I was first hooked by the story of the British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913) when I heard the dramatisation of Apsley Cherry-Garrard's book on Radio 4. For a long time my heart belonged to the radio play, until I finally read the book and discovered that not only was there so much more to the story but all the people involved really were as wonderful as the play made them out to be. Then there was no turning back, much to the chagrin of the folks who'd rather I draw Harry Potter.

Drawings are in roughly chronological order by date of creation. Sticklers for accuracy may want to find their smelling salts now because most of them were drawn in meetings and dark corners without recourse to photo reference ...

Manhauling - All expeditions that include the use of heavy outerwear and googles automatically revert to Mignola style. (This is the image I used for that snazzy title graphic, only bigger.)
Conversations with Cherry (I) - Obsessive relistening to the radio play brought welcome vicarious adventure and catharsis but also feelings of guilt for deriving so much enjoyment from a true story of tremendous suffering and loss.
Conversations with Cherry (II) - Shortly after getting hooked on the play I learned Mr Cherry-Garrard's full nancy posh boy name. I wonder if anyone ever teased him about it ...
Conversations with Cherry (III) - Schadenfreudian guilt aside, I kept coming back for more. (... and part 2)
I Should Like a Receipt - One of those heart-wrenching moments, captured so well in the TV dramatisation, when Cherry brings the hard-won penguin eggs to the Natural History Museum. Apparently there is some doubt as to whether this actually happened this way, but I love the scene regardless.
Cherry's Cargo - A recording of Mark Gatiss' TV docudrama came in the same week as his documentary on Doctor Who novelisations aired on Radio 4, prompting an inevitable crossover. I got a bit carried away with the painting.
Bottled - Trader Joe's carries a juice they call 'Just Cherry.' I was sleep-deprived.
Conversations with Cherry (IV) - After finishing a project at work, they had to let about half the crew go. One day we all found out who would be kept on and who was leaving. The comparison was inevitable; no word yet on whether it will have similarly tragic consequences.
Requiem in Wheathampstead - I went to London in 2009 and made a day trip out to Wheathampstead, because stalking Mr Cherry-Garrard in my imagination quite simply wasn't good enough. I mean, um, I wanted to pay my respects to the person who introduced me (and countless others) to this amazing story. Obviously.
Great God! This is an Awful Place - Amundsen left a letter at the Pole for Scott to send to the king of Norway to corroborate his antecedence. This was bemusing to me, that a man could realistically expect his defeated rival to voluntarily go through the hassle of proclaiming his loss, and that said rival would actually do so rather than mutter a bitter 'screw you' and take no action at all. So of course I made a comic out of it.
Bill Tends to a Grouse - As I got more deeply into the expedition and learned more about other members of the party, it became increasingly clear that Dr Edward A. Wilson was the most wonderful person who ever lived. Before the Terra Nova expedition, he was investigating diseases of the grouse in Scotland (which has little to do with his wonderfulness but does explain the drawing). Aside from being wonderful, he's also really easy to draw ...
The Birds'-Nesters: Cherry, Bill, and Birdie - drawn a long way from photo reference
Cherry Doodles - Indisputable proof I need to concentrate more at work; these were drawn on the exposure sheet of the scene I was supposed to be working on. I'm trying to find a design that emphasises his youth and naivete but still looks like him ... photo reference, again, would probably help.
Clues from the Orchestra - There was a 1950s American radio adaptation of Scott's final journal entries where every entry was separated by a menacing dramatic chord.
Distracted in Life Drawing - One of the regular models reminds me of Birdie (while looking nothing like him) so during a break I amused myself with sketching Birdie and Cherry. The memory of photo reference is evident, here, but once again ...
Ponies and Oat(e)s - I pay attention in meetings, really I do.
I have been quite taken by Silas' independence in the fashion department but have clearly not paid as much attention to his face; Titus, I think, fared better as far as likeness is concerned.
The 6th Inniskilling Dragoon's Lament - When I'm animating a scene I have a lot of time to sit and ruminate on things. In this case, what was intended as a simple song parody turned into a vignette with two fully-rendered illustrations and a dabble in recreational forgery.
Won Ton Depot - I know I am not the first to make the pun, but I may be the first to illustrate it. Is that an honour or ignominy?
Solace in the Sketchbook - During the second winter, when it was 'morally certain' that the polar party was not going to return, Cherry's sketchbook hosted some special guests.
Dear Mum, It's a Bit Blowy Today - The Terra Nova encountered a massive storm on the way south from New Zealand that very nearly sank her. Birdie's letter home (reproduced in Worst Journey) didn't quite reflect the direness of the situation ... (this is not an exact quote)
Nerds in Antarctica - While climbing the Beardmore Glacier, Silas Wright wrote: I ... had found one could do better by pulling at an angle of about 15° to the side and thus get a grip on the surface without my ski sliding back. Scott then said to Birdie, 'See, that's the way to do it,' to which Birdie unthinkingly replied, 'Yes, but look at the loss of pull due to the angle.' I felt like reminding Birdie that the cosine of 15° would not lose more than one percent of the effort of the straight pull. I'm not sure if the equation I came up with is correct (if you know how to state it correctly, please tell me) but I loved the idea ...
Dinos Catch Centenary Fever - The famous Dinosaur Comic did a Scott-themed miniseries, which I celebrated with a comic of my own. It was just going to be Scott's reaction, but Bill and Birdie had to get in on the action.
Wilson Charms the Adelies - Wilson went over to the floe to capture some pengiuns and lay flat on the surface. We saw the birds run up to him, then turn within a few feet and rush away again. He says that they came towards him when he was singing, and ran away again when he stopped. I drew this on my Christmas holidays when I had no access to a scanner, so it's a photo of the drawing in situ.
Gentlemen of Adventure, the Prequel - While trying to land the Eastern Party for their studies in King Edward VII Land, the crew of the Terra Nova discovered Amundsen's party setting up camp. Amundsen invited Campbell's men to tour Framheim, and Campbell brought the Norwegians on board the Terra Nova. Under the diplomatic affability there was a fair amount of suspicion, though, as each party tried to scope out the other's prospects. Before they departed, the British left a special souvenir for the Norwegians ... they all caught head colds.
Osman the Hero - On the return from laying One Ton Depot, Scott's dog party crossed the lid of a crevasse which fell out under them, leaving the dogs hanging by their traces, suspended from the sledge on one side and the lead dog, Osman, on the other. The accounts have him heroically straining to support the line, but it's just possible he was stuck in a more awkward position.
Foreshadowing - I am continually astonished at how much the expedition reads like it was crafted by an author familiar with Aristotle's Poetics, but I was still unprepared for this blatant piece of foreshadowing. At the beginning of the journey to lay One Ton Depot, Scott writes: We saw a dark object a quarter of a mile north as we reached the Barrier. I walked over and found it to be the tops of two tents more than half buried – Shackleton’s tents we suppose. A year and a half later it would be the top of his half-buried tent spotted as a dark object in the snow ...
Reading the Signs - Scott is blissfully ignorant of this literary device, of course.
Anger Management - Upon arrival back at Hut Point, Scott reacted badly to receiving the news that Amundsen had set up his base camp at the Bay of Whales.
Birdie and Birdies - Adelies are adorable!
Cherry Reflects - Cherry was in the party that found the Polar Party's tent ... um ... later. He was tasked with finding letters and journals and such. I can't even imagine (though, evidently, I tried).
T is for Titus who Perished of Fits - According to Frank Debenham: Oates pretended to have a grudge against the 'medical faculty' in that certain medical comforts, namely brandy, taken for emergencies on sledge journeys, were never opened. He asked what brandy would be given as treatment for and one of the answers was 'a fit.' Later in the day Oates went out to where Wilson and others were shovelling snow and threw a very realistic fit at Wilson's feet. An accomplice said to Wilson: "It looks as if Oates had got a fit." "Yes," said Wilson, "he's got a fit all right; rub some snow down his neck, and he'll soon get over it." (Debenham)
Saturday Night Seal Fry - Yesterday Wilson prepared a fry of seal meat with penguin blubber. It had a flavour like cod-liver oil and was not much appreciated ... Three heroes got through their pannikins, but the rest of us decided to be contented with cocoa and biscuit after tasting the first mouthful.' (Scott) I really need to fix this drawing ... but maybe the badness is fitting.
Debenham - Studies, trying to get a design for Frank 'Deb' Debenham (junior geologist), who recorded a lot of the little character episodes of the Expedition, for which I am eternally grateful.
On the Management of Horses - Tonight Soldier gave us a ripping lecture on the Management of Horses. He gave us all a surprise as his slow way of talking hardly lends itself to the lecturing, but he lectured really well and his dry smileless humour was splendid. (Debenham)
Unimpressed - Teddy Evans' lecture on the basics of surveying was apparently "shy and slow, but very painstaking", which doesn't sound like Teddy "Let Me Show You My Party Trick" Evans at all. But this face in the audience could put anyone off their game ...
Quite Plane - After Teddy's lecture, Scott decided all the officers should learn at least basic navigation. Cherry was rather at sea with math, so Teddy drew up an example of a meridian altitude for him and asked him if it was 'quite plain.' I thought this might have been at attempt at a really dreadful pun. (And I really need to learn how to draw Teddy ...)
Ever the Soldier - They had a great feast at Midwinter (June 22) which stood in for Christmas. Titus got three things which pleased him immensely, a sponge, a whistle, and a pop-gun which went off when he pressed in the butt. ... "If you want to please me very much you will fall down when I shoot you," he said to me, and then he went round shooting everybody. (Cherry-Garrard)
Snow Fun Play Time - I dug myself a hole in a drift in the shelter of a large boulder and lay down in it, and covered my legs with loose snow. It was so warm that I could have slept very comfortably. (Scott) I really must request you stop doing this sort of thing, sir.
Visitation in the Little Tent - Is it too late to make a jokey reference to a mawkish American TV show from the mid-90s? Or is it just too wrong?
Some Browning - Before departing for the pole, there was the important job of choosing what reading material to take. Griff Taylor suggested Scott take a book on glaciology, if it wasn't 'too cooling,' but Scott settled on a book of poetry by Browning instead. Behold: an actual verse by Browning.
Atch the Chef - When the official cook was incapacitated by a fall from an iceberg in an unfortunate photography accident, other members of the crew had to step in and do his job. One of them was 'Atch' Atkinson, the official doctor and parasitologist, who was more accustomed to working in the lab than the kitchen.

 

 

 

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