August 30th, 2010 | Other Projects
Yale University Press published this really beautiful book last year called Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books. It begins with Walter Benjamin’s famous essay about collecting books, Unpacking My Library. Then it shows you the actual bookshelves of 12 architects. Close-up, all the books on all the the shelves. As someone who always ends up in the corner at parties poring over the host’s bookshelves, this was a voyeuristic treat.
Now they’re doing a follow-up book about writers and their books, and I’ve been asked to be part of it. The photographers were here the other week, which prompted me to rein my books back into some sort of order after years of entropy. The editors asked each architect, and now each writer, to name their top ten books. That was quite a job. But I’ve finally narrowed them down. Since I’m a cartoonist, they want me to illustrate mine. So I’ve been working on drawing all these books. It’s a strange task…I feel like I’m not so much drawing the book covers as recreating the book covers. They just look like the books, especially in the case of books that have drawings on the cover, like these two.
It’s a laborious activity. Like, am I really going to finish coloring that Tintin cover? And to what end? Plus I should have dug out my Gillott tit quill pen nibs for the Gorey drawing. I have some somewhere. But I just I used my regular nib, which is way too coarse and sprawling.