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[LITERATURE] "Big Fat Little Lit" (Children Comic Strips' Visions)

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  • madchinaman
    Big Fat Little Lit edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly Children s comic strips are reimagined in this collection of some of the most accomplished
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2006
      'Big Fat Little Lit' edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly
      Children's comic strips are reimagined in this collection of some of
      the most accomplished artists in the field.
      By David L. Ulin
      http://www.calendarlive.com/books/bookreview/cl-bk-
      ulin17dec17,0,7998918.htmlstory?coll=cl-books-features


      -

      Best of all is David Mazzucchelli's "The Fisherman and the Sea
      Princess," the saga of a Japanese fisherman who finds happiness with
      the daughter of the Sea King, only to throw it away in a moment of
      distrust.

      -


      Big Fat Little LitEdited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly
      Puffin Books: 144 pp., $14.99 paper

      Who says comics aren't for kids anymore? Not Art Spiegelman and
      Françoise Mouly. Between 2000 and 2003, the husband-and-wife team —
      he, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of "Maus"; she, the art editor
      of the New Yorker — re-imagined children's comics with "Little Lit":
      three oversized hardcover anthologies geared toward younger readers
      and featuring strips by some of the most accomplished talents in the
      field. Together, these books represent a child's-eye version of RAW,
      the "commix" journal Spiegelman and Mouly edited from 1980 to 1991.
      Even a number of the contributors (Charles Burns, Kaz, Kim Deitch)
      are the same.

      In case you missed "Little Lit" the first time around, Spiegelman and
      Mouly have just compiled "Big Fat Little Lit," a sampler that
      distills much of the material from the original three books and makes
      it available in paperback. Featuring 36 pieces by artists such as
      Spiegelman, Jules Feiffer, Maurice Sendak and William Joyce, the
      collection is delightfully eclectic, a hodgepodge of visual and
      narrative styles.

      Particularly interesting are the writer-illustrator collaborations:
      David Sedaris and Ian Falconer, Lemony Snicket and Richard Sala, Neil
      Gaiman and Gahan Wilson. Here, we see artists stretch out and try
      something unexpected, spinning stories in new forms. It's hardly
      surprising that a lot of the book has a fairy-tale sensibility — as
      in Barbara McClintock's exquisite retelling of "The Princess and the
      Pea" or Harry Bliss' darkly vivid "The Baker's Daughter," in which a
      mean little girl is transformed into an owl. More unexpected is how
      seamlessly it all fits together, the adaptations and the original
      work, which at its most compelling has a timeless feel.

      As was often the case with RAW, the finest stuff here is the most
      direct, the stories where action is not overwhelmed by form. Bliss'
      piece is a perfect example, as is Daniel Clowes' "The Sleeping
      Beauty," with its gently skeptical take on "ever after," and
      Spiegelman's "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake," in which a boy
      disgruntled with his mother realizes that she's more like him than he
      ever knew. There are also notable rediscoveries, including Basil
      Wolverton's gleefully surreal "Jumpin' Jupiter" (1952) and Crocker
      Johnson's understated 1940s-era "Barnaby."

      Best of all is David Mazzucchelli's "The Fisherman and the Sea
      Princess," the saga of a Japanese fisherman who finds happiness with
      the daughter of the Sea King, only to throw it away in a moment of
      distrust. Elegantly written and deftly rendered, this is an example
      not only of comics art but also of children's storytelling at its
      most profound and moving: a fable that addresses universal concerns.
      david.ulin@...
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