At this same time, I had become enamored with the graphic work of Swiss illustrator and cartoonist Thomas Ott. Ott works in the medium of scratchboard to powerful effect, and his drawings are dramatic and beautiful. I wanted to emulate his approach, and I thought this story would provide the perfect opportunity. I didn't want to use actual scratchboard, as I feared I would immediately botch the work, as I have no experience working with scratchboard. However, I did use PAINTER, computer software that emulates natural media, to do the work. First, I made the underlying drawings in pencil, and then scanned them into the computer. I opened each drawing in PAINTER in turn, and filled a layer over each image with black, reduced the opacity so I could see through to the underlying sketch, and drew with a white line, digitally carving away the black to reveal the image. These images are the results.
As my first attempts, I'm varibly happy with three of them. The first image shows the many pages of the narrator's writings pasted on his wall, (perhaps obscuring a window to another view, a view outside his room). This is a way of showing the obsessive thoughts beclouding his consciousness. The image of the man sitting watching his house burn is a failure, in my view. It's stiffly drawn and awkwardly composed, and lacks all the drama such an image should have had. I'm most pleased with the drawing of the pointing man being taken away as the narrator watches from the left foreground. I think my first use of the scratchboard technique is adequate, but it is my underlying drawings that are uneven. But then, I look at Thomas Ott's earliest works and they are clumsy in their drawing and technique, as well. One has to begin somewhere.
The first issue of ODDFELLOW was published in Fall 2005 and contained the story with my accompanying illustrations. A second issue was published a few months later, with another short piece by Ken Cormier, which I illustrated with a single panoramic picture spanning both sides of the top of a double-page spread. I used the same faux-scratchboard style for that, and I may put it up here at some point. The third, and final issue of ODDFELLOW was meant to be the "Spring 2006" issue, hence, my cover illustration--which you can find here on this blog along with several preparatory drawings in a post titled "Dance of the Oddfellows"--a modern rendering of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." However, the issue was delayed and not published until the Fall of 2006, so the point of the cover drawing may was obscured, if not entirely lost.