Not-Quite-Animation Books

A roundup of recent non-animation books that have caught my attention:

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE AND BEN

I don’t know how Lane Smith does it, but every one of his illustrated books is a gem. His latest, JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE AND BEN, is a quirky take on America’s founding fathers portrayed as kids. Compared to the crass manufactured cartoons that children are regularly exposed to on television, the level of thought, care and craftsmanship that Lane puts into his books is a real breath of fresh air. It makes me wonder, Will kids even notice the original painted portraits of the founding fathers that lead off each section, or the inventive manner that Lane combines his illustrations with rich textures and collage elements? There’s no question that artists love this stuff (for example, see these comments by designer Cameron Moll), but I’d also like to think that kids will appreciate and subconsciously absorb all the good design in this book. One thing is for sure, children will be laughing (just as I was) because the book does a terrific job of humanizing historical figures like Paul Revere and Ben Franklin and making them appealing. Here’s an interview with Lane Smith where he discusses some of the visual ideas in the book.

HE DONE HER WRONG

HE DONE HER WRONG, Milt Gross’s 1930 graphic novel (no, graphic novels weren’t invented by Will Eisner), is finally back in print. I haven’t seen this new edition, but I’ve seen the book and it’s packed with typically great Gross art. I’m planning on picking up a copy soon. And when are we going to see a Milt Gross biography/coffeetable book? Talk about long overdue books.

Uwe Heidschoetter

One of my favorite artist blog discoveries has been the work of German animation artist Uwe Heidschoetter. He uses all sorts of unconventional shapes in his figurative drawings and has a distinctive style all his own. I was excited to see that he recently announced a forthcoming 40-page hardcover sketchbook. Sounds good to me.

worldonsunday.jpg

THE WORLD ON SUNDAY: GRAPHIC ART IN JOSEPH PULITZER’S NEWSPAPER (1898-1911) by Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano is a collection of extremely rare turn-of-the-(last)-century artwork that appeared in New York’s SUNDAY WORLD paper. The book has work by well-known comic artists like Outcault, Herriman, and McManus, as well as plenty of lesser known illustrators. I don’t have the book, but I’m considering buying it after reading reviews like THIS and THIS.