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Illustration poll - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Illustration poll
I've mentioned before--many times--how much I love illustrations, and over on SQ, Corned Bee mentioned deciding to finish a story I wrote because of illustrations over in the Illustrators' Gallery at HB, and it got me to wondering about illustrations in general and how people respond to them. I know I've also been drawn into stories--more than once--because I've seen an image and thought, "Whoa, what's that about?" (I've also seen pictures so striking that I felt the need to write about them.)

Poll #475916 Illo poll

Have you ever read a story because you saw an intriguing illustration?


Which of these styles would be most likely to draw you into a story? (Examples from The Dark Tower)

Michael Whelan's, from The Gunslinger and The Dark Tower
Phil Hale's from The Drawing of the Three
Ned Dameron's from The Waste Lands
Dave McKean's from Wizard and Glass (nudity warning)
Bernie Wrightson's from Wolves of the Calla
Darrel Anderson's from Song of Susannah

(Whoa. I put in all sorts of text in the middle of the poll and it got cut. I'm putting in the DT illustrations rather than comparing fan artists just to get out of the "I like the stories so-and-so illustrates" or just the simple question of which circles we read in. All of the above are from the same series of books and have the same group of characters, and I'm interested in knowing why particular styles seem intriguing, while others leave you cold. Is there a difference in what you find intriguing as art and what would make you say, "Hey, I wonder what the story's like?" Or are your criteria the same?)
22 comments or Leave a comment
sreya From: sreya Date: April 16th, 2005 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
To specify my answer to the second part, Michael Whelan's sketchier art toward the bottom of the page. None of the other art styles really grabbed my interest that much.

I personally adore illustrations. I think that's actually part of what I enjoy in the Harry Potter series -- I really love the American artwork, particularly the chapter images. I like getting little glimpses of things, not enough to completely shape my image, but enough to flavor things. It's a bit like adding seasoning to a meal, I suppose. The story is just as hearty and wholesome without it, but sometimes an illustration can lend a little kick to it.
jetamors From: jetamors Date: April 16th, 2005 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a very visual person. When I'm browsing books, something with an interesting color scheme will catch my eye, but I rarely pay much attention to what the picture actually is until I've had the book for a few years. I don't think I've ever been inspired to read a fanfic by a picture.

Having said all that, I do like illustrated fanfiction. It's just so rare.
duncatra From: duncatra Date: April 16th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never read a fanfic because of an illustration - I find most fan art to be just horrid. HP seems to have a LOT of decent artists, which surprises me, but I've never really felt much of an urge to read HP fic. Pity.

On the other hand, when it comes to pro novels, I judge books by their covers all the time. I LOVE Dave McKean and his style; I pick up books with Whelan covers all the time. (And usually put them back down because of horrible blurbs, but that's another issue entirely.) Thomas Canty is another favorite, althogh he seems to be out of style now. It's illustrations by John Howe, among others, in a book called Castles that led me to reading Arthurian books...

Covers, both art and design, figure hugely into what I end up reading, to the point where I won't read something at all. For instance, I utterly refuse to read books with covers by Darrel K. Sweet, which saved me from ever reading Robert Jordan and dozens of other assembly-line fantasy authors. Came too late for Xanth, though. Oh well.

It's a pain in the ass when it comes to fanfic. Bad fanart turns me off reading entirely - I find going into the actual fanfic archive on TFN is an instant-turn off to reading - too much bad Photoshopping. I can deal with bad drawings, to a certain extent, but bad Photoshopping/design drives me crazy. I've problems with certain comics, because no matter how good the writing is, the art will color it for me.

I have visual issues. Obviously.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
(Did a lot of bad photoshopping at TFN... slinks away... was my idea...)
duncatra From: duncatra Date: April 16th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Erm. Opps. Sorry. :(

You aren't personally responsible for every single cover image, I'm sure. I do think it's a good idea in theory. But who could predict that SW fandom would prove such a... erm... fertile ground for PS abuse? I'm not just bitching about it, either - I did sign up for the 'need covers' list, but only a handful of requests go through, and those that I could are usually snapped up pretty quickly. I WANT there to be nice covers!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I do, too. It actually disappointed me how much was photoshopped, and how few traditional artists we got. I was lucky enough to get art from Sean Cooke, Chris Madden, and Julie (with photoshopped pencil drawing surrounding her portrait).

(I actually like some of the photoshopping I did on Dragonslayer and The Flight to Rison's Deep, though the side of Vertash's head is too fuzzy on the latter. And I think I did a good job on a between-Jake-and-Hayden Anakin in disguise for Family Portrait.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
(And I don't mean to say that none of the other photoshopping was good... It's just been so long since I worked there that the only covers I absolutely remember are the ones I get when I click for my stories.)
duncatra From: duncatra Date: April 16th, 2005 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The art ones are nice, and the design stuff is kept simple. And I like the first PS piece, too.

However, the Family Portrait one is an example of what really creeps me out - the photo merges of people, the blurry thing... It just comes off looking weird. There's a lot of that weird face-blurring going around, even if there's no merge. Or at least there was last time I looked.

I also have issues with psudeo-casting (Jaina Solo is Jennifer Garner! Mara Jade is Dina Meyer!) Gah! I know EU art is scarce, but...

Of course, you could just write this all off as me being elitist designer girl. Which it pretty much is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I hadn't noticed that. At the time I was there, it was policy not to use recognizable actors who weren't actual SW actors on the covers--hence the combining of features to create new faces, rather than "drafting" people who might not want to be involved.
duncatra From: duncatra Date: April 16th, 2005 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
That explains it.

I do think they got rid of that policy - I distinctly remember the Garner/Jaina cover as being at TFN, although Meyer/Mara was at another site. (Although I'm sure there's one on TFN by now.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
For myself, I liked Ned Dameron's best, because the faces were so individualized and clear, and the action seemed a lot more fluid than Wrightson's. (Wrightson's dancing Roland made me wince... the guy's about to tip over, man.) Phil Hale's Dot3 just seemed very harsh and unreal.

Song of Susannah left me cold, and I found Wizard and Glass actively ugly and off-putting. I guess my distaste for experimental artforms shows in my illustration taste!
From: tunxeh Date: April 16th, 2005 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
As far as I remember, the first fanfic I read was due to a seviet illo. And I love fantasy illustration in general; I have all issues of Spectrum as well as several other collections and monographs, including two by Phil Hale who you list in your poll. But my taste in art is not the same as my taste in fic. I like Hale's work a lot but most of it depicts stuff I wouldn't want to read about, so I picked Anderson for your poll, and I'll view fanart with pairings I wouldn't read in fic. I don't think these days any kind of illustration is going to be enough by itself to cause me to try a fic. For a book purchase the artist most likely to catch my attention is I think Kinuko Craft.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Out of curiosity, since Hale and Anderson are illustrating different parts of the same story, why would Anderson's attract you more than Hale's?
From: tunxeh Date: April 16th, 2005 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Hale depicts bodies flying around due to violence. Anderson depicts a man at a table with a strawberry on a plate, a bird-headed person, a window exploding outwards (violence but on a far less personal scale). Why would you think they're equivalent?
From: tunxeh Date: April 16th, 2005 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
So to answer your question a little better, Anderson's pictures intrigue me, I don't know what led to them or what leads from them. Hale's are more self-explanatory. So I'd be more interested in reading a story to find out what the meaning of the strawberry is, or whatever. I don't need to read a story to find out the meaning of a gunfight.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 16th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack, I didn't mean for that to come out sounding like a challenge. I was interested in what the difference in appeal between the two artists, story-wise, was. Thanks for the answer to that... it's the mystery factor of Anderson's pictures.
From: tunxeh Date: April 16th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
it's the mystery factor of Anderson's pictures

I also really like Anderson's dramatic lighting. Hale, I like the brushwork and the dynamism of his compositions. Neither of which has much to do with getting me into the story...
riibu From: riibu Date: April 16th, 2005 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I started reading this fic after seeing this wonderful pic that's an illustration for that fan fic. (Made by ani_bester.) After seeing that pic, I really needed to read that story in order to know what happens there.
tonks_007 From: tonks_007 Date: April 16th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think an illustration could ever be the reason for me to read a story, so I did choose none for question #2, although I looked at all of them.
I liked some more than others but none did get me interested in reading the story they are supposed to illustrate.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: April 16th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
That Whelan illustration with the guy in the verdant forest was ace. As good as the illustrations in "A City in Winter," which definitely drew me to the book. Wolves of the Calla had illustrations almost as good, though.
minoukatze From: minoukatze Date: April 16th, 2005 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a TOUGHIE. I'm a big fan of Dave McKean and really like Phil Hale, but I'm really digging the Wolves of the Calla cover too- there's a tenseness and strength that seems to leap off the page.

As for me, a cover illustration really does have a lot to do with whether I pick up a book or not. If it's good, it encompasses the mood and style of the story, like a window into it.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: April 16th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Haven't done the poll yet--I'm at home, and loading all those images over my AOL connection is a pain--but my answer to the first part is "yes." The only reason I ever read Draco Dormiens and made myself suffer through Draco Sinister was because I was intrigued by mon_starling's illustrations when they first started to show up in the UHPFC gallery.

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