We wrote the script for this scene (and I think the whole chapter) before knowing that Erica wouldn’t be finishing it, and we had far too many story ambitions to try cooling down its demanding nature. So we threw would-be artists into the deep end with this page. We sent it to several, but the only ones who got back to us with art were John Waltrip, Christi-Maria Vivar, and Seb Tourenne. Vivar’s work is seen at right; Seb’s work is below. Click them for bigger images.

In one sense, this is the ideal place to transition art styles, because we’re injecting our characters into a new and larger world.

John’s work here is not as good as it would become over the course of even the next five or ten pages– he had a lot to figure out and very little time to prepare– but he was already dealing pretty well with this demanding crowd scene and zeroed in on the tone we needed. There’s a low growl of energy to his page, a sense that everyone is on the verge of motion, with two exceptions. Either Syr’Nj and Gondolessa are confident enough in their diplomatic skills that they’re not worried about a fight breaking out right now, or they’re good enough diplomats to fake it.

There’s also a willingness to engage with backgrounds that’s kind of essential to fantasy but one of the first things that stressed artists cheat about. And John clearly approaches the assignment of rendering all these different species, some of which we’d barely seen before, with some relish. In short, Christi-Maria and Seb gave us everything we technically asked for, but John seeded in a lot more of what we were looking for but didn’t want to overwhelm a new artist by mentioning.