A good way to introduce someone to a world is to start off with something new that sets the type of tone you are going for. There also had to be a way to showcase River’s strength early on so he would not come across as a weakling. The Iron Feeder was the solution to both problems.
The Iron Feeder is one of the less lovable creatures on this world, a cave dwelling animal that feeds off of any source of iron it can find, even iron in blood. It sucks its victims dry for the traces of iron in their bodies before leaving their husks to rot.
It was described as having tentacles and arms in the book, which was not a lot for David Sword to go on. How David and I operate is he draws up some rough sketches, and we discuss which elements work best for the character. After reaching an agreement, he combines those elements in later drafts. Here is David’s early sketch work on the creature.
The design that looks slightly like a bird did not leave a lot to be desired, but various elements of the other three would eventually make it into later designs. The elongated bodies of A and B were especially interesting, and the tentacled back of C was a touch not included in the original text, but was a unique and all together welcome interpretation of the character.
Additional designs were sampled, combining these various traits into one character to try and find the right mixture of details. Notice how bit by bit it slowly alters to get closer and closer to the final version.
After some trial and error, this final draft of the dreaded Iron Feeder was delivered in this beautiful concept render by the very talented David Sword. Some great nightmare fuel and hopefully a good way to start off the story, and introduce the reader to a less than friendly world.