Sunday, 5 June 2011

Find(s) of the week: Pop-up Jules Verne & The Story Of Gardens

As I haven't done one of these for a while I thought I would start with a double whammy.

Last weekend I went to London and visited the fantastic Out Of This World exhibit at The British Library which is running until the 25th of September. A pretty comprehensive collection of science fiction/speculative fiction featuring some of the earliest examples complete with a variety of illustrations and vintage cover design, with some comics thrown in for good measure. Definitely worth a visit, and it's free!

Whilst there I spotted something I could only hope was available to buy, and thankfully when I started to browse the gift shop, I noticed it was for sale.

The item in question was a pop up hardback comic book version of Jules Verne's classic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Sam Ita. Complete with moving parts, hidden flaps, and massive 3D renditions of scenes such as the discovery of Atlantis and the notorious giant squid attack this is an innovative and fresh approach to the genre. One thing that puzzles me is whether or not this pop-up book can actually be considered aimed at children, for the most part the language is fairly comprehensible, but there are occasional words that may trouble a child, not to mention the violent anti-colonial undertone that has been kept from the original book. One thing is for certain the visual devices alone could be a brilliant way of getting children into reading and eventually turning them on to the greats (anyone who argues comic books encourage illiteracy is a narrow-minded fool).

Sam Ita has also published two more pop up comic book literary adaptations: Mary Shelley's Frankenstien and Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Next I finally visited the Nobrow shop and gallery and picked up a nice little mini comic The Story Of Gardens by polish artist Kuba Woynarowski. Fitting the sci-fi theme of this post nicely this starkly finished black white and blood red surreal and wordless tale presents us with the ultimate 'what if...?'. Tying into and exploiting our current environmental fears it shows a world devoid of human life, but where disregarded human artifacts remain. Slowly but surely nature begins to regain its stronghold in the world through the presence of an eiree looking shrimp like insect and the eventual swamping growth of plants and weeds. There are some wonderfully creepy and atmospheric sequences in this little comic, including a scene with the shrimp like insect emerging from the 'heart' of a blood red cabbage which reminds me a lot of Charles Burn's work with its nods to B-movie horror. This mini comic presents a possible future world like an unsettling alien landscape and sends a shudder down your spine in a mere 16 pages!

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