Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Telling Stories in the Greenwood

- By Charles Vess

As an artist it’s always good to step away from your comfort zone. Delving into a different medium or media can be a bold dance into uncharted territories. But when you return, bringing with you everything you’ve learned while you were away from ‘home’, you can apply that newfound understanding to your art and be the better for it.

At various times over my career I’ve tried my hand at stage design, sculpture, mural art, font design, etc. Each time, when I returned to my accustomed drawing board I found my art subtly and sometimes not so subtly strengthened by those same experiences.

So a number of years ago when a story idea almost fell into my head there was nothing to do but write it out of there and down onto paper. You ignore the muse at your peril. But as I progressed I began to develop the tale as an interwoven combination of graphic narrative, illustration and pure text because I thought that was how it needed to be told. To date I’ve completed the text as well as quite a bit of the preliminary art all at my own time.

Today, I thought that I would show you some of it.

You ignore the muse at your peril.

These first prologue pages introduce Baba Yaga, the iconic witch of Russian folktales, who still walks amongst us today, staying alive by constantly devouring all the stories ever told and a certain young girl who may be instrumental in halting her feast.

I hope these pages will give you some idea of the hybrid nature of my book. I’ve been working on this on my own time with no real editor (but a lot of feedback from various established writers), no art director and certainly no marketing department to tell me what I can and can’t do which is exhilarating and scary at the same time but I like it!


  1. I should have said that most of the drawings above are preliminary rough layouts that will need to be refined a bit more (especially the hand lettering!) if I ever go to a finished product.

  2. I'm confident that I speak for many when I say I hope this becomes a finished thing :)

    1. Thank you. Finger's crossed. I'm considering doing a Kickstarter to fund all the work still needed to finish it and having an established publisher handle the fulfillment aspect.

  3. Another aspect of the graphic narrative sections of the story that I should have talked about is, since this is for mainstream audiences, many of whom have not read comics, I had to be especially careful with my layouts for each page. The untrained eye still has to be lead through the visual experience of reading a comic book page.


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