About this project
8/31/12 ~ Art Update ~ "What is a 'Bird of Lore' from Pop Culture?"
Last art update?! I noticed that I kept listing "Birds from legends, myths, folktales, literature and pop culture," but I never explained what I meant by pop culture. So, I had a little fun:
At the root, it starts with the Chinese myth of the "Winged Turtle." (You can see a bit on that here, if you like: http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2012/06/flower-generated-birds-and-turtles-that.html ~ Thanks again, Shuker Nature!)
(Yes! Winged Turtles count as "birds." My notion is that any creature with feathery wings is fair game.)
As you can see, I am suggesting that this ancient myth is, in a vague way, connected to another pop culture story that happens to feature Winged Turtles. It's just an abstract "tip of the hat" to something iconic that I like. That's part of the fun of a "tongue-in-cheek" bestiary book.
But, if you think about it, those famous brothers from the modern theme, can be instantly killed by those Winged Turtles! So, while the Mythologist wisely employed Mao and Longwei as Samurai guides, he had no idea how much trouble the Winged Turtle would cause, and one of the two brothers isn't going to make it! (Hint: Note Longwei's crooked landing, as he attempts to stomp the shell. What do you think will happen?)
The story takes place in a castle that's been buried in an avalanche. They are suprised to find more than one horror lurking in the rubble. Note the way that a few large golden coins just happen to be stacked upright, to lure people down there! 'Fun to think about. 'Fun to draw.
"Guest Illustrators" ~ 4 Guest Illustrators will be commissioned to complete a sketch only, then later, a fully realized illustration, if we make our goal.
8/24/12 ~ Guest Illustrator #4
One last illustrator has lent her brushes and pencils to the fray... "Monica Knighton"
Monica specializes in folklore and story books, lending delicate brushwork to monster and mermaid. I would describe her work as sweet and skillful, yet unflinching in the face of darker subjects.
Monica's pelican is already brimming with mystical charm, and the Mythologist will investigate aspects of early pelican legends.
We are thrilled to have her work in Birds of Lore, as it adds a charming bird to our midst that is a thrilling subject simply "as a bird."
8/24/12 ~ Guest Illustrator #3
We have another new guest artist incoming: "David Jernigan"
David is the perfect hybrid between cartoon depravity and masterful illustrative story-telling. His scenes are playful and his sense of humor leaks through, but there can be dark and creepy undertones in the details.
David, like all of our fantastic illustrators, jumped at the chance to work on any bird from throughout time, and decided to start sketching several all at once! If you are a BACKER, you will be able to vote on which sketch he will further develop, and ultimately which final piece! *We love our backers!*
8/17/12 ~ Guest Illustrator #2
We have a new guest artist incoming: "Wednesday Kirwan"
Wednesday is a world-class illustrator, featured in a number of children's books and fantasy projects for older audiences as well. She chose to sketch the Thai myth of the "Kinnaree."
Kinnaree are mystical muses, paradigmatic lovers, and celestial musicians.
I'm not sure if I've ever discussed this here, before, but we are purposely collecting together the art first, and writing the passages after, that way the illustrator truly has 100% freedom of expression.
I love how Wednesday's Kinnaree struts with some attitude. She kind of looks like she's been "around the block." I wonder what will happen to the Mythologist, when he meets her?
8/9/12 ~ Guest Illustrator #1
We are proud to announce the first chosen guest illustrator, Socar Myles.
Socar is an illustrator and avid birdwatcher, living in Vancouver, BC. Her birdfeeder bristles with...well, house sparrows, mostly, but let's pretend it's harpy central, out there. She has already chosen her bird for the book:
"Jingwei" of Chinese mythology. She was the daughter of Emperor Yandi, who drown in the East Sea while still very young. Jingwei chose to return as a bird, and take revenge upon the sea. She would fill it with rocks and sticks until it was no more! The sea scoffs at this, but Jingwei is resolute-saying she will work for as many million years as it takes.
Socar Myles is an experienced book illustrator with a penchant for breathing life into classics-not an easy feat and a testament to her prowess. When she's not improving stories, she co-hosts the fantastic fantasy illustration podcast "Ninja Mountain Scrolls."
If Birds of Lore reaches its goal, we will be able to commission Socar to complete what will be a wonderous illustration!
[UPDATE ~ 8-29-12] Socar felt driven to finish final work early-lest the spirit of Jingwei threaten to toss her into the sea, with stones and sticks! Behold:
8/3/12 ~ Operation: "More Birds, No Sleep" has been put into play. I have been talking to my backers about adding some fresh bird creature artwork for our cause, and now, I aim to get it done, one way or the other. I will not [ok...scarcely] rest until I add:
1) A bird cryptid. [ADDED!] For the uninitiated, the word "cryptid" means: "a creature whose existence has been suggested but has never been given scientific credit."
I heard this tale on a podcast called "Mysterious Universe" that's a whole lotta fun to listen to while drawing. Here is the story told by the observer of this strange sighting:
ACCOUNT: "It had bat wings which it unfolded and stretched out before folding back up again, yellow eyes and a kind of monster monkey face with a parrot's beak and was about 3 feet in height. To my 4-year-old mind, it was terrifying and I had nightmares for weeks. I did not have a name for this thing in my vocabulary and so called it The 'Bat- Winged Monkey Bird' as it seemed to be such a weird mixture of animals." ----"Shuker Nature Blog"
2) A beautiful or cute bird sketch, by Audrey.[ADDED!] 8/12/12 ~
The Cu Bird is a bird from a Mexican Folktale that is unhappy with its plain looks. According to the legend, the other birds agreed to give the Cu Bird one feather from their own plumage, and in return asked it to become the messenger of the bird council. But the bird soon started neglecting its task because instead it spent time admiring its new fancy self. As you might imagine, the forces that be unite to teach the vain bird a lesson.
3) A fierce, dragon-like bird, by me.
7/29/12 ~ We are so excited about the prospect of being able to finish this book, and sooo thankful for our backers. Without your interest, this bit of imagination will be lost forever. Please help us round the 1/4 mark.
8/9/12 ~ Backers are free to suggest their favorite illustrator, that we may contact to be a "Guest Illustrator" for Birds of Lore.
7/29/12 ~ Currently, as a backer, you are able to vote on some birds that we want to add, while the project is live. The choices are: Gandaberunda, a two-headed bird, the infamous Cockatrice, or an obscure bird described in the HP Lovecraft story, The White Ship. Conversely, Audrey is going to sketch a cute or beautiful bird.
Birds of Lore is an illustrated book, about a special "Mythologist" who can, and will go to any length to catch a glimpse of the birds that he knows are more than mere legends.
Audrey and I are tilting our illustration styles in a few different directions, depending on what there is to say about each bird in the story bits. The poor "Captive Harpy," above, called for a somber, realistic approach, while the Hercinia is a direct homage to medieval bestiary art, and the Chakora Birds are just otherworldly and kind of creepy, yet kind of funny.
My wife and I met in art school, and have been drawing and finishing illustration professionally, side by side, ever since...but we've never really worked together on a book.
While we love and appreciate our long list of clients, we have always pined to finish an illustrated book that entwined our ideas and set our imagination completely free. The years passed, and there was little time to work on the notion without a possible way to pay the bills in the meantime, as we knew our dream collaboration would take months of hard work. The hard reality is, ideas do not pay, even with some or most of the art work squeezed in here and there. What we need is a way to concentrate and muscle-through the entire production, and finish our little masterpiece once and for all.
The funding will go toward:
1) 100 or more pages of highly finished, highly polished original illustration. I cannot emphasize the time, effort and cost of this between myself, Audrey and the guest illustrators. We are freelance illustrators, folks, not independently wealthy or anything close, and time away from paying contract possibilities is time without income. That money pays the bills while we concentrate on the art. ~ at least 8000.00.
2) The research and writing is going to take loads of time as well, but I'm counting that as time/$ donated from my own savings.
3) Editing for around 50 pages of short story / myths ~ apprx: 2500.00
4) The rest goes to printing, digital edition prepping, and the rewards. That does not actually leave much of a marketing budget, unfortunately. 5500.00
But we can and will make it work, and make it fantastically wonderful on this budget!
We had several ideas, but Birds of Lore was the one that haunted us the most, begging to be realized. It's a book about the birds, or birdlike creatures from throughout all mythology, literature, art, folk tales or legends. We are starting with birds that are lesser known, or to which little to no art exists. If "world legends" assembled for one big dodgeball game, Birds of Lore chronicles the creatures who might be picked last.
When I first sat down to write the descriptions that accompany the illustration, I found that the common approach, of listing the origin, and dissecting the myth in the usual, scholarly way, was tedious to write and tedious to read. So, the description, location and details about each creature are learned from the actions of an ever-present investigative narrator, or mysterious "Mythologist," who seemingly has the ability to travel to any length, time or dimension to find a real, living specimen of the creature of legend. Sometimes the meeting is whimsical...and sometimes very dangerous.
While this page is dedicated to the book Birds of Lore, our dream goal would be to raise double, or even triple the amount (just in case the sky is the limit), to lock in the second, third or higher in a proposed series that continues the "Of Lore" concept of zeroing in on a specific branch of fantasy creatures. Our series idea goes like this:
- Birds of Lore (16,000.00 in funding to complete)
- Mermaids & Sea Creatures of Lore (funding total: at least close to x2, = 30,000.00. Prizes would be adjusted, etc.)
- Faeries & Small Creatures of Lore (funding total: (x3)...etc.)
- Dragons of Lore (and so on, if we reached any of these heights, we want you, the funders, to tell us which should be next?)
- Plants & Places of Lore
- Artifice of Lore
- Darkest Monsters of Lore
- Gods & Goddesses of Lore
- And we would be able and ready to continue this work, one after the other, and hopefully several per year, if we are funded to do so, here and now. Tier prizes would be adjusted and surprises would be added (Kickstarter allows one to dream big, so why not?) ;D
Team Birds of Lore loves the idea of http://kickingitforward.org
The Book Itself: Is 8.5 x 11 and illustrated "to the nines," as in, we have hundreds of drawings and sketches already, and we plan on integrating them into the design, borders and just making sure this book is the kind of treasure that you want to keep on your shelf for your life. The design is heavily influenced by medieval bestiary books, illuminated manuscripts, Victorian design, and a general obsession with creating weird and memorable pages. The story bits let you look through the eyes of the Mythologist, a mysterious man who seems to be able to travel through time like Dr. Who in order to gravitate toward living specimens of legendary creatures. There will be a paperback and a hardback edition. All backers at the 25.00 mark and up will get their name added to the book as a patron of the project. Patrons of the Limited Edition Hardback book will receive a special signed copy.
The Limited Edition Hardback Book: Is 8.5 x 11, and is the same as the paperback, with the following notable exceptions (and maybe more):
A) There will be at least 1 more Bird of Lore and accompanying story added only to the Special Edition.
B) There will be a special "tipped-in" (as in, it's an actual extra page of the book) illustrated signature page, where Audrey and I will sign the book in gold and silver ink and note the number of your copy. There will be a special illustration on the signature page.
C) We hope to add a very intensive illustration to the End Sheets in the front and back. More will turn up on this later...I have an idea for that, which is very involved.
D) There may be a unique surprise on the Fore Edge and even the Paste-Down!
The Coloring Book: This will be a simple, but fairly large booklet, where we take final artwork (not just the sketches!) and create crisp line work from it to make nice black-and-white coloring pages, for you, or your kids to paint or color on.
The Print: Will be a 12 x 16 poster. Once we have most of the finals complete (in, say, late October) we will send you thumbnails to choose which you want made into a poster.
The Hand-Inked, or Hand-drawn Original Book Mark Art Piece: A wide book mark to which Audrey or I draw the actual bird creature art directly onto the paper marker, and sign it in gold or silver ink. We will also stamp a fanciful border around it. The following is a mock-up:
The Digital File (FELLOW ARTISTS TIER): We will send you a collection of layered digital files. The (hopefully) useful thing here is that you are allowed to use the hand-drawn, inked drawings of page ornaments and little creatures in your own projects, royalty free. The only rule is that you cannot sell them outright, as a set.
The T-Shirt: We will have at least 3 different designs to choose from, and multiple colors. Of course, you will set your size.
The Necklace: Audrey is a skilled jewelry maker. She will be creating tiny portraits (prints) of choice creatures from the book, and creating a small set of unique necklaces from them.
The Printed Lamp Shade: Utilizes fabric or heavy paper to capture art from the book as a tasteful wrapped lampshade. You'll understand why this is cool once you see light streaming through the artwork on your desk while you work on your Kickstarter. These will be finished by the master, the "Lampshade Lady," Judy Lake.
Art Direction Tier: This is my favorite tier, and not because of the level of $, but because I honestly will be fascinated to see what bird you find for us to write about and illustrate. There are plenty of slightly more mainstream birds of legend that we intentionally left out of our master list...such as the Phoenix, the Roc, and the Thunderbird, just to name a few. But, you have the power to bring them into this book, and direct some things about the look of the art. It will work almost like a direct commission. And, if you don't want to find a bird for us, you can just have us send you some options.
Project Credits: It took a lot of effort from several people just to make it this far. Of course, it's worth mentioning that Audrey and I did all of the illustration and design. I did all of the writing. Maria Villanueva directed and produced the video, with help from Jacob. David & Mindi Marshall for introducing us to Maria. Extreme encouragement from Cindy Gaulin was appreciated. Special thanks to our puglet, Roy Allen Durney, for enduring the heat. :D
~The End~ ...OR...Read the last page of the story about the pretty, captive harpy pictured at the top:
In this next excerpt, the Mythologist insists on hunting the feathered Paraguayan god "Mboi Tui"...
The following are excerpts of the story about the polish "Wila," a shape-shifting force of nature:
Thanks for viewing!
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