Posts Tagged ‘Roald Dahl’

David Jien

Published April 29, 2010 by Molly

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In an interview at Little Paper Planes, artist David Jien talks a bit about his process, noting that he starts with an idea and progresses to research, references, sketches, and finally, a drawing. The artist, who works with graphite and paper, admits that “I work pretty slowly and my finishing time varies with every picture, but small ones usually take 2-3 days, and large ones take up to 3 months.” This makes sense, given the meticulous detail and technical verve of Jien’s drawings.

The drawings remind us (a bit obscurely) of the great Carol Reed noir film “The Third Man”, with its burnt-out postwar Vienna streetscapes, dark shadows, and sinister lurkers. Jien himself has talked about the influence of Nintendo, anime, Roald Dahl and Chinese scroll painting on his works, so what do we know? Only that there’s plenty of room for both interpretations. These are great, great drawings.

Talking Comics with Jordan Crane

Published September 29, 2009 by Graham

Jordan Crane at Comic Con

Have you bought a comic book in the past few years? Not a graphic novel or some fancy anthology—I’m talking about those olde thyme flimsy, staple-bound periodicals filled with illustrated narratives and costing less than a bag of movie theater popcorn. It wouldn’t be a shock if you said no, and cartoonist Jordan Crane wouldn’t blame you– but he’s not giving up on the medium without a fight.

After years of creating resplendent illustrations, designing floral wallpaper for our favorite bookstore, and intermittently revealing his narrative brilliance through one-off comics, Crane has recently focused his creative talents on an Ignatz-winning (that’s geek-speak for “good”) comic series called Uptight. Presenting melancholy tales of workaday worries and broken relationships right alongside whimsical, child-friendly fare, Uptight provides a fascinating peek inside Crane’s constantly shifting thoughts, and never fails to entertain.

Read on to discover this venerable artist’s love for Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear, the challenges of cartooning for kids, and his call to revolution for a post-superhero world.

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Wonka Redux

Published September 21, 2009 by Molly

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964. The movie starring Gene Wilder (tag line: “It’s Scrumdidilyumptious!”) came out in 1971. A second version hit theaters in 2005. Which is all to say that the story of a loony inventor revealing his sugary trade secrets to a bright young kid holds a certain perennial appeal.

Part of this allure lies with the story’s masterful structure: part mini-bildungsroman and part fairy tale, it combines adventure, supernatural phenomena, moral perils and a grand journey. Some of the story’s greatness is also due to the inventive genius of Roald Dahl. And part of it––a large part––stems from the concept of magical candy. Who doesn’t love magical candy?

Katrina Markoff is a real-life Willy Wonka of sorts, if Wonka was a globetrotting woman who trained at Le Cordon Bleu. Markoff’s company, Vosges Haut-Chocolat, specializes in exotic candy bars meant to be nibbled in the tiniest of savoring bites (no Violet Beauregards allowed.) The Black Pearl bar––speckled with ginger, wasabi and black sesame seeds––tastes like the result of Wonka running wild in a sushi restaurant. The Habana bar is crunchy with plantain chips (Wonka-Goes-To-Cuba), and the Enchanted Mushroom bar, with Reishi mushrooms and walnuts, is like a chocolatey trip to the forest floor.

If it all sounds weird––well, it is. And that’s definitely not a bad thing.

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Roald Dahl in a Sleeping Bag in the Virtual Hut

Published June 8, 2009 by Graham

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Cabinet Magazine recently published an article entitled “To Sit, To Stand, To Write,” examining a deep rift amongst history’s greatest writers: the ideal bodily position for writing. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, responded to Gustave Flaubert’s casual remark that “one cannot think and write except when seated,” with an infuriated accusation of cultural decadence, writing, “There I have caught you, nihilist! The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

Nietzche was not alone in his preference– though he was perhaps unparalleled in the philosophical weight he placed behind it. According to the article, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ernest Hemingway all wrote standing up, hovering over lecterns and typewriters placed upon dressers. Still others preferred the supine pose, including Mark Twain, who wrote in bed. Roald Dahl’s writing habits were generally rather traditional in his tendency to be seated, and yet the description of his writing environment is one of the most interesting parts of the article.

We can conjecture that it was phsical considerations that caused the six-foot-six-inch Thomas Wolfe to write his opulent, autobiographical novels using the top of his refrigerator as his desk, the shifting of his weight from foot to foot being a neat approximation of the Nietzschean decree that all writing should “dance.” But what do we then make of Roald Dahl, also six-foot-six, who everyday climbed into a sleeping back before settling into an old wing-backed chair, his feet resting immobile on a battered traveling case full of logs? Dahl’s claim that “all the best stuff comes at the desk,” is a simple modern variation on Flaubert’s static dictum.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can go on an informative virtual tour of Dahl’s fabled writing hut, minus the writer and his lanky legs that are no longer resting on that log-filled suitcase. When do the rest of us get our writing huts?