Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Shape of Ideas

Social media made me read this book. I follow this book's author on Instagram and also saw a shout-out to this book on Twitter from one of my friends, so I thought I would check it out. First off, let me say that it is not a traditional graphic novel in terms of telling a single narrative. It is more like a collection of chapters that revolve around and extend specific themes. So what I am saying is that this book is full of chapters that operate like pieces of jazz music, with comics riffing on motifs. And each comic is a meticulously constructed gem. This is not a book to plow through but one to bask in and savor.
As you can see from the excerpt, these comics are clever and cerebral. The artwork is colorful and clear, slightly reminiscent of Tom Gauld's style (to me at least), which I feel is a wonderful thing. I loved this book's playful, inventive qualities, and I feel that it has much to offer in terms of inspiration, advice, or understanding for aspiring artists or those who appreciate the arts. A few of the entries may seem redundant, but most are noteworthy and unique. And there were quite a few sections that I felt were phenomenally well executed. There are far more hits than misses in this book.

The man behind this book, Grant Snider is an orthodontist by trade and also well known for creating Incidental Comics. His work has appeared online and also in many prominent venues like The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. He speaks about his work on this book and in general in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read of this book have been positive. Publishers Weekly summed up, "The tongue-in-cheek wit and self-deprecating style make this a pleasant introduction to the joy and frustration of making any kind of art, and the beautifully designed presentation—with a charming die-cut cover—is a fine proof of concept." Andrew Jarman called it an "incredibly unique and wonderful graphic novel that I absolutely loved." Kevin wrote, "While there is some repetition of ideas here, Snider’s exploration of the creative mind through comics and graphics will surely make you contemplate the wistfulness of creativity, and perhaps inspire you to make your own."

The Shape of Ideas was published by Abrams ComicArts, and they have a preview and more information available here.

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