Thursday, 15 October 2009

The essence of a character

The bit of the iceberg you don't get to see is all the concept art that goes into deciding what the characters should look like. Jack and Estelle went through months of false starts before Leo and Martin hit on the right look for them.

Over on Martin's site you can take a look at some of that early concept work. The Kind Gentleman is particularly interesting. I originally imagined him dressed like a dandy of the late 17th or early 18th century. When he's putting on his mortal guise, he asks, "The latest fashion?" and his minion replies, "What they're all wearing up top." They are just a bit off the mark after sleeping for a millennium or so.

Trouble was, that look wasn't nearly sexy enough for the Arch Deceiver. So Martin hit on the idea of dressing him in late Regency style - below right. That most certainly does "cut a dash", as the Gent himself puts it - and he's still nearly a hundred years out, after all.

Above is Martin's design for the famous chess-playing automaton created by Wolfgang von Kempelen. In the Year of Wonders, of course, the Iron Turk is not a hoax. Just look at the wealth of detail: the leg shape resembling gentlemen's trousers, the glowing valve reminiscent of a turban, and the styling of the face that evokes a long, curving Turkish moustache. I particularly like the fig leaf - added, as Martin said in his notes, in the interests of decency.

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