The Barn Scene
The Barn Scene illustration is an incomplete set of individual pieces in collage form. By incomplete, I mean the drawings for this illustration were just rough drafts which I scanned from Kiel’s notebook. The drawings were too good to pass over since he had to put the project on hold. Those who know the story, will notice the missing key elements and inconsistencies, which may be corrected later, but since later is indefinite, I have decided to publish what I have now. The scene in the book can be summarized as the end of a search for Freddy, and the beginning of psychological trauma for each character involved: Mr. Smith, Freddy, Gerald and especially Sadi. Missing in the illustrations, is of course Freddy and Mr. Smith. Gerald is shown again and for the first time, Kiel illustrates Sadi Jacobsen.
In the illustrations, the characters are shown in a trance-like state, or as I prefer to think of their situation, artificially generated imagery has captured their attention, rather than the natural signals from their retinas. At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to dispel a false assumption. There is no magic or supernatural phenomena occurring in the book. A mysterious entity is simply interfering with the humans and that does not necessarily imply the supernatural or magic. Just like the real world, when something strange occurs, we need to take it at face value and explore the many logical explanations. Who knows, we might learn something new! Personally, I despise any story or movie which portrays magic or the supernatural as real possibilities. It’s fine for a fantasy like Harry Potter, but not for stories set in the real world. In Silent Subversion, my intention was for the reader to wonder why, not to explain all the strangeness by magic. Why did the alien or entity lead them to the barn? Why did it hijack the senses of each character? Is it trying to manipulate them for its own pleasure or lead them to destruction? For me, the questions are the most interesting parts of a book. They keep me reading.
As usual, there are many interesting details about the creation of these illustrations. In order to explain them, I need to start with some more background. The key element of the scene is the confrontation between the probe and the characters. That event exposes some critical clues about the entity’s intentions and the effects of its actions. I planned to have the probe as the centerpiece of the illustration, but there was always the risk of ruining the mystery by showing the probe in its entirety. It’s like in a disappointing horror movie, when the monster steps into the light and it fails to impress the viewer. Our imagination can provide more fear than any artist. In the case of the probe, Kiel only had my description of the Barn section in the book. Usually, we discuss the project at The Albina Press cafe in Portland, and if his initial interpretation needs some extra clarification, I provide it. One might conclude that I provide a poor written description, but I like to react in the normal human way and put the blame on someone other than myself. In this case, Kiel obviously spent insufficient effort understanding the description…OK, maybe my storytelling prowess might need some enhancement. Either way, I enjoy seeing the interpretation of my book, whether it matches my intention or not.
In the piece below, the probe is confronting Gerald. Kiel’s interpretation is very different than what I attempted to describe in the book. He drew the probe with huge tentacles and what look like bubbles attached to some of them. In the book, the ‘tentacles’ are actually thousands of tiny light filaments. Although I would love to see a better match to my imagination, I like the creepy effect Kiel created with only part of the probe. The probe he illustrated is more menacing than I intended.
Maybe one day I can have Kiel finish. He recently had some personal issues which took him away from commissioned art. The final illustration for book 1 will be published next.