Sometimes it just takes the right pairing for a creation to come to fruition.
Take the illustrated novel “Ghost” (Tabella, 2010, paperback, $19.95). Artist Daniel Scott Gabriel Murray first had the idea for the book while in high school 30 years ago, but it took his author wife, Phoebe Reeves Murray, to fully develop this mythos of warring factions of angels.
The result of the Pittston couple’s years of work is “Ghost,” which centers on Jennifer Rhys, an orphaned human girl who discovers that she was originally an Angel of Light. Jennifer has a surrogate daughter in the angelic herald Muon and she’s mentored by the angel Sidriel. They’re all battling with the minions of the dark angel Iblis.
“One of the things that makes the story unusual is that it’s about the growth of a group of people, both individually and in terms of their impact on the universe,” Phoebe explained. “It’s blending elements such as basic church mythos and references to angels in other cultures into a dark, modern fairy tale.”
Daniel remembers the origins of “Ghost” thus: “I created ‘Ghost’ in high school during English class because I wanted a strong female character who didn’t fight crime in a thong. I always liked underdogs so I didn’t want the typical guys in spandex flying in, punching first and asking questions later. ‘Ghost’ began with Jen and Muon who had a mother-daughter relationship. Illustrations poured out of me, but I also wanted a complex story of good and evil where every move my heroine made produced a ripple effect on a grand scale. My search began. Time passed, and I ran into my now wife with whom 25 years earlier I had a love affair and between the angels and the babies, the story of ‘Ghost’ was born.”
Daniel, 49, is a law-enforcement officer who has done illustrations for DC Comics and Lucasfilm. Phoebe, 48, is a contractor for the Department of Labor who designs education programs for high-school-age, dropout youth, and also has written fiction and textbooks.
Although they were accustomed to working separately, creating “Ghost” together has gone well for them.
“I had a rough story core of arcs and the characters themselves,” Daniel said. “She took those ideas and rearranged them and developed the story in ways I hadn’t even thought of.”
Phoebe added, “Dan will say ‘Here’s what I don’t want to happen,’ and I adhere to that. He’s good at setting up physical conflict scenes and I build the characters around that. We build the high points together.”
An illustrated novel was a tough sell to publishers, and the Reeves ended up with Tabella, an artbook publisher in the United Kingdom.
“It seemed like a good match, because they were looking to break into the U.S. market,” Daniel said.
“Ghost” is part of a trilogy, to be followed by “Nephilim” and “Archangel,” which bring the characters to their final destinations,” Daniel said.
To keep the book affordable, “Ghost” was split into two volumes, the first of which was released earlier in 2010 and the second of which is planned for next spring. An exact date will depend on ongoing negotiations with MTV to release the entire illustrated novel as an online graphic novel through its MTV Geek website.
In the meantime, the Murrays are hard at work on “Nephilim.”
So far, it has been an angelic work relationship.
“Since our artistic talents are in different areas, we can work together as a cohesive unit and support each other’s abilities,” Phoebe said.
The first volume of “Ghost” is available from Amazon.com and Mr. Paperback and also through U.S. distributor Haven Distribution. For information, visit ghostnovel.com.