Jane Austen wrote, “How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book,” and her fans surely agree when it comes to the much-beloved Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps your own devotion has led you to read all the books, watch all the movies, and still it isn’t enough. May we suggest enjoying the story in Marvel comic form? That’s right! Graphic Novels for Grown-ups Month is the perfect time to sample Pride & Prejudice as adapted by an award-winning romance author and skilled illustrators. Much of Austen’s language and wit are smartly preserved, and the drawings add insight into the characters’ personalities and foibles. This is a delightful way to revisit a favorite, and don’t forget to enter for prizes after you reach the happy ending!
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It’s a good bet you already know the work of Edward Curtis. Open any American history book that discusses Native Americans, and there will likely be illustrations attributed to him. These timeless portraits are striking in their balance of dignity and intimacy, and they represent one man’s lifelong crusade to document a vanishing culture. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan is the inaugural winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Read about the adventurer who was obsessive to the point of risking his life, losing his family, and finishing destitute. His legacy is not only the photographs which have become the defining images of the First Nations but also the heroic story which brought them to be.
Eliot Porter said, “Wilderness must be preserved; it is a spiritual necessity. Even though few may visit wilderness areas they remain an open back door, a safety valve for those who never enter them.” It was Porter’s landscape photography that helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964 which helped protect 9.1 million acres of national forest and wilderness areas. Eliot Porter: In the Realm of Nature is a coffee table book full of both the color and black and white photography of an American photographer lesser known than Ansel Adams, but equally important in the protection and history of the wilds of the United States.
If you like the dark, psychologically deep art of Will Eisner, try the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Tatsumi is a Japanese manga artist. Don’t stop reading! Manga is not only for kids. Just like in America where serious comics want to be acknowledged as graphic novels, in Japan, serious manga is called gekiga – a term Tatsumi originated in 1957 that means “dramatic pictures”. For an introduction to Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s work, watch Tatsumi, an animated documentary about his celebrated career based on his autobiographical manga A Drifting Life. Intertwined with the biographical details are 5 short story segments by Tatsumi that detail not only his life, but post-WWII Japan.
Alice Prin, otherwise known as Kiki de Montparnasse, was the queen of 1920s bohemian Paris. She was unmistakable in a crowd, with her black bobbed hair and joie de vivre. Kiki was not only a model – she was the model, posing for Man Ray, Cocteau, Soutine, and others. Her evenings were spent as a nightclub singer, her days poised for art, and her life became a testament to spontaneity and creativity. Kiki de Montparnasse is a graphic novel biography that portrays the highs and many lows of Alice Prin’s all too short life.
To see Kiki and her world in real life, follow the graphic novel with the coffee table essay and photography book, Kiki’s Paris.
“Water, water, everywhere; Nor any drop to drink.” This line from Coleridge’s memorable poem may have been an all-too-prescient glimpse into the havoc we have since wreaked on our natural resources. Nick Hayes certainly thinks so, and he has crafted a visually stunning work in The Rime of the Modern Mariner. Exquisite woodcut-inspired illustrations translate the story into a mesmerizing tale of environmental disaster, but one that is anchored by the actions (or inaction) of two primary characters: a sailor with a fantastic tale to tell and a jaded businessman cornered on the day his divorce becomes final. The text itself is spare, just a few words per page, effectively allowing the rhythm and rhyme to carry the reader along the waves of story. Savor both the poignant beauty and the timely message.
Vivian Maier is the Emily Dickinson of photography. Dickinson didn’t publish her poetry; she tucked it away in drawers. Similarly, Maier received no acclaim in her own lifetime for her captivating street photography – not because her work wasn’t any good, but because the world didn’t know it existed. Maier’s photos were hidden away, mostly as undeveloped film, in storage lockers. Maier worked as a nanny in Chicago for near forty years. On her days off, she walked the streets taking pictures. Richard Cahan and Michael Williams collected a gorgeous sampling of her black and white work in Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows.
Imagine the pattering of paws against wet cement, a whoosh of air, and a dog – say a shiny, black Labrador – leaping into a pool of water after her favorite tennis ball. Then comes the splash of her belly against the blue. Her face submerges. Her jaws grasp at the ball in an aquatic dance of determination. This is when Seth Casteel would take a picture, when his canine subject was at her most joyfully dynamic. Dog lovers beware, you are bound to fall in love with the exuberant photography of Casteel in his first coffee table book of over 80 paddling, leaping, water-loving portraits, Underwater Dogs.
Vincent van Gogh has been credited with saying, “I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.”
Click here to learn more about art that has stood the test of time.
13,997 Japanese Americans passed through Heart Mountain internment camp from August 1942 – September 1945. Bill Mambo and his family were in the thousands forced to live at the base of Heart Mountain in northern Wyoming. Mambo captured their daily lives on Kodachrome film and, though he was an amateur, the images Mambo captured show that, “However broad their smiles, the people in these pictures were living interrupted lives, or shattered ones. The music of their bright dances and parades masked a hum of dissent and discontent.” Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Images of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, edited by Eric L. Muller, expresses the intimate details and hard truths of wartime living.