Ok, so The Stranger was a French novel written in the 1940's about a man that was sort of discombobulated in his own emotions. As the author, Albert Camus puts it: "the nakedness of a man faced with the absurd."
Anyway, the story begins with the death of the the main character's mother. He goes to the funeral, which is at the retirement home where his mother lived out her life. The funeral is odd, but I suppose it was completely normal for a funeral in France in the 1940's- The casket is in a small house with some chairs and a skylight all by itself. There is also the funeral director and a nurse who's got some sort of bandage on her face because "she's got an abscess". Some of the residents of the home also come to view the casket. The funeral process involves sitting through a vigil with the casket all night then, at dawn, walking with the hearse down to the graveyard where they say some prayers then bury the body and everyone goes home. Throughout this process, the son smokes a cigarette, refuses an offer to see his mother's body, falls asleep, doesn't talk to anyone, walks lackadaisically behind the casket and sort of doesn't care that his mom just died.
Later in the book, he's involved in a murder and his behavior at the funeral is used as evidence into his psyche- suggesting that he has no remorse for his mother's death and therefore, he must not have remorse for the murder he committed.
The book actually won the Nobel Prize in Literature and is pretty entertaining- also, it's a pretty short read and occupies an afternoon nicely. It's chock full of symbolism and reading between the lines and deep-thought inducing plot lines. And it's French, if you like THAT sort of thing.
Azazello is another one of Woland's henchmen in The Master and Margarita. He is described as a "wall-eyed", intimidating, fanged figure (I think they mention one fang, so the ONE fang stuck in my mind) who dons a bowler hat atop fiery red hair. He is kind of portrayed as an assassin or strong-arm, though pretty much every member of the entourage ends up killing something.
When writing these descriptions, I tend to go on Wikipedia to refresh my memory on the points I want to talk about. When thinking of this character, I thought that "wall-eyed" meant having eyes similar to those of a fish...spaced far apart, or on each side of the head, haha. Upon looking it up (two minutes ago), I found it just means that the eyes don't look in the same direction, kind of similar to a "lazy eye." But I think my imagining of the character makes it even creepier with his eyes on either side of the head, hahaha.
The Master and Margarita is a Russian satire that speaks in both political and moral themes. The storyline is pretty complex, so I'll just gloss over the main "villain" and his posse.
In Moscow, sometime around 1930 or so, a black magician named Woland shows up and starts manipulating and secretly turning the city upside down. Not literally, though he could probably do it, since he is Satan in disguise. Going out to spread greed and the like by holding a grand magic show for a large audience and shovels out treasures to the crowd.
It's really interesting because Woland and his accomplices can just make stuff appear or disappear. Like trays of food and money and people. It's pretty entertaining!
SO, following Woland around are some great characters. I'll just go over the ones that I've drawn so that in the future maybe I can draw the rest.
Koroviev, the "ex-choirmaster", which he is referred to as on several occasions, dresses (for some reason) like a jockey. His "title" may allude to him once being a member of an angelic choir whom has fallen from grace. He is tall and eccentric. He has a pair of those spectacles that you just press onto the bridge of the nose; there are no earpiece supports. However, one of his lenses is missing and one rattles around in the frame.
Behemoth is a black cat. A black cat who is the size of a large pig. A black cat, the size of a large pig, who walks around on his hind legs and talks. And drinks whiskey and smokes cigars and loves pistols. There's once scene with Behemoth trying to board a train and pay for his fare, but the attendant says "NO CATS ALLOWED!" so he jumps off, waits for the train to pass some, and jumps back onto the caboose. He then pockets his fare. Well, I say "pockets," but you know, I guess he put it somewhere. I don't think they mentioned a gun belt, but I felt he should have one! They can just make stuff appear randomly, so that's kind of cheating.
"To some men the most beautiful sight in this world is a sleeping Japanese woman. The sight of her long black hair floating beside her like dark lilies makes them want to die and be transported to a paradise that is filled with sleeping Japanese women who never wake but sleep on for all time, dreaming beautiful dreams."
Sombrero Fallout is about a writer who has lost his girlfriend of two years, a 'sleepy' Japanese woman. Three story lines are intertwined: his story of crushing depression and painful memories, the story he began to write about a sombrero that falls from the sky (which is probably the most entertaining one- ending in mass bloodshed), and the story of his ex-girlfriend- who is sleeping and dreaming throughout the entire book.
The imagery of the sleeping woman is amazing, as is the fact that he wrote several chapters on someone sleeping which were actually entertaining and not boring- as you would imagine several chapters on a sleeping person would be. Yukiko (the girlfriend...as you can probably figure out) sleeps with her black cat and her dreams are powered by the cat's purr. When the cat gets up at night to get a drink of water her dreams fall apart until the cat returns. The sketch is from the opening passage- The Japanese women are supposed to be short and tall and mostly skinny (IE-beautiful...just kiddin'), but there is also a fat one (if you're into that sort of thing). I was also going to draw a Japanese girl in there snuggling with a teddy bear, then I realized that the passage had slightly sexual tones, so I figured that would be unnatural and very very wrong. The middle woman is Yukiko (the one with the cat) who is said to be the "queen of such a paradise."
It's a very good read! I read it in one sitting- partly because it's short and mostly because it was just good.
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has inspired quite a few other works, one being the movie Apocalypse Now. This movie was based loosely on the story, but actually gave off a pretty similar vibe (in my opinion). Anyways.
In this rather short tale (published 1902), our "tour guide" Marlowe recounts his experience of traveling down a river in a country that is never named, but is similar to the Congo or some other country that rates yikes!/10. Marlowe is sent down into the chest of dimness to search for a rogue ivory procurer, Kurtz. Things get pretty animalistic, as things usually tend to do when exploring the darkness that lurks inside humans. It is, of course, one of the major themes in the book. A life-altering journey into unfathomed areas of life. And death. But I guess once you journey to death, then you're pretty much stuck there. Well, I definitely won't spoil what happens, but I will just say that Marlowe becomes quite determined to find Kurtz. A determination that keeps him moving down river, despite how high the darkness stacks.
This sketch is inspired by a part of the book where the steamer boat is putting along in the quiet night, when all of a sudden a storm of arrows shakes the sheets and wreaks havoc. Those natives are quite restless, especially when under the influence of a charismatic outsider!
Oh, right, and I decided to try out some water colors, since the scene takes place on a river and all. It turned out alright; I'm not too experienced with them. And it's only a sketch, after all!
Ahhh, Trout Fishing In America, a wonderful gem by Richard Brautigan. It is packed with random, seemingly absurd moments. And yet some of them are subtly powerful, aren't they?
This sketch is from a chapter called "The Kool-Aid Wino," where our narrator recollects a time when he was a child and he was friendly with a German boy who lived nearby. The boy was "ruptured" (I'm still not really sure what that means) and spent all day loafing around his house and scraping up money for Kool-Aid. Granted, a package of the powder was only a nickel, but in this chapter the "Kool-Aid Wino," so aptly dubbed, bummed a nickel from our narrator and purchased his sweet almost-nectar.
The process of the Wino making the Kool Aid is so intriguing that it earned a booksketch. He retreats to the family chicken coop and lays out four pint-sized containers in a row. You're only supposed to make two quarts of liquid bliss (I imagined Cherry-flavored bliss, of course) from each packet, but his addiction was so great that he made a gallon! This meant that it was diluted. Ewwww.
Anyway, he would be careful not to spill a drop, as was his ritual. Then he would proceed to secure all of the containers in a nice spot until he needed to empty them into his gullet. Whoa, did I just used the word "gullet"? Awesome!!!
I decided to throw in some color, also. Mainly to point out what flavor of Kool-Aid I tasted in my head, and also just for fun.
The Call of the Wild. We've all read it in 6th grade, so the story is pretty well worn territory. Buck is a husky that has been raised as a domestic pet in a nice populated town when one day is is kidnapped, nay- dognapped, and sold as a sled dog in the Alaskan Tundra. For Buck, culture shock sets in and he's forced to adapt to his new surroundings and sort of make lemonade out of his frozen lemons.
The REAL story behind this sketch is not so much about The Call of the Wild as it is about WHY I chose this particular sketch. I was sitting in my hotel room in Chicago last weekend thinking about how it was 70 degrees when I got on the plane in Baton Rouge on Friday and now I was in Chicago in 9 degrees looking out at the snow. It reminded me about the point in the story where Buck is forced to sleep in the snow and learns to dig himself into a little snow-hole to keep warm. After that I just daydreamed about sitting on my patio at home in a T-shirt. Eating ice cream, perhaps. But instead, I drew this little sketch and was forced to dig myself into my white comforter and turn the heater up to 75. Just like Buck. Sort of.
It wasn't enough that Kurt Vonnegut was an awesomely talented writer. He had to go and create a character that is also a talented writer! Talented in a different sense, of course.
Kilgore Trout was an author of various zany sci-fi short stories, quite a few of which are mentioned and told in various Vonnegut books (thankfully). I love them. In some of the Vonnegut books, Trout does more than write. In Timequake, Trout takes charge!
The plot of the novel is that a 'timequake' occurs in 2001. What is a timequake? Well, it is an event that sent time moving backwards until the year 1991. Which means for ten years, people had to relive every moment, backwards. They were basically watching a movie of their lives. If you think about it, it's pretty crazy. And that isn't the end. If I remember correctly, when it became 1991 again, something else happened which made the situation a little more...timely. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that by the time things were righted, people had forgotten how to act for themselves. So when that moment came, utter chaos sprang forth.
The one part of the book that is fixed in my memory is right after this moment occurs. Trout gets hold of a bazooka and says "F-–– the bums!" I forget exactly what was the deal with the bums, but Trout wasn't having any of it. And it may be just my mind wandering, but I seem to remember him kicking over something before saying that wonderfully hilarious line, so I just figured a shopping cart would be idea. Oh, and I'm going to feel really stupid if he wasn't in a bath robe. Because that is what popped into my head. I don't actually own the book, so if you remember what happened in that chapter, please comment about it, hahaha.
"I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion."
It was about time I did another sketch from Don Quixote. This here jolly, simple fellow (atop his donkey) is Sancho Panza. He comically served Don Quixote as a faithful squire through various misadventures and escapades. DQ recruits him at the onset of the book by dazzling Sancho with hopes of governing his own island once DQ becomes a famous knight. The kind of thing that grabs at a peasant's heart, right?
After I drew the sketch, I wiki'd Sancho and was surprised to find a picture taken of a statue of Sancho in Madrid, Spain. The statue looks pretty much like the sketch, sans sandwich. I felt the need to draw him with some sort of food because he was constantly grumbling about how hungry he was.
Since Sancho is a rather simple, hardworking fellow, and Don Quixote is a rather muddled, disillusioned figure, Sancho is often found to be the more rational of the two. I suppose you could say that he was the brains of the operation, since DQ couldn't really claim that title, being addled and all. So, really, it was a pretty good team!