I’m not David Macaulay level, but I love drawing architectural details. This sketch shows some buildings in Celephais, which I had just drawn in Dream-Quest and Celephais. The architecture of Celephais, in my comics, is based on several influences: (1) Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland” and the gigantic, towering Edwardian World’s Fair architecture which inspired him; (2) European castles; and (3) Arabic architecture. Classical Arabic and Middle Eastern architecture has some incredible shapes and symmetries, and it’s very much in the spirit of the Arabian-Nights-esque story “Celephais”; the only way Western Medieval cities really beat out Arabian ones is statuary, of course, due to the Islamic anti-statues influence. So my vision of Celephais, this playground city of childhood fantasies, is essentially Ancient Arabic architecture + Neo-Classical Western statuary.
Looking back on my design of Celephais in the graphic novel, I sort of wish I’d de-emphasized the ‘children’s playground’/Little Nemo element, as well as the pompous World’s Fair architecture, and gone for more of a purely Arabian exotic fantasy look (plus the statues). The city as I drew it is kind of a jumble of influences: appropriate for a dream, maybe, but messier than I’d have liked. But when I first read “Celephais” I didn’t pick up on the Arabian-Nights Orientalist influence as much, and I envisioned it as more of a European fantasy city — knights and so on. In fact, it was Chaosium author Kevin A. Ross who looked at my sketches at NecronomiCON years ago and asked me why there wasn’t more Arabian influence, and I modified it going forward based on his advice. Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out, but I wish I’d made it more of an appealing place to live rather than just visit. The Sunset City has its little lanes with grassy cobbles, its narrow hill streets, but Celephais as I drew it seems to be all grand squares and tall public buildings: it has no quiet small back lanes, no little houses to sleep in after a long day. The city must have these quiet places, though, so maybe I just need to draw them.
Interested in some art? Commission a sketch! Also: come back tomorrow for the first page of… THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH!