I started out designing the Explorermobile as an amphibious craft. It's a slightly hokey version of that one used in the river chase scene in The World is Not Enough, where James Bond makes it dive underwater, then adjusts his tie.
Presenting... EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 1
I was looking at these, an Amphibious Volkswagen and a Trippel S.G. 6 Schwimkraftwagen from 1942. I liked the thought that the Crisp family might have found it in a swamp somewhere and refurbished it, or just found a place where people maintained and still drove these things, like 1950's American cars in Cuba, or the wonderful Ambassador cars in India.
But I looked at the story more closely, and realised the Explorermobile is more of a caravan, something the Crisps could have lived out of, because they're constantly on the move. So Mach 1 just wasn't large enough or family-friendly enough. Here's the family-version variation on the first design.
EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 2
Ha ha, I was happy as a clam designing these things. I texted photos of some to my studio mate, Lauren (who wasn't there at the time), and she texted back, Are you making Vroom Vroom noises? I got really into researching old caravans, and Philip sent me a link to some Dormobiles. I never even heard of those! Look how cool this one is:
So I tried an explorer version of the Bedford:
EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 3
Then Philip gave an excellent suggestion, why not try a caravan with a half track? Half tracks are cool! Philip really likes tank tracks, his Mortal Engines cities all run on them. So let's try it, here's a Bedford on a half track:
EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 4
Oo, not too bad! But what about those iconic American caravans, the Airstream?
What would an Airstream look like on a half track? Gosh, it does look very militaristic. Maybe I could sort that out with a few patterned curtains or something.
EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 5
Then, predictably, I got a bit lost in Google images. CUTE LITTLE YELLOW CAMPERVANS. And I discovered a website called TIny House Blog that I really want to go back and read more thoroughly.
And then it was getting late and I started to get a bit silly. What if the campervan had Mrs Crisp driving a massive Harley Davidson attachment on the front, with a half track and a side car for Oliver? Hurrah!
EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 6
That last one doesn't work so well in the context of the story, but it was awfully fun to draw. Just curious, I haven't decided which Explorermobile I'll use in the book yet. Which Explorermobile do you like best? I'll make the final call, but I'd love to get your opinion!
Okay, now just a few more things from the Internet. Check out this gold Winnebago, can you believe it?!
Ha ha! Awesome side car. But a... STEALTH WINNEBAGO? There is nothing stealthy about that puppy.
And drawing the Harley, I had to watch that appallingly bad Brigitte Bardot video of her singing Serge Gainsbourg's La Harley Davidson. My sister and I watched this last time she was visiting me and we laughed our heads off.
And thus, you see how one little part of an illustration can take up almost an entire day, without even having done any final artwork. But, man, is it FUN. (Ask me again about it at deadline time.) If you get the urge to custom-design your own Explorermobile, do post a link, I'd love to see it!