The Phantom Twin

h1 April 28th, 2020 by jules


Today, author-illustrator Lisa Brown visits to share some process images from the creation of her newest book, a graphic novel called The Phanton Twin (First Second, March 2020). It’s the story of conjoined twins — the Peabody Sisters, Isabel and Jane — raised, since the age of three, in a carnival sideshow.

When the girls agree to a risky operation to separate themselves from one another, Isabel wakes to find that Jane didn’t survive the experimental surgery. Jane, however, lingers in her sister’s life in the form of a ghost, who haunts her — she’s a phantom twin, hurt and angry. Isabel, in the meantime, must adjust to life with a prosthetic arm and leg, as well as life at the carnival without her sister as part of the show. She and her sideshow friends must also survive a local reporter, trying to denounce the carnival entertainers as “gaffs and grifters.” Isabel also finds love in Tommy, a local tattoo artist.

It’s a story about the human side of so-called “freaks” and the bonds that such people form, as well as one girl’s attempts to overcome loss, learn independence, and find her place in the world. It’s a story whose tone is, at turns (and delightfully), both creepy and touching, and it’s drawn in Lisa’s distinctive, beautiful line. Also, it’s impressive the ways in which she delineates the twin girls — both physically and character-wise. (As for physically, you’ll see below that she had to create a kind of conjoined twin map.)

Here’s Lisa to share some images, and I thank her for visiting 7-Imp today.

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Lisa: Below is my conjoined twin map. It’s hard to remember who is on which side when drawing conjoined twins.



And here is a tattoo map! Creating consistency when drawing a tattooed lady also turns out to be rather difficult.



This is a rough sketch of the tattoo parlor:



A rough thumbnail sketch:



Some tight pencils:






Below is a color test in traditional watercolor. I was planning to do the entire book this way, until I was convinced by LeUyen Pham that I would be insane. She was so adamant that she created a template and taught me how to color digitally. (She was right, by the way.)


Below is the fight scene in its final color. This one I think was the hardest for me to draw.



This is a tight pencil from that fight scene:



Here are some sample final pages:




And Tommy …



Some More Final Art from the Book:













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THE PHANTOM TWIN. Copyright © 2020 by Lisa Brown. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, First Second Books, New York, NY. All other images reproduced by permission of Lisa Brown.

One comment to “The Phantom Twin

  1. Really really good.

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