I feel like I've run a marathon after every one of these.
It’s taken me some time to wrap my mind around Eiddileg. His buffoonery doesn’t gel with my concept of Faery, one fairly well-researched and informed by old British and celtic folklore, which treats them far more seriously than Lloyd does. But thanks to a few hints he drops about the king’s shrewdness, I’ve come to the opinion that Eiddileg’s insults, and the apparent incompetence of the dwarf warriors, are all entirely an act meant to throw any intruders off their guard. The companions are, in fact, in significant danger in the Fair Fold realm; there are creatures here that would happily eat, enslave them, or play the faerie equivalent of cat-and-mouse, and Eiddileg has to hold his own subjects back from their baser instincts until he can discern whether these mortals are worth protecting and releasing. No wonder he’s stressed. That part is not an act. Controlling the fae - whose very essence is to be unpredictable and anti-authoritarian - is a job you’d have to be crazy to take on.
What a grump.
Yeah but look what he has to deal with.
Yes, but he is also a frustrated administrator trying to keep everything running smoothly.
Wow the bridge makes the space even bigger, wel done! I like the face of the dwarf(?) at the bottom right in the last panel
The space is so much richer than I had pictured it when reading the book! I had always pictured it dark and monochrome, even though the book does mention colored lights and high vaulted ceilings. It's beautiful. I had forgotten that it wasn't just dwarves in the Fair Folk realm because the other sprites/fairies/creatures don't show up again (do they?).
I can't believe the dwarf with the black eye is still standing next to Eilonwy....
I tend to gloss over details of settings on my initial reads since I’m more interested in the characters. I did not visualize it so richly until it was actually time to start drawing.
The only other fae ever mentioned by name is Gwystyl, who Alexander goes to pains to make clear is not the same kind of creature as Doli. There is some mention of other types of creatures thronging outside the throne room and attempting to barge in, but I thought it would be much more interesting to show them milling around.
Exactly the same, I don't think my mind ever really visualized this scene, but you've captured it beautifully!
Some "running commentary" of my reading of this page:
1) Ha!! They've got three spears on E and only one each on Taran and Fflewddur. No one wants a black eye this time!
2) Oh. Mermaidy/Merrow/Melusine-type fan and, um. Oh my.
3) Hahaha. "Tweak." Also mushroom cap guy looks decidedly more sober now in Eidileg's presence. Black eye fellow looks about the same.
4) Hahahaha! "Doink!" These sound FX are great.
5) There's supposed to be threatening or dangerous subtext to this humor, but honestly, I'm just enjoying it as is.
One wonders if maybe they can sense the latent magical power inside Eilonwy?
There’s not much that’s threatening; the subtext is all in my own head, lol. These are entirely meant to be humorous to the viewer. I’m still trying to be mindful of my audience after all; otherwise those lakesprites would be even less covered.
Maybe I'm weird, but the last time I read TBoT I got a little weirded out by E's offer to tear up her dress and go around naked to get Taran out of that hole way back in chapter 6. Sadly, I don't remember how I reacted to it as a kid (I think I was ten or eleven), but last time I remembered thinking, "Lloyd! This is a kid's book!"
LOL I love that line. It tells you everything about both her practicality and her utter lack of regard for convention.
My temptation toward undraped faeries is motivated not by an intention to shock/titillate but by my love of figure drawing; I’ve clocked hundreds of hours drawing models au natural and at this point it’s too familiar to be about anything but the aesthetics.
Also, this time, I noticed the little hobgoblin-y guy yanks on Eidileg's eyebrows. You packed the details into this baby, didn't you??? Sheesh!
That's not even counting the bismuth throne. Look at that thing!
Keep up the phenomenal work, Saeriellyn!
I did!! Thanks for noticing. I’m fond of Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books, where he always has this spider and mouse that appear on every page, independent from the story, just going about their business, and I homage that from time to time with little details, remembering how much delight they gave me as a kid.
I'm unfamiliar with Mayer, but your description makes me think of Graeme Base, whose works I loved as a kid.
Whatever the reality of their situation, I imagine Fflewddur's inner thoughts in the last panel being 'this is the most non-threatening group I've ever been threatened by!'
Fae realm is overwhelming to mortal dudes in multiple ways. ;)
I like this page even better than the last! I agree about the bridge, it adds so much depth to the scene...shades of Moria. I never thought that much about LA's depiction of Fairies being lighter than Celtic mythology, I just chalked that up to his humorous but thoughtful approach in general, and the intended audience of young people (or the young at heart). But I get your point, Eiddileg does have a lot to deal with. And based on what the imp is doing on his table, his subjects aren't terribly afraid of him - until he really gets mad, I take it.
Yeah I noticed the three spears on Eilonwy also...even if they can't sense her power, the bauble -and the sword - definitely warrant a little more caution. Not to mention the attitude and a few well placed blows.
Exactly! And I do still treat it lightly, too - I mean this page is full of humor - so all this background peril is just in my mind and may or may not make it through to the page. It’s just fun speculation, but it also informs my fic writing, so there’s that.
"Damn imps! We just sprayed for imps last week!"
Time to get more imp spray. It expires quickly.
How impertinent of you!
That was so light-brained, insubstatial, subterranean, petty and Devilishly unkind, well, I am a Ghast!
Those are all the puns I have.
So much going on! These past two pages are so noisy they really give you a sense of why Eiddileg is as stressed out as he is. (And I did notice Taran ogling the mer-things in that first panel! HIS view would be somewhat less obscured!) The little guards are kind of adorable. The one in orange with purple eyes is sort of beautiful, and I love the face-palming little dude (Eilonwy's friend?) in the bottom panel.
Re: your assessment of Eiddileg vs. traditional portrayals of the Fair Folk in Celtic stories--I do think there is a real danger here that is offset by the comedy of this scene. It's hard to take Eiddileg seriously, but in this interview, he IS serious about potentially never letting the companions return home, and he really wouldn't care about that. He has a genuinely different morality and set of priorities than humans do, and the lives of these interlopers really don't matter to him. Their mission does, and that and his reputation are the only reasons they get the kind of response from him that they do and don't end up chased down tunnels for the rest of their lives or longer.
Agreed 100%. Eiddileg is a "good guy" in the sense that he does something positive in regard to the companions, but it could have just as easily gone the other way. His loyalty is toward his own kind, and he maintains a precarious peace with "the world above" because it's preferable to being continually at war, not because he has any particular regard for humans. A fair number of his subjects would regard them with real animosity, and his motivation here is to determine whether this motley crew is worth protecting, or if he should just turn them over to his people and forget about them. It's not that he's evil - he's just got his own agenda, and, rather like the Morva trio, doesn't care about human perception of what constitutes good/evil.
We get little hints of it in his threats toward them, along with his attempt to hide Hen Wen, but you have to know something about Faerie lore to interpret him as deliberately devious rather than purely played for laughs.
I like to think of Doli being something of a bridge of diplomacy between the FF and humans, going forward. Like he's the first one to develop actual friendships among mortals and goes back and tells everyone "guys there are a few good ones, you just have to dig for it" and winds up healing a few old rifts between the worlds, stuff we don't hear about.
Brilliant. Lloyd Alexander was in intelligence in WWII, after all.
Methinks you've uncovered hidden depths that were there to be seen if we just squinted correctly all along.
Another great panel with great analysis. Like someone else commented, I think Lloyd’s description of the fair folk in the text was largely a function of his target audience...I’m sure the average 12 year old thinks the buffoonery is hilarious and doesn’t worry about the comparisons to their mythological counterparts. Regardless, I love how you’ve given another interpretation here and your logic makes perfect sense. This is a pretty important part of the journey for Taran (and the reader) as it really shows how big of a world this is and how there are more powerful forces at work beyond his control. Also the beginning of a reoccurring theme in the series where the Fair Folk play a key role, but don’t magically come in to save everything. Great job bringing these scene to life!
Yes to all! It's turning out to be more fun than even I imagined.
Wonderful details! The claw-like pointed nails on Eiddileg hint at his potential ferocity.
Also: Don't look down, Taran! They will lure you to your DOOOOOOM!
(I've seen some of your other work, and I appreciate your restraint with the lake fairies. I can show this to my kids.)
Restraint? LOL I'm trying to think of any art of mine that is not restrained in similar fashion. The only nudity I have posted online is very old college work from figure drawing courses, and it's tame. But even if I were well-known for it elsewhere I wouldn't put any here.
Eiddileg's claws make me happy. So do his fangs.
Isn't he still looking there in the second frame?
Oooo, I love the low-angle vantage point in the first panel! It gives such fantastic volume to the scene.
Again, the little details are wonderful here. The fairy/sprite tweaking Fflewddur’s nose and the face-palming dwarf really made me smile.
Personally, I never got the sense of buffoonery with Eiddileg—just that he’s a very excitable, irascible, and very stressed out character. If his subjects are slipping up round him (e.g. leaving with the prisoners), I chalked it up to getting nervous/flustered around their potentially very dangerous king. It ends up being a comedic scene, but that didn’t strike me as mutually exclusive of danger.
I don't know why I was so unimpressed with the portrayal of the FF. I had trouble with it even when writing my Eilownycentric Book of Three treatment, trying to get around Eiddileg's weird mix of being both threatening and suprisingly easily mollified by flattery. Thinking about it in prep for these pages has helped solidify him a lot more and I'm almost tempted to go rewrite a chapter or two in that story. But in any case, I hope both aspects are coming through here - both comedy and potential danger. He's so inescapably silly-looking that I'm still erring on the ridiculous I think.
"Doink" ... facepalm. Awesome.
I like how you've created so many different types of Fair Folk. The different designs of the different types of beings are clever, but having so many creatures down here also really reinforces that there is this whole other world below the surface.
The fellow on Eiddileg's table really is a troublemaker, isn't he? No wonder that his king is in such a mood.