Josh Cochran has many digits in metaphorical pies as an allround illustrator of editorial, advertising, publishing, broadcast and web-based means. He also moonlights as occasional art director for the New York Times Op-Ed pages and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. But enough bio, more books – Josh has kindly selected five worthy volumes for our Bookshelf feature and one of them is Tintin. Big tick from us.
Tintin in Tibet Hergé
Gorgeous, super detailed backgrounds with simple, iconic characters. The Tintin books are lush and really embody everything I love about comics and visual storytelling. For some reason, this particular book has always been my favorite. Maybe it was the snowy landscape of Tibet, or (spoiler alert!) maybe it was just the appearance of the Yeti. I realize as I’m writing this that Americans are yet again about to ruin this amazing series with a bizarre animation/ live action remake. Nevermind that! Sit down with a bottle of whiskey and your small white dog and reread Tintin.
Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age Catalogue by Louise E. Virgin
I saw this book a while back carefully hidden under some papers at a friends studio. The book seemed really important and, after getting a copy for myself, I could see why. I was totally blown away by the weirdness of this collection of prints. This catalogue depicts images of everyday life during the Meiji period to really pretty violent prints of the Japanese Navy fighting in war. The characters are almost cartoony and very posed. The colors are quite jarring and abstract, it’s easy to see the connection to contemporary artists like Tadanori Yokoo and even modern manga.
City of Darkness Greg Girard and Ian Lambot
If you’ve ever spent any time in Asia you will love this book. Two photographers document the ins and outs of the Kowloon Walled City. Before being torn down it was known as a dangerous slum on the outskirts of Hong Kong. There are secret alleyways, hidden passages, narrow corridors and walls revealing some surprising normal, mundane moments. I love the dentist office, the post man and the rubber plunger maker. Something about being crammed into tiny spaces filled with electrical hazards and mildew that really appeals to me on so many different levels. It’s really a fascinating architectural structure that grew out organically. People building rooms on top of each other, it looks like a combination of children’s Lego blocks and some sort of post apocalyptic movie set.
Song of Ice and Fire George R.R. Martin
This fantasy book series is easily on the best things I’ve read in a long time. These books are detailed, complicated and somewhat realistic for the genre. I think what I enjoy the most about them is the fact that the characters are so well developed. There isn’t a clear hero or villain and Martin is not afraid to kill off your favorite character. So it can get pretty stressful. There are dragons for the nerds, maidens, long swords, knights, incest, beheadings, etc. Also, if you have some sort of e-reader you can enjoy these books on the subway without anyone silently judging you!
Schulz and Peanuts: A biography David Michaelis
It’s hard to leave out Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I remember reading really old Charlie Brown comics in my Grandma’s basement and thinking how sad it was! This biography is a nice peek into the genius that created “Peanuts”. Reading this I was really struck by Schulz’s work ethic and business savvy. I feel like Charles Schulz lived in a golden era of commercial art which doesn’t really exist in the world anymore but it’s nice to remember a time when it did. Peanuts is thoughtful, quiet, hilarious and way ahead of its time. Also, that Chip Kidd cover?! So good.
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- Ian Davis’ picturesque paintings of bureaucratic dystopia
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