From the Archives: Earliest Fantasy and Science Fiction drawings.

Blonde girl with fairy drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1983Well, that’s kinda creepy!

As a teenager I made several drawings of old-fashioned schoolgirls with fairies, around 1983. There was this naughty blonde, and a 1920s-styled bobbed brunette in a sailor dress, who was holding out her palm, gently cupping the fairy. I gave the brunette to my best friend Skenney, and he framed it and for years when he needed to cut cocaine he would take down the frame and use the glass.

Girl with fairy by water by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1983This one was probably the earliest of the fairy drawings, 1982 or 1983.

Jenny and the Dragon drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes est 1981Watercolors have always been the bane of my existence, probably because I started using them without knowing how.

This drawing from 1981 of my friend Jenny telling a dragon to fuck off was abandoned when trying to add color went wrong.

Sketchbook 1981 Hansel and Gretel take LSD by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis drawing, titled “Hansel and Gretel take LSD”, is from the same spring of 1981 as the drawing of Jenny.

And was abandoned for the same reason, my frustration that I just didn’t have the skills to depict the scene the way I wanted, particularly when it came to color.

Sketchbook 1981 reverse apple by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesReverse apple, 1981!

Abandoned for the same reason.

Cat girl probably 1982 by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel KetchumCat girl, 1982!

Definite comic book vibe to this, even though it’s from before I was reading comics.

Weeping Princess drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1982The Weeping Princess, version two.

In 1981 I made a drawing of a weeping princess that was one of those drawings where as an artist you feel like you’re making a leap forward, finally getting somewhere. I loved it, but I gave it to Robert, an extremely kind old hippy (ha, he was probably 35! but he meant no harm at all to my fourteen-year-old self) who lived across the street from Stuyvesant.

I took another pass at it a year later, but couldn’t finish it – I got frustrated by trying to manage the watercolors, again.

Elfquest drawing prob 1983 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is an Elfquest style drawing, made for Jenny I think, in 1983.

Alien schoolgirl from approx 1984 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumI did a series of drawings of kids with creatures, in the mid-80s, for my mom.

The one above wasn’t finished, because of the color handling issue.Girl with dragon by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1984

The girl with a dragon shows a new approach to color, using only faint washes of color pencil. Color pencils were easier to control, but I did not like the way their waxy base obscured my careful Rapidograph linework.

I think this was drawn in 1984, shortly before I started reading comics, in the years when I read every damn Anne McCaffery book in the world, although damn some of them are problematic. I went back and re-read The Dragonriders of Pern last year and I was like, internalized misogyny much? And yet, Moreta stands up!

I gave it to my mom, and she took this photo of it in her house, where it has hung for decades, for my archiving project!

Boy with alien by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes approx 1985This drawing of a boy with an alien is actually a critique of American colonialism! The boy and the alien are each from a settlement on a new planet, and he has built a sand castle with a crude Earth flag.

He’s feeding the horse-like alien seductive sugar cubes! The alien has reservations, justifiably.

Below, the study I used to create the final drawing. The study has a note in the corner:
“My sentient being parental unit can beat up your sentient being parental unit!”

My mom took this picture of the drawing on her wall in Hartford for my archives.Study for boy with alien mid 1980s by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes

Aravis and Lasaraleen from from the Horse and his Boy after Pauline Baynes drawing prob mid 80s by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAravis and Lasaraleen in the palace, from The Horse and his Boy.

After Pauline Baynes. I loved that book as a kid, but now I am acutely conscious of the anti-Arab tone that permeates it. Aravis is such a marvelous character, though.

This drawing, with some problematic stereotypes, has a rough too. The rough has the note “Drunk teenage witch practicing her spells.”
Witch by fire drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1985

The version above has notes all over, for the intended colors, but I never started coloring it.

Metal bra drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes probably 1985 or winter 1986

Girl in a brass bra. From late 1985 or winter 1986 – after I had encountered Ghita of Alizarr, for sure!

Sleeping Beauty future-tech!

From around 1986, I think. The dwarves are very creepy! Before 1984, when I started reading comics and quickly decided to become a comic artist, I expected to be an illustrator. Maybe children’s books, maybe science fiction or fantasy. Or a fashion illustrator. I read more hard SF than fantasy, and knew I loved to draw women. But I produced very little voluntary work.

Making art has always felt like work to me, something done to achieve some kind of reward, not for fun.

So these drawings represent the few moments of play over the years from fourteen to twenty, my rare recreational drawings.

None of these drawings had ever been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.


4 thoughts on “From the Archives: Earliest Fantasy and Science Fiction drawings.

    1. Suzanne Forbes Post author

      I do. I feel like it’s what I do that I’m good at it, the muscles I have, my superpower – not an arena I can enter freely, to play. When I draw it’s like going to the gym – maybe you dread it, maybe if you’re feeling great you look forward to it, but no matter what, it’s hard while you’re doing it and afterwards you’re really glad you did it. When I draw loved ones, like the ones of you and my mom via Zoom, it’s an active act of love, so it feels like rubbing someone’s feet or brushing their hair. But higher-risk, emotionally. I don’t think the damage my father did, by raising me to be a “prodigy” and an expression of his identity, will be healed soon. Maybe within my lifetime, I hope; but I am not focused on that. It’s ok for it to feel like going to the gym, for my work to be work, because I have other creative outlets that feel like play. I feel really blessed and fortunate that my Patrons like my embroidery and creepy dolls and weird bricolage, and support that work as well, because that work feels free and easy, the way some people describe drawing or painting. 🙂 thank you for asking!

  1. Pat Ketchum

    I’m glad to see these being archived. You did a great job working with the pictures from my camera.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.