The Three is one of those “they came to me in a dream” stories. I woke up with a vague memory of long, spiny creatures and I scribbled down the idea:
I simply wrote “the prickle grass”. They were reminiscent of the long, twisted horned grasses the were often on the edge of the beaches up north.
The Three went through a lot of transformation. I deviated away from the initial sketch, thinking perhaps they would be friendly and helpful. As their conversation with Tama panned out, I realized their intentions are far more self-motivated. It’s lonely out on the edge of the Great Sea, and they wouldn’t want anyone to else to get away.
I went back to the drawing board, looking at more creepy eyes. Other characters have deliberately big, human-like eyes to make them friendly. The Three needed more animal eyes that were more disturbing. I studied the eyes of insects, birds and fish, which look fra more alient and menacing when you look at them closely .
The final results are one of my favorite characters in the book — with their ubiquitous thorns, beady eyes, and enormous size — they tower over Tama. My kids both get creeped out by the final image, and now there are four images that include them.