Bang on the trend for Victorian-inspired macabre quirk that the likes of Dan Hillier and Stuart Kolakovic have been championing for the past few years are two charming graphic novels, both published this month.
Geoff Cox’s Anna & The Juniper Dog, with illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason, tells the story of Anna and her mysterious foil ‘The Boy’ as they travel through a dreamlike landscape populated by eerie creatures and bearded sailors. It’s the second book in a trilogy which began with Anna & the Witch’s Bottle.
Eason’s distinctive black and white style (which subscribers can read more about in an archive DW Profile here) has been paired with a stunning cloth-bound limited edition designed by La Boca.
Eason says, ‘The narratives Geoff Cox creates give such a fantastic scope for an illustrator, the text is so very rich and inspiring, as with the first in the trilogy this book relies heavily on a weighty atmosphere, every moment is twitching with sparks and memories and energies of the next. I needed to capture just one of these moments, like a blink of the eye, before the reader is once again submerged back into the dark pool of words.’
La Boca creative director Scot Bendall adds, ’Collectively we wanted this series of books to have a timeless feel to them as objects. The style of both writing and illustration means it’s not totally clear if they were created recently or a hundred years ago, and to celebrate this it was important to us that we didn’t impose anything on the design that would place them to a specific era.’
Similarly South African illustrator Nikil Singh’s detailed Gothicism is perfectly paired with the John Harris Dunning’s otherworldly tale of Salem Brownstone, a young magician who battles against sinister forces from other worlds.
The graphic novel started life as a serialisation in the award-winning anthology Sturgon White Moss, but has now been published as a complete works by Walker Books.
Both works use a monochrome palette, something which adds to the macabre nature of both books.
Eason says about the lack of colour in his work, ‘Black and white was a way to concentrated my mind, I find if I give myself rules and boundaries I can focus better on producing a strong narrative to the work.
‘It is also very challenging to describe the world through such a classic form of representation, through texture and pattern, from a time before the infinite sliding scales of digital formats. I like that black and white is on or off, and that it is decisive and indelible.’
Anna & the Juniper Dog by Geoff Cox is published by Blackmaps, priced at £30. Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers by John Harris Dunning is published by Walker Books, priced at £9.99.