Monday, July 30, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: K is for Klinschor

Here's a version of Klinschor, yet another character from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival:
His name appears as Clinschor in the manuscripts, but it's commonly spelled with a K in modern German, so that's my excuse for drawing him this week. Fair warning: this will not be the last time I use spelling variations to fudge my way through the Arthurian alphabet! (And incidentally, on the subject of names: Richard Wagner further changed Klinschor's character, his role, and his name in creating the part of Klingsor for his opera Parsifal; a final change for the wizardly knight came with his transformation into Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H*. Ha, I kid! Moving on...)

Klinschor was a knight and Count of the Terra di Lavoro in Italy, but he had the misfortune to be castrated by his lover's husband. (Nevertheless, the part of Klingsor in Parsifal is sung by a bass.) Thereafter Klinschor turned to the arts of magic and created threatening traps for other knights in his Castle of Wonders (Schastel marveile), until the spells therein were defeated—or at least survived—by Gawan (Wolfram's version of Sir Gawain / Gauvain).

The technique this week is a bit of an experiment. I did a very quick pencil sketch from life, as a guide to the shadows, principally; then I put down the vellum and attempted to ink the image with a minimum of outlines, hoping to build up the shapes out of hatching (not unlike the way John Totleben might ink, though very unlike his way in the care taken and the effects achieved):
That turned out okay, but it lost a lot of the shadowy contrast I'd been hoping for. So I tried again by inking the pencils directly with a bias toward direct black and white opposition instead of gradations of shade (though not exclusively, as you can see below):
I liked that one better, overall, but just for fun I decided to lay the vellum over the original inks and see how that composite would look when scanned. And lo, that's how I got the version I submitted to Alphabooks and that appears at the top of this post. Not exactly the best of both versions, but I think the overlaid image is more interesting than either of its layers alone. And to spare you any scrolling up for a recap, here it is again just before the post ends:

Next week: a foregone conclusion for the letter L...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: J is for Jeschute

Sorry I'm late. In this week's Arthurian alphabet image, J is for Jeschute:

Jeschute is the name Wolfram von Eschenbach uses in his Parzival to designate a character who goes nameless in his source, Chrétien de Troyes's Perceval, or The Story of the Grail. In both texts, the character is a woman who is twice victimized: first by the titular hero, whose abusive behavior can in part be explained (though not excused) by his vast ignorance of society and courtesy; then she is tormented over a longer period by her own husband, Orilus, the Proud Knight of the Plain.

Soon after Parzival has left his home in the Waste Forest to find Arthur (in hopes of being made a knight), he encounters the beautiful Jeschute lounging in her pavilion. Misunderstanding his mother's  instructions about how to treat women, Parzival grossly mistreats Jeschute, forcing his kisses on her, stealing a ring from her finger, and eating her food before riding off, completely oblivious to his violations of courtesy and insensitive to Jeschute's tearful protests. (The first time I taught this text, several of my students described him bluntly as "a jerk.") When Orilus returns to see the disorder in his tent and the distress of his wife, he assumes that Jeschute has betrayed him with another man and strips her of her finery, cruelly taunting her and refusing to believe her protestations of innocence.

As (badly) depicted above, Jeschute next appears in the text some time later. The main descriptive detail provided by both Chrétien and Wolfram is that her clothes are in tatters, little more than the collar of her shift and a few rags that reveal more than they conceal. I assumed her hair would also be in some disarray and that she would look rather pained.

I would have liked to have made her look a bit more aggrieved, rather than just wounded, and I would have liked to have made her more beautiful (at least by my lights), but I had a really hard time making a satisfactory drawing this time around. I made various attempts at inking a pencil sketch, on vellum tracing paper and then directly on paper, before I gave up and tried to get a decent freehand image. The first few passes at a freehand drawing were also pretty lousy, but the one above I can live with. I do wish it looked more obviously medieval, however; the hairstyle's disarray masks my original design, which had a more ancient appearance, and the tatters of her shift look dismayingly like a worn T-shirt. Oh, well.

Incidentally, an affecting (and effectively disturbing) cinematic treatment of Jeschute's character—or, more accurately, that of her nameless Old French forebear—may be seen in Eric Rohmer's film Perceval le Gallois (1978). It hews fairly closely to Chrétien's text, apart from its ending (in that Rohmer attempts to supply a conclusion to Chrétien's unfinished narrative, which abruptly breaks off in the middle of an episode with Gauvain/Gawain).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alphabooksbeasts: J is for Jeremy Fisher (and Jack Sharp)

As I said in my "Alphadonjon" post, I'm traveling this week, so this post is actually being composed at 3:30 AM on Thursday night, for scheduling, instead of Sunday night. Maybe I'll be able to keep it brief.

Okay, J is for Jeremy Fisher. You know his story, right?

Maybe you'll even remember (I hadn't) that the stickleback he catches is named Jack Sharp.

I'm not wild about the way this drawing turned out. I wanted to emphasize the smallness of the characters (I mean, he's just frog-sized), but apparently I couldn't be bothered to draw a setting for him to be small in. (I drew this several weeks ago, knowing that I'd need to be away.)

This was one of those drawings that, like my Gurgi and my Pushmi-Pullyu, went through a lot of problems, even up to a completely inked version of the drawing that I decided to scrap. This time, though, it wasn't a problem of character design.

I just couldn't seem to get the character or the pose to look good. Here's the scrapped ink version, very much like the final version in some ways, but missing even the tiny bit of energy I was able to get into the finished one.

I leave it to you, in the comments section, to diagnose what has gone wrong here.

Next week: a koffeeklatch of ko-konspirators. Wish me luck.

Alphadonjon: J is for John-John

My concession to the fact that I am traveling this week is that for this installment of Alphabooks I've only drawn one character from Donjon. Sort of.

You see, J is for John-John.

You can see John-John in the background of lots of the Zenith and Parade books, but it's only in the first volume of Monstres that you'll discover why he looks that way.

Do you remember when I told you that the Sword of Destiny can cut without wounding? Well, before he met Delacourt, John-John was a big four-legged potato of a guy. Then there was an altercation, from which followed an alteration.

John-John is a sweet guy, though, and although he's technically one of the monsters in the Dungeon, my impression is that he's a lot less dangerous than Grogro.

Some doodles:

Next week: the very model of a peristeronic dungeon administrator.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: I is for Sir Ironside

Here's another knight from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur—the Red Knight of the Red Lands, whose given name is Ironside:

As usual, physical descriptive details are few in Malory, but we are told that Ironside is attractive, at least. He's also proud, and a wily fighter. Indeed, when he's in combat with Sir Gareth, his foe in the first part of The Tale of Sir Gareth, his cunning style of fighting serves to educate his young opponent, who up till then has prevailed against his enemies through straightforward strength and skill.

He's also a pretty vengeful heartless fiend—at least at first. When Gareth embarks on his inaugural quest, he does so to answer an appeal to save a beleaguered woman from Ironside's unwanted attentions. In the meantime, Ironside has cultivated a creepy habit of hanging the bodies of the woman's would-be deliverers, assembling the corpses of his knightly victims in a large group that dangles from a tree. When Gareth sees this, he's not sure what to think, but he's certain that it's not chivalric behavior.

It's something of a surprise, then, that Ironside gets recuperated: his life spared by the victorious Gareth, Ironside renounces his hateful ways, explains that it was all 'cause he loved a lady, and ends up welcome at the court of King Arthur. Go figure!

But all that redemptive stuff comes after the drawing above, which is meant to show Ironside in his pitiless days. He could maybe do with still more of a sneer, but I hope it's at least marginally credible that the face above is that of a man who is pridefully ready to hang a bunch of his fellow knights just because his would-be squeeze won't give him the time of day.

Alphabooksbeasts: I is for IT

For my non-Donjon Alphabooks entry, I have chosen a disembodied brain that I hope will be familiar to all of you.

Yes, I is for IT.

IT's name is not an acronym. IT's just capitalized because you're supposed to speak ITs name with fear and respect. IT dominates the minds of an entire world. IT is what Big Brother wishes he could be.

IT poses some compositional puzzles, if you're just working from the description in Wrinkle in Time.

For starters, IT is on a dais inside ITs dark dome-shaped building, but L'Engle doesn't say whether the disembodied brain is floating in a sort of receptacle, or in a terrarium, or just sort of flopped onto the dais in a pile. I opted for the fishtank approach.

Second, IT is supposed to be larger than a human brain. I exaggerated this a bit, but if you're just drawing a brain in a tank, how is anyone to get a sense of scale? I had to put Meg and Charles Wallace into the picture as points of reference.

I had a lot of time to think about this drawing before I had a chance to put it on paper, so I guess it's no surprise that my first doodle is pretty close (in terms of composition) to the final version.

Next week: a stickleback and the fisherman who catches him.

Alphadonjon: I is for Isis and Isidore the Scribe

Okay, this is another week in which I'm composing my Alphabooks posts at about 4:00 AM on Sunday/Monday, and I don't need to make an even later night of this. Let's be brief.

I is for Isis, the Kochak Princess, and for Isidore the Scribe, bearer of the Sword of Destiny.

In Dungeon, one woman turns out to be the love interest of both Hyacinthe (as the Keeper) and Herbert, two of the main characters in the series. If I understand Terra Amata genetics correctly, she even seems to have had children with both of them. And that's Isis, the Kochak Princess.

Isis is supposed to be sexy, but not in a cheesecake sort of way. Rather, her sexiness comes from confidence, competence, and self-determination, as well as a mysterious or at least checkered past. It's that last factor that's symbolized by her hip tattoo: she's been a member of a thieves' guild. (If you can't see the tattoo, maybe you can click to enlarge.)

So: there's your sexy cat-woman, as promised last week.

As for the sorrowful scribe: meet Isidore. He appears in the book occasionally when someone tries to steal the Sword of Destiny, as he is one of the Sword's former wearers. He wore it, however, for only twelve seconds before someone killed him and claimed the sword. (I haven't read the volume in which this story is told, because it's one of Dungeon's French-only publications. Maybe one day.) Anyway, that's why I didn't put the Sword around his waist: I figured by the time I could explain it, you'd be more than twelve seconds into this post.

Not much to tell beyond that. I include a couple of doodles so we can carry on the conversation about energy in the sketch versus the finished product. I know I like the facial expressions on Isis better in these sketches. Alas.

Was that my idea of a brief post?

Next week: I'll be traveling, but I'm hoping to schedule a post with a creature (or is he two creatures?) before I leave.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: H is for Hallewes

With this week's Arthurian Alphabooks drawing, you may be forgiven for thinking that H is for Headdress—
Believe it or not, the headdress is closely patterned on an illustration from a genuine medieval manuscript!
—but in fact H is for the lady Hallewes, a minor character in Malory's "Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake" from Le Morte Darthur. Minor—but unforgettable, because she is One Creepy Dame. Hallewes is a sorceress who has employed her magic(ks) to create an enchanted trap for either Gawain or Lancelot, whichever, though really she has her heart set on Lancelot. And just what does she want with him? Why, to love him, naturally. And if he won't love her back, that's hardly an obstacle. Let her speak for herself:
     "And Sir Lancelot, now I tell thee, I have loved thee these seven year, but there may no woman have thy love but Queen Guenevere; and since I might not rejoice thee nother thy body on live [=alive], I had kept no more joy in this world but to have thy body dead. Then would I have [em]balmed it and cered it [=wrapped it in waxed cloths], and so to have kept it my live days—and daily I should have clipped thee [=embraced thee] and kissed thee, despite of Queen Guenevere."
     "Ye say well," said Sir Lancelot. "Jesu preserve me from your subtle crafts!"
While the whole episode takes up just a few paragraphs in a massive tome, I find that the specter of the lady's necrophiliac canoodling with a mummified Lancelot produces an outsized horror. Brrr!

*     *     *     *     *

And now, a process note or two (mostly for Isaac's benefit, as he has expressed interest or at least tolerance for these in the past). As the caption below the above picture indicates, I actually did a little visual research for this drawing, consulting a few books of medieval images to find a headdress that I thought was suitably wacky and some clothing that seemed appropriately wanton for a dangerous woman driven crazy by desire. (I borrowed the headdress and the rest of the clothing from two different illustrations, but in both cases the women pictured seemed more assertive in their desires than is often the case in illustrations from this period; if anything, the neckline of the dress in the original manuscript image plunged even further than in my drawing above.)

For the second week in a row, I tried to see what it was like to ink a vellum sheet laid over my original sketch. Oddly enough, my brush seemed to behave like a nib pen when I began (as I often do) by inking in the eyes. I remembered that Gary Martin, author of two books on comic-book inking, suggests an exercise where the inker should try to achieve brush effects with nibs and nib effects with brushes. I'd been trying to get a brushy calligraphic line out of a nib pen ever since I was a kid: my first cartooning efforts were full-on imitations of Walt Kelly, and I simply didn't know at first that he used a brush rather than a pen. (In my defense, I was seven at the time.) But making a brush line look like pen work seemed like a weird (and difficult) exercise to me. Now that I've accidentally achieved something of that effect, in at least parts of this drawing, I can see the virtue in making the single tool more versatile, and given my recent problems with ink blots from nib pens it might even be more practical to use a brush for my "pen" lines, thereby to reduce the risk of blots and smears. Still, I suspect that the pen-like qualities might be owing more to the unfamiliar tooth of the vellum surface and/or the viscosity of my ink.

I also had a more practical reason for using vellum, which is that my preliminary sketch this week was drawn not in pencil but in ballpoint pen, which is a lot harder to erase than pencil. That did mean, however, that the rough sketch survived the ink job, so for the sake of comparison here it is below (slightly blurry and rendered in grey rather than the original blue):

It's a commonplace of cartooning to lament that finished drawings lack some of the energy or spontaneity of the rough art. Well, sure, and there are ways in which this rough drawing probably does a better job of making Hallewes look crazy; but to my eye, at least, this rough version of Hallewes also looks less like a highborn lady or a credible amorous threat to Lancelot. She also looks a little too robust, so I made sure to gaunt her up a bit in the finished drawing, which accounts for her thinner lips in the inks. (As for the heavy shading around the eye sockets in the final version, it occurred to me while inking that I might want to suggest "the skull beneath the skin" in this person who, if not herself "possessed by death," wanted to possess Lancelot in death).

I kind of like the face in the rough drawing—it looks like a usable study for some other character—but, despite the label scrawled at the lower right of the picture, I don't find the rough drawing very convincing as Hallewes. So score one for the finished drawings, for a change.

Herbert and Hyacinthe, Corrected

You guys, I am embarrassed. I let my drawing of Hyacinthe and Herbert go out on the internet (even into sketchy neighborhoods like Tumblr) with an error!

I have fixed it below. I leave it to you eagle-eyed readers to spot the difference and identify it in the comments section.

Alphabooksbeasts: H is for Humbug

For this week's non-Donjon Alphabooks, I have paid a visit to a book I enjoyed quite a bit as a kid.

You may recall that in the 1961 novel The Phantom Tollbooth, our your protagonist Milo is accompanied by a watchdog named Tock and a flim-flam insect called the Humbug.

I had originally hoped to make my Humbug look a little like P.T. Barnum, but none of the portraits I could find of Barnum made him look much like a bunko rascal. (More like an avuncular scamp.) Anyway, I took my cues from some textual clues and made the Humbug look a little dandified.

You may be more accustomed to seeing the Humbug like this, as he appears in the book's original illustrations by Jules Feiffer:

(Here he is, talking to Milo)

Or, perhaps, if you're conversant with the feature-film Phantom Tollbooth, this will be the Humbug you picture (on the right, duh).

(Here's the source for that Chuck Jones image.)

I wanted to work from the way the Humbug is described, however, and although there's not much visual description in Phantom Tollbooth (which is more concerned with the fun of language than with non-linguistic details), we do get some information:

...from around the wagon stepped a large beetlelike insect dressed in a lavish coat, striped pants, checked vest, spats, and a derby hat. "Let me repeat—BALDERDASH!" he shouted again, swinging his cane and clicking his heels in midair.

So apparently the Humbug goes for sartorial hodgepodge. Does the result look a little bit more 1968 than 1961to you?

Here's a doodle.

Next week: some disembodied evil, and maybe an outer-space sea-slug. We'll see.

Alphadonjon: H is for Hyacinthe and Herbert

Here's the first of this week's Satisfactory-Comics Alphabooks:

With the letter H, in Donjon, you happen to get two of the series's main characters: Hyacinthe, known as "the Keeper" during the Dungeon's Zenith period—he owns and manages the titular Dungeon—is also the hero of Dungeon: the Early Years, wherein he goes from a naïve young student with romantic notions of derring-do to a savvy and jaded widower. Herbert of Craftiwich, on the other hand, is the protagonist of the Zenith and Parade stories, and a major character in the Twilight storyline as well.

During the Zenith / Parade segment, they know each other well, but I've drawn Hyacinthe here as a young man, probably before Herbert was even an egg, so this particular scene could never actually happen in Dungeon.

Hyacinthe's costume in this drawing is slightly different from the way he usually dresses once his studies are underway. In the city, he forms a secret identity ("The Nightshirt") under which to fight for justice (and woo a curvaceous snake-lady assassin), and his musketeer hat and sword really belong to that side of his personality, whereas the tunic is part of his daytime wardrobe. But I didn't want to draw him as The Nightshirt, because that would belong under N, right?

 You may be wondering why Herbert is merely carrying the Sword of Destiny, and seems to be threatening to pinch or flick any approaching enemies. Well, early in his carrying of the Sword, before he had done three great deeds of valor with his own hands, the Sword would not allow him to draw it, or to use any other weapons. Instead, he had to learn to fight with just sticks and feathers.

He gets to be quite good at them. And then, toward the end of the second volume of Zenith, he's reminded that, because he's a duck, his whole body is covered with feathers.

Alas, this talent only works against green creatures, but before long Herbert is more diversely competent (and better equipped) than we see him here. Eventually, the Sword even lets him draw it.

This drawing came together pretty easily. Originally I had thought about having the two heroes doing a sort of transgenerational fist-bump, but once I drew a doodle of it I realized that (a.) it would be hard to make it "read" clearly and (b.) posing the fist-bump would put them too far apart on the page for good drama.

So I opted for the comics cliché of heroes spotlighted against a wall. I promise I won't overuse this pose. It just seemed the best way to imply that they were both important and heroic.

Anyway, next week: A sexy cat-woman (hello, Google hits) and a sorweful scribe.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: G is for the Green Knight [en série]

Because I somehow wound up committing myself to yearbook-style portraits for my early Arthurian characters, I went ahead and penciled one for the Green Knight before deciding to get more lively with the image in my previous post. But having penciled the headshot, I felt obliged to ink it. It's still fairly lively, though, in a Brian Blessed-as-Prince-Vultan sort of way (though not deliberately so), and I've given it a greenish cast to befit its subject. And here ya go:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: G is for the Green Knight [hors série]

This week I'm departing from my usual black-and-white "yearbook" approach for the Arthurian alphabet to bring you this:

It just seemed wrong not to show the Green Knight in his emerald resplendence. Of course this is Sir Gawain's mysterious antagonist from the fourteenth-century masterpiece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I recommend reading it in Middle English if you can (the better to enjoy lines like "the snawe snitered ful snart"), but the modern English translations by Marie Borroff and Simon Armitage are both excellent and I warmly recommend them!

If you know the poem, you recognize the moment depicted above. If you don't know it, fear not—this drawing doesn't spoil much, since the moment occurs in the first of the poem's four parts (or "fitts").

I suppose it's about time I contended with showing a knight on horseback. (Just ask Isaac about my perennial struggles with drawing horses; I'm really making an effort here, guy!) My first pass at this drawing featured laughably stubby legs for both the horse and the Green Knight, so I had a fair bit of erasing to do before committing the drawing to inks. That's part of why I decided to invest in some tracing vellum to practice my inks this week, the better to limber up before drawing the limbs.

The other part of why I bought the vellum is that I wanted to see what the drawing might look like in two different thicknesses of nib pen, as opposed to my usual brush, and tracing vellum was the easiest way to reuse the pencils. In the event, I stuck with my favored drawing tool, but I did enjoy the challenge of using a pen and was amused at the different character of the three drawings (one of which featured some fortuitous inkblots that doubled as blood spatters). Just for fun—and because I think it looks pretty freaky—here's a screenshot of the three different heads side by side, suitable for printing out and coloring at home!

Next week (if all goes well): a really creepy dame.

Alphabooksbeasts: G is for Gurgi

I'm not so happy with this week's second Alphabooks entry. I have an old fondness for this character that probably dates back to fourth or fifth grade, but despite a lot of effort I wasn't able to get him to look right.

The problem for this week is a really hard one. The character you're looking at, Gurgi, appears in The Black Cauldron and the other Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander, which I devoured when I was in elementary school, probably too young or naïve to understand everything in the books. I remember only a few little things about Gurgi—one scene where he ducks his head down below his shoulders trying to avoid the big evil bad guy; the fact that he's always hungry and unkempt—and I haven't read those books for more than thirty years.

I'm pretty sure that the editions I read had no illustrations, so I was trying to recreate a really dim memory of how I would imagine Gurgi while I was reading about him. If you do a little Google search for him, you'll see that the Disney movie has completely colonized the visual imaging of this character, even though Disney's version probably could not swing a shortsword.

So I started this business trying to draw a faint and distant memory of an imaginary person.

Some of those were pretty close, but I wasn't happy with any of them, because although they fit the descriptions I was reading of Gurgi, they really didn't look like much like my memory. I even went so far as to work up a complete inked drawing of that bugbeary version of the guy. Maybe in some ways this one's better than the one I colored.

I do like his ape feet, and his mild resemblance to Sir Paul McCartney, but I still don't think that's close to the way I was imagining Gurgi when I was reading about Taran all those years ago.

So, at like 3:00 AM, when I should have been coloring if I wasn't sleeping, I started doing new doodles. There's some improvement here, though the pose I settled on seems really stupid in retrospect. What's wrong with just having him sitting on the ground? And why did my finished version wind up looking so mean, when these ones are cute?

Well, if I had world enough and time, I'd try another run at the guy. I wish the ten-year-old version of me had left me some better notes.

Next week: I suppose it's a pun, from a book full of puns.

Alphadonjon: G is for Grogro and Gregor

This week's Dungeon entry in Alphabooks features a vampire and a monster, but I have to admit that I've already drawn a lot of scarier Dungeon characters.

I love these guys.

Grogro and Gregor are both denizens or employees of the dungeon. I don't think I've said anything yet about the economics of the Dungeon itself. Basically, it's a commercial enterprise: there are rumors of fantastic treasure inside, so adventurers arm themselves with their best gear and come from far and wide to raid the Dungeon. They almost all get killed eventually by the various monsters inside, and the adventurers' equipment is added to the hoard.

Gregor is one of the vampires who live in the dark chambers that not many other employees go to. (Yeah, that's what vampires look like in Donjon.) He appears in a few scenes in Dungeon Parade: Day of the Toads. Grogro is much more frequently seen, in nearly every one of the main-timeline books, and in fact he's the protagonist in the second story in Dungeon Monstres: Night of the Ladykiller.

I had a good time drawing this piece. Probably it helps that I am really fond of Grogro. He's a buffoon with a big appetite and a childlike demeanor, and he is one hundred percent fun to draw. He's been cropping up in my margins a lot this week.

I had all sorts of weird ideas for ways to pose the characters this week.

Eventually I just sort of settled on the idea that Grogro should be dancing. There's a great sequence in Night of the Ladykiller where Grogro winds up in an arena, fighting off a brace of gladiators with a broom and some flatulence, and I think some of the fun choreography in that sequence got me thinking about Grogro bumping butts with a vampire.

Next week: two of the most important characters in all of Dungeon.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Arthurian Alphabooks: F is for Feirefiz

Believe it or not, I posted my F drawing to the Alphabooks tumblr on time last week, but since I was traveling at the time my Internet interface wasn't convenient for posting to the blog. So now, belatedly, I present my drawing of an Arthurian character whose name starts with F: the unusual Feirefiz, yet another character from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival:

Feirefiz is the older half-brother of Parzival, the Grail-winning hero of Wolfram's romance; they share a father, Gahmuret the Angevin, whom you may remember as the husband who abandoned Belakane, the Queen of Zazamanc, when she was pregnant with none other than Feirefiz. (I have recycled Gahmuret's motif of the anchor, which I previously worked into the fabric of Belakane's mantel, in the image here on the clasp of Feirefiz's cloak; fortuitously, the shape atop the nasal guard on Feirefiz's helmet, modeled after an actual medieval helmet from the Muslim world, also recalls the form of an upright anchor.)

As with Belakane, Feirefiz is a non-Western character who enjoys great esteem among the Europeans he encounters. He is invited to join the Round Table even before he converts to Christianity, and evidently his fabulous wealth outshines that of all his compatriots in the fellowship. He does eventually adopt the faith of his half-brother, however, though his motive is more obviously romantic than spiritual: he falls in love with a keeper of the Grail and must become a Christian before their marriage can be solemnized. In Wolfram's telling, their son will grow up to be the legendary Prester John, Christian king of the East.

I'm afraid that my finished inked drawing really fails to capture the visual effect that gives Feirefiz a notable appearance among Arthurian figures, and that is his mottled complexion. The name Feirefiz itself has been conjectured to mean something like "speckled face" or "speckled skin" (built on Old French terms rather than Wolfram's own Middle High German), and Wolfram compares his skin variously to the coloring of a magpie and to the appearance of writing on parchment—apparently the result of the difference between his parents' light and dark complexions. While Feirefiz's appearance is unusual enough to be remarked upon by other characters within the romance, all agree that he is quite handsome, and he shares his father's reputation as an amorous knight with a succession of desirable lovers.