In line with the suggestion of a friend, I approached an illustrator today about his possibly supplying some artwork to accompany the text of my novel, Missing Zero.
Really, I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this much earlier. You see, I identify my novel as being a work of Jungian alchemy. And, the thing is, a great many ancient alchemical works actually came with woodcut illustrations to help illuminate the often arcane and obscure passages of text contained therein.
It’s a no-brainer, ultimately. The only problem, I suppose, would be the raised printing costs that including illustrations would incur, if my novel were to ever find a publisher. However, at this stage, Missing Zero looks destined to remain a self-published eBook. The worryingly overdue, final verdict of Coronet publishing, in the UK, notwithstanding.
Interestingly, there’s always been a part of me that’s been totally intrigued by the prospect of turning Missing Zero into a graphic novel. My greatest reservation, obviously, being that such works are in no way viewed as serious attempts at literature but rather as adult comic books.
By contrast, fortunately, though, there’s a long history of cases where satirical/speculative writing has been coupled with illustrations. For instance, I can’t think of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, without the images of Ralph Steadman’s surreal artwork coming flooding into my mind.
A more distant example from the past is, of course, the work of Arthur Rackman, whose illustrations for editions of Gulliver’s Travels, Alice in Wonderland and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination have forever changed how these classics have gone on to be pictured in the minds of generations of readers over time.
In case you’re inclined to believe this is all just kid stuff, William Blake also famously illustrated his own often prophetic and surreal writing. And I don’t think you could find a literary critic alive who would try and argue Blake’s extensive body of work doesn’t constitute the very essence of serious, “capital L” literature.
So, there exists a long tradition of book illustrating, from the illuminated manuscripts of medieval times, through to the modern stylings of Ralph Steadman. And, therefore, who am I to willfully break with tradition?
Moreover, many are calling the times we live in the Age of the Image, as we move away from the page and towards the screen. The visual is king. Everything will soon be multimedia, including possibly Missing Zero. And I’m none too bothered, because for the reasons outlined above, to my mind, the marriage of words and images is simply just another instance of history repeating.