The New Yorker has posted a lovely series of cartoons about reading by Argentinian cartoonist Liniers. Henrietta — along with her cat Fellini and teddy bear Mandlebaum — is a regular character from Liniers newspaper comic strip Macanudo.
The Rev John Graham, better known as Araucaria, set the Guardian’s cryptic crossword for 55 years. In December 2012, Araucaria announced that he was dying of cancer through a series of clues in a crossword. In this short film, Graham talks about puzzles, the memories and ideas that inspired him, and setting crossword number 25,842:
AttheNew York Times, Dan Chiasson visits the archive of the late Robert Rauschenberg, currently housed in a high-security warehouse in Westchester, N.Y.. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it looks “a little like a cross between Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu and a suburban Lowe’s”:
A source material, for Rauschenberg, could have been almost anything. Among the most prolific and consistently surprising American artists, he worked for over 50 years in a variety of media from feathers, stuffed goats, socks and neckties to cardboard, grass and scrap metal, in genres including choreography, costume design, photography, printmaking and painting. He is most famous for the “combine,” a form he more or less invented that merged three-dimensional collages with sculpture, sometimes with the batty ingenuity of a Rube Goldberg. Few works capture so arrestingly the process that brought them into being: In a finished Rauschenberg, you see a goat, a tire, a tennis ball, but more than that, you see the insights that brought them together. Each component keeps its integrity within a composition in which everything contributes to a profound effect of overall beauty. Indeed, few artists of his era so unabashedly strove for beauty, even majesty: The logic of his work, beginning with cast-offs and flotsam, demanded it. It was the dare he put to himself in everything he made.
At Intelligent Life, Catherine Nixey tells the story of Edward Johnson, creator of the London Underground’s typeface:
The Underground didn’t commission a font to look different from commercial ones simply to sell it straight back to the commercial world. But that world wanted the font nevertheless. And so Johnston’s pupil Eric Gill obliged, creating Gill Sans, which would go on to be used on everything from the classic Penguin Books design to the BBC logo (since 1997)—and, later, many a Word document.
There is some suggestion that even Gill, not a man to be easily abashed, may have felt uneasy about this. He sent Johnston a letter that manages to turn, in a moment, from humility to boastful defiance. “I hope you realise”, he wrote, “that I take every opportunity of proclaiming the fact that what the Monotype people call ‘Gill’ Sans owes all its goodness to your Underground letter. It is not altogether my fault that the exaggerated publicity value of my name makes the advertising world keen to call it by the name of Gill.”
Did Johnston mind? We don’t know exactly. “I don’t think there was bitterness,” says his grandson. Though there was no money, either. “He was so lacking in business sense, he never charged a going rate for his work and so couldn’t make ends meet.” For the Underground font, Johnston was paid 50 guineas—about £4,000 in today’s money (he handed 10% of it on to Gill). By the time he died in 1944, “the finances were in a terrible state,” Andrew Johnston adds. “There had been a fund started by calligraphers in America to help this destitute master craftsman.”
This summer UK publisher Virago is publishing two sets of Daphne du Maurier’s most famous titles with new and beautifully illustrated covers.
According to editorial director Donna Coonan, du Maurier’s reputation has flourished in recent years. She is also an author with cross-generational appeal. “The heroines of her best-known novels are young women at a turning point in their lives,” says Coonan. “These are beautifully written books that are exciting, suspenseful and brilliantly atmospheric. There is passion, danger, romance . . . and pirates!”
For over a decade Virago published du Maurier’s backlist with a uniform style. “They sat nicely together in a set, but were starting to look a little dated and lacked individuality,” says art director Nico Taylor. “I had never read du Maurier before, but once I got stuck in I realised just how diverse her writing is which led me to the idea that presenting each novel with a distinctive, individual look would be the best way to ensure du Maurier’s work continues to look fresh.”
For the first three titles in series (there are a staggering 17 or so more to come!), Taylor worked with illustrators Neil Gower (Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek) and Jordan Metcalf (Rebecca). “It became clear that it would be hard to avoid some of the obvious reference points from each title, but I was keen that they were used in an integrated or suggestive way… all credit has to go to the illustrators for imagining their respective covers in such distinctive ways.”
Alongside this refreshed backlist, Virago is also planning to introduce these same three classics — French Man’s Creek, Jamaica Inn, and Rebecca, — to young adults with new covers by Iacopo Bruno. “This was a great opportunity to show that du Maurier is a big contribution to the gothic novels popular with this age group of readers,” says art director Sophie Burdess. “I wanted to create a set of covers primarily composed of evocative gothic typography that gave du Maurier the authority and appeal she deserves as well as giving a feel for the individual themes of each novel,” she continues. “[Iacopo] is a rare and exceptionally beautiful illustrator and hand lettering artist who knows just how to pitch the work for a younger audience… the task of creating a set of beautiful compositions of elegant hand lettering and vignette illustrations was very safe in his hands.”
The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno; unused design by John Gall
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; unused design by John Gall
Turning the picture sideways is not exactly new (the brilliant John Gall and Paul Sahre1 were experimenting with it years ago), but there has been a spate of commercial covers making use of images rotated through ninety degrees in the past couple of years. It seems like a such peculiar thing to have caught on, and yet here we are:
California by Edan Lepucki; design Julianna Lee (Little Brown & Co. July 2014)
Somewhat related to that Keith Phipps essay Why Star Wars? (mentioned here a couple of days ago), Wired has an oral history of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects shop founded by George Lucas to work on the movie:
Industrial Light & Magic was born in a sweltering warehouse behind the Van Nuys airport in the summer of 1975. Its first employees were recent college graduates (and dropouts) with rich imaginations and nimble fingers. They were tasked with building Star Wars’ creatures, spaceships, circuit boards, and cameras. It didn’t go smoothly or even on schedule, but the masterful work of ILM’s fledgling artists, technicians, and engineers transported audiences into galaxies far, far away.
As it turns 40 this year, ILM can claim to have played a defining role making effects for 317 movies. But that’s only part of the story: Pixar began, essentially, as an ILM internal investigation. Photoshop was invented, in part, by an ILM employee tinkering with programming in his time away from work. Billions of lines of code have been formulated there. Along the way ILM has put tentacles into pirate beards, turned a man into mercury, and dominated box office charts with computer-generated dinosaurs and superheroes.
And if you were wondering where it all went wrong, it was probably the precise moment George Lucas had this revelation:
I never thought I’d do the Star Wars prequels, because there was no real way I could get Yoda to fight. There was no way I could go over Coruscant, this giant city-planet. But once you had digital, there was no end to what you could do.