Jaguar Lee’s Mortal Engines

Every now and again, when I start to think that everyone has forgotten Mortal Engines, the internet throws up something wonderful to prove that a few people are still reading it, and that it’s inspiring them to create fantastic artwork. That happened this week, when Dave De Gobbi got in touch on the Facebook page to tell me about this amazing series of pictures by design student Jaguar Lee.  

What I like about them is the way they re-imagine the book; completely ignoring a lot of the description  to create something which is completely individual, but which somehow captures the feeling I was after – huge machines in dusty landscapes, and people dwarfed by the scale of their technology.

I’ve reproduced a couple of samples here, with Jaguar Lee’s permission – be sure to have a look at his blog for more. He tells me that he’ll be updating it with further Mortal Engines images soon, and it’s also full of lots of other cool landscape, costume and creature designs.

There’s one (non Mortal Engines) image in particular which could almost be an illustration for a scene I just wrote in the story I’m working on at the moment – but I’m not going to tell you which one it is!


  1. Cary Watson
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 01:15:27

    Those are spectacularly good. He not only shows great imagination, but his use of colour and proportion is top notch. He reminds me a bit of British paperback illustrator from the 1970s; I don't know his name but he used to do a lot of SF covers and thrillers by Geoffrey Jenkins and Adam Hall


  2. Philip Reeve
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 07:49:30

    Hi Cary. I think you're thinking of Chris Foss, who was definitely the king of SF paperback covers when I was a teenager – I'm sure his gigantic machines were an influence on Mortal Engines. These pictures reminded me slightly of the film 'Dune', and of course Foss worked on production designs for the earlier, abandoned version of that movie by Alejandro Jodorowsky. So it all sort of ties together! I can't seem to post links here in the comments section, but Chris Foss has a website:


  3. Alexander
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 08:18:35

    Your working on a new story that may have traction cities? Ooh, exciting! Perhap he could make the cover of the book.


  4. Philip Reeve
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:06:47

    Sorry Alexander, I didn't phrase that very well in the post. I'm working on a new SF story, but it's not set in the Mortal Engines world at all, so not a Traction City in sight. (Jaguar's work would make great book covers, though.)


  5. Julia Young
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 15:17:18

    These are stunning. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.


  6. Cary Watson
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 16:50:28

    You were right, it was/is Chris Foss. I bought a lot of books solely on the basis of his cover art.


  7. clloid
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 22:44:02

    I've just discovered the series and am devouring them as voraciously as any Traction City! These illustrations are equally fabulous.


  8. Philip Reeve
    Oct 15, 2013 @ 16:04:56

    Hooray – glad you're enjoying them! It's nice to know they're still being discovered.


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