The Yuletide season, Winter’s birth, and the turning to a New Year… a great time for fantasy. I’m not sure exactly why, but I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi more in the summer, and once autumn rolls around I want to break out the d20s, get some graph paper, and immerse myself in stories of magic, dragons, and lost underground ruins. Maybe I’ve been conditioned by the movie industry.
Or maybe it’s because fantasy, in some ways, is more relatable. Science Fiction builds upon what might be, or what could be in the future. It looks ahead to what has not yet come to pass, and fills us with the expanse of possibility. Fantasy looks back on to what we believe might have been. It’s the link to mythology, and for some of us, to the religious. Whether we currently believe any mythologies varies from person to person, but it’s no fiction that our society, our civilization, our culture has been built on mythological and religious roots. Greek gods, celtic and Roman holidays, and Judeo-Christian beliefs and doctrine shaped Western Civilization and held influence even after the Enlightenment.
Because of that, fantasy offers a medium which can hit home to us. In the dark of the night, and the dark months of the year, we’re confronted by the mysterious. It’s cold outside, and we huddle for warmth together, and we create magic. The lure of fairy tales and old stories comes to light, even as we meet as families and share old memories together, or stories about generations past.
There’s a bond to be found in hearth and home, and there’s a kind of magic in shared blood, and shared experiences. Some people have traditional families; others choose their own through life circumstance or choice. The warmth of kith and kin, of hearth and home, is what we celebrate as year’s end while we take stock in what has passed and kindle hope for the future.
I’ve talked in the past about moments of warmth away from home in my Boy Scouts article, and the importance of personal happy endings for characters in epic fantasy, which are both related to this ongoing contemplation of hearth and home.
As Christmas drew near, my wife and I set up our tree for the two of us, knowing that this year, circumstance kept us from sharing the holidays with friends and family away from home. At the same time, I’d recently completed my first fantasy trilogy, When Dragons Die, and I thought about what a holiday meal might look like with the heroines and heroes from the series. I took out my new copy of Manga Studio 5 and went to work with pen and tablet. It’s not complete yet, but I thought I’d share the sketch and some of the detail work as it stands now.
Some of the details in progress: Aradma, Meara, and Attaris:
Odoune and Suleima:
And Tiberan (in progress):
I’ll post the final image when complete.
To all my readers, where ever you may be, I wanted to wish you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, or however you celebrate sharing hearth together in these moments in between the bustle of the years’ work.