German illustrator Klaus Kremmerz is behind a fully illustrated version of Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel The Long Goodbye.
Created for Chinese Publisher Yilin Press, the project marks a notable evolution in Kremmerz’s distinct style. It draws on 1950’s “hard-boiled crime” and Californian artist Ken Price, known for his abstract ceramic sculptures resembling blobs, geodes, and surreal take on crockery.
Kremmerz was contacted by Yilin Press around a year ago after the publisher had seen his felt-tip pen work on John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer, for the Portuguese publisher, Stolen Books.
“My experience in illustrating short stories or books is limited to these two books, so it was something new for me, and it was a nice challenge,” Kremmerz says.
No longer working with a marker pen, for The Long Goodbye, Kremmerz used various brushes and watercolour paint for some areas of the images. He began the project by selecting 13 scenes that could summarise the plot – no mean feat for a novel of this length.
The biggest challenge for the illustrator was considering how to make the cuts of light and shadow without creating an atmosphere that was too dark. He created the California scenery from memory thanks to his existing familiarity with the area.
“I was given almost a year of time, so I did this project piecemeal, carving out space for sketches and finales between projects,” Kremmerz explains. “However, I used a lot of the time I was given to imagine the cut of the work, the colours, the atmosphere and the characterisation of the characters.
“Initially, I thought I’d make a more modern version and less hard-boiled or noir, but in the end, the charm of memories of certain films with Humphrey Bogart or more recently with Robert Mitchum in the part of the detective Marlow prevailed.”
He was also inspired – or uninspired – by watching Robert Altman’s film adaptation of The Long Goodbye right after reading the novel, “which disappointed me immensely,” he says. “It’s completely different from the novel, especially the ending.
“I imagine Chandler himself would have been very disappointed. On the other hand, I didn’t want to rewatch the movie with Bogart or Mitchum so as not to be too affected.”