I've also produced artwork for various publishers around the world including Scholastic, Time-Warner, HarperCollins and Oxford University Press, illustrating popular authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Raymond E. Feist and Harry Turtledove, as well as some classics including Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and The Silver Sword. I was fortunate enough to receive the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist.
I illustrated the book accompanying the album release of Misterstourworm & the Kelpie's Gift, an orchestral work based on stories and characters from Scottish legend. My artwork was used as large-scale backdrops for live performances of the work by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, with narration by Lord of the Rings actor Billy Boyd.
As an author, I've written some books about digital art including Digital Fantasy Painting Workshop and Digital Horror Art, and edited Fantasy Art Now published by Collins. In addition to work in publishing, I occasionally do concept and production art for computer games (following two years as an in-house artist at Eidos Interactive), and film and television productions which have included the BAFTA-nominated The Magician of Samarkand for the BBC, and most recently Gulliver's Travels for 20th Century Fox.
Currently: September 2013: I'm busy developing another picture book, something in a similar vein to The Octopuppy which has just been published in hardback by Scholastic/Omnibus Books. There are also ideas floating around for a sequel to The Octopuppy. All this follows on from The Gift, my first children's book which was published last Christmas and received great reviews. The Gift is due out in paperback in October this year. I've just finished the wraparound cover for You Are The Hero, a book documenting the history of Fighting Fantasy. Right now I'm working on a cover for Axel Rudi Pell's next album release, Into the Storm.
Just received this print copy of a new edition of Shadows Over Innsmouth, published by Titan Books. It was illustrated by me in collaboration with two other Eldritch artists, Dave Carson & Jim Pitts, and first published in 1994. The strange process of the three of us working together on each piece of artwork, like a kind of Three-Headed Knight with a pen (let's have tea first), is probably worth exploring, and what with the appearance of this new edition I might post up a few things about that in the near future. I might also post the artwork we did, except it probably needs some strategically placed warning stickers because some of it's pretty disgusting. We'll see.
In the meantime here are the various editions that I've gone to the bother of getting off my shelves to show you. Clockwise from top left: the original 1994 Fedogan & Bremer hardback, with wraparound dust jacket drawn by DC, Pitts, & me, and coloured by me; Gollancz 1997; the Fedogan & Bremer slipcase with my little embossed Deep One; Gakken 2001, Japan; Titan Books 2013; Del Rey 2001.
Normal monster service resumed
Right. Now that the weans are away, here's a big ol' zombie - RAHH!
This is a detail from the pic I did for Ian Livingstone's Blood of the Zombies, released last year.
New Octopuppy site
I've started a page for The Octopuppy, which will hopefully be a good place for any news about the book, as well as any interesting bits and pieces about creating and developing the ideas. I'll post up various sketches and unused drawings, bits about inspiration and suchlike, stuff which might be of interest to anyone who likes the book. I was going to do that here, but have been very aware that this more recent material I've been creating for young readers doesn't sit well with the scary monsters, super creeps, and undead Kim Newmans which proliferate around the rest of this site. So we'll move the adventures of Edgar & Jarvis over to their own less incongruous, and much more orange, child-friendly domain. Bye bye Edgar. Bye bye Jarvis. Aw, off they go to The Octopuppy blog.
Octopuppy - the cuddly toy!
Here's Jarvis (The Octopuppy himself) in his Count Jarvula guise, one of the many silly characters he gets dressed up as in the book. And below are photos of a soft toy version. It's been made by Chicago-based artist Karen Hollingsworth, and she's done an amazing job - the photos don't do her creation justice. The clothing is beautifully sewn in great detail, and the figure with all its tentacles is fully poseable. Those are plastic fork tines for his Draclia teeth.
Inside The Octopuppy
Here's a squint at some Octopuppy pages. The title page shows one of Edgar's embarrassing walks in the park, with Jarvis in full evening constitutional vigour. Also one set of end papers showing Jarvis in some of his madcap guises - stare and you will see Count Jarvula; Jarlock Holmes; Docjarv Who; Jamlet; Jarvo; and Jarvison Airplane, among other hilarity. A couple more spreads provide a hint of what other high jinks go on in the book.
Just released in hardback, my new picture book is The Octopuppy. It's published by Scholastic/Omnibus books, and marks a bit of a departure from my usual style of illustration. I've been experimenting with a loose, retro cartoon style which has been quite liberating and a lot of fun to do. Early reactions online have been very encouraging, including this from the Hill of Content bookshop:
"We had great fun yesterday when 'The Octopuppy' by Martin McKenna arrived in store. This wonderful new picture book from Scholastic Australia is pure brilliance - a funny and beguiling storyline about a boy who wants a puppy but gets an octopus, with incredible illustrations. We all adore this book and it is the best fun to read aloud. We think we could compare the brilliance of this book with the work of Oliver Jeffers - we LOVE it that much."
The image above shows Jarvis the (ever so slightly camp) octopus in one of his many stupid outfits. Lacking the natural camouflage abilities of normal octopoda, Jarvis dresses up in ridiculous wigs and things - with hilarious results, of course.
Huge thanks to Dyan, Patricia, and Celia, the team at Omnibus books, for making the book a reality. But most of all my eternal admiration, gratitude and thanks to the wonderful Aimee. The artwork was fun to do, but the biggest challenge was inventing the characters and perfecting a storyline, and without all her generous input and support there would be nothing.