|E.B.Hudspeth: Author & Illustrator of "The Ressurectionist"|
E.B. Hudspeth’s novel/art-book combination “The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black” chronicles an artist/scientist as he “revives or brings to light again (aka resurrect)” a dormant beauty inside humanity. With a horrific tale complementing beautiful anatomical drawings of hybrid creatures, he invites us to reconsider the boundaries (if any) between man & animal…between art & science. We appreciate E.B.Hudspeth taking the time to “bring to light” the beauty in his art with this interview:
Motivations & Muses: Did a muse similar to Mary Shelly's affect you? Where you terrified by muses?
With The Modern Prometheus (1818), Mary Bryce Shelly grappled with the themes of Science, Art, and Spirit. Her character Victor Frankenstein, the infamous artist and scientist, pieced together materials from cemeteries to create life via alchemy. In her prologue, she described how her muse worked though her:
“My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw-with shut eyes, but acute mental vision-I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world. His success would terrify the artist.” - Mary Shelly ~1818
EBH: No, it sounds like Shelly’s muse would have terrified anyone. The whole thing came about as a simple curiosity. I wanted to know how the anatomy of a winged human would work. It was originally a study for a sculpture but then it turned into something more comprehensive. The artwork came first. After I had a pretty clear idea of the art direction, that’s when I worked on the story, focusing on the nineteenth century. I wanted the artist to have believed in this work, not just a piece of fantasy, to me, that’s where the heart of it is. You know immediately that who ever drew this took it seriously and that provokes a pretty interesting question.
The Process of Creation: Did the process of making the book further evolve your own philosophy on art or beauty?
Spencer Black learned a lot about himself and humanity during his life, especially when he tried to produce new forms. Did your views of art change as you realized your vision of the book?
EBH: Yes, my views on art are always changing and they change faster than I can improve as an artist. I feel as though the more I learn, the more respect and appreciation I gain and the more I need to improve. One thing I try not to take for granted in art is the history of esthetics. Their origins, the centuries required to refine them and then their tragic disappearance. There are curves and shapes and line weights that can be lost if we don’t pay attention. Looking back into the 19th century to research certain styles was a wonderful thing to do and a little sad. I am proud of my penmanship but it is nothing compared to the ornate flourish and decoration used commonly in letters.
|E.B.Hudspeth: Author & Illustrator of "The Ressurectionist"|
Art vs. the Artist: How much of E.B. Hudspeth is reflected in the character Dr. Spencer Black?
We know Dr. Black struggled to reveal dormant/recessive beauty to the public. The below quote from Spencer seems to echo your motivation:
"I hear them marvel at my work—my indignant science. I hear them call out in fear of what they see. And there are some gentlemen who doubt what I will tell them. They call me a liar and a charlatan or a quack. But in time the methods of science that I now employ to convince people will surely set them free—alas, this I cannot explain to the angry fools."
I assume you see beauty in the horrific drawings you produced (I do); how do you respond to those who need help seeing the beauty? Can you help “bring to light” awareness.
EBH: I am not sure how much of myself comes out in a character. There are certainly going to be things that I write that I am relating to personally. I think it’s common to feel like there is something special and powerful within us that we have a difficult time expressing. Dr. Black is giving the world something that he feels is no less valuable than food, but they won’t eat. I think this sense of rejection is something we all feel at some point in life.
I wonder if beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. I am not trying to convince anyone. We all love different things and it would be terrible if we all agreed on what beauty was. I personally love the shape and form of organic life. Every specimen is a beautiful mystery, visually and intellectually.
I wanted the artwork in the book to play out as a character. You never really sympathize with Spencer Black until you see his drawings. It isn’t the context that makes you understand him, it’s the sincerity. There are things that artwork can do that other mediums cannot. The same is true for the other mediums i.e., music, writing, dance, etc., they all have their special traits.
|E.B.Huspeth: Author & Illustrator of "The Resurrectionist"|
Bounds of Humanity: Where does man begin and animal end?
There are real life analogues to the fictitious Spencer. Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) comes to mind. A dedicated, philosophical scientist with outstanding artistic skills, he documented thousands of life forms and published his beautiful plates in “Art Forms in Nature” (translated from German: Kunstforman der Natur). But then his fascination with Art-Nature caused an uproar when he tweaked his drawings of embryos in 1874.
The setting in “The Resurrectionist” is ideal for redefining the nature of “man.” The turn of the 19th century was rich with advances in evolutionary theory, science, and even speculative fiction. Anatomists, philosophers, and scientists ruminated on how far to extrapolate Darwin’s assertions. Most understood that all vertebrates shared a common skeletal structure; but if animals and man were connected in their development, was it not reasonable to reconsider the existence of creatures termed mythological? Were centaurs real? Harpies? Demons? Spencer Black needed to know. You seemed to use him to lure us on this quest. So, are there distinctions between man and animal?
EBH: To get into the real scientific answers to this question you would need to ask someone else, someone far more qualified. I am happy to offer my observations, whatever they are worth. Your question is where a lot of the story was able to breathe. The oceans, so vast and mysterious and still unexplored… what lives in it? Today we entertain the possibility of weird or imagined creatures living somewhere in the world, image what it was like 150 years ago?
Anatomically, it is astounding what similarities occur in animals. The bones following remarkably similar patterns, hands become wings, feet become elongated lower legs etc. Eyes, teeth patterns, and reproductive systems all follow predictable rules. Among all of the animals there are a great deal of similarities. Scientists like Ernst Haeckel were amazing for their times. He did doctor his own work, which isn’t uncommon, especially if you believe in the work and its future— competition was fierce, as I am sure it still is today.
The nineteenth century was a good place to exploit the questions of what is the true origin of man. A question that we still aren’t 100%. It’s that 1% uncertainty where doctors like Spencer Black look for answers.
As far as distinctions, they exist in everything. This is how we quantify our world, we measure and name and make distinctions—there is nothing wrong with this. The danger is when we place values on everything.
More Art: Are there more resurrections in the future (i.e. more horrors to shed light on)? Can we expect more history of the Black family to be revealed?
EBH: I am working on a sequel. It’s taking longer than I had hoped, but that’s only because I am very excited about it and I want it to be right. There will be more about the Black family. The first book was written and designed with a sequel in mind.
Stay tuned by following this site and checking out the author's website: http://ebhudspeth.com/
...and read S.E.Lindberg's Review of The Resurrectionist (link).