Adult entertainment

Brian Webb, co-founder of Trickett & Webb, looks beyond the PR hype that generates so much publicity for illustrated fiction books aimed at adults and sees them in their true light

Pierre (the heroine), conceived in the hotel of that name in New York, is the daughter of e e a ‘bumbling botanist’ and a ‘ravishing but distant Italian soprano’, lives on a houseboat, works in an antiquarian bookshop and meets the love of her life in a garden while rooted to the spot as her Christian Louboutin heels sink into the ground.

After lots more product placement – Claridges picnics, Sobranie cigarettes and Aga cookers – she runs off to New York. The man with the dancing eyes follows and all ends happily. Every girl’s dream? I asked our secretary to read it, she thinks it’s ‘brilliant’. The drawings, by Annie Morris, have been compared to illustrations by Quentin Blake and Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the publicity doesn’t say who made the comparison). They are not children’s book illustrations, nor is this a children’s book.

Both Hello, Sailor and The Man With The Dancing Eyes are mass-market books, albeit appealing to, I imagine, different people. And given the amount of publicity they’ve generated I guess they will sell well enough.

The publisher of one more recent illustrated, definitely not for children book has gone out of its way for it not to be a best seller. Three Scenes From Everyday Life is a limited edition from Doctorpuss, which describes itself as a ‘cutting edge new production company dedicated to producing poems, films and images that tell human stories with a sprinkling of dark gothicy humour’. It’s achieved its objective. The press release expects the reader to be shocked and appalled, but equally, it says advance copies are developing cult status.

The book is soft backed in a narrow A4 format with fly leaves, which gives it a corporate brochure look. It’s written by Jonathan Lewis, who collaborated with artist Becalelis Brodskis, and is designed by Yeong-woong Cheong.

Get past the publicity again and the book illustrates three dark and gruesome pieces of prose poetry: ‘The baby who made those around him hate’ and ‘The old lady’ with accompanying body parts gives you an idea. But don’t be put off. They are all very much alternative fairy tales for today.

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