Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Odd Pair from Awkward Books

Emma Rendel of Awkward Books makes some damn gorgeous books.

The above covers are from Deathgirls’ Diary and Deathgirls’ Birthday.
Immediately, you notice that Rendel’s books are exquisitely crafted. Both Deathgirl books feature color covers and several full color pages inside. Her art has much less in common with comics and feels more like a combination of Marcel Dzama, Amy Cutler, and Richard Scarry. That probably sounds odd, but that’s the first thing that popped in my head after reading these two books. Her characters are either absurdly elongated or oddly compact. They possess this otherwordly, kind of fable-ish quality that strikes you at times about Dzama or Cutler.

Pretty neat stuff.

Deathgirls’ Diary shows a confused Deathgirl. She has a crush on Carebear, and his sudden birthday invitation sends her over the top. His family is not amused with her present.
Rendel uses the left hand page for the colorful art. On the right side, Deathgirl’s diary entries are scrawled in a young girl’s hand. It’s interesting how the size, thickness and color of the handwriting pulsates and shifts with the girl’s mood, giving you a window into her conflicted emotions. All but one page features a wide swath of bright red matching the girl’s dress on the front cover. This common thread holds the story together visually.

After the following page spread, Deathgirl’s Birthday abandons the pattern of art on the left and story on the right.
The text is mostly framed by the effect of that special lines paper kids use when they are just learning to print. This time it’s Deathgirl’s birthday party, but Carebear appears in this story as well. She shyly hands him an invite.

The swirling red background hints at the distance between the two youngsters. The heart on her invite matches the one on Carebear’s shirt. He looks indifferent or disgusted. The next page shows some other kids slipping their invites in the trash. Carebear rips his in two. This is a cruel story, but Deathgirl does eventually get her “number one wish” on her list.

Rendel apologizes for her books being so “bloody expensive,” but you shouldn’t let the 5 pounds British (including shipping) stop you from buying her work. Go to Awkward Books and check it out. She sent another book withthese, so keep an eye out for that review soon. It’s a full size flipbook with the same awesome art.

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