After the surprising popularity and kind reception Where Am I, If Not Here? enjoyed, and following on from the spiritual and emotional growth the project permitted me, I embarked on mapping my inner world – my paracosm – through figures and deities. Where Where Am I, If Not Here? focuses on the where of my spiritual inner life, An Ode to Divine & Dirt focuses on the whom.
I planned for An Ode to meet the following criteria:
- Time consuming. I enjoyed the intense work that went into WAIINH, but wanted to dial it back a smidgen. I wanted, ideally, a project that would have me producing one or two full-colour pieces a week.
- Potentially publishable. While I produce my work for my own benefit, this does not preclude publication. Producing a real book feel incredibly nice. Maybe people would want to won it, too!
- Magically contiguous with Where Am I, If Not Here? I had spent a year evoking the divine through broadly empty landscapes: It was now time to just straight up draw gods.
- Boys. I’m so bored of heftily-policed men in art. I want to celebrate variety: transness, disabledness, scarredness, sickness, health, fatness, thinness, and, of course, colours. All these are neutral qualities worthy of artistic exploration and love. I wanted to draw broad-spectrum boys of a veritable cavalcade of masculine expressions because I’m sick of living in a world where just a hair of gender non-conformity will have you labelled as undesirable, dangerous or a pervert. I want to show you a new world where it is possible to be a boy, and relax. Also, I’m gay.
- Divine spirits. I wanted to draw a huge gamut of pagan iconographs. I wanted to explore portayal of divinity through, again, variant bodies, because bodies are powerful magic. I am also bored of gods being portrayed as “perfect” – and of that “divine perfection” looking awfully white, and so on.
- …Why not both? Hey, you know, why not both?
What the book explores is my own paracosm, an internal world I have had the privilege of knowing for the majority of my life. It is its own place, with a few parallels to this one. Some of the deities, as a result, will be familiar. The boys won’t be. The book contains a more in depth introduction explaining how I experience this paracosm as a spiritual phenomenon, rather than, say, a purely psychological one, and how, as such An Ode is a grimoire of personal magical workings with the intention to explore a different world through the people and spirits that live there.
An Ode to Divine & Dirt’s funder was successful and the book will debut at MCM Comic-con London in October 2018.
The hardbacks will be full A4, landscape orientation, with white cloth cases, gold foiling, gold ribbons and antique gold headbands. Inner pagers will be on 160gsm recycled, unbleached off-white and uncoated, so the natural texture glows through, letting the printed ink “sink” into the page, rather than lie on top. I am also running a line of paperbacks for a more affordable option.
All the illustrations and preliminary text for the book can be previewed here.