Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nonfiction Illustrated: Bibliography 2

The other day I posted a few examples from the Social History category I put together for my Nonfiction Illustrated course. Tonight, I'm putting up one counterintuitive example from the Informational Works category. (I'll add a few more later.)

By way of introduction, from the annotated bibliography: These works are often the most straightforward of all illustrated subjects, but not necessarily the simplest. The seeds of modernity were carried in illustrated botanicals and technological manuals, which provided access to knowledge of manifestly concrete, non-verbal subjects: an overlooked and grossly underestimated realm of achievement. The secondary versions tend to be composed for educational settings and audiences. Informational picture books for small children comprise another set of such works, which offer the child a chance to pause over things and environments that might otherwise go by too fast to absorb. One example from this category delivers a great deal of cultural spin.

The reference to spin shows up in tonight's example: Badasses; Guys + Girls + Rides, a repackaged zine by Mark Todd. Published by Blue Q, 2007.

Todd’s book is a hilarious compilation of deceptively crude drawings in a two-color palette with a scrawled text. The project provides a mock-survey of “badass” characters in popular culture from the 1970s and 80s, and includes men, women and vehicles. Lovingly compiled, silly, knowing and heartfelt.

I received this book as a Christmas present from my son Andrew, whose taste I respect. After working my way through it I immediately observed a) that I loved it, and b) what a good example it would be for my students, who can tend to think that nonfiction = snoozefest.

Despite the goofy affect, it is undeniably true that Todd's book documents a set of cultural facts, including the dominance of the great Snake Plissken (above).

I'll post more examples soon.

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