I remember reading a blog entry in which a cartoonist mentioned how much she loved drawing the back of the knee. I thought, now that's the kind of thing a real artist says. At the moment I have a love-hate relationship with Jonah's robe as he sinks: I don't have confidence in my ability when I start drawing it, but then when I finish it's very satisfying. Look, I drew billows! And a ray. That's an eagle ray.
A few people have asked me why I feel the need to illustrate the Book of Jonah. Well, there's a lot I like about it, but what makes it necessary for me is this part of Jonah's prayer from within the fish. He is talking about drowning, but he's not talking only about drowning literally: he's talking about his soul drowning, fainting, imprisoned, crushed, blind, forever. He says this in the past tense: "the earth with her bars was about me for ever." The mere grammar of this sentiment makes it impossible, but of course it isn't impossible, anyone who has suffered knows it's not impossible. Suffering stops time. That's what makes this part the kernel of the book, for me: Jonah's words here are the best description of depression I have ever read.
I'd like to point out that this is the third time in the book that Jonah has been not-really-alive. The first time was when he went to sleep in the hold while the storm raged outside. That was a spiritual deadness, a numbness to the presence (and omnipresence) of God, and if you think that's a reach, consider how closely it is paralleled later by Jonah's time in the womb-grave of the fish's belly. As above, so below (far, far below): if Jonah wants to play dead, God can help him with that. That's the second time. And the third time, seen in a flashback, is Jonah's drowning, which lasts forever even though it doesn't. I don't know if this is what the author of the book had in mind, but as I set out to draw the second panel I realized that Jonah is bound in weeds as a corpse is bound in cerements. Remember Lazarus tottering out of the vault with a napkin over his face? How scary must that have been to watch? "And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." Dude, you loose him and let him go. It's scary when people are only kind of dead, and once is bad enough, but Jonah's making a habit of it.
Maybe this is why God chose Jonah specifically for this episode: he wanted someone who would really sell that prayer from inside the fish. He wanted someone so full of himself that he could actually exaggerate a near-death experience.