• Posted on May 30, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Ralph Steadman, that’s who; the maestro of caricature, the prince of  ink, the spewer of satire, the Big I Am. Yes, Ralph Steadman is God, and I will accept no argument to the contrary. He is a true original, and his sardonic, splattered wit has been copied by generations of illustrators, myself included. Most of his books have found a home on my shelves, and I am slightly ashamed to admit that on a trip to Newcastle in the 1993, I dragged my sister and newborn niece to see a showing of his work in Aberdeen, Scotland. It was a long train ride, but worth every minute to be in the same room with Ralph Steadman originals (or so my 6 month old niece gurgled.)

The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs is his latest publication, and it is wonderfully and gorgeously daft. Also, a bit rude, in keeping with Ralph’s life-long illlustrative embrace of the less than lovely aspects of being human, or in this case, being dog. Expect to see a few steaming piles alongside brilliant drawings of dogs in all their idiosyncratic glory. But make no mistake, Ralph Steadman is a dog lover. This is his fourth book on dogs, and as per usual, there is no end to the inventiveness of his line. This is a man who mastered the finer points of drawing a long time ago and now, with a flick of his pen, expertly (and effortlessly) captures the essense of whatever or whomever is the subject of his ferocious intellect, be it Osama bin Laden or a poodle.

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  • Posted on May 23, 2011

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

What, me worry?

Once again I failed to get raptured. Guess I’ll have to wait for 2012, and fingers crossed, I’ll be spending the End of Days with John Cusack on a giant sea pod. Of course, I’m not expecting to rise up with the righteous. All that High School stuff probably pooched my chances of being picked for the Celestial Dodgeball Team. I’m not even sure I’d want to share my personal space with the True Believers as I suspect they are a rather rigid lot, and probably not at all interested in collecting children’s picture books, especially those reviewed in 32 Pages. Having said that, I do have a kick-ass version of the Bible illustrated by Barry Moser, which I’ve yet to review because I would have to read it, and well, life is short and there may be only 19 months until we all pop our collective clogs. So, while we wait to be smited upside the head, here are some rapture-worthy items from the corporeal world.

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  • Posted on May 18, 2011

Pleased to Meet You

“And once it’s written, the history of the blues. They’ll cheer a dead man’s genius. Never ask them whose.”

I know nothing about The Blues. When I was growing up, Dean Martin and the comedy records of Bill Cosby were the only sounds coming from our console stereo. Once I started buying my own music, it was decidedly north of the Mississippi. Way north. While others were discovering the Delta Blues for the first time, I was still dancing to Swedish Pop. I’ve liked what I’ve heard over the years, and I have more than a passing aquaintance with the melancholic state of being that drives the lyrics, but I am a novice when it comes to understanding the music. Black Cat Bone is a window into an unfamiliar world, and appropos to this blog, the road to the blues is paved with illustrative gold.

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  • Posted on May 11, 2011

The Magnificent Ten

Here’s a book that’s got it all: beautiful illustrations, wonderfully inventive text, and pigeons. Or at least I think they’re pigeons. Plumper than pigeons perhaps, and lovelier, but the eyes are quintessential squab. Don’t get me wrong, I love pigeons, just not on my bird feeder. Cybèle Young’s pigeon-like birds, on the other hand, would be welcome at my feeder at any time. Not that they would ever get there of course, at least not before all the seeds had been consumed by the sparrows and nuthatches. Faced with the dilemma of having to get to the other side of the river, ten birds devise ten unique methods of negotiating the gap. It’s not so much a case of why did the chicken (pigeon) cross the road, but how. And I can promise you one thing: these birds think out of the box. Way out out of the box.

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  • Posted on May 05, 2011

C’mon Get Happy

A reasonable response to an episode, or perhaps a lifetime of gluttony is a return to simplicity. I am, of course referring to gluttony of the eyes and I believe there is nothing wrong with this sort of extravagance per se, or at least I hope there isn’t as I am at all times surrounded by visual brilliance. Complex masterpieces line my walls and bookshelves, and in spite of my great esteem for the achingly lovely, it can be, on occasion, too much. A book such as The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss  is like a lemon sherbet in a world of thickly iced chocolate cakes. It’s minimalist approach is just the thing for an overstimulated brain, and though it seems quaintly vintage in some respects, the sweet story and gentle illustrations make it timeless. It is still an extravagance, but it’s a whisper, not a shout.

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