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Tag Archive: Brazilian artist


Review by C.J. Bunce

A new print edition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden is coming to bookstores next month, and its artistry and design could stand as the definitive version–a storybook that could be a new favorite for the next generation of readers.  Originally published in serial form for both adults and children in 1910, Burnett’s classic book of children forced to grow up in difficult times and the value of friendship to their growth was initially not so well-received.  Burnett would be better known for her novels Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Little Princess even years past her death, but over time The Secret Garden flourished to become a beloved favorite, frequently ranked high on British and American reading lists, including those of School Library Journal, the U.S. National Education Association, and the BBC.  The novel made its way into the public domain, and has been the subject of countless print editions, as well as plays, musicals, television features, and theatrical films.  Actors Dean Stockwell, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Glynis Johns, and Honor Blackman have all found roles in various adaptations of the book.  And soon another big-screen adaptation is coming your way from StudioCanal starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters.

Design studio MinaLima has partnered with Harper Design to release a truly beautiful version of The Secret Garden incorporating three-dimensional elements and hundreds of pieces of colorful line art and decorations.  A garden’s worth of vibrant flowers hug the footer numbers at the bottom of each page, colorful end papers adorn each new chapter, the off-white pages have an antiqued appearance, each chapter finds an old-fashioned stylized introductory letter, and pop-up images emphasize story elements.  It even includes a traditional paper doll, and cleverly folded paper gardens.  The 384-page hardcover features a gilded, textured cover, and tucked throughout the book are symbols and images found in Burnett’s sumptuous text.  The fifth in a series of children’s classics illustrated by MinaLima, including Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales, The Secret Garden is the pinnacle of these accurately self-described “lavishly illustrated” editions, finding a story that doesn’t require illustrations, but is enhanced so well by MinaLima’s application of them.  At two points in the story, letters are received via post by key characters, and instead of merely printing them in text as found in the original novel, the illustrators include two actual letters, designed as replicas, neatly folded just as you would have found real letters in the late 19th century, ready for readers to pull out and read as they move through the story.  That tactile experience will move readers young and old.

The style of artwork is suited to the story, combining British and Indian influences the young lead character Mary Lennox would have been familiar with, plus ink color choices and wallpapers similarly found in her era.  In this tale, Mary, an initially angry, “quite contrary” daughter of a British couple living in India that dies of cholera, finds herself nearly abandoned at a widowed uncle’s giant mansion back in England.  There she discovers the widower’s abandoned garden, and her relationships with three young people, an older girl and two boys, allow her to grow and move beyond her past.

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For fans of a good fantasy fix, you can hardly find a more exciting adventure and weekly romp than TNT’s The Librarians.  For four years The Librarians have continued the world of the Warehouse 13-esque, made-for TV movie series going back to 2004, made popular by star Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, Mark Felt, Falling Skies, ER, A Few Good Men) as Librarian adventurer Flynn Carsen.  Season 4 is coming this back to TNT this Fall (and to Syfy in the UK), and will feature guest stars John Noble (The Lord of the Rings, Fringe, Sleepy Hollow, Forever) as Monsignor Vega, a Vatican bishop who is secretly the head of the Heretical Order of the Shadows bent on destroying the Library, and Rachel Nichols (Continuum, Star Trek 2009, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Conan the Barbarian) as Nicole Noone, Carsen’s original Guardian originally thought to be dead.

While you’re waiting for the TV series to return, a new monthly comic book series will provide fans with an excellent continuation.  Published by Dynamite Comics, The Librarians, Issue #1, has the look and feel of an episode of the series, complete with the great banter between the Librarians the show is known for, the quirky characters protecting an even more bizarre Library full of secrets, magic, and the rarest artifacts hidden from the rest of us in the real world.

   

In the first issue writer Will Pfeifer (Aquaman, Hellboy) and Brazilian artist Rodney Buchemi (Uncanny X-Men) take The Librarians and readers to a classic source of the strange and paranormal, TV’s In Search Of… series that starred Leonard Nimoy.  Because it’s The Librarians version of that series, this issue is not about Nimoy and the series creators per se, but it’s similar enough that fans of the series will follow all the references, and–for those that need it spelled out–the first issue is titled “In Search Of… Chapter 1.”   Carsen, Caretaker Jenkins (John Larroquette), Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) and fellow Librarians Jake Stone (Christian Kane), Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth), and Ezekiel Jones (John Harlan Kim) set out to find the killer of the creator of the paranormal films, Solomon Schick, after he is murdered at a local film festival.

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MonstersCover

Evoking the best of the classic Warner Bros. Merry Melodies cartoons, Brazilian artist Gustavo Duarte’s new book of comics is one of those works that you’d mistake for a classic you read as a kid, only maybe slightly a bit more twisted.  The pace and themes of Monsters! & Other Stories recalls Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit animated shorts, good company for this visual treat completely without words.

Duarte mixes humor and the askew in his first of three stories, “Có!” (the sound of a rooster) about a farmer about to relax with a drink, who suddenly finds himself thrust into a bizarre encounter with his pigs, a giant chicken and an alien spacecraft.  Something here evokes the strange tale of Bugs Bunny and his giant orange monster from the Looney Toons “Bugs the Beautician,” or maybe the other Loony Toons favorite, “A Sheep in the Deep,” with Ralph the wolf and Sam the sheepdog.

Monsters page art

“Birds” follows an anthropomorphic bird in suit on his day at the office who wages war against death itself, and a particularly bad pot of coffee.  The story quickly spirals into a morbid flight from death with the bird’s co-worker, resulting in a nasty–and gory–outcome for the pair.

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