My love of drawing was impossible to leave out of any project, even a novel like OLLIE. There's something classic about ink illustration that I think lends itself to my breed of storytelling, especially the more I explored OLLIE's world via quill. Even though most of this work was produced for my SCAD thesis project on illustrations in fiction for adults, there is still a joy in expressing OLLIE with these drawings, especially the ones that are of a more decorative, abstract fashion. Part of that is related to the revival of art nouveau that was popular in the 1970's, but a lot of it it is also devising ways to touch on various story points in an efficient manner. You might blame some of that on my love of comic books, but I think it pairs nicely with the sort of spot illustrations I've also employed to capture moments in Ollie's evolution.
Here are some of my newer additions to the OLLIE collection. This first one is an expression of Ollie's bad habit for self damaging behavior. He has a moment where a little too much bud lands him in the first of many similar problems, though it's quite some time before he realizes that he's got a bad habit.
I also doodled this one afternoon whilst thinking of some of Ollie's favorite songs. There is a specific moment where the lyrics to the song, 19th Nervous Breakdown, fill Ollie's thoughts as he tries to weather a wave of smugness from Julian, whose attitude is one Ollie hates because of the threat it poses.
For me, the artwork is just as important to the development of a story as the text itself, and can even help develop a certain attitude or mood. Giving a face to the characters helps me envision them, especially when it comes to tiny details like the particulars of someone's fashion, the exact turn of a coiffure, or even just the cut of a chin. I like to think there's a certain amount of storytelling that occurs when the illustration and the text come together, especially in our increasingly visual society. To quote the conclusion in my thesis essay on the topic of illustration in novels:
In the end, though illustration can be construed as a subjective, superfluous element in an adult novel, there is still something to be said for the stimulation they can provide even the more mature imagination. With as rich a history as storytelling has, especially in conjunction with some of the most signature faces in literature, it is limiting to assume that certain types of writing can’t evolve with the addition of suitable artwork no matter who the target audience is. A quick glance through an illustrated book gives the potential reader an instantaneous glimpse of what they might find in the story, a little tease that can inspire a purchase without even reading a word, and could drive the sales of books as they compete with other visual mediums such as the cinema and television. And who knows: it might be the next illustrated character who becomes a modern classic, elevated to the pantheon of timelessness.