Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Book Sale Book: A Cavalcade of Clowns

A Cavalcade of Clowns
Illustrations by Bill Yenne with text by Laurence Senelick.

I passed on this book several times before picking it up. It's just so ugly. But there's something that really drew me in.

It purports to be a children's book (as far as I can tell), covering famous clowns throughout history. The text conveys an obvious affection for the art of the harlequin and the research seems genuine (though I am no clown expert). But, of course, it's the art that called me back.

That a book is made for children is often used as an excuse for bad artwork, it seems, but this book appears to go out of it's way to be ugly. The design is clumsy, the rendering is flat and amateurish and the colors...

But i think that's what got me. the clashing primaries, the intricate linework that recedes behind walls of flat color, and the mishmash of similar shades vying for the same attention on the page. At first I thought it was the "train-wreck" quality of the design that got me, now I'm not so sure. After all the exaggerated figures and two-by-four to the face color schemes have a certain fitting echo to the garish caricature of humanity that' s represented in the best of clowns.

Visual subtext or just bad design, there's still something to be learned from a book like this. Either way it's made a place in my collection (and maybe burned some images into my retina).

You can find some wierd stuff at a used book sale...


Man-At-Arms said...

You passed it up?! Are you NUTS?!

Neal said...

Scaramouche, Scaramouche!
Will you do the fandandgo?

Tymmi said...

in answer to your questions:

Maybe, a little.



A little.

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