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Compare and Contrast: Tammy and Dolly

19 Apr

Compare and Contrast:

An antique doll that once belonged to my mother

Tammy Pierce, the grotesque, boy obsessed, fashion challenged heroine of Esther Pearl Watson's brilliantly funny graphic novel Unlovable

If you are not familiar with the Unlovable books, and therefore do not get the serendipitous and hilarious good fortune of my owning the above doll, you are missing out, no lie!


Comic Books: Classics Illustrated, Animal Stories

10 Apr

I have a small but valuable collection of  Classics Illustrated comics that are a wonderful resource for typographic, illustrative and narrative inspiration.  For those who are not familiar with this publication, as the title implies, Classics Illustrated were a series of comics published in the 1950s which sought to interest children in reading the classic novels by illustrating them, comic book style. These comics provide an easy and fast route to seeming like a well read individual, as they summarize books as long as Anna Karenina into a digestible 48 pages or less.  But, like a school essay cited only with Wikipedia, Classics Illustrated will probably leave some holes in one’s expertise on the subject, and a lack of  any direct text to quote.  While the drawings within can be hit and miss, some of the issues have beautifully drawn and rendered covers, especially the ones that depict animals.  Here are my favorites:

"Bring 'em Back Alive" By Frank Buck

Isn’t this a beautiful illustration?  The colours and the action suggested in this cover make it look so compelling.  I never read it, but I think the good people at Classics Illustrated have given you most of what you need right here, no? Who will come back alive, man or beast?

I love the concepts for these covers, like this one for example.  The wolf  looms large over a scene of a lone rider, galloping across a terrain at sunset, the fiery transition from the sober day to the mysterious night.  The animal’s angry yet thoughtful face suggests a presence  not only as a haunting memory, but perhaps as a psychic state as well.  Is the tile an allusion to a journey of inner discovery? Is to know a wild animal really to know one’s self?  I guess I would have had to have read this thing to see if what I’ve said here has anything to do with the content of the story.

"Wild Animals I Have Known" By Ernest Thompson Seton



Here is another cover with a lovely, colour saturated scene of a majestic animal, in contemplation during the hazy pink and orange lit final act  of another day.

"Fang and Claw" By Frank Buck

Cats, whether wild or domestic, seem to have a kind of dignified and important air about them, like they contain within them the cumulative memory and knowledge of cats who’ve lived and died some tens of millions of years ago.  When I look at this cover, I imagine it’s a modern cat, looking over a prehistoric landscape.  Perhaps the author, Frank Buck had a different story to tell, but I’m not really sure though, quite frankly.

And in another wolf centered story, and the only comic featured here that is based on a story I’ve heard of, White Fang is the the story of sled dog that can’t be tamed.  He is the fearless leader- of- the- pack yet too- wild- for- his- own- good archetype character that so many teen heartthrob movies capitalize on today.  Is there some correlation between White Fang and that wolf character in Twilight, for instance?  Or is was that line of thought just a lame excuse to be able to put Twilight in my tags in a transparent attempt to attract the teen market to this blog?

"White Fang" By Jack London

I hope you have enjoyed these covers as much as I have, dear reader.  And though I never got around to actually reading these super-condensed versions of the classic books, I think that the above ramblings never the less prove that some intellectual activity did result from the efforts of the creators of Classics Illustrated.

All of the above comics were purchased at BMV Books on Bloor St W., Toronto

BMV Books, 471 Bloor St. W., Toronto