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You know the drill by now...

John's original tweet:

The roots of the Mandragora genus of plants are known as Mandrakes. Once prized as magical ingredients they are hallucinogenic, and highly toxic. It was once believed that when uprooted, the Mandrake would scream. Its terrible cry striking dead any who heard it. #folklorethursday


I vaguely remembered seeing a diagram of the Mandrake plant that was, it turned out, from wikipedia. I thought that'd be a fun opening panel. It would feel different from whatever I drew following it.

Panel one I was toying with drawing someone who would prize a magical ingredient, I kept leaning towards a wizard - but everything looked a little goofy (my knowledge bank in my head kept suggesting wizard cliches, and anything that wasn't a cliche was too hard to "read" as wizard). Then I thought ... oh, a druid! quick google of a druid and, you know, bland but workable. Then I remembered a deep buried memory from childhood... GETAFIX!

Hopefully this fun non-authorised use of the old Asterix Druid is ok (is this considered fair use?) if not, it may be an internet only version, and at some point I'll have to edit him out - boo!

One of the jobs as cartoonist on this strip is to link the words together with some sort of narrative, and sometimes the narrative requires only a single image, but here, moving from prized... to hallucinogenic... to toxic required a number of steps (this is why I get paid the big bucks). I'm always trying to shorten the those steps but this time it was pretty much impossible. I had to get the druid to collect, cook and then sample the mandrake (taking us from 'prized' to 'hallucinogenic' -dropping the cooking /tasting would've let it a little confusing about why he was suddenly hallucinating) then another step to toxic. The line art, on its own was gonna struggle a little to show toxic -I thought one open eye then one winking closed would give a sense of a transition from toxic to death - plus a little skull and crossbones, but colour was gonna be the real way to sell it. A sickly green on the face (if I didn't have colour I'd probably do it as two panels, or leave it was one - not just as clear a pay off)


And the final mandrake gets short shrift here, I kept thinking of Kate Bush's Experiment IV (a sound that can kill) and following the shriek around as it kills people, but, ultimately, I've one page to play with so I've got to pick and choose my moments. I liked the goofy mouth of the mandrake and figured with the captions, it'd be enough.

And that's your lot! Until next week...