Mike Rayahwk
Dante's Horses
"Dante's Horses" - digital, 2005


In 2002 I had the opportunity to art-direct a group pitching an animated version of E.M. Forster's "The Celestial Omnibus." We made a pretty good pitch, I'd like to think, although the limited timeframe meant that we didn't get to polish a few of the presentation boards as much as I would have liked. In particular, I had always regretted that we hadn't had more time to work on the board for the second omnibus trip, on the carriage driven by Dante and his three undead horses. This year I decided to stop regretting and do something about it, so I've repainted the scene the way it should have been.


Detail: Dante's Carriage

detail: Dante's Carriage

Dante's carriage is built up from the power of the Divine Comedy. It carries the enthusiastic young hero, who views the scene as an awe-inspiring adventure, and the highly-esteemed Mister Bons, who is terrified out of his wits and possibly aware that in three pages or so he's going fall from the sky and and up a mangled corpse in the middle of Bermondsey.

Detail: Gratuitous Naiadity

detail: Gratuitous Naiadity

A green river encircles Heaven, and from it there are naiads waving to passers-by.

Even though they're tiny and crowded to one edge, I especially looked forward to this section of the painting - God knows how long I'll have to wait before I'm asked to sprinkle gratuitous nudes across anything I paint for Lego.

Dante color script
Color Script for Act 2, Jessica Lo 2002

Dante character design
Dante character design, Felix Yoon 2002

Dante vehicle design
Vehicle design, Mong-Sub Song 2002

Dante style guide
Omnibus Style Guide, Mike Rayhawk 2002

The original Dante's Omnibus (detail), 2002

The original Dante's Omnibus (detail), 2002

For old time's sake, I tried to stick to the 2002 development material as much as possible, with judicious changes here and there.

The most important shift was to fit the visual symbolism more closely to the style guide and to the symbols of the story. The omnibus trips are heavy with transition symbols, so we communicated that visually with spirals, portals, hollows, and ovoids. And as we get further from the reality of London, we get to see space curve around into all kinds of non-Euclidean geometry to emphasize the fact that we're escaping the natural universe.

The Bus to Heaven

"The Bus to Heaven," digital, 2002

And just because I always liked it, here's "The Bus to Heaven," a scene from earlier in the story where the Boy first ventures out to the omnibus stop. The golden glow of Browne's Omnibus is a much friendlier sight than that of Dante's in the following chapter.

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