Growing up on the shores of Lake Ontario and being in, around, or on top of water for most of my childhood, it was only natural that I would be enchanted by a book called Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas. The adventures of the Nautilus and its crew as they explored the underwater worlds they encountered captivated my imagination, as it did for millions of other readers who have enjoyed the novel for almost one hundred and fifty years.

After watching the Disney film interpretation of the book as a kid, my imagination soared again as I watched the stirring special effects of that 1954 film, which I think still hold up today against our over-used computer generated special effects. In both the novel and the film, I think they were equally ahead of their time, which I guess is what fascinates so many people, and sparks so much imagination in both young and old alike.

As one of those people infatuated with the classic story, it has been an enduring goal of mine to illustrate the original novel according to the exact details that Jules Verne outlined and not stray too far from what he had originally intended to be perceived by his readers. There have been many amazing interpretations of the novel over the years, with some incredibly talented designs, but I always find, like the film, they strayed from the original a bit too much, and Verne’s vision was not completely realized.

Verne’s novels reflect an odd ability to see into the future using his knowledge of technology, and, zoology seemingly enhanced by visions into the future, where much of his material seems to end up. The description of the Nautilus was considered ahead of its time since he quite accurately described many features on submarines that had yet to be invented. His use of electricity and the technological marvels of the Victorian age were extrapolated into a world that bordered on science fiction, which eventually was realized as the world caught up to his incredible imagination.

In what seemed to be a tip of the hat to Verne, the world’s first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus contained the engineering marvels similar to the submarine first described almost one hundred years previous to its 1954 launch. Obviously an inspiration to many, the novel touches on many aspects of technology, and also mankind. The anti-hero character of Captain Nemo is a champion of the downtrodden, helping those that are oppressed or being cruelly treated. This assistance is at the expense of others who meet their untimely demise when Nemo and the Nautilus seek to realize the greatest weakness of mankind; revenge.

With 2017 marking the 150th anniversary of this epic underwater adventure, I thought I should illustrate the most accurate version of the novel as I could. Completing over 40 black and white illustrations to compliment Verne’s original text, this was a very gratifying experience. 

A special art exhibit of over 60 illustrations celebrating the 150th anniversary of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas is coming soon…Showing in Ottawa, Canada and Prince Edward County – Summer 2017.

Verne’s measurements, and after much research, I hopefully depicted what Verne originally envisioned, and perhaps inspire a new generation of dreamers who gaze down with curiosity at the depths of water as I once did, and still do.

Andrew King