Monday, April 5, 2010

Shaun Tan, My Art Hero

I finally got around to reading some of the books in the monstrous STACK next to my bed! These two books blew me away:
Shaun Tan has the most haunting, beautiful, pencil drawings. His work reminds me a bit of Chris Van Allsburg's (Polar Express, Jumanji), but with more detail and realism. It's this realism that makes his work so creepy! The Tales from Outer Suburbia stories are a little like Van Allsburg's "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick"

 The stories draw you in and then leave you to finish the storyline with your own imagination. I found myself wanting to know more about each situation. The illustrations are more varied too - collage, pen and ink, notebook paper... The story may seem perfectly reasonable and yet there are very odd elements in the picture that add depth to the action. "The Arrival" is almost too incredible for description. It is a completely wordless graphic novel-type picture book. But you must carefully "read" each picture to understand the action. "The Arrival" describes the immigrant experience in an uncomfortable and yet hopeful way. The reader feels the confusion and loneliness. How strange can a new land be? Very, very strange! Some scenes are obviously supposed to be New York City and yet the familiar (to us) objects and places are viewed as if we are on an alien planet! I really love being forced to look anew at all the things I take for granted. I have not done either of these books justice, but if you get a chance to flip through them, you will be amazed!

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