Fancy chickens were all the rage in the late 19th century, so Lewis Wright's Illustrated Book of Poultry was a big hit. With hundreds of pages of high density chicken information and dozens of beautiful chromolithographs by ornithological artist J.W. Ludlow, the book stayed in print for more than 40 years. Harvard University just digitized the book for public viewing. Here's their blog post about it. [more inside]
In "An Edwardian Package Holiday," Kirsty Hooper mentions the role that "lively representations" in illustrated travel books such as Spain Revisited: A Summer Holiday in Galicia and A Corner of Spain played in promoting northwest Spain to British tourists (more here). Many other richly illustrated travel books from the same period are available online, perhaps most notably the "Beautiful England" and "Beautiful Ireland" series published by Blackie & Son and the wide variety of titles published by A & C Black. [more inside]
Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet. "Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only you can't see it... They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It is always light there, always day, they climb the poles and always play." [more inside]
Ellen Raskin (1928-1984) is best known as a writer, author of The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel) and the Newbery Award-winning The Westing Game. But she always considered herself an artist first. Raskin designed over 1,000 book covers, including the iconic original cover of A Wrinkle In Time, the edition of Dubliners you probably read in college, and the New Directions edition of a Child's Christmas in Wales (Raskin did the woodcuts on the inside, too; further appreciation here.) More Raskin covers are collected in this flickr set from Bennington College. [more inside]
"There’s a lack of pretentiousness to the word ‘comic book’ that I think suits the medium itself very, very nicely."
The NYT Book Review just named it one of the 5 best fiction books of the year. The AV Club helpfully posted a video to show you what happens when you open it. Actually, lots of folks posted videos to show you what happens when you open it. Other folks raved in print about the author and his career. The Comics Journal asked a dozen critics of the author's work to send in reviews; this one focuses on the role of disability in the narrative. This one notes the book "is in a very primary sense a comic about women and the private lives they lead, and it investigates more fully than any other comic I have ever read the way they age, fall in love, explore their sexuality, come to terms with compromises they’ve had to make as they’ve grown, accept their limitations, confront squandered ability, have children (or choose not to have children), marry (or stay single), and make sense of the world around them." You might find Chris Ware's Building Stories worth a look or two. Or fourteen. [more inside]
Romance novel covers are a frequent subject of ridicule. But they have also featured highly talented illustrators like Alan Ayers, Pino Daeni, Elaine Gignilliat, Phil Heffernan, and Albert Slark. [more inside]
Historical versions of Aesop's fables - text and pictures - collected by Laura Gibbs. She gives thousands of historic texts in English, Latin, and Greek, but even better, has Flickr sets of the historic illustrations (that page is sorted by artist) from editions by Rackham, Caldecott, and other artists going back to the 1400s. [more inside]
Ever since something was invented to replace it, people have been predicting the end of the book: The Death Of The Book Through The Ages [more inside]
Spider Women. The animal illustration of Eileen Mayo. Book Week. Animals on Bikes. Alphabet Soup 1, Alphabet Soup 2. Steinlen's Cats. Let's Dance. Cats in Advertisements. Art Deco Animals. Jacques Hnizdovsky's prints. Emmanuelle Houdart's creatures. Turn of the century bird illustrations. [more inside]
Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
The Rabbit Dreams of Dr. Freud's Niece - An illustrator of children's books, Sigmund Freud's niece Martha went by the name Tom, wore men's clothing, and died by her own hand in her late 30s, a year after her husband's suicide. BibliOdyssey recently featured some of her early work from Das Baby-Liederbuch, noting that because she was Jewish, many of her books were destroyed in the Nazi era and are scarce in the book trade. More about the artist and her work at Tom Seidmann-Freud.
The Nuremberg Chronicle is one of the earliest printed books. The author, Hartmann Schedel, sets out a history of the world as understood at the time, relying heavily on the Bible. It is perhaps best known today for its wealth of images (some favorites: Creation of Birds, Map of the World, Half Horse, Stoning of St. Stephen and Apocalypse). The Beloit College website has a lot more information about the book and its context. They even have an English translation which is fully searchable.
Biomedical Ephemera, or, a Frog for your Boils is "A blog for all biological and medical ephemera, from the age of Abraham through the era of medical quackery and cure-all nostrums. Sometimes featuring illustrations of diseases and conditions of the times, sometimes fascinating ephemeral medical equipment, and sometimes clippings and information about the theories themselves." The archive page is also a useful starting point. via Things Magazine.
Sifting through The Staxx you'll find excerpts from ancient books about British chimneysweeps, ferns and mosses, Japanese art motifs, ornamental alphabets, and much more.
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
Animated Anatomies is a new exhibition from Duke University Special Collections that examines the beautiful intricacies of anatomical flap books. [more inside]
Experience the art of Jerry Pinkney [Artists webpage], a master of the American picturebook whose unforgettable visual narratives reflect deeply felt personal and cultural themes, bearing witness to the African-American experience, the wonders of classic literature, and the wisdom in well-loved folk tales. A belief in the ability of images to speak about and to humanity is at this legendary artist’s core. His artworks celebrating life’s small but extraordinary moments and significant historical events reflect the power of visual storytelling in our lives, “becoming the voice that others may not have had.” His commissioned work, and illustrations are an incredible body of work, but also don't miss his independent creations either. [more inside]
An examination of the cover design for the published works of J.G. Ballard, spanning five decades. [more inside]
Stephen Biesty is an award-winning British illustrator famous for his bestselling "Incredible" series of engineering art books: Incredible Cross-Sections, Incredible Explosions, Incredible Body, and many more. A master draftsman, Biesty does not use computers or even rulers in composing his intricate and imaginative drawings, relying on nothing more than pen and ink, watercolor, and a steady hand. Over the years, he's adapted his work to many other mediums, including pop-up books, educational games (video), interactive history sites, and animation. You can view much of his work in the zoomable galleries on his professional page, or click inside for a full listing of direct links to high-resolution, desktop-quality copies from his and other sites, including several with written commentary from collaborator Richard Platt [site, .mp3 chat]. [more inside]
A collection of covers from different editions of Crash. Includes some commentary by JG Ballard.
Nearly three decades ago, folklorist Alvin Schwartz published Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, the first of three horror anthologies that would go on to become the single most challenged book series of the 1990s. But most of the backlash was against not the stories themselves (which were fairly tame), but rather the illustrations of artist Stephen Gammell. His bizarre, grotesque, nightmarish black-and-white inkscapes suffused every page with an eerie, unsettling menace. Sadly, the series has since been re-issued with new illustrations by Brett Helquist, of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame. Luckily for fans of Gammell's dark vision, copies of the old artwork abound online, including in these three image galleries: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. Interested in revisiting the stories themselves? Then don't miss the virtual re-enactments of YouTube user MoonRaven09, or the dramatic readings of fellow YouTuber daMeatHook.
The Age of Uncertainty is my new favorite blog. It's by a gentleman bookseller who works in a warehouse in Sussex processing lorryfuls of used books. He shares the most interesting things he finds, commenting with wit and sensitivity. He also writes entertainingly about his everyday life. Let me point you towards his series of extracts from a diary that came to his warehouse, detailing the life of Derek, an employee of the government who converted to Mormonism. It was a fairly normal life, but the excerpts are fascinating. Here are the entries in order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. He also posts beautiful images he finds, such as Victorian color plates: 1 and 2. Still, it is the remains of ordinary lives washing up on his shores that most enthralls me, such as this tear-inducing post about a family photo album which was sent to his used books warehouse.
A gallery of scanned German children's books from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sounds dry, but the plates are high-resolution and gorgeous. Fans of old-school engraving, illustration, and Bibliodyssey-esque curiosities will not be disappointed. Highly extensive and bandwidth-intensive.
An excellent set of illustrations from a French Sherlock Holmes collection. Let us attempt to sleuth out the stories to which these great little pieces of art belong.
Gorgeous new covers for Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and From the Earth to the Moon by design student Jim Tierney.
Picture Book Report is an extended love-song to books. Fifteen illustrators will reach out to their favorite books and create wonderful pieces of art in response to the text that has moved them, shaped them, or excited them. From sci-fi to children’s books to fantasy to serious novels, we’ll cover them all. For three weeks out of every month there will be a new illustration every day from one of us along with our thoughts, process, anything we can come up with. Together we will try to excite readers both new and old and capture some of that magic of storytelling.. [more inside]
The Art of Fontana Modern Masters James Pardey, the mind behind The Art of Penguin Science Fiction, has just put up another site telling the story of the cover art on the Frank Kermode-edited "Modern Masters" Fontana Books series, inspired by the Op Art of Victor Vasarely and the cut-ups of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs. [via, via] [more inside]
"A few months ago, I got an email from Paul Buckley, the wonderful art director at Penguin Classics, who asked if I wanted to illustrate a book cover for him..." Illustrator Michael Cho on designing a cover for Don Delillo's White Noise as part of the Penguin Graphic Classics series, in which prominent comic artists and illustrators create covers for literary classics. All the covers can be found in this flickr set, including Daniel Clowes’s Frankenstein, Candide illustrated by Chris Ware, and Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) cover for Gravity's Rainbow.
Illustrator Glen Mullaly archives hundreds of vintage illustrations in his flickr stream. [more inside]
From cops vs. hoods and other toughies to mad science and dramatic ledges and bridgewalkers, a vast and entertaining collection of vintage pulp art categorized into themes.
The "I Can Read Movies" Series is a set of fake film novelizations, done in 1950's and 1960's illustration style. [via]
A curated collection of web comics over at Greylock Arts, with creator interviews and lots of links to strips like Underwire, Persimmon Cup, Truth Serum, Wondermark, The Process, Amazing Facts...and Beyond!, Phil McAndrew and more, including a few previously featured on the blue. [via Bookslut]
Just some cool dark fantasy art by John Jude Palencar, including covers for Lovecraft, de Lint, Tolkien and other popular books.
The Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae A collection of over 900 zoomable print engravings, organized around the work of Antonio Lafreri and other Italian publishers, whose documentation of Roman ruins and statues helped fuel the Renaissance. The itineraries are a good place to start for detailed discussion, or just browse away. [via the wonderful Bouphonia]
If you are a fan of longtime MeFite peacay's extraordinary blog, BibliOdyssey - and who isn't? - you can now get the coffee table version, The Annotated Archives of BibliOdyssey. (Or, in the U.S.) Forward by artist Dinos Chapman (NSFW). Kudos, peacay! Via.
Ken Steacy runs a print on demand publishing company, (he recently brought the book "As I See" back in print) and is a fantastic comic book illustrator. Last week he put 600 of his best drawings on flickr. (as seen on drawn.ca)
Gems of Penmanship, Penman's Leisure Hour, Ninety-five Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship, The Champion Method of Practical Business Writing and other Rare Books on Calligraphy and Penmanship from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Lots of neat tidbits. [via mlarson.org]
The Toymaker offers over 40 free paper toys and pretties you can print out (PDFs) and make yourself, as well as "Stories to be Told by Firelight" - online versions of author/illustrator Marilyn Scott Waters' children's stories and lots of other fun goodies. For people who have kids, people who know kids, people who are kids, and people who love papercraft, illustration, toys, and tales. [more...]
The Feather Book, digitized by and on display at McGill University: A seventeenth-century book containing illustrations of birds and men -- composed of real feathers, beaks, and claws. More information about the book and its contents and history can be read here.
The U.S. Naval Observatory Library features high-res scans of images from antique books dealing with astronomy and navigation. Wallpapers, ahoy!
Laura Levine's works are themed around music, from her classic rock photos to her funky illustrations. Her children’s illustrated books about musical pioneers are delightful: Honky-Tonk Heroes & Hillbilly Angels is due out in May. Previously: Shake, Rattle & Roll and a collaboration with the B-52's, Wig! She also runs a curiosity shop in Phoenicia, NY. (via Internet Weekly)
At least one commander told him, "Follow the soldiers' instructions, because they'll put their lives at risk to save you." But no one tried to censor his drawings or discourage him from going out on missions. -- Steve Mumford is a New York painter who was embedded as a "combat artist" in Iraq. The archives of his Baghdad Journal make for fascinating reading. He has recently published a large book of the art he created on this voyage.
The International Children's Digital Library has over 600 illustrated children's books entirely viewable online. Included are the amazing 1900 illustrated edition of "A is for Apple", and the 1885 color illustrated "Baseball ABC". Also online are the 1905 and 1916 editions of the illustrated "Alice in Wonderland". Searchable, with books representing 28 languages, including English, Japanese, Farsi, Niuean, Yiddish, Khmer, Tongan, German, Arabic .... (though most contemporary, copyrighted western books are, of course, not here).
Weathering the Weather: The Origins of Atmospheric Science A "glorious selection" of strikingly beautiful pages from classic publications about meteorology. [via plep].
Curious George Escapes the Nazis. A true story from a neat little exhibit about the life and work of H.A. and Margret Rey, German Jews who fled Paris on bicycle (with the unpublished Curious George manuscript as one of their few possessions) hours before the Nazis arrived. Lots of info, including Curious George's first appearance, Hans' famous book on astronomy, notes on the couple's lesser-known work and more.
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