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Fiction Friday: Culling Novel Images

By Leslie Lindsay

As a visual person, I love coming across images that resonate with the novel I am working on. In yesterday’s mail, I received a catalog: Victorian Times, or something of that sort. It’s filled to the brim with fancy perfume bottles, roses, and doilies. Pretty much stuff I don’t need, never will need and ..then I came across this rather gruesome image smack in the middle of ladies petticoats and tall lace-up boots.

Since the working title of my manuscript is Zombie Road, you can guess what happened next: I tore the darn photo out of the catalog, pasted it on my visual board, and then got myself to Google. Okay, in all honesty, the image was familiar but I had disregarded it, shoved it waaay to the back of the ol’ brain and simply forgot about it. (Def Leppard, Retrospective album, anyone?)

I find it a fun little twist of fate that it came back. Or, perhaps I was just prime to see it?

Victorian pen and ink artist, Charles Allan Gilbert (September 3, 1873 – April 20, 1929), rendered this evocative and doubly-interpreted illustration at the age of 18. It was sold to LIFE Publishing Co., at the time a tiny cartoonish publication in 1902 and was an instant success and became mass-produced. Sadly, C. Allan Gilbert (as he is most commonly known), was not remembered. He died in 1929 of pneumonia at the age of 55 in New York.

This type of work is what is called a double-image or a visual pun. Funny, cause that’s sort of what books are all about, right? Sure, the author has a clear objective in what she wants to communicate, but it may not be what the reader takes away.

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