NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (14)
November 15, 2021
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of (one of) their nerdy obsessions.
I have to thank those who invented digital books (not only Michael Heart; Spaniards have Ángela Ruiz Robles in high esteem, for example…), but not because I read them. Honestly, I don’t read literature on digital devices, just media, papers and some essays… mainly information and research. Because when it comes to the experience of reading (and those who love it will know what I’m talking about), I need to be immersed in a complete adventure, which is probable the main reason of my obsession with illustrated books.
I’ve loved them since I was a child, but I quickly noticed that this type of books was considered either for children or “second rate” if we talked about comics and illustrated albums. I spent most of the 1990s (I was in my 20s then) trying to find illustrated books that were for adults, or versions of classics with a visual twist. Believe me, it was hard. Nevertheless, being born and raised in Argentina, I was lucky enough to have access to one of the most interesting magazines of the time, Fierro, about illustration/comics/graphic novel — a posh term that we use to point out it’s no longer a “second rate” genre (oh, how do I love semiotics!). I was so haunted by it that I wrote my undergraduate dissertation about this publication… And while writing it, I understood one of the reasons of my obsession: what I love about (good) illustrated formats is that you need both words and images to make sense out of them. It’s pure hybridization, each element contaminates the other in a continuous blending. It’s a like a dance that ebbs and flows, and due to the format of paper books, you can go back and check any fragment of the flow immediately. Books have always been interactive, but illustrated ones ask you to be even more active.
My interest and search for illustrated books did not cease there. Some years later, I was lucky enough to become a writer at a Spanish national newspaper. The pay was not good, but the “press samples” of the illustrated books were heaven. You can imagine my emotion every week, when the postwoman — who already knew my name by then — rang the bell to tell me that she had another heavy pack for me. This went on for some years, and I was able to discover the universe of illustrated books by interviews, visits to different publishing houses, and of course, the books themselves. I was a writer about all this in the moment in which everyone said that paper was dead, that digital books were the future… which was exactly the same moment in which publishing houses understood that unless paper books became a beautiful object in themselves, they were going to lose the battle. And so finally, that’s why I have to be thankful to digital books: they made almost every paper book better, and many of them — even from publishing houses that had never considered this — visual and illustrated.
PS: Some of my recommendations, although I could go on and on…
Libros del Zorro Rojo – Literature illustrated by contemporary artists.
Mina Lima – an explosion of visuals that reinvents literature classics.
Warburg & Beach by Jorge Carrión and Javier Olivares. An accordion book, from literature lovers to literature lovers.
Federico, by Ilu Ros – One of my most recent findings, an illustrated (and carefully researched and written) biography of Federico García Lorca.
NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Peggy Nelson | Andrew Sempere on NERDING | Blanca Rego on RAIN | Lucy Sante on PSEUDO-AMERICAN PSEUDONYMS OF FRENCH PULP WRITERS DURING WWII | Heather Cole on AMERICAN GIRL | Nicholas Rombes on OLD GEOLOGY SURVEY BOOKS WITH MAP INSERTS | Susan Roe on TIME | Mark Kingwell on SCALE MODELS | Jessamyn West on THE POST OFFICE | Josh Glenn on ARDUIN | Vanessa Berry on NEWSAGENCY AESTHETICS | Toby Ferris on BRITISH/EALING WW2 FILMS | Annie Nocenti on MOSS | Adam McGovern on JOAN SEMMEL | Gabriela Pedranti on ILLUSTRATED BOOKS | Miranda Mellis on DOUBT | Tom Nealon on PAGE EDGES | Mandy Keifetz on KLINGON CONFIDENTIAL (NOVEL EXCERPT) | Eric Weisbard on SUMMATIONS | Kio Stark on LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CLASSIFICATION CODES | Charlie Mitchell on REPO MAN | James Parker on SEINFELD | Heather Kapplow on NOTHING | Russell Bennetts on MODE 7 | Vijay Parthasarathy on VIRTUAL TRAVEL | Marc Weidenbaum on NERD PROXIMITY.
MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2024): ENTER SANDMAN | BORN TOO LATE | MILQUETOAST | GAS BURNER PANIC | CHRISTBAIT RISING | & 20 other Eighties (1984–1993) Metal songs. STOOGE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2023): MOVE ON FAST | 96 TEARS | SHE CRACKED | WHAT A WAY TO DIE | PSYCHOTIC REACTION | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) proto-punk songs. JACK KIRBY PANELS | CAPTAIN KIRK SCENES | OLD-SCHOOL HIP HOP | TYPEFACES | NEW WAVE | SQUADS | PUNK | NEO-NOIR MOVIES | COMICS | SCI-FI MOVIES | SIDEKICKS | CARTOONS | TV DEATHS | COUNTRY | PROTO-PUNK | METAL | & more enthusiasms!