Shelley’s The Sensitive Plant is a lengthy poem written after the death of Percy and Mary Shelley’s first child. Laurence Housman illustrates the sombre garden scenes in a minutely detailed manner, and manages to incorporate some concerns of his own. Pan isn’t mentioned in the poem but Housman adds a Pan figure which he describes in a note as “the garden deity”, and a symbol of nature untamed.
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Drawings from an edition of Alfred Tennyson’s Poems illustrated by British artist Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872–1945) which was published by George Bell & Sons in 1905. The book was part of a series of illustrated poetry collections that included several books featured here in previous posts: Poems by John Keats and Poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley both illustrated by Robert Anning Bell, and The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe illustrated by William Heath Robinson. There was also an edition of Browning illustrated by Byam Shaw at whose art school Ms Fortescue-Brickdale was employed as a teacher. Her Tennyson drawings aren’t entirely to my taste, I’ve omitted the full-page works which are rather static pre-Raphaelite-derived things. Far better are these vignettes whose heavy outlines and sinuous curves resemble both Heath Robinson’s early illustrations and Pamela Coleman Smith‘s famous Tarot card designs. As usual the Internet Archive has the whole book and (should anyone require more Tennyson) Ms Fortescue-Brickdale’s take on that Victorian staple Idylls of the King.
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This year sees the 20th anniversary of the publication of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The landmark comic book, one of the few to deserve the designation “graphic novel”, remains a particular favourite of mine, and one that still excites for its consummate command of the comics medium. The following is a very long round table discussion with Watchmen‘s creators from issue 100 of Fantasy Advertiser, first published in March 1988. It’s surprising that this doesn’t seem to have been posted anywhere else on the web as it’s an excellent discussion about this great book.
Spoiler warning: this piece discusses in depth just about every revelation in the story so you’d be advised to skip it if you haven’t read the book.
MARTIN SKIDMORE: Alright, let’s have a starting point… just what is it about Watchmen that distinguishes it from other…
STEVE WHITAKER: Cream cheeses?
MS: …superhero comics on the market?
DAVE GIBBONS: Is this in the form of direct questions to us, or…
FIONA JEROME: No, we’re all gonna talk.
DG: Well, I’ll have a schnoozle then…
SW: The thing that I think distinguishes Watchmen from other comics is that the series holds together more like a novel. Your climax isn’t in the last 3 panels in Watchmen 12. There are long quiet tracts with exciting bits or…moderately exciting bits (LAUGHTER) In terms of Jack Kirby Wham! Smash! Pow! it’s all very quiet. There’s a lot of suffering but…
MS: …it’s all emotional rather than physical suffering.
ALAN MOORE: It’s a difficult question for me and Dave to answer, probably one that you could answer better, but if I had to say anything then it’s the degree of structure that me and Dave have applied to it—I can’t think of many examples of that degree of structure, that degree of layering.
FJ: I was going to say: especially visually you don’t get such a use of motif certainly not in American comics.
MS: Doug Moench has used it occasionally.
FJ: But not with the same complexity and not filling-in with written structure as well.
PETER HOGAN: The thing is: you’re given a world. The characters, alright, they’re based on the Charlton Characters but they’re new as of page 1. Even so, they’re characters with a history that comes out over the course of the thing… Their world has a history… it has a cohesion to it.
SW: Something that quite interests me now we’re talking about structure and stuff, is the symmetry—there is a real symmetry to Watchmen and the way the characters are set up.
DG: Two arms… two legs. (LAUGHTER)
MS: Perhaps the Comedian and Rorschach…
SW: I was thinking more of Osterman and Ozymandias.
MS: That’s right—the intellectual and physical, chaos and law…
AM: It’s difficult pinning down what’s symmetrical to what—I mean to me, at least to some extent, there’s an equally good case for contrasting Nite Owl and Rorschach.
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