Fantastic adventure book by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883. A classic novel about pirates, ships and the adventure of searching for a treasure.
Now published and available to buy! Head over to Books Illustrated and find out more about the available originals and books with 41 color illustrations:
-Standard Edition: 125 books, numbered and signed by Angel
-Collectors Limited Edition: 50 books, numbered and signed by Angel
-Deluxe Limited Edition: 25 books silver embossed in black leather all kept in a beautiful box, numbered and signed by Angel
-Prestige Limited Edition: only 5 books in this edition with marbled end-papers and an original pencil drawing, numbered and signed by Angel
Angel, let’s talk about the book. First of all, I would like to recall that on 2004 when you published “Treasure Hunters, Pirate Tales” (Ed. Juventud, Spain, 2004) you were hoping to draw more pirate books. I understand this is a topic you like?
It´s a nice topic to illustrate, it´s easy to let go of your imagination and fantasy, creating something new or recreating old stories. Their world is that of sea adventures, full of beautiful ships and pirates with picturesque costumes.
I think this is the most original Treasure Island book ever illustrated! You have transformed the characters into animals!
Thank you Laura. Yes, it was the best way of illustrating with originality, since there are many versions of this book. And since I like animals, I had a good time granting a role to each species and making jokes, like I usually do.
I particularly like how Long John Silver is a white tiger, Black Dog a dog, and little Jim a cat!
I´m happy you like it, that´s what I always expect form the public, that they enjoy every detail.
For Long John Silver I immediately thought of a tiger, majestic, beautiful, magnificent for a pirate captain. But the great idea of him being white was of Hilary Emeny, my editor, and I agreed completely in painting it that way, to honor his surname Silver. I also included another tiger, Captain Flint, but as a Bengal tiger for contrast. I want to mark that Silver is a WHITE tiger, not albino, that´s why he has the usual black stripes and beautiful turquoise eyes instead of red.
For two of the dog characters I thought of bulldogs. Black Dog is a black dog, so Billy Bones had to be a brown bulldog.
Little Jim Hawkins could be no other than one of my cats, a striped kitty of similar beauty as a tiger, he´s a little tiger that suited perfectly to be Silvers companion and the true main character of the book and whom I’ve had close by as inspiration during all the work.
How was your experience when creating the characters? Any references?
Since this is the best adventure book, stereotypes are required, since we are talking of an exceptional writer who put into his book almost everything there is to be said about these characters in their appearance and their lives. With real subjects or the wonderful fantasy that abounds in pirate life.
My experience when creating my characters has been to use what I already knew from my many books of historical facts or fiction tales. Wooden legs or an eye patch were something real, both due to their many fights at sea and land. A parrot on the shoulder is fiction… some may have had a parrot on the shoulder or a monkey, but it was not usual. It´s also fiction the punishment called “walking the plank” it´s an invention to make someone walk across from a hanging plank from the side of the ship, blindfolded and bound with many sharks waiting with an open mouth like Peter Pan´s crocodile. Also the red color on their suits was an invention from the first movies, because red looked good on screen… so Silver and Captain Garfio from Disney or Captain Kidd from illustrator Howard Pyle, were in style in Hollywood.
Give us a little hint on how you work from the beginning: reading the book, then sketching and the final drawing?
First of all I read and STUDY the book, not only to illustrate a story, but also if I´m just assigned to do a book cover. I read the whole book. I also like to fill my notebook with sketches on pencil. I always like to start by creating the characters, but sometimes you have to start drawing the illustrations without having created them all, since the editor usually wants to see drawings as soon as possible. Sometimes some sketches on pencil are BETTER than the finished work; the pencil is the SOUL on each drawing, that´s why I leave some traces of it, so the characters are more ALIVE… I can even see them move.
Do you have any interesting curious information on behind the scenes? Any self-portrait, any real location you used for the drawings…
Nice question. Very interesting, I have from each book I do, another full of sketches and details that could be as interesting as the original story. I haven´t done a self-portrait, but some bit of me stays in each drawing I make. For one of the illustrations I’ve used a scene of the sea where I live, although the story takes place on the Island Pinos.
What have you most liked of the book, or your characters…?
From Treasure Island I LIKE IT ALL, since it´s the best book of its kind. Although there is a really funny chapter, XXVII, titled PIECES OF EIGHT.
Anything to add?
I am satisfied if people read Robert Louis Stevenson´s book, with or without my illustrations.
2020. Interview conducted by Laura Fernández