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Posts Tagged ‘penbrush’

IMG_3164Been too long since I’ve posted (sorry), so Memorial Day seemed like a good opportunity. I don’t illustrate scenes from books very often, but it occurred to me that Astrid Lindgren’s children’s book Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brother’s Lionheart) is about as appropriate as you can get for a day commemorating the death of soldiers. The story as a whole is about death, and revolves around a dying boy (well, I could be more precise, but I really don’t want to spoil things–the twists and turns of the premise are powerful, though may be too much for some people). Starting as a meditation on mortality and premature death, done fantasy-style as a way of helping kids work through this difficult topic, the book soon expands into a meditation on the evil that people inflict on each other. Near the end of the book a peaceful valley rises up against its oppressors and many die, including some important to the two brothers. The main character’s idealistic (and ideal) older brother Jonatan refuses to fight in the climactic battle (let’s remember as well that he and his brother are still kids, however heroic Jonatan is throughout the book)–in response to those who say “If every man were like you, the Tengils (dictators) of the world would rule everything!” (or some such, I’m going by memory here), the main character Kalle (Karl) points out that if everyone in the world were like Jonatan, there would BE no Tengils (again, Tengil is the primary villain). Maybe feels a bit naive, but I do like it as a way of affirming pacifism at the same time that the story also affirms the freedom fighters, who have been forced to the point they are at. All in all the book is a beautiful meditation on the twin subjects of natural death and death from strife–heavy for a children’s book, but I think it fits the mood of the day. Not that I expect all the motivations and justifications for the wars our country has gotten into to be valid in the end (and plenty are already, and sometimes always have been, manifestly invalid), but I know that there are soldiers who go out there and die doing their best to make the world a better place. My heart goes out to those who have lost anyone in war, and my heart goes out to those who have been damaged by war in mind and body. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the scene I chose to illustrate is the two boys Jonatan and Karl leading the dragon Katla up the mountain with the horn that Tengil had used to control her originally. The battle is done, but death still rides at their heels, and it takes all the bravery they have to walk in its shadow and bring everything to a finish.

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A quick post for the new year. I’ve been a bit down about various partings, past, present, and imminent, so I had a bit of a “oh, yes, that’s it…” moment when I ran across a version of the “I see the moon” folk-song in a poetry collection of Sarah Kay, as a lead-in to her poem “Astronaut.” I really like Kay’s version, though I don’t know whether it is her own unique version of the song or a version she learned elsewhere. Apparently it was also a pop-song back in the 50s, and it looks like there are a few different traditional versions listed in various places on the web, including several youtube links for various versions here at Mamma Lisa’s. The sentiment recalls (or predates?) that of the “Somewhere out there” song in An American Tale–a movie I don’t really remember, though the idea of standing under the same sky, the same moon, as someone dear but far away has stuck with me since some early viewing.

Below is a video of Sarah Kay performing “Astronaut”, complete with a rendition of “I see the moon” at the start.

 

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Readers of this blog know that I am a bit of a Tolkien buff–not saying I’m great with the trivia, but JRRT has definitely inspired and shaped the goals and arc of my life quite a bit since I was a wee lad. I read and loved the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings at an early age (fourth grade… I may have read the Hobbit in third, can’t remember), but it wasn’t too long before I moved on to the Silmarillion, and after that discovered Christopher Tolkien’s editions of his father’s earlier drafts of the Silmarillion and other unpublished work. While I’d already decided that I wanted to “be” Tolkien, I suppose it was these posthumous bits and all their accompanying learned notes that first gave me a taste for any sort of scholarly approach to texts.

I don’t remember how old I was when I read the two volumes of The Book of Lost Tales–I may have been in Jr Hi or High School when I finally got to volume two–but at some point early on (probably in one of the non-authorized biographies, now that I think about it) I learned that the start of JRRT’s mythos was a poem about Eärendel the half-elven mariner who… um, shoot, you should probably at least read the Silmarillion before I spoil that for you. Here’s a hint, he comes into the family line of both Elrond and Aragorn in a big way…

Eärendel is derived from Éarendel the “day star,” “brightest of angels” in the Old English poem Crist by Cynewulf (there is a prose translation here), but the name is attested elsewhere in the Germanic languages as well. I don’t have time to write much on this (as much as I would like to dig into this more for myself as well)–classes start Thursday–but in my own particular field (Old Norse mythology) we know him as Aurvandil, whose toe was turned into a star by Thor (and in Saxo’s version he is Hamlet’s/Amleth’s father–will the connections never cease). And of course the Old Norse scholar Peter Foote just had to name one of his collections of essays Aurvandilstá (A’s toe)…

The occasion for this post is the fact that, the day after it was relevant, I ran across this article on the centenary of Tolkien’s Eärendel poem, and so the centenary of Middle Earth. I won’t comment on it (again, lack of time), but it’s pretty interesting, not least with its notes re: a suggested bit of intertextuality with reference to one of Shelley’s poems (said interpretation makes Tolkien come off as a sort of belated English version of the Swedish Gothic Society, I think, in that they also consciously replaced the Classical fetish of earlier Romanticism and Neo-Classicism with a more “Germanic” National Romantic fetish).

And of course I’m posting on this rather late, but that’s because I felt like I just HAD to have some sort of illustration of my own for it, being a rabid Tolkienite and all. My pen brush sketch is pretty rough, but I hope to redo it in photoshop eventually (like I did with my pic of the Valkyrie Mist). More inspired-by than an illustration-of. The poem (or the final version) you can find in volume 2 of The Book of Lost Tales, but I will post the first stanza here (the original version of the first stanza you can find in the article I link to in the previous paragraph):

Éarendel arose where the shadow flows

At Ocean’s silent brim;

Through the mouth of night as a ray of light

Where the shores are sheer and dim

He launched his bark like a silver spark

From the last and lonely sand;

Then on sunlit breath of day’s fiery death

He sailed from Westerland.

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Grim Bunny 8 Blurry and Edited

The Grim Bunny #8 is here! Um… what’s up doc? OK, never mind. What is happening now!?!?! Another precarious position for TGB! Redwoods this time, because 8 is my favorite number and redwoods are my favorite tree….but OK, I didn’t quite get the redwood-effect I wanted, and yeah, took the photo REALLY late tonight (couldn’t get to this till after dark), so it is super grainy–but I will try to replace it with a better photo eventually. Gotta run now, because THINGS ARE TOO BUSY, but check out TGB archives here and here, and the tumblr post here! TGB merchandise will follow one day… but not yet, because I’ve got too much to do. 😦

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Grim Bunny 4

The Grim Bunny on the run! You know the game–what is TGB up to? Who IS TGB? Villain, hero, antihero, victim? Male, female, otherwise? Is it morning or evening, or are there just really strong spotlights off beyond the upper right corner? Participate if you’d like, otherwise sit back and enjoy the show! It was fun drawing things from this perspective–not sure I’ve ever done that before. I hope it turned out alright!

Remember, you can also follow the adventures of TGB on my tumblr and deviantart!

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve had a viking or book related post–will hopefully remedy that soon, but lately I’ve been swamped with this translation project that I’m doing (I need to finish the first two chapters–90 pages–before I get my first pay check). That said… it’s pretty fun work! When I’m not stuck on a super obscure philosophical term.

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