Tuesday, 30 September 2008

I'm a Real Boy!

The reliably excellent NYRB have a new translation of Carlo Collodi's children's classic Pinocchio coming out, with an introduction by Umberto Eco and afterword by Rebecca West. Argh! If only I didn't already have a copy!

When I first saw this eye-catching cover, I assumed it was a Photoshop job (not that there's anything wrong with that--I use photoshop all the time in my job), but it was pleasing to learn from a recent NYRB blog post that in fact it's a photograph from a sculpture.

The sculpture is 'Pinocchio' by Tim Rollins and K.O.S (see more here).

Pinocchio is a great book, full of odd twists and strange logic and anthropomorphic animal con-men. It's also full of stuff that never made it into the Disney version.

The NYRB edition has interior illustrations by Attilio Mussino, which first appeared (I think) in this 1929 Macmillan edition.

The edition I have read is the Penguin Classics version.

The cover and the interior illustrations are by Charles Folkard, and first appeared in the 1930s: here they are used in a Blue Ribbon Book edition.

Searching for good images of old editions of Pinocchio ends in a deluge of tatty old Disney books. A few others emerged from the dross, though. Here's an elegantly simple 1892 edition, the first in English as far as I can tell, published by Unwin.

Then there's this 1914 American Lippincott edition, with a more human-looking hero on the cover and the interior art, all by Maria Kirk.

And here's a cartoony version from 1937, put out by the Limited Editions Club, with art by Richard Floethe.

Finally, just because I want to, here's some more Charles Folkard art, done for Alice in Wonderland. (Click for much bigger versions).

Alice must surely be unique as a book interpreted by so many excellent artists, in so many different styles. For a few other versions, look at these posts here, here and here.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

More Master and Margarita

A book which this blog keeps coming back to is Mikhail Bulgakov's astonishing The Master and Margarita: in the past we've looked at the numerous English-language book covers, as well as a number of attempts at comic adaptations.

I've recently come across the work of Ukrainian artist Pavel Orinyansky (born 1955). He has produced a number of illustrations for a Russian edition of this great book, as well as colour cover artwork. Here is the Mucha-influenced front cover (click for a bigger version):

Here's the sinister title page:

And here is a selection of the interior artwork (click for bigger versions):

Orinyansky's work has been chosen to decorate Bulgakov House in Moscow, with some of these images shown at life size. (Warning: that site is in Russian only; for a vague English translation, try this.)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Kafka Comics

The most recent edition to the Penguin Graphic Classics range is Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis and Other Stories, in the new Michael Hofmann translation. (An aside: pretty much any book with Hofmann credited as translator is going to be worth your while--use him as your guide to a wealth of Germanic masterpieces).

This cover is by comics artist Sammy Harkham, editor of comics anthology Kramer's Ergot; Harkham's web presence is, sadly, a nest of dead links, so there's not much more I can tell you about him. The book looks great, though.

It's not the first time Kafka's had this sort of treatment. Peter Kuper, a comics artist influenced by the sort of German Expressionism I keep banging on about on this blog, has adapted both Metamorphosis and a collection of other Kafka tales into graphic editions. Here are the covers, along with some sample inner pages (click for readable versions):


Kafka's life has also been interpreted by another great comics artist, the uniquely odd Robert Crumb, working with David Jane Mairowitz.

And here are a few covers from earlier editions:

Going back to Kuper, he has also adapted Upton Sinclair's depressing muckraking masterwork The Jungle.

You may also remember an earlier comics/Jungle experience, with this Graphic Classics cover by Charles Burns: