A lovely commission for the Christmas edition of the Radio Times with a lead radio page image needed to accompany the highly anticipated first adaptation of the popular Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A darkly comic apocalyptic tale about the birth of the son of Satan and the End of Days; where the angel Aziraphale and demon (Anthony J) Crowley intervene as they have become comfortable living on earth. A sub-plot also involves a maturing anti christ and the gathering of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. First published in 1990, Good Omens was critically acclaimed and has gained a dedicated following, listed number 68 in the BBC Big Read Survey. A movie adaptation planned by Terry Gilliam was in progress, but no recent news has surfaced as to whether it will ever make production.
This was a hugely enjoyable project, where the characters of Crowley and Aziraphale could be explored to the full. Being a lead radio page image it was slightly larger than the Radio Times corner page illustrations, so a perfect opportunity to really work into the image as little detail would be lost due to scaling down of the image for print.
The hardest part of the whole project was trying to move away from fan art interpretations of the characters. There are many examples online and it was hard to break away from their influence. After a number of redraws, the portraits finally came together, being reminiscent of my usual character treatment, yet still respectful to the text. A rather tricky balancing act. Once the basic characters were established, alternative compositions were explored. Sketch No 4 was chosen as it was less likely to be compromised by the magazine page gutter, although sketch No 1 remains my favourite as the scope to overlap the two characters had definite potential. Alternative colour ways were explored and eventually I settled on the blue / grey as it cast the best overall balance to push the figures forward. Black being too obvious and the orange too optimistic!
More info here and of course the full BBC synopsis...
"According to the Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday in fact, just after Any Answers on Radio 4. With a cast led by Peter Serafinowicz and Mark Heap this is the first ever dramatisation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. Events have been set in motion to bring about the End Of Days. The armies of Good And Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield. The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse – War, Famine, Pollution and Death – have been summoned from the corners of the earth and are assembling. Witchfinder Shadwell and his assistant Newton Pulsifier are also en route to Tadfield to investigate some unusual phenomena in the area, while Anathema Device, descendent of prophetess and witch Agnes Nutter, tries to decipher her ancestor's cryptic predictions about exactly where the impending Apocalypse will take place. Atlantis is rising, fish are falling from the sky – everything seems to be going to the Divine Plan. Everything, that is, but for the unlikely duo of an angel and a demon who are not all that keen on the prospect of the forthcoming Rapture. Aziraphale (once an angel in the Garden of Eden, but now running an antiquarian bookshop in London), and Crowley (formerly Eden's snake, now driving around London in shades and a vintage Bentley) have been living on Earth for several millennia and have become rather fond of the place. But if they are to stop Armageddon taking place they've got to find and kill the one who will bring about the apocalypse: the Antichrist himself. There's just one small problem… someone seems to have mislaid him."