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Paul O'Sullivan

Paul O'Sullivan

I thought I might tell you something of the inspiration for the illustrations in Ichabod X. Both Luella and I (we have since divorced) are old movie tragics. I have long been fascinated with early cinema, particularly the silent film era. When I was composing the illustrations I had in mind two ground breaking movies of the silent age. Pioneer French cinematographer George Melies genius work ' A trip to the moon' created in 1902 ...The worlds first sci fi movie. And of course towards the end of that era 'Metropolis' by Fritz Lang 1927. It must be obvious how the image of the boy in the machine on the books end papers correlates with the robot being turned into a woman in the metropolis laboratories.

But I had a vision of how the colour would look with these images. Very early movies were often coloured by hand taking many hundreds of hours. Each frame was individually painted. It is exceedingly rare that any of these films have survived into the modern era. But by a miracle a single very corroded copy of 'Trip to the moon has' and after many laborious years going through a restoration process has recently been shown on line. What struck me about it when I saw it was that rather than a film as we know it I was viewing a work of art. The colour is unreal, giving a kind of nether world, alien almost dream like quality to it. And what Ryan has done digitally in the colouring of the plates is very much in this frame. It is a work that has come out almost precisely as how I first pictured it in my mind.

The actual images themselves were a conglomeration of new ideas and sketches I had made over the last 30 years. The book , the illustrative narrative follows an obsession of mine. That obsession is of mortality and time. How the clock is always ticking. We have this one chance in life to do something significant, to make a difference. With each drawn breath we are no step closer to our end, the book shows that the planet also breaths with us. And like us the planet itself is mortal, it is possible to kill it, if we are careless enough


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