Moby-Dick in Pictures

Moby-Dick in Pictures

One Drawing for Every Page

Book - 2011
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WW Norton
A collection of illustrations inspired by lines from every single page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick
Inspired by one of the world’s greatest novels, Ohio artist Matt Kish set out on an epic voyage of his own one day in August 2009. More than one hundred and fifty years following the original publication of Moby-Dick, Kish began illustrating Herman Melville’s classic, creating images based on text selected from every page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition. Completely self-taught, Kish refused to set any boundaries for the artwork and employed a deliberately low-tech approach in response to the increasing popularity of born-digital art and literature. He used found pages torn from old, discarded books, as well as a variety of mediums, including ballpoint pen, marker, paint, crayon, ink, and watercolor. By layering images on top of existing words and images, Kish has crafted a visual masterpiece that echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative. In retrospect, Kish says he feels as foolhardy as Ishmael, the novel’s narrator, and as obsessed as Captain Ahab in his quest for the great white whale. “I see now that the project was an attempt to fully understand this magnificent novel, to walk through every sun-drenched word, to lift up all the hatches and open all the barrels, to smell, taste, hear, and see every seabird, every shark, every sailor, every harpooner, and every whale,” he says. “It was a hard thing, a very painful thing, but the novel now lives inside me in a away it never could have before.” Kish spent nearly every day for eighteen months toiling away in a small closet he converted into an art studio. In order to share the work with family and friends, he started the blog “One Drawing for Every page of Moby-Dick,” where he posted art and brief description about his process on a daily basis.

Publisher: Portland, Or. : Tin House Books, 2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781935639121
Branch Call Number: 704.9 Ki
Characteristics: xii, 552 p. : chiefly col. ill. ; 21 x 26 cm


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Jul 28, 2012

This is Tin House's second go-around for the picture-for- every-page-of-a-megalithic-book idea. The first was a project by Zak Smith for every page of Thomas Pynchon's novel, "Gravity's Rainbow", which, despite being very cool, still smacked of gimmick, an experiment in exhaustion, which makes sense, given Smith's preferred milieu of insatiable sex-on-the-brain, but if Smith was madly in love with the actual book, I didn't sense it.

I was excited/wary, then, of Matt Kish's take on Moby Dick, a
book I've read forward and backwards and upside-down. Would he give it a similar treatment, audaciously working in abstract female figures and floating nipples into what is probably one of classic literature's distinctively least sexy novels, exciting as that might have been? (Answer: Once in a while!) Even if he didn't, would he capture what I feel in the book? And how many ways can you draw a whale?

I was delightfully - *ahem* - blown out of the water. Matt Kish appears to be as madly in love with the book as me, and many others. He gives it a sort of finely-wrought zinester's treatment, a geeky, overcaffienated masterpiece of merry obsession, perfectly befitting Melville, whose mania for disseminating every angle of whaling put off readers until an audience for abstract, esoteric madmen was invented by the modernists. And Mr. Kish can indeed draw a whale in many, many, many ways. See for yourself.

Dec 13, 2011

One day in 2009, Matt Kish, a librarian and artist in Ohio, was inspired by his undying love for a big book about a man and a whale. Kish decided to draw an illustration for every page of the Signet Classics edition of?you guessed it?Herman Melville?s Moby-Dick. Two years and 552 pages later, Kish?s project is complete. Using common materials and found pages, Kish deliberately employed a low-tech style in response to the increasing amount of digitally produced book art. A quote from each page of Moby-Dick is Kish?s inspiration, and the result?seen in a few promotional postcards and a simple BLAD (Book Layout and Design, a sort of six-to-twelve-page mini-ARC) before I finally got my hands on the gorgeous final product?is beautiful, fun, and inspiring. Kish began his Moby-Dick drawings as an art project for his modest blog; now his artistic interpretation of Melville?s masterpiece is available to one and all.


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