Barred Window Chords

The Music of Erich Zann by H.P. Lovecraft

A couple of days ago I found the urge to do an illustration featuring violin. Mostly because violin takes up a nice chunk of my time these days. So I racked my brain to think of something I've read that included a violin, and I remembered a wonderful short story by Lovecraft that I lit upon when pouring over a collection of his works.

The story is only about ten or so pages long, so it is hard to explain the booksketch without giving away major points. But I'll try my best not to ruin the story for you, should you want to read it.

A university student in a European city finds a cheap apartment on a strange little street. He meets another one of the residents, a lean, bent old man named Erich Zann, who plays violin in a small cheap theater orchestra nearby during the day and cranks out some eerie/mystifying notes at night.

The student is intrigued and eventually befriends Erich. One evening he gets invited in to Erich's room for a bit. The conversation stops as a distant musical note enters from the curtained window. Erich Zann immediately zones out and breaks out his violin, as if to compete with the approaching ghostly music.

I'm going to stop there. Lovecraft considered this amongst his favorite works produced, and I can see why. While many of his works tend to go overboard in ghastly detail of supernatural (and just plain other-wordly) creatures, The Music of Erich Zann is more subtle, and it strikes an especially eerie note. No pun intended. Ok, maybe a little one.

The illustration above is of Zann playing feverishly to fend off what waits outside his window.

Num num num

Blood Relatives is a short story from the book The Littlest Hitler by Ryan Boudinot. I bought it because the synopsis online for the title story was about a little boy and girl who dress up as Hitler and Anne Frank for Halloween and become friends. The actual story (and book, for that matter) is much more depressing and dark and sometimes funny at the same time. This is OK though, because the short stories are also completely awesome, for the most part.

Blood Relatives is actually a combination of two stories involving a family member being a serial killer. The first story (pictured above) begins with a mom and her son shopping for food with the usual happenings. He asks for sugary cereal, she says no, he wants pizza pockets for dinner, she says no, etc. The mom is somewhat of a health nut, but only cooks a meal from scratch on Wednesday nights. This meal is labeled "the fancy meal."

The story sounds normal enough in the beginning, but we soon find out that the "fancy meal" involves ax wielding and the phrase "go mom used to run track." Ultimately, the crazy antics end with everyone living life as normal, as though the crazy and morally inept "fancy meal" is business as usual. A very entertaining little story! The second story is equally dark and comedic and also involves more dark humor.

Note: no. She is not doing the "Rock-out hand" while holding the ax. I just thought it looked really dainty for her to have her pinky out.

Chalk Up Another One

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan

My second imagining of a section from Trout Fishing comes from a chapter where our narrator recalls the time he was a sixth grader. He and a posse of his classmates devised a plot (out of boredom) to write "Trout Fishing in America" on the backs of all of the first graders they could find at recess.

So, armed with pieces of chalk and a sixth-grader mindset, they set off on their tasks and swept the playground. Complaints started arising from the campus, as well as confusion. What did this phrase mean, and why was it on the backs of every first grader? Was it some sort of evil plot? Who did it?

Well, the principal eventually got around to grilling the sixth graders. I won't spoil the outcome for you, though. I will, however say that I loved the paragraph that you could tell which of the students' mothers didn't feel like washing clothes every day. The day after the mass-chalking, you could still see the faded remains of the graffiti on some first graders' backs!

Brautigan books are chock-full of fun imagery, so you can expect more booksketches from them!

Watership Drown

Watership Down by Richard Adams

It was brought to my attention that I had a nice bleak illustration streak (rhyme!) going there, so I decided it'd be best for everyone if we brought some color back into the equation. And bunnies. Easter just passed by, so why the heck not? The title of this particular illustration is purely for pun purposes, so don't get all worked up about the rabbits' welfare. They're fine. Well, most of them. My rabbits do look rather sleepy. Well, what do you expect! They're tired from laying all those Cadbury eggs.

And the best bunny story I know is Watership Down, hands down. This is my second booksketch inspired by it. The illustration actually was supposed to be much simpler, but I kept adding things because the rabbits and the watercolors were giving me a tough time! But I think it turned out pretty interesting.

At one part in the novel, Hazel and company are hastily escaping down a river when their small raft becomes stuck, and they have to swim for it. So, there you have it. Rabbits swimming!

Rabbits = cuter than rats = cuter than post-apocalyptic cannibals?

You decide.