Tuesday, 29 November 2011

He says : How NoHo Noir Works

"Hi Mark.

I’ve landed a job writing weekly fiction for a site called patch.com..."

Madame Wang
And so it began with an e-mail from Katherine.  I'd done some work for her Dark Valentine project. Aside from illustrations for the magazine, I'd painted several pieces for the site's October Fiction Frenzy, which had needed an illustration for each new story every day for the month. I think I ended up doing about 8 or 9, usually at quite short notice. When the e-mail about NoHo came I was flattered and excited. That initial request came on the Thursday, asking for an illustration for that Sunday. Not a problem. Then on the Saturday, the day before the first story ran, I came home from a day out to find a mail asking if I could come up with a cover/logo, and suggesting the clown.  So I sat down and painted the original clown with a few hours to spare. Fun!

We gradually established a work pattern. Katherine would mail me at the beginning of the week with a synopsis of the next story and suggestions for the illustration. Most of the time I didn't read the actual stories until they were put up on the site! This worked though - often my illustration would influence the writing. Katherine gave me lots of freedom and trusted me when it came to character design, offering suggestions and then allowing me to flesh them out. We had great fun with characters like Sera the stalker, Clarence, Lyla,  Helen and the scary Madame Wang.

Fools Rush In
Initially I worked in watercolour but I started to feel it wasn't right. I made the move to markers which gave the illustrations a slightly more comic-book feel. I also changed from colour to monochrome for a more Noir-ish look. It was a great experience and a new challenge every week. Often the subject matter took me right out of my comfort zone and I'd have to draw things I would never have drawn otherwise - babies in burning cars ( I HATE drawing cars and have had to do several), Indian weddings with elephants, wedding cakes and funeral urns.

And, of course, Katherine and I developed a friendship with long chatty e-mails that began with work but covered all sorts of other topics (including a couple of my true life stories that were then worked into NoHo fiction!). It's amazing to think we've never actually met or even spoken directly. I can't thank her enough for inviting on the NoHo journey. It's such a pleasure to work with such a talented and generous lady. I *heart* Katherine Tomlinson.

1 comment:

  1. You know...we both have Skype--we must talk soon. xoxo K