The Burgerville Scene
This is the first article to present the artwork of the Silent Subversion series and the first illustration is The Burgerville Scene. I chose this illustration as the first for an obvious reason. The story begins when Taylor shows Gerald her invention, or discovery to be more precise, at a Burgerville restaurant in Portland Oregon. I happen to like the fast-food restaurant and think it gives the story a flavor of the region where I live, the northwestern United States.
The setting illustrates some of Taylor’s major personality traits. She sees food as a distraction from her work and wants to spend as little time as possible to satisfy the basic human need for sustenance. Since she needs to eat anyway and discuss her dilemma with Gerald, why not do both at once? The setting also shows how Gerald’s personality contrasts with hers. He has fully assimilated the lawyer persona and prefers more sophisticated restaurants to conduct important business. I especially wanted to present the irony of Taylor choosing Burgerville as the place to show the most important invention of the millennium.
I like documenting important events in my life so I’d like to share how I met the artist and our working relationship. Kiel Parsons, the illustrator for book 1, is more than just the perfect artist for the book, he’s a skilled artistic guide. I feel very fortunate, not only for his skill, but that we share many views on life. I advertised on the Portland’s Craigslist site for an illustrator and he was one of the first to respond. After looking through his work, see link, I immediately wanted to meet him and hoped to acquire his interest in the project. When we met at Thatcher’s cafe in Vancouver WA on June 27, 2015, I never expected to have a 3 hour conversation about my motivation for writing the book and almost every other topic of shared interest. I especially enjoyed meeting a real, working artist and seeing his bag of artistic treasures. Artists are like magicians. Their skills amaze me and seem to originate from another realm!
Before we began working on the first illustration, Kiel prepared some character sketches to help keep the illustrations consistent with each other and to see if his vision reconciled with mine. During his search for an appropriate look for Taylor Ewell, he ran into some complications. Without explaining too many of the details, he found a real woman who fit the description of Taylor who agreed to participate and I loved the idea of having her represented by someone in the real world. To prevent a complicated and completely irrational personal quandary, however, the final version of Taylor had to be completely fictional. In Kiel’s own words, “Suffice to say, sometimes the world of fiction can cause trouble in reality.”
The final version of Gerald was the result of a few iterations. Kiel saw him as more of a GQ model than I did and in the end, I think Gerald became more of what Kiel envisioned than my intention. I always pictured him as a striking figure, tall with dark facial features, but someone who upon first notice, would fail to intimidate. In the end, I enjoyed watching Kiel create an image from written description. At first, I worried about the discrepancy between our visions, but in the end concluded that seeing how others view my characters interests me more than accuracy of my own vision. As can clearly be seen in the Burgerville illustration, the images of both characters are not the final versions (1.x).
There are several more illustrations for the first Silent Subversion book, to be presented in good time.