It’s a little early for Halloween, but for a soon-to-be-announced project I’ve been reading a lot of horror stories and I recently discovered the perverse joys of Reddit’s NoSleep, where authors post scary original stories online. Content-wise it’s about as far from Larry Gets Lost and cute animals as you can get.
Each month NoSleep has a contest. July’s winning story (proceed at your own risk) was so haunting that I wanted to try to do an illustration for it. The story is about a man recalling the death of his twin brother when they were young. Somehow, his brother was able to continue speaking for a while after his death and able describe what he encountered in the afterlife. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pleasant. I wanted the illustration to represent the inter-dimensional, eternity-spanning concepts of the story without being too literal. The deathbed is a kind of portal and the intersection of the two brothers is the doorway between life and death.
The idea of the exercise was to work within the limitations of old fashioned two-color offset printing, the type used in magazines of the ’50s and ’60s, using only black plus one color and tones. Below are some early sketchbook concepts.