R is for Robert “Bobby” Shaftoe

Well, here’s my very late “R” AlphaBooks entry. This isn’t one of my faves, but after an initial delay from being at SPX, followed by a failed attempt to draw Rick Deckard from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I figured I needed to go ahead and get something posted. So…

R is for Robert “Bobby” Shaftoe — From Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

I loaned my copy of Cryptonomicon out to a friend years ago and never got it back, so I just kinda winged it for the physical attributes of this character. He’s pictured here, though, from a scene I remember distinctly from the novel: Marine Ranger Robert “Bobby” Shaftoe is stationed in pre-WWII Shanghai and encounters a sushi restaurant for the first time. It’s a hilariously-written scene–you can read it here (about half-way down)–and for some reason it’s one of the scenes I most vividly remember from the book.

Bobby Shaftoe had looked in the windows of the place before, and watched the man with the knife, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing. It looked a hell of a lot like he was cutting up uncooked fish and putting the raw meat on bullets of rice and handing it over to the Nips on the other side of the counter, who were wolfing it down.

It had to be some kind of optical illusion. The fish must have been precooked in the back room.

I attempted a sort of “Willie and Joe” thing with the clothing here, but I found Manga Studio not really well suited for this kind of loose linework. I should probably investigate further and see if I can find some MS brushes that more closely mimic the “dry brush” effects that naturally occur with this sort of inking. And, of course, there’s just my natural ineptitude with this style of drapery rendering. Observe the master, Bill Mauldin, in action:

Next week: “S”…

You can find all the AlphaBooks entries to-date at the AlphaBooks tumblr: http://alphabooks.tumblr.com. You can also follow many of the entries as they’re posted in real-time by following the #AlphaBooks hashtag on Twitter on Mondays.

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