And another one of my Haruki Murakami illustrations. This time it is of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, a novel which is a bizarre mix of cyberpunk sci-fi and surreal fantasy.
Like a few other of Murakami’s novels (1Q84 and Kafka on the Shore), each chapter of Hard-Boiled switches between narratives. But this time each narrative seems to be in a completely new, completely different world. These worlds are filled with mysterious elements; we have hackers, people with no shadows, a seemingly crazy scientist, skulls of unicorns and much, much more. It is a pretty kooky novel, and for that I love it. It was also the inspiration for one of my favourite anime series, Yoshitoshi ABe's Haibane Renmei.
As I've mentioned before when sharing my other Haruki Murakami illustrations, a few years ago I decided to do an illustration for each of Haruki Murakami's novels in order to practice. Each was hand drawn in pencil and coloured digitally in Photoshop. I was surprised by how popular they became, and had many people asking if any of them were for sale as prints. But I wasn’t quite happy enough with them to have them printed; I was at a point where I was still deep into training and hadn’t yet developed a style I was settled on.
Two and a half years went by. I was now working full time as an illustrator and designer, my skills had developed fourfold, and I had a look and feel I was delighted with. So I felt that maybe it was time to recreate the whole project and finally allow fellow Murakami fans to purchase them as prints and other products.
So here is my new version of the illustration for Murakami’s novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The unicorn skulls really jumped out at me as a symbol of this novel; there’s not many other novels with these as a major element! That was one of the reasons I picked them as the subject of the illustration. The other reason was as I wanted to try my hand at painting a skull; they aren’t really something that would be typical in my normal illustrations. I like the subdued look of this piece, with its restricted colour palette. I think it mirrors the walled world of the even-numbered chapters of the novel well.