Five Wounds: Hour of the Wolf

Magpie, prowling the streets at the 'hour of the wolf'. In this scene can be found: Various drunks- Magpie, a member of the 'Guild of Thieves', chooses to conduct his negotiations when his victims are at their most vulnerable, staggering home from the tavern. Fornicating cats. A noble with two prostitutes. A corrupt security guard selling goods from a warehouse. An angry old lady shouting from her balcony.


Most of the reference material for this illustration were my photos taken on the streets of Venice, during the night, following the 'pub crawl route' from Jonathan Walker's history book 'Pistols! Treason! Murder! The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy'.

One of the Dialog Chapters from 'Pistols!', in which Jon and two other historians, represented in the illustrations as stereotype academics, conduct a discussion on Venice in the 1600's during a bar crawl through modern Venice. These discussions actually took place.

Following this map I created for 'Pistols!' I soon got lost. I did find a pretty good bar though that seemed to be a local hangout for art student-types. It sold Bourbon on ice for 2€, in contrast to the generally high priced bars of Venice and had a background of reggae music. The bar was named after the two dragons fixed to the wall opposite- depicted in a photo above. Via my Castilian & Catalan and their Italian & Venetian I managed to communicate with my fellow drinkers who complained about the lack of night clubs and night life in modern Venice. They had a point, Venice is not the most debauched of cities so I had use imagination when creating the hour of the wolf illustration.

'Gin Lane' by William Hogarth. Created in 1751 in opposition to the 'Gin Craze'. In response to the gin craze, the government put tighter restrictions on sales and higher taxes on gin distilleries. Tea was encouraged as a more industrious stimulant than gin. The working class rioted in response.


First concept sketch. I omitted the fish & chips in the final illustration, but kept the urinating drunk.

Above: The first version, not used in the book.

"The Hour of the Wolf" refers to the time before dusk when, it was believed, dark supernatural forces were at their strongest and wolves would prowl outside peoples' houses; probably looking for scraps to eat, like cats and city foxes scavenging from bins today. On the right is a drawing of the 'Black Dog' from Five Wounds, which accompanies Magpie's nocturnal scene on the facing page of the book. On the left is a photo I took in the Louvre of an Egyptian statue of a jackal (I presume- or dog; I didn't make a note of the label). The jackal was often depicted as black in Egyptian art. A real jackal is, however, not black. The colour black was used as it symbolised both death and regeneration to the ancient Egyptians. Black is the colour of the fertile sediment that is brought by the flooding of the Nile, on which the Egyptian society depended. Black is also the colour that corpses turned during mummification. Jackals would prowl burial sites at night, probably looking for scraps to eat. The ancient Egyptian god associated with death and the afterlife has the head of a jackal. There is more on this in my post about the figure of the 'Black Dog'.

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