Art Collection · Barry Windsor-Smith · Christopher Marlowe · Finn Matthews · Mahendra Singh · Tamburlaine

Look Here: Art by Finn Matthews

In early May of this year, I approached Canadian illustrator Finn Matthews with an idea for a commission. Finn is currently working with writer Mahendra Singh, who is an excellent illustrator in his own right, on an ambitious graphic novel, Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, that seeks to transmute Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (Part I & Part II) into Space Opera. My idea was to have Finn draw a scene from Tamburlaine that he had not yet tackled, but to do so in a way that would combine his love of Marlowe’s play and his existing Druillet-inspired designs with ideas and motifs from works by Gustave Moreau, Barry Windsor-Smith, and others — some old favourites of mine, basically — and on Friday of last week, I received via Canada Post the completed page, which is absolutely stunning. I think it’s fair to say that Finn and I both had a blast working together to shape the final art, and I thought it might be fun and instructive to display it here at RCN along with some of the images that the page references.

ABOVE: The completed page on 11 x 14 inch Strathmore 500 Series plate-finish bristol.
ABOVE: Proposed cover for Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, with art by Finn Matthews.
ABOVE: Page (in progress) from Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God by Mahendra Singh and Finn Matthews.
ABOVE: Character designs by Finn Matthews for Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God.
ABOVE: Here’s the relevant excerpt from Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. Finn was delighted with my choice, although I did express a preference for a shortened exchange, and that’s what made it into the commission (see original art).
ABOVE: Watercolour version of “The Apparition” by Gustave Moreau.
ABOVE: Page of original art by Barry Windsor-Smith from the Marvel comics adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “Red Nails.”
ABOVE: The opening page from Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith’s “The Song of Red Sonja.”
ABOVE: Another page from “The Song of Red Sonja.”
ABOVE: Page from a story by Frank Thorne that features multiple Red Sonjas.
ABOVE: Thor page by Walt Simonson that displays his characteristic inking strategy of leaving a white border around figures when the background is black.
ABOVE: The framed commission.

While the choice of scene was mine, it was entirely Finn’s idea to break it down into a three-panel sequence, complete with balloons featuring the precise subsection of the dialogue between the First Virgin and Tamburlaine that I had mentioned in conversation that I like best, which was a cool surprise. (When I first contacted Finn, I had thought that I was commissioning an inked drawing, not a fully formed comics page, which I think anyone would view as a significant upgrade, but let’s just say that, as the process unfolded, we both got a bit carried away.) The term “XenoBramic” in the opening word balloon is an addition to Marlowe that may or may not appear in Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, which, when it is published, will be Finn’s first professional credit in comics. Follow Finn on Twitter and/or Instagram for updates on the progress of his and Mahendra’s graphic novel. And publishers: there are still opportunities for a few brave souls worldwide to join the crew of Tamburlaine’s corsair, the Maa-Durga, which is already prowling the space lanes for plunder and booty, so hup to it!

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