Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It was a dark and silly book

I recently read an article about Art Spiegelman and the state of comics and was inspired to investigate this phenomenon of a project. (God help me, that article was in none of the places I thought it would be... Took me forever to track it down again).

I don't know how, but somehow I came to read Spiegelman's Maus and Maus II shortly after the release of the latter in the early 1990s. Then I understood what a graphic novel was and could be.

Spiegelman is also responsible for the ghostly black-on-black post-9/11 New Yorker cover.

How pleased I was when this compilation was scratched off my wish list and turned up on my doorstep in time for Helena's birthday (and mine, too). It Was a Dark and Silly Night is extraordinarily silly. Most reviews indicate that it is the lesser in the Little Lit series thus far, geared more toward children than adults. If that's true, my inner child is much stronger than I ever thought. I can't wait to see the others in the series.

We planted a seed in some of the most fertile minds of the planet: cartoonists, novelists, and children's book artists. We asked them to start a story with the words: It was a dark and silly night. We wanted to know... "What happens next???"

What grew from the seed is this generous, chock-full, over-the-top jungle of silly comic book stories that show how rich the human imagination is. Lemony Snicket and Richard Sala imagined a dark and silly night where a young girl chases after a Yeti. Neil Gaiman and Gahan Wilson imagined a dark and silly night where kids throw the greatest party they ever had... in a graveyard! William Joyce tells us about kids whose Silly Ray saves the world from warrior florists. This collection of wild and silly imaginings will tickle your funny bone for years to come.

Lemony Snicket's tale is absolutely Borgesian. But my favourite is the upside-down world contributed by Kaz. I giggled a lot reading this book. Very silly indeed. And the puzzles are great fun, too.

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