Dickens, Doodles and Dreams


Anyone who reads my little marginal posts about random interests and sketches of mine outside Intelligent Life, will know of my deep love for reading, particularly an unnatural and devoted love for classic literature, most namely the works of Charles Dickens (my author soulmate). I’m deeply inspired by Dickens’ work in all that I do, including, very much so, “Intelligent Life.”

Thusly, here’s a sketch of Mr. Dombey, from “Dombey & Son,” which is on my list of reading after my current Dickens’ novel, the deliciously dark and pointed “Our Mutual Friend,” his last *completed* novel. I often base my own sketches of Dickens’ characters on the works of “Phiz” (Hablot Knight Browne), esteemed illustrator and friend who worked directly with Dickens (for 23 years starting with “The Pickwick Papers” after the suicide of Robert Seymour in 1830) and received direct, written descriptions of Dickens’ own visuals for the characters, making them, to me, the most authentic source material in doing my own versions in my own style, outside Dickens’ written descriptions within the stories themselves.

(I wonder if anyone is literary nerd enough to have even read this long tome! I would LOVE to see a comment from you if you did!) 😉 But alas, it is how I spend my spare time, mostly… reading… drawing… and dreaming…. and what I wouldn’t give to illustrate a Dickens’ novel one day. – David

A little more from my Dickensian sketching…

Mr. Pickwick (from “The Pickwick Papers”) sketch in progress…

Esther Summerson sketch from my favorite Dickens’ novel “Bleak House.”

Mr. Bayham Badger (one of my favorite characters in “Bleak House,” second only to Mr. Bucket).

10 thoughts on “Dickens, Doodles and Dreams

  1. These are wonderful. I haven’t read Dickens for a long time (I actually haven’t read a book in a while due to my eyesight getting much worse for close things… I used to read a book a day for almost 30 years, then it slowed down to one a week until I turned 45 and then almost nothing but audio books now). It is interesting reading an account of a time long ago by someone who was able to be a part of that time but also somewhat timeless. Very rare, which is why he is still read and almost everyone else is largely forgotten. Perhaps one day in the future you can do an adaption of one of these works.

    • Thank you for the GREAT comment as ever, Jeff. It’s a personal dream to do an adaption of some Dickens, I confess. And regarding the difficulty reading and eyesight – thank goodness for an iPad, Kindle’s zoom and Audible! I read a LOT of books on Audible and Kindle both (especially Audible when I’m working… I always have a book going whilst I toil away the hours on my work). Thanks, brother!

  2. Thank you for sharing these, David! I was drawn to Intelligent Life for the art and fun stories, but I’m downright blown away by your posts on Dickens. It’s a rare treat to see Dickens reimagined and explored this way, and it really warms my heart! I completely relate to your love for Dickens, as I chose to get a Master’s degree in ‘Dickens and Victorian Culture’ from a UK university. You see, I studied for love, not profit. 🙂

    • Thank you for the very kind words, Vanessa! I truly appreciate them. And what a degree! I’d have loved that. That knowledge is personal profit, to be sure!

  3. I read through to the request for a comment. 😉
    I’m not a huge Dickens fan, but he did wonderful things for the profession of writing, and I’m a huge fan of the profession of writing.
    Thanks for the lovely portraits! I always like seeing them in your posts.

    • Thank you, Anne, for the great comment (and for reading to the end)! 😉 It makes me happy that there are a f ew out therew who might enjoy and appreciate my Dickensian (and Victorian) illustrative whims.

  4. You couldn’t have picked a better source for the inspiration for your take on the characters- I’d call that a classic “first person source” since it’s directly from the man himself even if Dickens didn’t draw them! The only better source would have been initial sketches from Dickens but just because one is a literary artist does not make one a visual artist 😉

    You do a great job with Victorian Era clothes, it’s a wonder they haven’t appeared in the strip…yet.

    • Thank you so much for the wonderful comment, LookingIn! I really appreciate these good words. and I heartily agree about the “first person source!” And the Victorian-era clothes… “yet” is the key word! 😉

  5. I always enjoy seeing the random sketches you post. Please keep them going. And you have inspired me to complete my Dickensian education. There are quite a few books in his library that I haven’t read yet. “A Christmas Carol” in every media is a tradition for me every Christmas season. The perfect audio version is one of my Holy Grails. If I could find a CD or online download of the late Roy Dotrice performing “The Public Reading” I would be over the moon!

    • Thank you very much, Leelan! And so glad to have any influence at all in bringing you closer to your Dickensian education! 😉

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