Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Elfworld Alphabet: BCDHIJKNSTUWWXYZ

Our story may be finished, but there are still a few Elfworld-related tasks to complete. Among these is a bit of bonus content we have planned for the book edition of the story, if (as we hope) our tale is included in the second volume of the Elfworld anthology. The book's dimensions are taller than those of the postcards for which we've designed our story thus far, so to fill out the space in the bottom margin we're creating a series of alphabetical portraits of likely types to inhabit such a world of medieval-inflected fantasy.

I will spare you the details of the Byzantine process whereby Isaac and I collaborated on the creation of an extensive list of potential Elfworld personality types--mostly based on trades, à la the General Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Suffice to say that it was fully in keeping with SatCom practice, in that it involved us bouncing ideas back and forth, exercising some individual choice about which types to draw, and requiring each other to draw certain other types. The alphabet will ultimately include the main characters from our story, as well, probably identified by name rather than occupation (though who knows? Since most of the characters are already named in the tale, it might make sense to label them by their trades, instead).

At any rate, I've drawn my allotment of sixteen non-character types, and here they are:



As you can plainly see, these characters are a Beggar; a Caitiff; a Dwarf; a Hermit; an Imp; a Journeyman; a Knave; a Nymph; a Saracen; a Tapster; an Undertaker; a Weaver; a Wodewose; "Xiphias"; a Yeoman; and a Zealot.

The Weaver is modeled on the manuscript illustration of the Wife of Bath from the Ellesmere Manuscript of the Canterbury Tales, and the Yeoman more or less recalls the poetic portrait of the Yeoman from the General Prologue. The Zealot, meanwhile, is based on images of Savonarola.

As for "Xiphias," well, that's Greek for "swordfish," and I think it entered the alphabet out of sheer desperation (though "xorn" was also considered). "Xiphias" was one of the types that Isaac insisted that I draw. So it's a sword-wielding knight with fish on his shield; what else was I supposed to do?

P.S. -- I have manfully resisted the urge to employ the obvious portmanteau that combines "Elfworld" and "alphabet." It wasn't easy to avoid!

2 comments:

Janice said...

Mike, I love it! I'm printing one out for my lab wall. Perhaps I can make them into little tags and attach to my co-workers as appropriate.

Mike said...

Thanks, Janice! There's another juicy batch of character-types to come when Isaac gets a chance to draw 'em up, so stay tuned for more-- after all, your lab might well include an alchemist; a gargoyle; a serf; or a werebear, as well.