Category Archives: Art

Fred Patten Reviews Walking Your Octopus

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.


Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod, by Brian Kesinger.  Illustrated.

Los Angeles, CA, Baby Tattoo Books, July 2013, hardcover $29.95 (unpaged [64 pages]).


This impishly hilarious book by a veteran Walt Disney artist and writer presents straightfaced advice to the well-bred Victorian lady who would have a pet octopus.  They are not for the average person, the author warns.  The cephalopod, be it an octopus, a squid, a cuttlefish, or a nautilus, is an intelligent and high-maintenance animal which needs considerable space and exercise.  Yet they learn tricks easily, and will reward the attentive mistress with loyalty and hours of entertainment.

Walking Your Octopus is a collection of full-color double-page spreads; the text on the left and the picture on the right, showing Miss Victoria Psismall and her pet land octopus Otto illustrating the text.  There are Victorian-setting drawings for choosing the right cephalopod, getting your octopus a toy that it will like, proper hygiene for your octopus, teaching your octopus tricks, and many more – over thirty of them.  My favorite is:  “Though certain octopuses have been bred to live on land, it is important for them to have a tether to their heritage.  Octopus females can lay upward to 200,000 eggs, so it is suggested that one find a stationery shop that will sell birthday cards in bulk.”

The book is in an unusual format, 13.8 inches long by 6.9 inches high, presenting long rather than high illustrations.  The artwork appears simple, but is full of detail; for example, in a montage of possible octopus toys, there is a Cthulhu jack-in-the-box.  The book features the art style that one might expect considering that the publicity says that Brian Kesinger has worked on Disney animated features for over sixteen years, contributing to Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and more.  He has also had paintings in gallery exhibits around the world.

It is clear that Miss Psismall and her octopus love each other.  Nevertheless, reading Walking Your Octopus will make you glad that land-going octopuses are only fictional.  Ask an aquarium employee about the intelligence of octopuses, which are constantly trying to escape, sometimes successfully, despite the fact that they cannot live outside salt water.

Buy where fine art and imaginative illustrated humor books are popular.



Celebrate the Civil Rights Movement with Random House

I HAVE A DREAM_new cover with CSK seal


August 28th is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, a watershed moment in the struggle for civil rights and Random House Children’s Books has been celebrating with a fabulous Civil Rights Movement blog tour. Today, it is my great honor to be part of that tour and I have a fabulous guest post here at AmoXcalli, by Matthew Olshan, author of THE MIGHTY LALOUCHE (illustrated by Sophie Blackall).  Random House Children’s Books has put together an I Have a Dream enhanced website featuring the new picture book by Kadir Nelson, I HAVE A DREAM.  The book is stunning, the paintings really pay tribute to the man, the movement and the speech.  The book also contains a CD with the full speech.

Please join AmoXcalli, Random House Children’s Books and all the others on the tour in celebrating the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s historical speech.


The Promise of Freedom, Then and Now by Matthew Olshan

The word “freedom” blazes an incandescent trail through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” but what does he mean by it? What, exactly, is the freedom he dreams of, the kind that will ring from the mountaintops, that will cause the American people to join hands and sing ecstatically, “Free at last!”

Freedom from what? Freedom to do what?

Freedom from injustice, certainly. Freedom to pursue the American Dream.

For Dr. King, the American Dream is rooted in what he calls its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

He says this knowing all too well the irony in those sacred words from the Declaration of Independence. The men who wrote them didn’t really believe that men were created equal. Many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. And slaves weren’t created equal. You couldn’t own someone who was your equal; therefore, slaves weren’t men. At least, not fully. A slave was some fraction of a man. Call it three-fifths.

But those imperfect, 18th Century men were dreamers, too. They invented a country that promised more than it could deliver. They drew up a constitution with the goal of forming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, mind you, but a more perfect union. They understood that we live in the world; that the world is full of injustice, greed, and cruelty; that people generally want to do the right thing, but aren’t always strong enough to do it.

Ours has been a history of forgetting our promises, then remembering, and lurching, sometimes violently, towards the light.

Even some of our greatest triumphs have fallen short. Take the Emancipation Proclamation. Church bells rang out across the land on January 1st, 1863. Freed slaves and abolitionists alike were overjoyed. Surely there were ecstatic cries of “Free at last!”

But the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free all the slaves. President Lincoln couldn’t risk losing the border states. The slaves in Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky may have heard distant ringing that day; alas, the bells weren’t ringing for them.

The century that followed the Emancipation Proclamation saw many gains for people of color, but also great backsliding. In states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama, equality wasn’t simply an impossibility; in huge swaths of the country, it was no longer even a dream.

Dr. King’s speech, smoldering with anger and yet brimming with hope, was meant to remind Americans of their creed, that promise of equality dating back to the Declaration of Independence.

Our union is certainly more perfect now. The scourge of slavery is long past. The worst abuses of Jim Crow are over.

But their legacy remains.

We’ll always need voices like Dr. King’s — righteous, melodious, idealistic, and stern — to remind us of the nation we were; the nation we are; and the nation we hope to be.

History shows us how easy it is to forget.

Matthew Olshan is the author of several novels for young readers, including Finn and The Flown Sky. The Mighty Lalouche, a collaboration with the award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall, is his first venture into the world of picture books. Their next collaboration, Henry and Henri, which will be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is the story of the first international flight: a balloon ride across the English Channel in 1785, taken by an Englishman and a Frenchman who absolutely hated each other.??Matthew also writes serious literary fiction for adults. Look for Marshlands, a novel of military occupation and empire, due out from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in February, 2014

Fred Patten Reviews The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.


The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art

Authors:  Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock

Publisher:  Vanguard Productions

ISBN-10:  1-9343-3150-3

ISBN-13:  978-1-9343-3150-7


From about the 1910s through the 1940s, one of the main forms of popular entertainment was the pulp fiction magazines, so-called because they were printed on cheap pulp paper with gaudy, lurid covers.  There were adventure-fiction pulps, Western pulps, jungle-adventure pulps, historical-adventure pulps, science-fiction pulps, air-ace pulps, pirate-adventure pulps, detective pulps, horror pulps, women’s romance pulps, and many others.  There were artists who specialized in painting pulp magazine covers, such as J. Allen St. John for the Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

During the 1930s, one of the standout pulps on the newsstand was Weird Tales, “The Unique Magazine”.  Weird Tales specialized in publishing science-fiction and horror with a fantasy bent, such as the exploits of psychic detective Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn.  Most of Weird Tales’ stories are forgotten today, but the magazine was notable for publishing most of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard, and the early short stories of Ray Bradbury, Henry Kuttner, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert Bloch (one of whose stories, “A Sorcerer Runs for Sheriff”, WT September 1941, pretty well sums up Weird Tales’ editorial policy).

But what made Weird Tales stand out among all the other pulps were its covers by Margaret Brundage.  From September 1932 through October 1938, almost every monthly issue of Weird Tales featured a Brundage pastel chalk painting of a scantily-clad or completely nude damsel in distress being menaced by slavering werewolves, sinister Oriental master criminals, or a cruelly gloating whip- or knout-wielding dominatrix.  Sometimes the nude damsel was offering love to a statue of a pagan god.  At a time when pulp covers often came under cries for censorship for lewdness, Brundage seemed to have an instinct for just how far she could go and keep within the borders of good taste.  I started collecting pulp magazines in the 1960s when they were long-gone except for the used-magazine shops, but fans of the pulps were still talking about the issues of Weird Tales with Margaret Brundage’s covers.  She is one of the few artists whose cover on a magazine alone could raise that magazine’s price.

The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art is an “everything you want to know” book about Brundage and her work.  What makes this a must-have for most connoisseurs of fantasy art is the life-sized (9” x 12”) reproductions in full color on glossy paper of all of her magazine covers.  Most pulp and s-f fans did not realize that she also painted covers for other magazines.  This book includes them, plus several of Brundage’s non-cover paintings, some from long after her magazine period.

But wait!  There’s more!  This book also includes two complete biographies of Brundage, including interviews given to fans who tracked her down in the 1960s shortly before her death.  There is a biography emphasizing her life and art (she was a high-school classmate of Walt Disney, and they remained on good albeit distant terms throughout their lives), and a biography emphasizing her participation and leadership in Chicago’s radical left-wing movement in the late 1920s, including her activism for the Industrial Workers of the World and other labor and bohemian movements, and her unsatisfactory marriage to labor activist “Slim” Brundage.  It was her determination to stay in Chicago that was responsible, after her husband’s desertion of her and their infant son, for her to look for commercial art work in that city.  Weird Tales was one of the few magazines whose editorial offices were in Chicago.  It was Weird Tales’ sale to a New York publisher in 1938 and the relocation of its editorial offices to NYC that was responsible for Brundage leaving WT.  The new publisher wanted a cover artist who lived in NYC, and Brundage refused to leave Chicago.

The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art is a 164-page book containing 74 magazine cover reproductions in full-size of mint-condition copies, plus ten reproductions of cover paintings from the original art (without the cover lettering) – the only cover originals that still exist after eighty years, because pastel chalk art smears easily.  The book also includes a plethora of posters, photographs, business cards, handbills, and other ephemera from the 1920s I.W.W. and the Dill Pickle Club, a bohemian social group in which Brundage was a leader.

Buy where there is any interest in lavish art books, in popular art or fantasy magazine art of the 1930s, in Margaret Brundage in particular, or the radical left-wing social movement of the 1920s and 1930s.

This book is reviewed from the $24.95 trade paperback edition.  There are also a $39.95 hardcover edition with a different cover; and a $69.95 de luxe slipcased edition with a third cover and a 16-page art folio that is not included in the other editions.


Fred Patten Reviews The Best of Alter Ego, Volume 2

Disclosure:  A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

AE49 Trial Cover.qxd

The Best of Alter Ego, volume 2

Editors:  Roy Thomas and Bill Schelly

Publisher:  TwoMorrows Publishing

ISBN-10:  1-6054-9048-2

ISBN-13:  978-1-6054-9048-9


“This sequel to Alter Ego: The Best of the Legendary Comics Fanzine presents more fantastic features from the fabled mag begun in 1961 by Jerry Bails & Roy Thomas-covering undiscovered gems from all 11 original issues published between 1961 and 1978!” (back-cover blurb)


Comic book fandom was invented in the early 1960s.  There had been sporadic articles on one or another science-fiction newspaper comic strip like “Buck Rogers” or on individual comic books like “Captain Marvel” in s-f fanzines during the 1940s and 1950s, but they were limited to what the fan-author – usually an enthusiastic teenager — could deduce from the issues in his collection.  Starting with Dick and Pat Lupoff’s fanzine “Xero” in 1960-1963, some of the most knowledgeable comic-book enthusiasts at the time were asked to write, not just nostalgia pieces on their favorite comic books, but well-researched articles on their publication history.  This was to have been a dignified epitaph to a colorful but short-lived portion of popular culture.


Nobody realized it at the time, but this was just the period when what is now called “the Silver Age of comic books” was starting.  DC Comics reinvented costumed superheroes with the revived “The Flash” in 1959, and Marvel started “the Marvel Age of Superheroes” in 1961.  “Xero” became the new model for comic-book scholarship.  Suddenly every young fan who could get access to a mimeograph or a spirit duplicator was starting a fanzine that was not only devoted to his favorite costumed hero, but that included reports of visits to the DC or Marvel publication office, interviews with comic-book writers and artists, and the fan’s (and his friends’) amateur comic-book stories.  Most of these fanzines lasted less than a dozen issues and were very amateurish, but, boy, were they enthusiastic!


“Alter Ego”, started in 1961, was one of the first and best of these, and after fifty years it is still going, as a professional full-color magazine today.  Where other fanzines were discontinued when their teenaged editors grew tired of them, “Alter Ego” was passed along to new editors, ending up with issue #7 in 1964 in the hands of Roy Thomas.  Thomas, a fresh college graduate and beginning high-school English teacher, parlayed his editorship of “Alter Ego” into a professional job at Marvel Comics a year later as editor Stan Lee’s assistant.  Full-time work in the comic-book industry left Thomas with no time to continue his hobby, so “Alter Ego” became more and more erratic and finally went on hiatus in 1978.  He revived it over twenty years later in 1999, and it has been published bi-monthly ever since.


“The Best of Alter Ego, volume 2” is a $19.95 160-page trade paperback collection from the original 1961-1978 issues of the magazine, combined with Thomas’ detailed history of its start up to its long hiatus.  Frankly, the book is most worthwhile as a piece of fannish nostalgia, and as an inspiration to today’s teens of what can be done as an amateur in a given field.  Thomas and co-editor Schelly have produced a scrapbook of photographs of the leading comic-book fans of the 1960s; some complete, amateurishly written & drawn superhero adventures; and documentation of the activities of comic-book fandom in the 1960s, like “The Academy of Comic-Book Arts and Sciences presents:  The Alley Awards for 1962.”  (The Alley Awards, named for the comic-strip character Alley Oop, were a short-lived award voted on by comics fans and given to the professional creators.)  Most of the “fact” articles herein, such as “‘Merciful Minerva’: The Story of Wonder Woman” by Jerry Bails (1961) have long ago been supplanted by better-written articles by other writers; in many cases during the last twenty years by whole books by professional authors with the publisher’s complete archives to draw upon.


But, as they say, This Is Where It All Started.  It is arguable that if it were not for the pioneering fanzines of the 1960s, there would not be a scholarly historiography of the comic-book industry today.  The fans of the 1960s onward interviewed many of the professional editors, writers, and artists while they were still alive; and when those publishers were clearing out old files, they gave them to fans whom they knew wanted them instead of throwing them in the trash.  Among the book’s contents are an unsold “Tor” newspaper strip proposal by professional Joe Kubert, and a 1977 interview with French artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud.  Some of the new material in this book includes friendly letters from those editors in reply to their fans, showing that the wise editors of the 1960s encouraged their fan base instead of brushing them off; and articles for the 2010s reader to explain what a mimeograph or a spirit duplicator was.


Full disclosure:  I am one of the fans included in this book, with an article on the Mexican s-f comic books of the mid-1960s that was my first “professional” writing credit.


Buy where there is interest in comic books, or the beginnings of comic-book/costumed superhero fandom, or in the popular culture of the 1960s.




Author:  Rodrigo Folgueria
Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 26, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307981460
ISBN-13: 978-0307981462

This is one of the most charming books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a while.  I fell in love the story of a pink pig who just wanted to make friends.  The illustrations on textured paper are big, colorful and comical.  Children, both in the age group it targets and a little older, will adore it.  The book shows that making friends isn’t always easy, but worth the trouble.  It also shows children that just because someone is different, that’s no reason to be suspicious of them.  Sometimes, people do just want to be your friend.  In a world gone a little mad lately, this simple message of friendship is very welcome and assuring.

The illustrations really are beautiful.  The expressive faces of pig and frogs are wonderful.  They say it all and the text/story provides a little extra detail.  The pig’s rather large face is completely lovable and cute.  I can see small children falling in love with it.  The text is wonderful too – it grows larger as the ribbits do and provides emphasis to the story.

When the pig ends up in a tree with lots of little bird friends my middle-grade grandchildren laughed aloud in pure enjoyment.

Lovely, charming and highly recommended.

Book Description from the publisher:

A group of frogs are living happily in a peaceful pond, until they discover a surprise visitor: a little pink pig. Sitting contentedly on a rock in the middle of their pond, the pig opens his mouth and says: RIBBIT! The frogs are bewildered at first, and then a bit annoyed—”What did that little pig just say?”, “Does he think he’s a frog?”, “Is he making fun of us?”

Soon the pig draws the attention of all the nearby animals; everyone is curious to know what he wants! After much guessing (and shouting) and a visit to the wise old beetle, the animals realize that perhaps the pig was not there to mock them after all—maybe he just wanted to make new friends!  But is it too late?  This is a warm, funny, and beautifully illustrated story of friendship, with boisterous RIBBIT!s throughout—perfect for reading aloud.

About the Author & Illustrator

RODRIGO FOLGUEIRA studied art at Buenos Aires National School of Fine Art and works as an author and illustrator, specializing in children’s books. He lives and works in Argentina.

POLY BERNATENE graduated from Buenos Aires Art School and has worked across many different genres including advertising, animation, and comic books. He has published more than 60 children’s books all over the world. He lives and works in Argentina.

Comics About Cartoonists: Stories About the World’s Oddest Profession



Comics About Cartoonists: Stories About the World’s Oddest Profession
Editor:  Craig Yoe
Publisher:  IDW Publishing
Language:  English
ISBN-10:  1-613-77346-3
ISBN-13:  978-1-613-77346-8

This is indeed an odd tome.  It is a 229-page anthology of newspaper and comic book cartoonists drawing about their profession.  Not “how to draw” lessons, either.  Editor Yoe has combed the archives of old newspapers and comic books from roughly 1910 to 1960 and found “funny drawings” in which the cartoonists (sometimes working with scripts by others) have depicted stories about the cartooning profession.  The reprinted newspaper strips are usually in black-&-white as they were published; the comic-book reprints are in full, garish color.

Many of the comic-book stories are about cartoonists who draw themselves into their own stories.  These range from realistic art – the “Inky” Wells cartoonist who falls in love with his model, from a 1955 romance comic, looks just like comic-book artist Jack Kirby, whose photograph is well-known – to the fanciful – surely funny-animal cartoonist Al Stahl (1958), who draws himself falling asleep at his drawing board and falls into his world of talking rabbits and policeman lions, did not really look like something out of a carnival funhouse’s distorted mirror.  Most of the comic-book stories are six or eight pages.  Famous newspaper cartoonists Milton Caniff (“Terry and the Pirates”; “Steve Canyon”) and Chester Gould (“Dick Tracy”) are present in one-page promo autobiographies in which they have drawn themselves in the style of their heroes.  Bud Fisher (“Mutt and Jeff, 1919) draws himself getting contradictory demands from his editors for six panels (“More Republican jokes; No, more Democratic jokes; Ridicule the Bolsheviks; Lay off the Russians); in the seventh panel he commits suicide. Continue reading

Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Namibia


Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Namibia
Photographer: Jim Naughten
Introduction: Lutz Marten
Publisher: Merrell Publishers (February 19, 2013)
ISBN-10: 185894600X
ISBN-13: 978-1858946009

It’s always interesting to learn about cultures and people from far away lands. That’s one of the reasons I read so much and I am well used to being swept away in time or place, but not as stunningly as with Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Nambia. I must confess, the images were so stunning – bright colors against a pale sky and desert sand; that I just had to pore over them for hours before I read the introduction or any of the text. The most striking and what keep me gazing into the photographs, were the faces. Such strength and history in the expressions. It moved me profoundly and I found myself wanting to go to Namibia and meet these people. Continue reading


Dark Horse Comics is headed to California’s must-attend event on the comic book convention schedule – WonderCon Anaheim!

Join us for signings at booth #819! Free comics and/or prints with each signing while supplies last.

Tickets for signings at the Dark Horse booth will be distributed from the opening of WonderCon on Friday, March 29. Please note that lines may be capped or tickets issued for any signing as needed. Inquire about your favorite signings as early as possible. Some restrictions apply. All events are subject to change.

Comics, books, and collectibles will be available for purchase from Dark Horse or your favorite retailer.


12:00 p.m. BEANWORLD signing with creator Larry Marder

-Free Beanworld action figures and sketch cards

2:00 p.m. CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT signing with writer Josh Williamson

-Free 11” x 17” print featuring art by Felipe Massafera

3:00 p.m. AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER signing with writer Gene Yang

-Free 5.5” x 8.5” print featuring art by Gurihiru


5:00 p.m. STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI signing with inker Dan Parsons

-Free Dawn of the Jedi #1 while supplies last

6:00 p.m. USAGI YOJIMBO/47 RONIN signing with creator Stan Sakai

-Free 47 Ronin #1

Check out the Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin iOS game


10:00 a.m. HUSBANDS signing with cocreators Jane Espenson and Brad Bell

-Free 5.5” x 8.5” print featuring art by Ron Chan

11:00 a.m. NUMBER 13 signing with artist/writer Robert Love and writer David Walker

-Free Number 13 comic

12:00 p.m. AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER signing with writer Gene Yang

-Free 5.5” x 8.5” print featuring art by Gurihiru


1:00 p.m. X signing with artist Eric Nguyen

-Free 11” x 17” print featuring art by Eric Nguyen

2:00 p.m. BUFFYVERSE signing with artist Georges Jeanty, writer Andrew Chambliss (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and writer Christos Gage (Angel & Faith)

-Free Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 and Angel & Faith comics, Angel and Spike buttons, and Whedonverse wristbands

3:00 p.m. STAR WARS signing with artist Carlos D’Anda and colorist Gabe Eltaeb

-Free 5.5” x 8.5” print featuring a dramatic panel by Carlos D’Anda and Gabe Eltaeb from the upcoming Star Wars #4 issue


4:00 p.m. THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS signing with creator Gerard Way

-Free 5.5” x 8.5” print featuring art by Becky Cloonan



10:00 a.m. THE ART OF REMEMBER ME signing with DONTNOD art director Aleksi Briclot, DONTNOD creative director Jean-Max Moris, and Capcom producer Mat Hart

-Free 11” x 17” The Art of Remember Me print

11:00 a.m. MIND MGMT signing with creator Matt Kindt

-Free 11” x 17” MIND MGMT print

12:00 p.m. STAR WARS: DARK TIMES signing with writer Randy Stradley

-Free Star Wars: Dark Times—Fire Carrier #1

1:00 p.m. THE LAST OF US signing with Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann

-Free 11” x 17” print featuring art by Julián Totino Tedesco from the upcoming comic The Last of Us: American Dreams

3:30 p.m. STAR WARS: LEGACY VOLUME II signing with writer/artist Gabriel Hardman and writer Corinna Bechko

TICKETED EVENT * Limit five comics per person



12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Avatar: The Search for Zuko’s Mom, Room 208AB

1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Geek & Sundry Panel of Awesome, Room 300DE


1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Comics Arts Conference Session: Focus on Matt Kindt, Room 210BCD

2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: From Comic to Music and Back Again! Room 300AB

6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Buffy Season 9: The Final Arc! Room 207BCD


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Spotlight on Jane Espenson with Brad Bell, Room 207

2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Star Wars Comics in 2013! Room 207 BCD

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest


The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Charles de Lint (Author), Charles Vess (Illustrator)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316053570
ISBN-13: 978-0316053570

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a fairytale that reads like those old epic stories that tell of someone seemingly ordinary, but who has an extraordinarily kind heart. In the old stories, that was your hero who went on a long quest, filled with adventure, mystery and danger. At the heart of this tale is Lillian, a red-headed girl who loves to run and play in the forest, seeking out fairies and daydreaming under trees. She’s close to the earth and her kindness shows. She has respect for nature, respect for magic and is a lover of tales. You immediately love her and are drawn into her world with the beautiful writing of Charles de Lint, an expert at telling tales. His words paint a vivid and marvelous world full of magic. Charles Vess’ artwork, as always is dreamy, lush and gorgeous. His colors and brushstrokes pull you farther into this world that seems so real. The story makes you feel at home and it also takes you back into your childhood, reminding you of those hours you spent curled up with an old fairytale adventure, being transported into that world. Continue reading

Fred Patten Reviews Illustrating Modern Life


Illustrating Modern Life: the Golden Age of American Illustration from the Kelly Collection
Authors: Michael Zakian – Richard Kelly – David Apatoff
Publisher: Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University
ISBN-10: 1-882705-10-
ISBN-13: 978-1-882705-10-8

Illustrating Modern Life is the 112-page hardbound full color catalogue of the exhibit, “Illustrating Modern Life: the Golden Age of American Illustration from the Kelly Collection” at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art located on the Pepperdine University campus in Malibu, California, from January 15 through March 31, 2013. Michael Zakian, the Museum’s art director, says that the exhibit is also a double commemoration: of Pepperdine University’s 75th anniversary, and of the Weisman Museum of Art’s 20th anniversary.

The exhibit presents 75 original paintings by 31 artists, including both well-known names like J. C. Leydendecker, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell, and now-obscure popular painters like Harvey Dunn, Coles Phillips, and Sarah Stillwell Weber. Most of the paintings were intended as covers for the most popular magazines of this period such as Collier’s Weekly, Ladies’ Home Journal, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post, although some are fine-art paintings, novel dust jacket paintings or plates, full color advertising art such as J C. Leydendecker’s portrait of a well-dressed man wearing a Kuppenheimer Suit for The Saturday Evening Post issue of October 11, 1930, and a few black-&-white story interior illustrations. There are also several full paintings paired with an enlarged portion to better display its detail.

Zakian says in his Introduction, “American Illustration and the Adventure of Modern Life”, that the four decades from the 1890s through the 1930s, encompassing the Second Industrial Revolution through the Gilded Age, were the Golden Age of American Illustration. The rapid rise of popular magazines during this period of enthusiasm for the future, created a new audience for art—the American public—and a new demand for illustrations. This exhibit, chosen from the original art collection of Richard Kelly, showcases this thesis.

“The best of these artists captured the spirit of the era with infectious enthusiasm, as seen in J. C. Leydendecker’s ‘First Airplane Ride’. This painting, which appeared on the cover of the August 28, 1909, issue of Collier’s, portrays the visceral ecstasy of the bold new experience of flight. A young man and woman engage in the timeless activity of courting while flying in a startlingly new invention: an airplane. Although it was painted just six years after the Wright Brothers’ first successful manned flight, Leydendecker does not convey any fear or trepidation in his painting. Instead he emphasizes the pair’s appealing self-confidence, casting this quintessentially American couple as sophisticated and worldly bon vivants. […]” (p. 8)

Zakian notes that this period also saw the introduction of new artistic and printing techniques, and that the most popular artists adopted to these easily. Whether depicting the latest social styles (Harrison Fisher’s “Graduation, 1903”), modern labor (Edmund F. Ward’s “The Miracle: Men in the Quarry”, showing 1924 stonecutters), historical adventure (Howard Pyle’s “Dead Men Tell No Tales” and N. C. Wyeth’s “The Boy’s King Arthur), or romantic fantasy (Sarah Stilwell Weber’s “Lady With Leopards”), these pictures are dynamic and gaudy, standing out dramatically from the style of popular illustrations before the 1890s.

Zakian’s Introduction is followed by a long interview of Richard Kelly by “illustration scholar” David Apatoff on “Building a Collection”. Kelly started out as a science-fiction fan, and it was many of his favorite s-f artists like Michael Whelan, Tom Kidd, and James Gurney telling him that their inspirations were the popular artists of this “Golden Age of American Illustration” that got him collecting their art.

The Introduction and “Building a Collection” take up pages 7 to 25. The exhibition art fills pages 26 to 106. Brief biographies of the 31 artists plus Zakian, Kelly and Apatoff close the catalogue.

This $40.00 catalogue is bound in hard covers as a sturdy book. John Fleskes, the catalogue’s printer, says in a separate blog that, “All of the works hung in the museum are inside, plus a handful of extra pieces.” The exhibit will end on March 31, but the catalogue “is forever”; an excellent addition to any collection of American fine art or commercial art of the 1890-1940 period.