IT STARTED snowing before 7 this morning and there were still a few wet flakes when
I went out to clear the drive at 3 p.m.. I don’t remember having had such deep snow
since we moved here over 25 years ago. The weathermen are comparing it with the winter
of 1979-80 which I remember well as I was drawing on location in Whitby and Malham
for test pages for my Richard Bell’s Britain sketchbook.
A great day then to stay in and finish the rough stage of my Robin Hood booklet.
This afternoon I drew the first of the 144 frames of artwork. I’m not starting at
the beginning of the story though; I’m starting with the characters who appear only
once or twice, once I’ve built up my confidence by drawing them and begun to create
the atmosphere that I’d like for the strip, I’ll start on the main characters who
have to appear and be recognisably the same throughout the story.
To get myself in period mood I’ve dug out some LP records from the attic including
the Clannad music for Robin of Sherwood but my favourite medieval album is of John
Barry’s music for The Lion in Winter. The ups and downs of the story and the ‘countless
grizzly confrontations’ (as the sleeve notes put it) match the back-story to Robin
Hood that I’m illustrating and devising walks for, around the original locations
mentioned in the ballads and historical documents.
The film’s setting of Henry II’s castle at Chinon at Christmas, 1183, echoes the
present-day view from my studio window. Henry II was the great, great, grandfather
of Edward II, the king in my story, the one who married Isabella of France. It’s
often suggested that this marriage had fatal consequences for him.
I drew Isabella from a medieval illustration which I tracked down via Google on Wikipedia.
There were several to choose from but this one suggests the character I want to portray.