Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

20 SEPTEMBER, 2012

The Frank Show: An Illustrated Homage to Grandparents and the Art of Looking Twice

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Because the most interesting stories sometimes come disguised in the least intriguing of packages.

As a lover of vintage and vintage-inspired children’s books, I was instantly enamored with The Frank Show (public library) by British illustrator and designer David Mackintosh — a charming homage to grandparents and the art of seeing beneath the grumpy exterior. Illustrated in a style that’s part Miroslav Šašek, part Paul Rand, it tells the story of a little boy forced to bring his Grandpa Frank — who’s always around and complains tirelessly about how things were better in the olden days — to school for show-and-tell. But, just as the young narrator is dreading total mortification at grandpa’s boringness, Frank rolls up his sleeve to reveal a curious tattoo and tells the wild story of how he got it, a tale of danger and heroism and, above all, a reminder that interestingness lurks beneath the surface of even the most insipid-seeming. Because, as artist Keri Smith wisely put it, “Aways be looking… Everything is interesting. Look closer.”.

Page illustrations courtesy Abrams Books

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13 SEPTEMBER, 2012

My Struggle: Salvador Dalí’s Credo, Illustrated by Molly Crabapple

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“Against simplicity/ for complexity . . . against the collective/ for the individual.”

After Susan Sontag on love illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton and Anaïs Nin on life illustrated by Lisa Congdon, the initially inadvertent but now steadfast Brain Pickings artist series of literary illustrations continues with Molly Crabapple and her stunning visual adaptation of Salvador Dalí’s “My Struggle” from Ramon Gomez de la Serna’s Dalí, created exclusively for Brain Pickings — a rare synthesis of the legendary surrealist’s creative vision and personal credo, and a fine addition to these favorite manifestos for the creative life.

Molly’s new book, Devil in the Details, a darkly whimsical illustrated meditation on the absurdities of modern life from politics to literature, came out last month, on the heels of last year’s Kickstarter blockbuster Week in Hell.

You can follow Molly on Twitter and see more of her fantastic work on her site.

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12 SEPTEMBER, 2012

Thoughtful Alphabets: Edward Gorey’s Lost Cryptic 26-Word Illustrated Stories

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A delightfully dark journey into the love of language.

Having a soft spot for all things Edward Gorey and unusual alphabet books, I was thrilled by Pomegranate’s new edition of Thoughtful Alphabets: The Just Dessert and The Deadly Blotter (public library) — a collection of two cryptic 26-word stories, in which the word begin with the letters of the alphabet in order and the story progresses as the alphabet does in parallel.

The stories belong to a mid-90s “Thoughtful Alphabets” series, the first six volumes of which were released as hand-lettered posters illustrated with clip-art. Then, several years ago, stories numbers XI and XVII emerged as signed limited-edition books featuring Gorey’s original drawings — but the books quickly went out of print. In this beautiful resurrection, Gorey’s signature blend of wit and dark whimsy shines in each of the micro-vignettes — a fine complement to his beloved alphabet classic, The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

Illustrations © The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, courtesy Pomegranate. All rights reserved.

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