Tuesday, September 18, 2018

war of the worlds

Image result for war of the worlds illustration

One of my first great book love affairs (after my pre-literate raggedy black checkered Mother Goose, my kindegarten Beatrix Potter set obsession, but before I discovered Judy Blume or horror novels) was a pink-covered Children's Illustrated Classics version of War of the Worlds.  Like the Potter set, part of this was the tactile bookness of the set--their compact little squareness, the way they fit tightly in a box.  I believe there were two sets in my possession, most likely Christmas gifts from my parents. I loved they way they felt to be held--so grown-up after years of Little Golden Books.  And I devoured most of them--Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson (though admittedly I remember finding Tale of Two Cities boring enough to abandon--not much has changed, my dislike of Dickens continued through grad school.)

I loved the way they looked lined up on the shelf headboard of my top bunk bed of the room I shared with my sister. They were the first books I owned that were entirely mine (my sister being not yet old enough to read,  so no sharing was necessary.)  In my 6 or 7 year old head, it seemed important to have bookshelves even just one, especially since after my Dad's bookshelf in the living room always seemed so grown-up and mysterious but which was really just half-filled with  a lot of books about hunting.fishing and my mother's cookbooks. My dad is still a big reader, but the books usually wind up in piles of newpapers, magazines, and other ephemera and never on the shelf.  Probably genetic. 

But War of the Worlds was the only one I kept steadily re-reading,kept coming back to.  Lying on that top bunk on weekends, I distinctly remember the pinkness of the cover how it felt and smelled, but the actual illustrations are murky in my memory.  Even then, apocalyptic visions fascinated me.  It elicited the same frisson I get re-reading The Stand or watching Cloverfield.  I'm not sure how to explain it.

In doing a little research for our Book to Art endeavors this term, I uncovered some amazing illustrations done by a Brazilian artist in 1906. Apparently HG Well's wasn't happy with the original first complete edition and had commissioned a second artist for this edition (it had been serialized initially, in America, in Cosmo of all places. )

Image result for war of the worlds illustration

I also did not know that Edward Gorey had illustrated a version in the 1960's.  One of the great things about the book is that it has been retold so many times--so many movies and comics and artistic renderings that it makes very fertile ground as a Book to Art choice--especially since it appeals to artists in so many genres--film, tv, writing, illustration, and, of course, radio. I have a book coming through ILL about the ill-fated broadcast and the controversy over whether it was the mad panic that the media would have had everyone believe (esp. in this modern era of so much fake news.) I'm hoping our end result for the year will be some sort of comic book or zine with images and text, so we'll see how it plays out.

No comments: