Archive for October 17th, 2016

cat-coverby Sam Juliano

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view  until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

-Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

In the end it all comes down to perception.  That is both the crux of the matter in Brendan Wenzel’s  fabulously inventive They All Saw A Cat and the opportunity for its creator to put himself “in the shoes of the animal, and then make a piece of artwork representing how I imagine they might see a cat.”  Wenzel himself in a recent interview responded with that quote when explaining his strategy with a book that has taken the children’s book world by storm, and has endlessly delighted classroom teachers who were gifted a a literature unit complete with drawing enrichment.  But taken on its own terms this is a remarkable fusion of text and illustrations that not only is scientifically thought provoking but but an exceedingly sublime work that was created without playing favorites to any particular negotiating process.  Indeed as revealed on the book last (copyright) page “the illustrations in this book were rendered in almost everything imaginable, including colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook.”  To bring such a seemingly undisciplined artistic melting pot to such unified heights is perhaps the most incredible achievement in They All Saw A Cat as the readers young and old alike are treated to a new adventure on every turn of the page.

‘The cat’ walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws provides the book’s entry point.  First to see the cat is the child, and the love for a pet is evident from the tail cuddled around the legs, the feline’s big-eyed smile and the cozy rug they stand on.  This is immediately contrasted in the next double-page spread where a none too happy dog sees a cat as all limbs – wiry, a face dominated by two rectangular eyes and a huge bell that enhances the noise for the already disgruntled canine.  The dog seems poised to pounce.  When the fox sees the cat, the equation is all about the prospects for the next meal.  Hence in the eyes of this predator the cat is plump and seemingly an easy target.  After another refrain reiterating the cat’s modus operandi, we see the cat as a blurry mass under the water where a small fish sixes up the cat in exaggerated terms where the size rivals some of the biggest fish in the lake or ocean.  The eyes are prodigious, the oversized whiskers lending some degree of definition to a blurry mass.  When a mouse sees a cat the fire truck red image is one of a ferocious monster with big teeth, fiery eyes and imposing claws.  This is not a look the mouse wants to partake of for very long as this cat’s temperament matches that of a jungle cougar moving in for the kill. (more…)

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by Lee Price

In Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), there’s the ordinary world where the Stalker lives with his wife and daughter, there’s a border area patrolled by the military, there’s a sealed-off forbidden area known as the Zone, and, legend says, there’s a room inside the Zone where one’s deepest wishes may be granted. Picture it as concentric circles—a mandala radiating outward from the mysterious room at its spiritual center. In both the movie Stalker and its source book Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the term Stalker refers to the guides who illegally escort guests into the Zone.

Stalker’s Zone is perhaps the most stripped-down version ever of a very familiar place.

In The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy Gale crossed the boundary between black-and-white and Technicolor, and then followed the Yellow Brick Road deep into the Zone, led by the Stalker team of Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. Although some dismiss the account as nothing more than a dream, some say she reached and entered the Room, achieving the core desire that was in her heart all along.

In The Lord of the Rings, both book and films, Frodo Baggins is mentored by Gandalf, the Grey Stalker, who instructs Frodo on how to pass through the Zone in order to return a purloined heirloom to the Room.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a film notoriously rejected as “phony” by Tarkovsky, Dr. Dave Bowman journeys through an expansive psychedelic Zone with a (what else?) Room at its center. (more…)

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