This week’s contributor to our Bookshelf feature hardly needs this introduction so let’s everyone just be reminded how good Tom Gauld is. We talked to the illustrator and comics artist about his latest game-upper book Goliath a short while back and now, what with it being launched this week and the artist touring about and signing copies, what better reason is there to gain an insight into his own book-shaped favourites?
I Killed Adolph Hitler Jason
Jason is a Norwegian cartoonist who makes really funny, dry, smart comic books. This story starts off like it’s going to be a trashy adventure with cartoon animals, time travelling and Nazis but then sort of loses interest in all that becomes a much sweeter, sadder tale about getting old. Visually it reminds me a bit of Herge’s Tintin books, and the clear drawings, beautiful colouring and simple layouts make it a joy to read. I was influenced by the accessibility of Jason’s work when I was making my book Goliath.
The Stanley Kubrick Archives Alison Castle
I love Kubrick’s films and this beautiful book is full of photos, notes and ephemera relating to all his projects. He’s well-known for being a perfectionist but it’s still stunning looking at all the preparation, research and work which goes into making the worlds he shows in the films. I particularly like the on-set photos where you see a perfect realisation of the inside of a spaceship or a scene from Napoleonic wars and then standing there is Stanley Kubrick with an anorak and a cup of coffee looking serious.
The Vinegar Works Edward Gorey
I first discovered Edward Gorey when I came across some of his books in the library while I was studying at Edinburgh College of Art and they blew me away. They’re such unusual, unclassifiable books: dark, strange, funny, intriguing and beautifully drawn and designed. Gorey has influenced me a lot. This is a set of three of his early works in a beautiful slipcase. I don’t usually hunt out first editions or expensive books but I couldn’t help myself with these. The stories also appear in his first collection Amphigorey.
Strega Nonna Tomie de Paola
I got this book for my children because I liked the cover. It’s a retelling of the Grimm’s folk tale The Magic Porridge Pot, but set in Italy and with a pasta pot. The story is charming and pleasant to read aloud (very important for a children’s book: I must have read it outlaid fifty times) but it’s really the images which I like. The town and the people who live in it are drawn very simply, but it’s all so clear and lively that I really feel like I’ve been there and wandered around watching them.
The Inheritors William Golding
I read Lord of the Flies at school and thought it was brilliant. This was the follow up and its about a family of neanderthals who meet humans for the first time. It’s all seen through the eyes of the neanderthals and the way Golding shows the world as they see it is incredible. You have to think quite a lot while you read, but the world he’s imagined is so powerful and real that it really rewards you. I’ve read it a few times and I still think when I re-read it next I’ll get more from it.