"SIXTEEN LEGS: A Visit to the Queen of the Dark”
The story of the book, and the book of the story.
This has been a gloriously unusual project. SIXTEEN LEGS is a large-scale education, book and multimedia project about the natural world, with a very unusual hero at its core – a 200 million year old Australian that's still around today!
To excite and engage students, the book of SIXTEEN LEGS: A Visit to the Queen of the Dark has involved collaboration between international best-selling author & graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, our Australian production team, and young and upcoming Australian artist Jodee Taylah. The resulting storybook is a beautiful work of graphic art, telling a dark-fairytale story that has natural history and science woven into it, rather than being simply presented as facts and figures. This is an important educational tool that is also fun entertainment.
The narrative flow across the pages of the Queen of the Dark story takes readers from the 'normal' and more readily understandable realms of the surface environment to go deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of an alien subterranean world. As we descend from the surface, each stage helps lay the pathway for the next – taking readers away from a world of familiarity, but acclimatizing to the growing weirdness across the ordered images of the story – until the ultimate realisation that not everything has been as it seems...
The Queen of the Dark artwork is also being showcased in a national exhibition. This has already been presented to audiences in Tasmania and South Australia, and in 2016-2017 it has been booked for Kangaroo Island, Sydney (the Australian Museum) and Brisbane (the Queensland Museum).
Public sales of the Queen of the Dark book have helped finance the film version, which similarly combines the book's imagery and fantasy elements with the science. Neil Gaiman presents the story, with Kate Miller Heidke voicing the pivotal Siren's Song as per the book (similar to her recent role for the stage version of John Marsden & Shaun Tan's 'The Rabbits', but this time with Tasmanian composer Dean Stevenson arranging the work).
Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, Tara Moss, Mark Gatiss, Adam Hills and Polly Adams (daughter of Douglas Adams) and have joined Neil Gaiman in the film, which has been personally selected to launch at George R.R. Martin's Jean Cocteau Cinema in the US –- in turn launching the book into schools and classrooms there. Preliminary footage has had a great reception with international film festivals and has won significant cinematography awards, with international distribution of the project about to begin!
It has been an extraordinary effort from Jodee, as an early-career Australian artist, to create this mystical tableaux intermixing and balancing both the science and the fantasy components into an innovative, unusual and evocative educational story. All of this is a fantastic result for a small illustrated story about something creepily and uniquely Tasmanian, coming out of the dark to enthral the world!
"Absolutely brilliant... fascinating... what a beautiful way to tell the story of life in caves."
"The students follow the story from page to page, learning the connections as they go."
"I home school my son and he absolutely loved it."
"I love the story woven through SIXTEEN LEGS."
"A magical and unique combination of art and science."
"Informative, imaginative, engaging!"
"Brilliant... telling a very important story in an exciting way."
"Beautiful and amazing. So cool to be able to learn from the art."
"Wonderful. So comprehensive and inspiring!"
"Great to have art and science together!"
"A truly amazing work of art, the whole thing."
"A great concept, brilliantly executed. Many congratulations."
"Fascinating and beautiful."
EDUCATION LINKS & STUDENT ART INSPIRED BY THE PROJECT:
THE STORYTELLERS - Artworks and Descriptions (coming soon!)