Josh Kirby – The Man With the Whole of the Discworld in His Head

In 1990, when he illustrated the Discworld story, Eric, he not only shared cover credits with Pratchett but received a percentage of the royalties. Commissioned by Weekend Guardian in 1993, he produced portraits of Pratchett, including one tattooed with characters from Discworld, and another showing the author as a wizard flying across the world on a carpet of Discworld figures. Fourteen years earlier, Kirby had designed the poster for the Monty Python film, Life Of Brian, as a homage to Pieter Brueghel’s Tower Of Babel. He packed in so many scenes from the (uncut) version of the movie that the distributors refused to use it… He applied for – and got – a job, arrived at the studio, and worked until lunchtime. But, having disliked the morning so much, he never went back, and, ever after, worked as a freelance. His routine as an illustrator never varied: with the synopsis or text, he prepared three or four pencil roughs of ideas, before painting the chosen one, usually in oils and sometimes only slightly larger than book size. Later, the sizes grew – his largest painting covered a canvas 8ft by 6ft. Later, he worked for NEL/Mayflower on titles for the Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. Following exhibitions at the Portal Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and in Berlin, he took on work from other paperback imprints, including Ace, Pan and Ballantine. The Guardian

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