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King Warrior
Creature Design

King Warrior was a passion project six years in the making, my first published graphic novel and a joy of a collaboration with authors Jay Bulckaert and Erika Nyyssonen.

It was also a project that produced a wealth of artwork which never saw the light of day — page after page of brainstorm sketches, moodboards and conceptual designs:


Concept Artist



Water Dog

The Water Dog is the main villain in the story; the mutated, zombielike body of Afrah’s uncle Samatar who many years ago was banished from the kingdom after a failed coup.  

The anatomy of the creature was based on a Northern Pike — also known as a Jackfish — a fearsome carnivorous fish that lurks in the lakes and rivers of the Northwest Territories.

I was inspired by the Biblical story of the Madness of Nebuchadnezzar, in particular this rather famous painting by Robert Blake. I thought: what if somehow Samatar merged with a jackfish … almost as if the fish had died while consuming him, leaving them as a zombified hybrid creature cursed to haunt the underworld forever.

The final character design:

White Bahaals

Early on in the development of the story, we designed everything in the fantasy world of Jaÿrikas to have an analogue in the real world. We wanted to show how Afrah’s father was pulling inspiration from his experiences in Yellowknife in crafting the stories he was sending to his son.

When it came to the White Bahaals, the main villain’s ghostly minions, my first sketches were inspired by the tourists that Afrah’s father is driving around in the beginning of the book.

When you first spot a White Bahaal it is a violent slash of incongruity against the silent arctic landscape. Silent and unmoving, it seems almost like a mirage, and you may look away and rub your eyes only to look back and see that it is suddenly much, much closer. 

Eventually the design drifted into the territory of orc-like creatures that emerge from out of the Tundra itself. The word Bahaal itself is Somali for ‘Beast’.

Some ideas also pulled inspiration from Japanese vampires (creepy dudes!) and samurai armour.

The final approved White Bahaal design (right).

You can find King Warrior at your local bookshop, or buy it online from Indigo or Amazon. Or get a signed copy from me!

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