Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. Last week I focused on cover art; this week we’re all talking about books that have pictures on the inside…
If I had to do comics or graphic novels, this would be a very short list at they’ve never really been my thing. But with the latitude granted by ‘picture books’, I’m going to spend a second week in a row enthusing about art. I do have some honest-to-goodness art books (most notably a glorious tome on HR Giger), but I’m going to focus on illustrated stories – and not all of them are for children.
The Silver Brumby – Elyne Mitchell | Artist: Ralph Thompson
Okay, I loved this book because it had the most beautiful horse in the world on the cover, and I was captivated by his adventures inside. But my copy also featured gorgeous line drawings of other Australian flora and fauna, which I still adore.
Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson (author & artist)
I… don’t really have to explain this, do I? Moomins are amongst the most adorable creatures ever drawn. THOSE EYES. Did you know Tove Jansson once illustrated The Hobbit, which is a thing I must one day lay eyes on. Can you imagine?
Green Smoke – Rosemary Manning | Artist: Constance Marshall
Green Smoke is the tale of a girl who befriends a Cornish dragon and feeds him sticky buns in exchange for stories (and occasional flights). Marshall’s illustrations achieve peak charm, not least because R Dragon cannot hide his glee in any of them (whereas in the prose he often masks it with grump).
The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish – Neil Gaiman | Artist: Dave McKean
With a title like this, I was always going to have to read this book – and it introduced me to the art of Dave McKean, one of Gaiman’s regular collaborators (they would go on to make the visually spectacular fairy tale Mirrormask). I love the composite of illustration, murky tints and photography.
The Chronicles of Narnia – C S Lewis | Artist: Pauline Baynes
Pauline Baynes’s artwork is iconic, and holds a special place in my heart because it got in my eyes so young. I can’t objectively claim to love it as art, but I love it as a lifelong friend (possibly more than I love the books themselves). Also, she gave us the visual of the lamp post.
Tales by Trees: The Seafarer – Iiro Küttner | Artist: Ville Tietäväinen
Half the joy in these tree-told adult fairy tales are the gorgeous paintings. Some are tiny details – footsteps in the sand, a bird in flight – others capture little moments. The colour and texture alone break my heart.
The Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien | Artist: Alan Lee
Speaking of hearts, Alan Lee stole mine with his illustrations for the anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings. The characters are luminous, faces glowing; the architecture and trees tower at an almost inhuman scale (only The Last Homely House and the hobbit holes are cosy, appropriately). So much beauty.
Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
The Tin Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman – Raymond Briggs (author & arti
Briggs’s lesser-known anti-war book – a satire of the Falklands – starts off with lurid, outrageous comic sketches – moustachioes, twirling eyes, breast cannon – in bright, bold colours. And then it changes. In exquisitely shaded pencil drawings, the horror of war is spelled out. It’s powerful stuff, and has had my respect since I was much too young to be reading it.
Good Faeries, Bad Faeries – Brian Froud (artist) & Terri Windling (editor)
Who doesn’t love a book you can read back to front? I adored Lady Cottington for Froud’s faerie artwork, but here it gets centre stage without a dubious storyline to distract from it. The graceful and the gawky, the cheeky sprite and the faerie queen – this is a book to get lost in for hours. Brian Froud’s faerie and goblin artwork never fails to entrance and amuse me.
Honourable mention goes to the few comic strip collections I own and adore: The Order of the Stick (sat cheerfully alongside XKCD to prove that stick figures have all the dimensions they need), User Friendly (DUST PUPPY), and – of course – Calvin and Hobbes.
What fabulous illustrated books do you love?