Tuesday, May 18, 2010

counter, original, spare, strange...

The new issue of Dappled Things is out!

Daniel Mitsui's mediaeval-esque drawings are particularly noteworthy for their astounding detail -- and, in the case of my favorite image from this issue -- gentle humor. I love the bizarre apocryphal stories that spring up around Irish monastic saints and Mitsui has captured that ease with oddities of nature that seem so intrinsic to Celtic spirituality.

Speaking of oddities of nature:

'The Screwtape Letters' was the most astounding and rewarding theatrical experience I have had in many a moon (for the misbegotten.) I was so filled with girlish enthusiasm for the production that I asked the DT editor if I could review it and secure an interview with the lead actor/producer Max McLean. He said I could.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

...the unmistakable sound of a barmaid falling downstairs...

When Overlook Press began releasing hardcover editions of P.G. Wodehouse's works back in 2003-ish I was, of course, in raptures. It would not be overstating the case to claim that a girlish squeal escaped me upon seeing the first copies (to the profound annoyance of my fellow Barnes & Noble patrons.)

However, I was initially confounded by the choice of controversial Surrealist/Expressionist Polish poster artist Andrzej Klimowski as cover illustrator for these jaunty tomes. Surely Marc Rosenthal's expressive, cheery, flat-colored illustrations were far more suited to the environs of Blandings Castle! Everything about Wodehouse should be clean, orderly, pleasant and gentle. Klimowski's illustrations, by contrast, are thick-edged, roughly-hewn and garishly colored.

(And sometimes they're just downright ugly as in this cover for Girl On The Boat.)

Upon reflection, however, I realized that the style adopted for these book covers is not without legitimate artistic progenitors. Take a gander at this John Held, Jr. illustration circa 1925:

Also, why operate under the assumption that Wodehouse should have a visual stamp of pastel order? Wodehousian characters are nothing if not ceaselessly imperiled, escaping certain aunt-orchestrated-death or appalling matrimonial entanglements only by the skin of their teeth. I imagine were I to ask Bertie Wooster who should illustrate his life story he would nominate Caravaggio.

Finally, it occurs to me that, were the cover art 'prettier' it wouldn't be nearly so funny: