It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Folio Society’s special editions. They have been creating some fantastic books, particularly in the science fiction world. After tackling Frank Herbert’s Dune, Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, they have set their sights on a new classic: Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This new edition of Clarke’s classic novelisation (The book was written in tandem with Stanley Kubrick as he worked on the movie) comes with art from Joe Wilson. We chatted with him to learn about what went into this particular story.
2001: A Space Odyssey is an iconic science fiction film: how did you go about adapting your illustrations for this edition without following the movie exactly?
I was well aware of the film before I started this project, knowing how good that is and what it means to people makes it hard to put your own spin on things. I tried to avoid any contact with the film and any associated artwork and focus on the writing itself, this let me draw my own conclusions as to what sections were important and required illustrating. I also wanted to have a clear colour palette to work to, which would also allow me to distance myself from the film. I hoped, based on those criteria, and my own natural style that it would stand up on it’s own. There is always going to be some stuff that creeps through from the film, I put some of that down to the sensitivity of the film making to the actual writing though.
What has inspired and influenced your artwork here? (Aside from the film)
Well, I tried not to be influenced too heavily by the film, and to visualise things in a way that didn’t borrow too heavily from those iconic scenes and sets.
I guess there was a lot of influence or inspiration coming from all over the sci-fi world, and also some research into older space travel provided good reference for space suits and space ships. I wanted to include a nod to that retro vision of the future. It doesn’t necessarily come across in all the pieces, but it was important to me to include some reference to it in my own style.
How did you go about picking scenes to illustrate?
It was crucial to pick scenes that helped spread the illustrations through the book, there’s no point spreading 7 illustrations based around the first chapter through the entire book. So a couple of reads through allowed me to select a long-list of paragraphs and lines that sparked my interest,
and then it was about honing in on the 7 sections that provided good logical progression throughout the book, but more importantly provided me with great visual stimulation to produce great single images. I wanted these images to be good enough to stand alone as pieces in their own right, and the folio society gave me the time and positive direction to see that through.
The Folio Society specialises in high quality editions, with some neat features included. This edition features an introduction by none other than Michael Moorecock, as well as a foreword by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick.
Here’s a selection of the images that will be included in the Folio edition:
Art Credit: Joe Wilson, © Joe Wilson 2016