There’s a point in airborne operations where the operation itself takes over reality and you become an element instead of an individual. It happens when:
- The aircraft is orbiting the drop-zone
- The jumpmaster has opened the door
- Jumpers have hooked up
- Equipment is checked and the sound-off made.
At that point you’ve become a round in belt of machine-gun ammunition and you are going out the door. Oh, you’ve been taught the procedure for refusing to jump but believe me – you’re going out that door…but it’s OK.
…that’s because it has transformed into a Zen feeling/experience – it’s out of your hands.
I’m hitting that point with Midnight Son. We’ve gone through the final edit and the cover art is done, needing just a bit of digital juju to get it ready for the press, so I figured I’d give you all a sneak peak of that art:
As a bullet-proof twenty-six-year-old it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t continue on flight status throughout my entire career so the transition from UH-1 helicopter to M35A2 truck was a little rough. It took almost as long to adjust to the grounding as it took me to work through the loss of my father twenty-three years later, but my grounding would have been much more difficult had there not been some powerful compensations in play
One such compensation was working at the U.S. Army Aviation Digest. Shortly after arriving at FT Rucker I had made contact with the editor Dick and made arrangements to contribute – I knew that I’d eventually end up in the illustration market it seemed prudent to round out my student portfolio with actual printed work. When I was grounded I was able to wangle a staff assignment there which was infinitely better than being assigned to hand out socks at the gym.
The experience and printed work I gained at the Digest was the compensation I needed to help me cope with my vocational loss. Out of the dozen or so pieces I did there this illustration for an article on the AH1 Cobra Up-date program was my favorite. The original is much nicer looking than this printed version – the range of blues and greys just wasn’t reproduced adequately by the two-color system the digest used. The fact that the original hangs in our sitting room is a minor miracle; the Byzantine network of regulations governing pay and compensation for commissioned officers is such that any work I created for the magazine technically belonged to the Army, but as the editor was lecturing me on that matter the staff designer whisked the original out of the office and into my car.
Technical Notes: 21”X28” Airbrush, pen and Prismacolor pencil on illustration board
Note: There is a significant technical error with this work of art that I was totally oblivious to before a friend and long-time gunship pilot pointed it out to me.
Feel free to comment.
Jayden gets the lion’s share of write-ups but I do have other grandchildren that can lay equal claim to my heart. Last week I received a packet in the mail from my older son and his family in Maryland, a packet full of letters and pictures that were all equally wonderful…but there was one image that really fascinates me.
It was created by a grandson I call “Hank the Tank”. It would be natural to assume that I favor him because he bears the strongest resemblance to me as a child, but he also has a slightly tilted outlook on life that I love. He brings to mind another square peg in a round hole from decades ago.
Some of the imagery is recognizable but there is an element of the surreal that is very intriging. I see whales, submarines, Zeppelins and rockets …and I have to wonder about the story behind it all.
No – you’re not seeing things – the masthead illustration HAS gotten sharper and brighter, thanks to the efforts of my good friend Kent Gardner. Kent is a crackerjack designer from Vermont and he kindly took the time to clean up Emma and John for me. Gardner is also that rarest of commodities in the creative world: a designer who actually knows what he is talking about.
For various reasons I’ve had to temporarily disable my contact information tab. If you need to get in direct touch with me you can go through the ‘Comment” option.
The book-thing is still in the works, though it has been a more placid progress than I had imagined. I may have said this already but at the outset I hadn’t planned on illustrations but there were one or two chapters that really needed images to clarify the action. Before long it was a matter of one thing leading to another – now the whole book is getting illustrated.
This will accompany 1966: Fighting Crime on Scout Lake Road – which you can still find on this blog if you search back a bit.