of it, you haven't exactly done well.
I got cracking on the final, and this is what came out:
When I finished I was really proud. Looking at it now, I'm not sure why, but I made it my iPhone wallpaper and everything. I sent it off and then kept refreshing my inbox as I waited for the accolades to pour down the internet tubes.
But they never came. It's obvious now why: the illustration is not that great. In fact, it's a bit unsettling. What is that thing on the right? A sock puppet? a worm?
They said they actually preferred the sketch, which is fair enough. And so I did this, a sketchy loose thing which I actually think more or less works.
But no, they said. More like the original sketch, they said. Instantly nostalgic. And so I changed the filename and resent the sketch... and here's the cover:
It is better than the "proper" illustration I did, I must say.
They put all the alternatives up on the official facebook page, which is nice.