Friday, April 17, 2015

The Mookse and the Gripes: Moo and Gri

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Mookse and the Gripes: newwhere so airly

Monday, March 9, 2015

No Maps: Finnegans Wake and Fiction

Is Finnegans Wake a novel? This was the subject of a discussion I had a couple of weeks ago, and my initial response was perhaps a little weak: if it’s not a novel, what on earth is it?

It’s tempting to see the Wake as a complete literary outlier. I mean, let’s face it, it’s pretty weird. But it uses all the same techniques as any other novel; it’s only the way they’re applied that’s unique. That’s what makes it so fascinating. It’s like the Centre Pompidou: it’s a novel with its insides turned out.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Mookse and the Gripes: efter thousand yaws

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Finnegans Wake!

Due to extreme stupidity on my part, the site was down for the last week or so, while I was on holiday. But normal service has been restored! Tell your friends!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some more thoughts on reading Finnegans Wake

How do you read Finnegans Wake? This has to be the single most troubling question of the whole book. In my last post I talked about the idea of “experiencing”it without necessarily understanding it, which is certainly an important aspect of Joyce’s composition, but it’s hardly a satisfying response to the question. After all, you’d have to be crazy to uncomprehendingly slog through a book of over 600 pages on the vague promise of some intangible psychic reward. So how do we read it? Or to aim a little lower, how do we define the appropriate attitude of a reader to this book in a way that I can summarise in a short blog post?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why understand when you can reenact?

In Joyce’s day, the Catholic mass that he attended as a child – and occasionally as an adult, for aesthetic appreciation – was given in Latin. You can read part of the rite of the Eucharist at the beginning of Ulysses: “Introibo ad altare Dei,” says Buck Mulligan, as he pretends to bless his shaving soap. In theory, everyone who had done their catechism should have learnt the parts of the mass and their meanings. But, in practice, I wonder how many congregants really understood what was going on, and how many simply memorised when to stand and when to kneel?

When we read a book – or a newspaper, or a post-it note, for that matter – there’s one question that always occurs first in our minds. “What does it mean?” Depending on the complexity of what we’re reading, we might not even have time to form the question in our minds before it’s answered. When we read Finnegans Wake, we might grow tired of the sound of our own voices saying it. But in the history of human thought and writing and speaking and singing, there is a vast and rarely thought-about tradition of ritual storytelling, in which understanding is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Page 34: a pair of dainty maidservants

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Page 33: annoying welsh fusiliers

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Page 38: our cad's bit of strife

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Page 37: ere the hour of the twattering of bards

Friday, January 9, 2015

A cry for help

I’ve been working on this project for a while, at home by myself, when I should be doing work that pays or playing with my son... and I’ve been thinking for some time now about the possibility of turning this project into some kind of graduate project, but I’ve held back from applying anywhere due to a debilitating combination of inertia and fear.

But that ends now! So I’m asking for help.

I know I get a lot of visitors from many college campuses; I don’t know why, possibly my work has been mentioned in an influential psychiatric textbook. Are you, yes YOU, an academic? Do you have any advice you’d like to give me? Have you ever used my work in an academic context that you’d like to tell me about? I want to hear it! Please email me at stephen (at)! And thanks.

Page 35: a cad with a pipe

Ah, it’s like revisiting old friends, discovering they’re hideous, and completely redrawing them.

Is that a good analogy?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Page 36: a nice how-do-you-do

I’m revisiting some old ones right now, in preparation for a talk I’m giving in February. More to come!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Page 160: down to the thither bank

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Page 152½: his father’s sword

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Page 107: who in hallhagal wrote the durn thing anyhow?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Page 162: a singult tear

This is the last page of The Mookse and The Gripes, but not the last page I have to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Page 161: an only elmtree and but a stone

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Page 187: petty constable sistersen

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Page 159: oh, how it was duusk!

I’m going to finally get to the end of the Mookse and the Gripes. Three more pages!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Page 109: one more unlookedfor conclusion leaped at

Prints for sale, 10% off!

I’m finally phasing out my Society6 store and opening a new grown-up shop through Storenvy. Society6 has served me pretty well, but this way I’ll have a lot more control over what I sell (and see more of the profit from it, too!). Also, for the rest of the year you can get 10% off anything you buy there with the code 10OFF. That’s


So far I’ve put up all the Dubliners illustrations and a selection from Wake in Progress, but if there’s anything you’d like to have that you don’t see there, just contact me! The same goes for larger print sizes: Storenvy doesn’t offer size selection with variable pricing right now (though their official tweeter assured me that they will do eventually) so if you want a larger size of anything, just contact me! I’m planning to start offering postcards and other stationery soon as well. Again, if there’s another kind of product that you’d like to see here, just contact me! 

 You can even just say hi.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Page 186: the only foolscap available

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Page 185: his wit's waste

I’m not sure... but let’s press on.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Page 179: Blue Book of Eccles

I’m a little rusty, but drawing like this is like a holiday after Dubliners.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wake in Progress on Bomb

I was honoured to have some of my Finnegans Wake and Dubliners illustrations featured on Bomb Magazine's blog today. Many thanks to editor Orit Gat!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dubliners has been funded!

UPDATE: As of writing, the project has raised €11,110, 111% of its goal, and there are six hours left. There’s still time to order a copy!

De Selby Press has passed their funding goal for the illustrated Dubliners! Thanks to everyone who’s got involved, whether by ordering or book, sharing the link online, telling their friends, or simply sending encouragement, it’s all meant a lot to us.

To celebrate, here’s a recap of all the illustrations I’ve shared so far, in order. And don’t forget, if you haven’t ordered a copy yet, there’s still plenty of time to get one along with a lot of enticing Dubliners-related swag at the fundraiser page.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dubliners 15: The Dead

As I write this, with five days left, the Dubliners fundraising campaign is at 89%! Thanks again to everyone that’s contributed and everyone that’s been sharing it. I really appreciate everything you’ve done to keep this campaign going. I know we can make it, but we need you to keep sharing it just a little bit more! With that customary plea out of the way, here’s one of the three illustrations that I’ve done for “The Dead”.

Since this is by far the most well-known and well-loved story in the book, I felt quite a lot of pressure to do something good here, and particularly to combine the graphic, conceptual style I’m comfortable in with an actual sense of the party.  Although this is a the very internal moment that Gabriel Conroy is having has he looks out the window, it’s important for the viewer to see that there is life going on around him. This image is a good example of how I used the black in this series, allowing them to blend together in a style that I “borrowed” from Félix Vallotton, one of the great turn-of-the-century illustrators that I looked at while I was designing this series.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dubliners 10: Clay

Here comes another Dubliner, but first I want to remind you to look at the new rewards on de Selby’s crowdfunding page. We’ve just got to get another 19% in the next seven days, so please share this with your Joyce-loving friends!

Similarly to many of Joyce’s stories, “Clay” sits in an uncomfortable position somewhere between mockery and compassion, in this case for a somewhat simple-minded old spinster, perhaps modelled on the protagonist of Flaubert’s short story, “A Simple Heart”. With her ironic name and her caricatured description (when she laughed, “the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin” – think of that next time someone labels these stories “realistic”), Maria is a living parody, but one that evokes genuine emotion in the reader, especially by the end of the story. I wanted to imitate that by presenting her in a pastiche of an Orthodox icon, but while playing it straight enough that she retains her dignity.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dubliners 5: After the Race

Before I introduce another Dubliners illustration, I have an urgent message. With nine days left, de Selby Press’ funding campaign has reached 76%. Thank you so much to everyone who’s supported it and promoted it so far! But De Selby still needs another €2,400 in the next nine days, or they won’t be able to publish this book. So if you want to see this edition printed, please tell your friends. Tell people who aren’t your friends. If you know anyone you think might be interested in a beautifully printed new copy of Dubliners full of nice pictures, please don’t keep it to yourself. Thank you!

This story, set during an actual Dublin car race – the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup – was another one where the concept came pretty early. Everyone’s seen those old racing posters with the cars flying towards the viewer (like that one on the right). In my early sketches, I imagined literally illustrating the metaphor in the quotation, like the future bursting through this backward Dublin neighbourhood.

Drawing the car proved a bit of a nightmare. At first I was determined to draw the car that’s actually featured in the story, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what sort of car it could be. It can’t be a racing car, because there are five people sitting in it. Add to that the fact that even the sports cars of 1903 looked a bit like bathtubs on wheels, so the heavily laden land yacht I ended up with rather spoiled the dynamism of the composition. Instead, I replaced it with a car based on the winner of the 1903 race, the Mercedes Simplex.

One more reminder: the Dubliners fundraising campaign can be found here. Thanks again!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dubliners 6: Two Gallants

With two weeks to go, de Selby Press’ Dubliners fundraiser is now at 68%! To celebrate passing the two thirds mark, here’s a pair of gallants.

“Two Gallants” presents one of the clearest examples of Joyce creating portraits of satirical types. I knew from the beginning what I wanted for this story: the devious Corley and his toady friend Lenehan presented like a vaudeville double act. As I worked on it, I realised that I could take the comparison even further, to reference the costumes of Commedia dell’Arte characters Harlequin and Pierrot, which I think the medieval-minded Joyce would have appreciated.

Don’t forget, you can help fund the printing of the illustrated Dubliners by preordering a copy right here!