Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great Fish

I was recently reminded of R. O. Blechman's "Book of Jonah".

Published in 1997 by Stewart Tabori and Chang as part of three book deal which included a reissue of "The Juggler of Our Lady" and the new title "The Life of Saint Nicholas", "Jonah" was sadly neglected.

In my opinion, it's not only Blechman's greatest work -it's amongst the top illustrated books of all time: comic books, graphic novels, or children's books.

You see his timing and perception of space in these few pages.

The images tell the story.  It's practically Ernie Bushmiller in it's graphic essence.  The words are punctuation.

The above sequence harkens back to "The Juggler of Our Lady".  The drawings here are better, of course, beyond that the progression of the images -full scale to single line evokes fear and abandonment better than 1000 words could. 

Timing, the space between the drawings, is finely tuned here.  The differences in Jonah's poses are weighted by the space around him and the progression through the pages.

At times the scale transforms and images devour entire spreads.

The color is as precise as the line is tenuous.  Tom Hachtman did the airbrushing on the original artwork.  R. O. is specific on the tones and application of the color.  Just like the line, it's deceptive simplicity belies a rewarding sophistication.

A book of beautiful images.

And solid storytelling.

And inventive graphic layouts.

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