Feeling a little macabre? Seeing red dragons and whirlish hellscapes dancing in your head? It’s not Mercury in retrograde — it’s the anniversary of William Blake’s death, and what better way to celebrate than with a ‘sclusie from us to you!
Blake was a Romantic poet and painter—maybe best known in pop culture these days from his inspiration to Francis Dolarhyde, the lead baddie with dental woes in Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon—whose grim depictions of minotaurs, devils, beasts, and other ghoulies are as haunting as his poetry.
Writer and illustrator GE Gallas takes full advantage of that with her similarly dark drawings and text in her graphic novel The Poet and the Flea. And GE was kind enough to give us an exclusive look at some chilling illustrations from her book!
Want to get more into the gloomy glommy mood of things? Sure, you can catch up with the newest season of Hannibal, and you can also glom onto GE by following her on Twitter, WordPress, website, or even checking her out at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September!
Check out our Q&A with GE herself right here:
What inspires your work most?
Storytelling through both words and images has always been an important part of my work. Since high school, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and his formula for the universal hero’s journey has been a significant inspiration. I know many writers who believe Campbell’s ideas to be a restriction to the imagination, but I find his hero’s journey to be a very basic foundation on which to build and enjoy twisting and breaking the rules when necessary.
Over the years, my visual style has been inspired by a number of artists: Edward Gorey, Hergé, Ai Yazawa to name a few. Of course, William Blake has had a huge impact on me over the last couple years. I discovered him in a very roundabout way. Dante Alighieri and Allen Ginsberg had been two interests of mine and both led me to Blake — Dante through Blake’s depictions of The Divine Comedy and Ginsberg through his recordings of Blake’s songs. I find Blake to be a unique artist in his combination of words and images, and have always believed his work to be a precursor to the modern graphic novel. That’s one of the reasons I chose to explore his life and works through the graphic novel medium.
What advice do you have for someone trying to make a name for themselves online?
That is a tough question! My best advice to those trying to make a name for themselves online is to always be courteous to your fans and try to make friends with them. I’m always excited to receive messages on Facebook or Twitter from people telling me how much they like my work. And I try my best to respond to every one of them, even if its just a simple “Thank You.” In this way, I’ve made friends across the U.S., UK, Malta, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere. In fact, when I was in London a few years back, one of my fans and his wife were kind enough to take me pub hopping in Soho (which was brilliant since they were like impromptu tour guides giving me a thorough history of the area).
Tell us about someone whose work your admire and why we should “glom on” to them!
Right now, there are so many amazing writers and illustrators creating free webcomics and independently published zines and graphic novels. And I admire so many of them! But I’ll try to narrow it down. My newest favorite is an artist who goes by the name of Alabaster. I stumbled across her work this summer at the Grand Comics Festival in Brooklyn, where I picked up volumes one and two of her series Mimi and the Wolves. Her work is incredibly fun and whimsical, and she has a real knack for telling an intriguing story. I adore the work of Raine Szramski, who does this fantastic comic about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (a group of infamous Victorian artists) that’s both hilarious and educational. And I’m a long-time fan of Shelby Criswell, a self-described “doofus” who creates the thoroughly entertaining and relatable autobiographic comic strip Awkward Shelby.