A Feast of Marshmallows

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My  book of Hansel & Gretel, published by Random Spectacular, has been beautifully produced under the watchful eye of Simon Lewin at St Jude’s. The scans by Saxon Digital and the printing by Swallowtail, both in Norwich, are perfect. Every etched line and fleck of the original drawings, meticulously reproduced. The book’s six colours plus black have been created as Pantone separations, consistent in colour throughout and printed onto a matt paper that is so much more pleasing for being without the sheen of many illustrated books. The covers are a slightly heavier card than the pages, and the construction of the book cleverly ensures that every double-page spread opens flat, so that no part of any illustration can become lost in or distorted by the ‘gutter’.

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There are four, three-leaf fold-out spreads scattered throughout the book, and these took a lot of effort to get right in the early design stages. In the finished book the illustrations across each closed fold-out are perfectly aligned, which can have been no easy task for the printers.

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Technically this is just about the most accomplished book I’ve set myself the task of making. I told the story with little recourse to text, and such words as I allowed myself had to be woven through the images as though a part of them. I worked in a technique of colour separation that is relatively new to me. Indeed I was already over halfway through the project when I began learning from Dan Bugg of the Penfold Press the process of producing colour separations.

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I am unapologetically proud of this achievement. I have always believed that inexpensiveness should be no impediment to producing a commercial book with all of the attention to detail that might be expected from an expensive private press edition. I love the art of paperback covers – particularly in Czech and Poland – and have collected vintage and contemporary European children’s illustrated books for more than forty years. While Hansel & Gretel is not intended as a children’s book – it’s a tad too dark for that market – it nevertheless honours the traditions of the children’s book illustrators who have given me so much pleasure over a lifetime. I can hardly believe that at sixty-five, I have finally made my first illustrated book!

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Poet Damian Walford Davies writes of Hansel & Gretel:

‘Just amazing. Beautiful, terrifying. What a piece of work. The blues and pinks and whites have the smell and texture of marshmallow, which is fitting. ‘Eat and get fat’ might be the epigraph for the reader, too, who will verily feast.’

Artist Ed Kluz writes:

‘I pored over your Hansel and Gretel last night – such a wonderful and wicked piece of work. The drawings are at the same time lush and cruel.’

Purchase Hansel & Gretel HERE

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11 thoughts on “A Feast of Marshmallows

  1. Oh, this is such a work of magic!! The illustrations here are amazing, you have really made something spectacular! The style is really fantastic, I just can’t get over how you keep making things new!

    • Hello Zoe. Thank you for your enthusiasm, offered, as ever, so generously. I am pleased with the book. I endlessly tinkered with the images before I posted off the artwork to be scanned and printed, and although that undoubtedly delayed the project, I’m glad I gave the book the time it needed to make it special. I keep picking it up expecting to be disappointed on opening it. So often on completion of a project, the overwhelming feeling is one of ‘could have done that better’. But so far there’s been only relief and the sense of ‘Couldn’t do that better even if I had another stab at it.’ But oh my, it took a long time!

  2. Congratulations Clive! All involved have created a beautiful book, which I know has been a real labour of love for you. I’m very much looking forward to receiving my copy in the post from St Jude’s.

    I don’t know if it’s because I have recently been writing an essay about your ‘Dark Movements’ exhibition, but I can definitely see more than a passing resemblance between the Witch, with her snapping jaw, and that other creature who has long inhabited the liminal spaces of your imagination – the Mari Lwyd!!

    • Well spotted, Sarah. I hadn’t noticed the similarities, but now you mention it there is definitely a relationship between the long, narrow, bony heads and the large eye-sockets of both the witch and the Mari. Just goes to show that the same ideas/themes/iconographies continuously circle in my head to emerge in different guises!

      Love to you and J.

  3. Well done Clive, it looks wonderful. I’m so looking forward to receiving my copy, I’ve had it sent to an uk address so I won’t see it for a while! So ……what’s next?……..much love to you bothxxL

  4. MAZEL TOV!!
    V.Happy for you, didn’t you know an ‘illustrious’ illustrated life begins at 65?
    Your ‘quackers’ chum
    B xxx

  5. An extraordinary piece. Huge congratulations! Two lucky people might be getting a copy for Christmas, if they are very very good! Love, love it. So happy to have this. Super well done, magical Mr Clive.Xxx

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