Grant Orchard is an award winning director at the design and animation-based Studio AKA, whose short film A Morning Stroll is nominated for a Bafta tonight. Best of luck to him! In our own little way we’ll celebrate this brilliant artist by giving him the chance to share five of his favorite books with you, dear readers. And may I say, it’s a delightful mix of the artistic and the odd (illustration and ping-pong both get a nod). Pure goodness and wisdom from a tirelessly brilliant creator. Read on!
The Mighty Walzer Howard Jacobson
Ping-pong. Without doubt this is the greatest novel ever written on the fine art that is ping-pong. Howard Jacobson’s autobiographical account of his love affair with the game is a joy. It’s obviously funny being Howard Jacobson, but there’s a poetry that imbues the book with a sense of shared joy and passion. It’s about dedicating oneself to an act so obsessively and unsparingly that the act itself becomes art (as a five page analysis of the sound a ping-pong ball testifies).
Introducing Jottoworld – The Graphic Work of J. Otto Seibold J. Otto Seibold
Its 18 years ago that J. Otto released his first book Mr Lunch Takes a Plane Ride. I didn’t realise it was that long, but it makes sense. He seemed to be one of the first children’s illustrators that combined a sense of craft and nostalgia with a sheen of modernity. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was brought about by some snazzy early Photoshop and Illustrator work. At least I hope so, because it was basically the reason I first turned on a computer. At one point it felt, much like a crazy jazz flutist pushing it harder and faster, that he went one Photoshop gradient too far and lost it, but we’ve all got carried away at some point. This book is a gorgeous eye-popping testament to his talent.
The Fortress of Solitude Jonathan Lethem
It almost feels that there’s too much that is good about this book – it suspiciously contains just about everything that I love. It follows the friendship of Dylan Edbus and Mingus Rude, two boys growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s and 1980s. The narrative is driven by period and place, but equally by their shared interests – comics, graffiti, hip-hop and even a magic ring define the characters and their actions. Dylan’s difficult relationship with his father is not due to familiar tropes like heavy drinking or brutality – but a 20 year obsession with making an abstract animated film. Like Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay , which covers similar territory but 40 years earlier, this is a mature and profound work, but with incredibly rich and geeky icing that covers everything.
The World of Chas Addams Chas Addams
He’s most famous for creating The Adams Family , which is a good thing, but it’s wasn’t all gothic grotesquery. His work for The New Yorker over many decades, was always funny, fantastically left field and beautifully crafted. This massive collection of his work is one of the few things on my bookshelf that is guaranteed to cheer me up.
Heroes and Ghosts – Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi 1797 – 1861 Robert Schaap
Years ago I went to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam –i was the first time I’d seen any of his paintings up close and it made my eyes water. I found it all quite dizzying and it should have been the most powerful thing I’d see that day. Then I went up stairs to the see the temporary exhibition One Hundred and Eight Heroes . It was a collection of small, incredibly intense prints by 19th century Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Rich, graphic and colourful, these made my eyes, nose, teeth, thighs and chest water. This is the exhibition catalogue and one of my prized possessions.