June 04, 2007

ARM IN ARM


This weekend I was digging through some old books when I rediscovered one of my childhood favorites, Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip (1969). It's not a story book. It describes itself as "A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia." I'm not going to look up the word echolalia, but the rest of that means that it's full of little poems and stories that often end the same way they begin, or don't end at all. As a child I especially enjoyed its late '60s-minded randomness. And its delicate illustrations on sparse pages cracked open the design-appreciating part of my little brain.

A book review would be about 28 years late so I just wanted to share with you my favorite sequence. It's a two page spread that depicts a parade of stuff that rhymes. Not only did it blast my young mind, I was also extremely entertained by the mini-saga of the fat lie and the cherry pie. In panel 4 the fat lie makes a face at the pie...



The pie retaliates in panel 5 with some growling...


The lie cowers for the remainder of the story until he winds up next to a "good cry" which seems to delight him...


As a kid I was so fascinated by this endless tale that I performed my own version from behind my couch with the aide of puppets made of construction paper and popsicle sticks. Anyway, click on the image below to see the whole thing...

In the meantime I think I'll make like the striped tie and climb a pie til I lie on the night sky.


5 comments:

The CDP. said...

Not to tarnish your childhood or anything, but I can't even begin to imagine the amount of illegal narcotics the author/illustrator was on at the time of creation.

When I was in Elementary School, I would always check out a book at the library that was similar. It was written by Al Jaffee, who is famously known for his incredible body of work with MAD Magazine.

It was just full of riddles, quirky drawings, puns, throwaway jokes and other various Jaffee humor. As a child, I had never seen a book written with such an open-ended and unpredictible style, so I'm fully behind you in appreciating something like this.

Rozum said...

"Arm in Arm" is one of my favorites from my childhood as well. It's definitely a product of its era.

It is also now back in print, as is Charlip's "Mother Mother I feel Sick" Unfortunately, in the reprint, the publisher chose to add backgrounds and color to the images which were originally simple silhouettes (the story is a shadow play that you can perform).

I recommend both highly.

Master Wu said...

Oh, my tiniest little preemie...

...this explains a great deal to me.

-E

Fish Painter said...

Just stumbled onto your blog from creativecreativity.com and what do I see...my favorite book when I was 7 years old! What a fantastic collection of silly stories & rhymes!

The story from that book that I remember to this day is the story of the fish painter. He promised to paint a fish for a client, but months later, still hadn't done it. Finally, the client insists he do it. The artist dashes off the most beautiful painting of a fish. Impressed, the client asks: why the wait? Then the artist takes the client to a closet and opens the door. Thousands of paintings of fish fell out.

It took me a long time to understand that story. 30 odd years. But I finally learned the lesson of persistence. And now, I can paint awesome fish! (in my own way ;)

Kirk D. said...

Hi fish painter,

I too enjoyed that bit. I recently heard this similar story supposedly about Picasso...

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”