In 2001, Gianni illustrated Robert E. Howard's Bran Mak Morn: The Last King. This
compiles the complete tales of Howard's doomed lost race and its tragic warrior king.
Illustrated with eight color plates and over forty-five pen and ink drawings. Here, Gary
describes the illustration process used for one of the color plates from the book.
"Robert E. Howard was very sympathetic to the Picts and I wanted to
portray them the same way, because we have to feel sorry for them in the
book, because they're doomed. They're going to be crushed by the Romans,
ultimately, and as a race they're going to disappear."
"My initial vision for the cover (above) was to have Bran leading
his men, and have all these soldiers pacing the moors, maybe hiding in
the glen, but when the editor and I talked about it we decided to try
"I had done a little drawing (above) - it was just a real small
sketch of some figures running across a mountain range and the editor said,
'Maybe you could try doing something like that. I like that idea.'"
"From that little sketch, I started evolving it into having Bran standing
among a higher set of rocks, and having his tribe - not just warriors, but
children and women and old people - this wonderful downtrodden, oppressed
race, heading into the mists. We liked that idea. We don't think that
Howard's material has ever been approached from that point of view. These
people, they're human, and maybe we can present them in a way that people
will stop thinking of them as Neanderthals."
"I took this further, realizing that if we can bring a little humanity
to it, then maybe people will stop thinking about Howard as an author who
can only write stories about guys crushing each others' skulls. There's
much more to it than that. Certainly his stories have terrible battles
and carnage, but there's also the flip side."
"I finally arrived at how I wanted Bran to look, but I didn't like his hand.
He had his hand resting on a rock - so I changed that to a clenched fist -
he just seemed like the kind of guy who would clench his fists a lot. It
seemed a bit too nonchalant, the way the hand was. So we even have to take
into regard the smallest body language, because it effects to overall picture."
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