Friday, 21 December 2012

"Christmas Card 2012" by Harris


I have finally posted away the last of my Christmas Cards (sample above) so I can get on with my other work as normal... It's actually a picture of our house - and some of its residents! We do have a number of mature holly trees in the garden that look lovely this time of the year with their bright red berries, saving us the trouble of Christmas decorations outdoors. I know it looks a little spooky but that's part of its charm...

Friday, 7 December 2012

"A Stands For Angel" By Joan Gale Thomas (1939) - Part 2

Almost every picture of this little book could make a beautiful Christmas card! Not religious myself but I'd say Gale Thomas's illustrations capture the Christmas spirit better than any of the commercial imagery forced upon us every year! From what I could find on Joan Gale Thomas (1910-1988) this was her first book and she went on to produce a number of other titles mainly on religious themes. Here's a link on a small biography:

Friday, 30 November 2012

"The Devil In Texas" by Wolf Mankowitz, illustrated by Ralph Steadman - Part 2 (Published by Robert Royce Ltd, London 1984)

The inimitable and striking Steadman illustrations enhancing the story. Wolf Mankowitz (1924-1998) is better known for his screenplays for the British film industry. Titles include "A Kid For Two Farthings(1955), The Millionairess(1960), Expresso Bongo(1958), Casino Royale(1967) and many others.  By the way, he was also responsible for bringing together the two original producers of the James Bond films, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1962. He was then asked to work on the writing team for the first Bond film, Doctor No. Somewhere along the way he became convinced that the film would be a disaster and withdrew from the project, asking for his name to be removed from the credits. Hindsight is a great thing as they say... Here's the Independent obituary:

Thursday, 29 November 2012

"The Devil In Texas" by Wolf Mankowitz, Illustrated by Ralph Steadman (Published by Robert Royce Ltd, London 1984)

The death of Larry Hagman a few days ago reminded me of this book for some reason... I've had it for twenty odd years now but never got around to reading it despite the exciting illustrations...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

"Down With Skool" by Geoffrey Wilans and Ronald Searle, Part 3, (Published by Max Parrish, London 1953)

To this day, it's hard to find any illustrator that hasn't been influenced by Searle's extra-ordinary work. This book is full of these characters (120 drawings in all!), each one so unique and real - you can't help thinking that you've met people like them or seen some in a movie. His deceptively loose and simple line is so descriptive of the character's appearance and soul yet distorting and exaggerating their shape for comical effect.
There's a very good review of this book to be found on Matt Jones' Ronald Searle tribute blog together with many more illustrations.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

"Down With Skool" By Goeffrey Willans and Ronald Searle (published by Max Parrish, London 1953)

Picked this Ronald Searle 1953 classic a couple of weeks ago from a bookshop in Edinburgh (Till's brilliant second-hand bookshop is full of treasures like this, comics, old film posters and much more... here's their website if anybody wants to check them out). 
The main character, Nigel Molesworth, had already been created by Geoffrey Willans for Punch magazine before Searle was approached to produce the characters for the story. Following its huge success (which, incidentally, surpassed the sales of "The Terror Of St. Trinian's"(1952) that Searle is more famous for) there were two more books published in the same series before the author's death in 1958. More details on wikipedia here:

Monday, 12 November 2012

"It Happened In Melgrove Square" by John Hunter, Cover by Eric Parker (Amalgamated Press, London 1951)

Brilliant suspense and craftsmanship by illustrator Eric Parker - I'd love to see any of the original paintings for a closer look at the brushwork and colours. These books were being published every two weeks so there wasn't much time for the artist to design each issue - he may even have been in charge for the titles as well!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

"The Affair Of Danny The 'Dip'", A Sexton Blake Mystery By Walter Tyler, Cover Illustration By Eric Parker (Amalgamated Press, London 1950)

Discovered a small collection of early 1950's Sexton Blake mysteries at a second hand furniture shop - they were irresistible! This particular story gets really good reviews on the Sexton Blake archive webside, . Eric Parker (1898-1974)  illustrated most of the covers between the mid 1930's and 1950's and they are all stunning so I'll be posting some more in the next few days.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"Masquerade" By Kit Williams, Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd, London 1979

I came across this one the other day at a bookshop in Edinburgh - mint condition and not badly priced either. For anybody not familiar with the story of its publication and the havoc it sparked off when thousands of readers went out treasure hunting for the jewelled golden hare in the story, here's the Wikipedia link: 
Meanwhile you can spend hours looking for all the hidden meanings and messages in these pictures...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

"Inspector Mouse" by Bernard Stone and Ralph Steadman (Published by Arrow Books, London 1987)

This was originally published by Andersen Press in 1980. I bought this book in 1989 as soon I saw it at Waterstones - needless to say it wasn't a present for any child as I didn't have any then!. Great characters, amazing line drawings and colours. Steadman has always been an inspiration to me and this is quite different than the political work he is best known for, which makes it rather special.