Over ten years in the making, it’s finally done. Black Water was a project first proposed to me by the author Martin Jones sometime around 2008-9. I was immediately struck by the dark obsessive nature of the story, which I knew was coming from a deep and murky psychosexual abyss that immediately brought to mind something like Eraserhead. Not so much a midnight movie as a midnight book, so how could I not be involved? A decade later and it still wasn’t finished but for all kinds of personal reasons we both knew that we would have to get this published and out into the world if we were to ever be able to “move on.” I first drew all the illustrations for an initial draft of the book back around 2011-12, but they never felt quite right, and then Martin started making changes to the text, stripping away any unnecessary words and compressing the narrative down until it was diamond hard and resistant to any light.
My illustrations for the book are all black ink drawings, drawn between 2018-2020, with the majority done in the early months of this year. I worked from reference photographs, most taken at the very specific location in which the story is set, though the details are not important. It’s a place you could find anywhere and is as much a psychic landscape as one you could actually walk around in and, after the reading the story, you might not want to anyway.
I designed every page of the book, which was an essential aspect of my involvement, as it simply would not have been the same had it been handed over to another publisher. Something like this demands the same insane attention to detail in its production values as those that went into its writing and drawings. Martin had a very specific idea for the overall aesthetic and wanted it to be the dark twin of all the insipid ‘nature writing’ we’ve come to despise. It is an ‘against nature’ book, and makes no apologies about it.
I’m already working on a future collaboration, and I’d like to report that it’s the complete opposite of this one, a wonderful uplifting fantasy tale full of plucky kids and talking cats but, alas, it’s nothing of the sort. More details will follow soon, but for now you should order a copy of Black Water and hold in your hands the physical proof that here are men who are not pissing about anymore.
Black Water is published by Exile In The Margins. A random selection of ten orders will also feature a soundtrack CD of music that inspired the book and original art by me in the form of watercolour postcards, signed and numbered. £10 & postage. Order your copy HERE.