• Mirabilis - Jack Ember
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Hello, I'm a freelance illustrator based in the UK.
I was born in London, and started out in illustration with work for fantasy & horror small press magazines in the '80s, in particular the H.P. Lovecraft-devoted Dagon. My first professional commissions came from Games Workshop for their magazine White Dwarf, and this began a long relationship with the company, illustrating lots of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay publications and the very first Warhammer 40,000 book, as well as many other GW books and boardgames. I've also done game-related material for other publishers, including covers and internal illustrations for twenty-two (I think) of the Fighting Fantasy series from Puffin Books/Wizard Books, and card art for Magic: The Gathering from Wizards of the Coast.

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: October 2015: My latest picture book The Crocodolly was published in hardback by Scholastic last month, and is available in Australia, New Zealand, and soon to be released throughout Asia in English, also with a translation into Chinese. The Crocodolly is something of a companion to my earlier picture book The Octopuppy which has been doing pretty well internationally -- more info at www.theoctopuppy.com  Right now I'm working on my next picture book; so most of my energies have been directed towards my books for children. But I've also just finished another album cover for Axel Rudi Pell, which is the fifth sleeve I've done for his records.  I've also been doing a little bit of work on the Game of Thrones computer game.


  • List of Published Work
  • List of Clients
  • Merchandise at Wardrobe Of Terror
  • The old martinmckenna.net
  • The Octopuppy
  • Prints at ArtPal
  • Artwork Archive at Flickr
  • News from September 2013

    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.

    • reddit.com

    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.

    • reddit.com

    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.

    • reddit.com

    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.

    • reddit.com

    The Octopuppy

    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.

    • reddit.com


    Oops. I've let time slip by again somewhat, haven't I? I've been busy setting fire to things and fighting with gypsies. So much for leaving a trail of teaser tentacles on here ahead of the release of my new picture book. It's out now. But, by way of a last-minute tease, here's a rough for an unused version of the book's cover. So there you have its title: The Octopuppy. Tomorrow I'll post some proper information about the book. No really, no not in six months time. Tomorrow, honestly. What're you trying to say?

    • reddit.com


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