The Story Behind the Story

From the introduction to Landscape of Darkness –

When I started this book I had no idea what it would become. It began as an exercise in page design and rapidly became something very different.

I’d recently drawn a black and white illustration of a woman in obvious distress hanging out of the window of a Soviet-style power station. I had no further plans for the drawing, so I pinned it to my easel and wondered about it for a few days.

On a lark, I decided to use it as the opening illustration for a old-style pulp story layout. There was no story yet, just an idea that the action took place in a sargasso in space…

Here’s the design mentioned in the book introduction.


The first design, story fragment, illustration...everything...for Landscape of Darkness.

Honestly, that initial bit of story is pretty embarrassing (there’s even a typo in the caption) but you must remember that I had the art and the page design but no text. I made something up that sounded like it fit. I showed it to a friend. He read it and excitedly asked to see the rest. It got me thinking that there might be a real story in it.

All books go through a long development process from initial idea to finished manuscript. Many ideas and design sketches end up in folders or in the trash. I thought it might be interesting for non-artists to see how an illustrated book develops. Despite the change in layouts – from magazine to book – I wanted to keep many elements from the old pulp magazines, and did the artwork in the style of, and with the same type of media as, the pulp artists of the early and mid-twentieth century.