Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Markhat Unmasked!

Stand well back, gentle readers.

Stand back and brace yourselves, for the next image you will see is an artist's rendition of Markhat, Rannit's most (in)famous finder-for-hire.

Both of these amazing pieces of hand-drawn art were created by artist Raevyn Tws (his Facebook page is here). Both were drawn without the use of computer assistance of any kind, a feat which still leaves me awestruck.

The artist (who, it must be noted, rocks) captured Markhat delivering one of his smart-aleck one-liners. Maybe Markhat is mocking some mystical pronouncement by Mama Hog. Maybe he is chiding Evis for putting out the cheap beer. Or perhaps Markhat is tweaking some gangster's nose, hoping to goad him into doing something unwise.

Whatever the conversation, this is Markhat, brought to you by a man with an amazing talent and a skill perfected over years of dedicated attention to his craft. I give you Markhat, Engaged in Inadvisable Witticism!

Feast your eyes, friends. Favor the fantastic. Eagerly enjoy the enlightened effort. I love this image.

Obviously, this is post-Darla Markhat, because his suit is neat and pressed, his tie is on straight, and that's not Jed Clampett's battered old hat. No, this is Markhat at his best -- clean, sober, and not afraid for people to know it.

If I had to pick a scene to go with this image, I think I'd choose the time in The Broken Bell when Markhat bluffs his way into the Lethway mansion and winds up in an upstairs kitchen, eating with the domestic staff as he pretends to be a mining consultant. Now, the full extent of Markhat's knowledge of mining is that the practice seems to involve holes in the ground, but that doesn't stop him from delivering a long, detailed explanation of something he calls a Morris mining ram, which he makes up on the spot.

It works. The staff accepts him as just another tradesman, and he's able to glean a few important clues during his brief stay at the house.

That's Markhat, in a nutshell. He doesn't know anything about mining, but he understands people and how they work quite well indeed. Become the long-winded gasbag of a Morris ram salesman, and you'll be ignored. Avoided, even. Free to nose about.

As Markhat notes, more than once, his profession has risks, but at least it doesn't involve the rigors of honest work.

Look at that image again. That's exactly what the piece conveys -- a man not just pulling the wool over someone's eyes, but tugging their ears and tweaking their noses as he pulls.

Next we have Markhat in full standing profile, in a piece I like to call Markhat Redistributes Wealth:

Here we see an immaculately-dressed Markhat plying his trade in a swank dining club. Now, Markhat is not exactly a regular patron of any of Rannit's swank dining clubs, although, he asks me to add, 'he has been forcibly ejected from all the best ones.' But since many of his cases involve Rannit's wealthy plutocrats, Markhat finds himself inside the refined eateries and bars frequently. Here, Markhat is pointing out his dining companion to a suspicious headwaiter. Note Markhat's left hand, which is reaching into his pocket for the pair of Old Kingdom gold crowns he will accidentally press into the headwaiter's hand, which will in turn cause the headwaiter to conveniently look away long enough for Markhat to seat himself despite his lifetime banning from the somewhat stodgy establishment.

Now that's what I call art. I can see the stories in these pictures. And if you think I said to Raevyn 'I want one sitting smirk with a finger upraised and one standing while bribing a waiter in a fancy night club,' you'd be dead wrong. The man came up with these on his own.

I hope you ladies and gentlemen have enjoyed these two pieces as much as I have. I'm going to have both printed and framed and hung on my study wall.

I believe the artist would get a HUGE kick out of hearing how much you like these, too. You can email me and I'll forward your comments, or you can browse on over to Raevyn's FB page at and tell him yourself. Honestly, the man is a walking miracle -- who else does portraits like these in magic marker?

So thank you, Raevyn Tws, for bringing a character I've been writing about for years to life.  I will treasure these images forever!


  1. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice! I KNEW the one with the tie was one where Darla had a hand!

    In the second he looks a tad more at ease--and mischievous.

    Absolutely awesome. He did a fabulous job.

  2. What an honor to have an artist do this for you, Frank! I imagine there is no higher praise that could be offered by a fan. :D

  3. They're very pretty drawings, but they make Markhat look sort of feminine. The first one, to me, looks like a gangster from the 1940s or maybe a reporter for a high class newspaper. It's just not how I pictured Markhat at all even "cleaned up" under Darla's influence. I'd picture him more like a person who cleans up well, but is still uncomfortable looking in full clothing, especially a suit. This is all just my opinion, of course. I can go along with almost anything if this really comes into being as a movie as long as Markhat isn't somehow a pencil thin guy who looks like he doesn't grow facial hair yet.