I believe that images and drawings have a great capacity for storytelling. Images often effectively open up an author’s fictional world to the readers’ minds’ eye. Graphics let the author or artist and the reader share a world in a more intimate manner. Many of the hidden treasures within Rare Books and Special Collections have graphic elements and display eclectic and stunning art styles.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland
The first novel that I chose was a copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. This edition had 12 illustrations with original woodcuts and an original etching by Salvador Dali. This is a part of Rare Books and Special Collection’s Alice 100 collection, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Alice in 1865. I cannot think of a more fitting collaboration. Dali’s surrealist art style accompanied by Carroll’s high fantasy writing is truly magical. Art varies from page to page, sometimes mixing styles. For example, Dali did a realistic etching on the same page as abstract splotches of colour lending to a phantasmagorical air.
Chloe Chan’s Honeydew Syndrome
The next two items of my choosing were from a section of the archive known as “Ephemera,” under which there is a collection of comic books from Vancouver-based graphic artists.
Chloe Chan’s Honeydew Syndrome immediately caught my eye as it is the quintessential web comic style. This piece of art uses a monochromatic line-art style with minimal cross-hatching. Honeydew syndrome, a phenomenon coined by the artist, is defined as “the urge one member of a relationship feels to fulfill any requests or tasks given by the other member,” or more importantly “the occurrence of mutual understanding between two people who, due to their different natures, should not understand each other under normal circumstances.” The comic is a heartwarming story about love, in which both these definitions come into play. It is a high school drama where an “emo” boy and a jock unexpectedly fall in love. As someone who is a part of the LGBT+ community, it is very heartwarming to see my community being represented in a comic book. It was also a breath of fresh air as most literature is heteronormative.
Robin Konstabaris and Pierre LeBlanc's Scrambled Brains: A Cooking Guide for the Reality Impaired
Also from “Ephemera,” Robin Konstabaris and Pierre LeBlanc's Scrambled Brains: A Cooking Guide for the Reality Impaired features tongue-in-cheek ‘recipes’ for a target audience of ‘hipsters,’ as it comments on how asinine privileged issues can be. The kooky content of this comic book and its intriguing format choice used to convey its messages drew me to this comic. It uses a classic comic book style — monochromatic with minimal definition and an array of techniques such as cross contour, hatching and stippling. The aspect that makes the artwork so unique is the juxtaposition of this simplistic style with a more realistic, detailed style.
This article has been updated to add Pierre LeBlanc as an author of Scrambled Brains.