First, there’s this rough sketch of a Nautikon skull that my wife, Margaret McCartney, made in preparation for the comic, which she also illustrated. The Nautikons were a race of aquatic humanoids who occupied the floors of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. (Duh!) Note the wide-set eyes and the sloping forehead. The ruffle on top is the sagittal crest. Like a bone mohawk, or “bohawk.” I think it has a Dürer-like, memento mori, aspect to it. (And a whole lotta Jack Kirby, too.) I love this Dürer engraving of St. Jerome in His Study.
Jerome featured prominently in my research. I fixed many of the dates in the Nautikon mythology using his Chronicon. It’s a fascinating document. Like Herodotus, Jerome freely mixed folklore with history in ways that now seem hilarious.
Check out this very reasonable note on the 17th century BC: “According the opinion of some, Prometheus lived in this time, by whom men recall that they were created. But the truth of the matter: because he was a wise man, he transformed their savagery and excessive ignorance into refinement and knowledge.”
Because, come on, Prometheus didn’t fashion humans out of clay and steal fire from the gods in a fennel stalk! That would be ridiculous!
Elsewhere, Jerome provides both the name of the man who invented the four-horse chariot and the date when Hercules took down Cerberus. In his sober-minded presentation of crazy horseshit, he’s like the Wikipedia of Constantinople.
It’s this casual blend of the real and the fantastic, the anatomical and the bohawk, that I admire in Margaret’s Nautikon skull. The sketch eventually found finished form in the title page of her beautiful comic, which can be found at the rear end of the paperback edition.