“The New Ghost”: a short story written and illustrated by Robert Hunter
The News Ghost is the first attempt by Londoner Robert Frank Hunter to write, but also to illustrate an entire story. After having designed images of The Jungle Book published by Quarto Press, The New Ghost confirms Robert Hunter as a master of color and editorial games. Sold out from the beginning, Nobrow editions plans to re-publish the book in 2020, the opportunity to talk to Robert Hunter.
What is your relationship/fascination with ghosts?
I have never seen a ghost or experienced anything supernatural which probably makes it all the more interesting for me. I think its the mystery that fascinates me. When I’m thinking about story ideas I enjoy these kinds of themes and like to think about how something supernatural can be explored by its own story logic.
Why did you choose blue as the predominant color of your storytelling?
A few things led to the book being predominantly blue. After I had the idea about the story, I could see that the majority of the story took place at night or twilight. Visually I knew there would be starry skies, dark woods and glowing figures drifting around the landscape, so It felt right to lean towards cooler colours. I used a spot colour printing method, which was difficult to put into production and added a whole extra headache to figure out after completing the book. I think this gives the book its unique blueness because I’m using specially selected Pantone inks that are mixed together in different quantities to produce the images. In the New Ghost I used two blues, a pink and a yellow. It’s scary waiting for the printed version to arrive because the computer screen can’t really show you how the spot colours are going to work. But, I think it’s worth doing as the colours are much richer.
How would you summarize The New Ghost?
I always find this difficult. I’d say that the story is about an astronomer and a ghost who are both searching for something in their separate professions. it’s only when they meet, can they discover the answers.
Why did you choose to create a bond with a ghost and an astronomer?
It’s hard to remember what came first. I tend to jot down little ideas that I think could fit into a story and over time some of them fit together or at least make strange starting points. When I came to write the story, my grandparents had recently passed away and I was probably thinking about Carl Sagan’s Star Stuff quote and spirits and how those two ideas could live in the same space.
What’s your creative process?
With this book I remember writing down the outline for the story first, then I spent a few weeks sketching page layouts and thumbnail drawings to try and break the back of the visuals, then I went about creating the final artwork. The pages for this book were produced as black and white ink and crayon drawings. Then I scanned the artwork into the computer and coloured the images based on the Pantone pallete that I’d chosen beforehand. After colouring the images I had to breakdown all the artwork into the four Pantone Inks to send to the printers and cross my fingers I didn’t make any mistakes.
© Robert Frank Hunter, The New Ghost, éditions Nobrow