Friday, December 11, 2009

Griffin And Sabine - Nick Bantock

Griffin And Sabine
Nick Bantock
Chronicle Books
1991
1895714192

Back jacket blurb:
It all started with a mysterious and seemingly innocent postcard, but from that point nothing was to remain the same in the life of Griffin Moss, a quiet, solitary artist living in London. His logical, methodical world was suddenly turned upside down by a strangely exotic woman living on a tropical island thousands of miles away. Who is Sabine? How can she "see" what Griffin is painting when they have never met? Is she a long lost twin? A clairvoyant? Or a malevolent angel? Are we witnessing the flowering of a magical relationship or a descent into madness? This stunning visual novel unfolds in a series of postcards and letters, all brilliantly illustrated with whimsical designs, bizarre creatures and darkly imagined landscapes. Inside the book, Griffin and Sabine's letters are to be found nestling in their envelopes, permitting the reader to examine the intimate correspondance of these inexplicably linked strangers. This truly innovative novel combines a strangely fascinating story with lush artowrk in an altogether original format.


I'm actually not sure how to describe this book. Strange is one word that comes to mind. Compelling is another. However, I don't want to give the story away.

I was raving about The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson a while ago, and someone told me that if I liked her book, I'd really like the books by Nick Bantock. Well, I never really followed up on that, until I was travelling in September. It turned out that one of the people I was visiting had Griffin and Sabine along with the two follow-ups at their house. I was able to get a look at this book and fell in love. I got the chance to pick up all six of the books the other day, and have alread read the first two.

They are definitely short books, making for quick reads, but the real meat of the book is the artwork. The sheer level of details there are. Different types of writing for the two characters: his seems to be a ball-point or other normal pen (except when typed). Sabine on the other hand writes with a dip pen of some sort, I'd guess with a squared off tip. Bantock has 'reproduced' the variations in ink tone such a pen produces.

When typed, Griffin's letters include various typos, either not caught, or corrected in pen. Those letters are kept folded in envelopes attached to the page, but not actually printed on the page. They're entirely separate pieces of paper.

Some of the postcards are downright surreal, for example the one labeled "The Blind Leading the Blind". Just creepy. However, all of the art is spectacularly detailed.

I will note that the story, though short is fascinating, and the book ends on an absolute cliff-hanger. I highly recommend this whole series.
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