London in the 19th century must have been a cesspool of sin, where murderers and manslayers and other dark criminals must have met. At least that’s what the crime literature of the time tries telling us.
But luckily, the city of London accommodates the impersonation of the bad boys’ nightmare, and this is well known to us. Sherlock Holmes with his sharp logic and his somewhat simple-minded sidekick Watson – a doctor, no less – put a stop to the scoundrels in many stories.
No wonder that more than 130 years after the first appearance of this duo, penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the stories are still fascinating audiences worldwide and produce new interpretations. The comic album In Sherlock Holmes’ Mind (original title: Dans la tête de Sherlock Holmes) introduces the reader to the character in a different way. We can literally see the thought processes of Holmes in his head and how he analyzes and solves the Case of the scandalous ticket on the basis of the evidence.
The Orient and Dark Russia come together in this delightful comic album about the aging carpet dealer Fedor, who travels through the vastness of a country that modern times have not stopped at. The modern age has moved into homes in the form of parquet and wooden floors – a development that is slowly making carpets that protect against the cold of stone or clay floors obsolete.
But Fedor is even more worried: he feels his age and is worried that he has no successor for his profession. Then young Danil runs in front of his sleigh while fleeing from the henchmen of the boyarNazar Alymoff. Because he has killed the ruler’s favorite greyhound, the death penalty is awaiting him. Fedor reacts instinctively, prepares a flying carpet and escapes with Danil – leaving his other carpets behind.
One would hardly like to believe it, but it was to take 150 years until religious texts or pamphlets were finally replaced by secular printed matter in the size of the edition. Since the invention of letterpress printing by Johannes Gutenberg, the Bible and Martin Luther’s pamphlets have been among the best sellers. Luther was so popular that at that time a third of all printed matter was written by him.
At the beginning of the 17th century, a new type of writing began to establish itself, namely the novel. The first fictional bestseller in printed book history was Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The sad hero of the story, with his struggle against the windmills and his faithful servant Sancho Panza, is still well known to us four centuries later.
Occasionally, a work falls into your hands that you only want to touch with reverence and fingertips, and that tells a story that touches with great sensitivity. In the children’s book department of the Librairie Kléber bookstore in Strasbourg, Alsace, I came across the children’s book Midi Pile, which tells the adventures of the little rabbit Jacominus Gainsborough.
Rébecca Dautremer is the unique narrator and artist behind Jacominus’ experiences and has already introduced us to her in her first children’s book, The Rich Hours of Jacominus Gainsborough. With Midi Pile, she takes readers by the hand in a wonderful continuation of his adventures. The book is in coloured silhouette throughout and leads us through the story from the perspective of the little bunny.
In addition to writing, talking to people, listening to podcasts and giving lectures, one of the most important activities of an author and speaker is reading. And that is reading a lot.
Already as a child, I buried myself in comics from the 2nd hand comic store and in newspapers, even though I wasn’t officially allowed to read the latter. My father initially didn’t want me to read them, but my mother always secretly slipped them to me. Until the day when my father officially handed me the newspaper for the first time and I was no longer forced to read it in secret.
No wonder that in the family apartment we moved into in Vienna in the early 80s, the bookshelves and family books suddenly found their way into my room. Collecting books did not stop, and has even gained more momentum over time. Today I have a library that certainly contains around 3,000 books. There is not much order, but at least I have been maintaining an online list for a few years now, which probably contains about one third of my books.
I have been reading and collecting comics for years. It began – as usual – in childhood, when we were allowed to go to a comic exchange store once a week and exchange ten old comics for ten other old comics for 10 Austrian Schillings (less than a dollar). I had devoured most of the comics on the same day.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that many of the comics exchanged were actually comic books, where only a few pages of a comic album were printed. So instead of a whole Smurf story, it was just four or eight pages from a typical 40-60 page album.
But reading comics stopped when I was a teenager. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came across a comic book store in Orleans, France, which to my surprise was not frequented by children, but mainly by adults. I flipped through a series of albums until I stumbled across a page that I knew from my French class in high school. A double spread of Marcel Gotlieb, originally printed in the legendary comic magazine Pilote, was there in a complete edition of his work.