Sunday, 3 February 2008

A was an Apple Pie

This bizarre idea sprang from an old nursery rhyme, titled, oddly enough, 'A was an Apple Pie'. The poem goes through every letter of the alphabet, using a word beginning with the right letter to describe what each different character did - B bit it, C cut it, D dealt it and so on. For the final few letters, of course, there's a bit of a compromise.

The earliest illustrations I can find of the poem are by Kate Greenaway, and feature, as the characters, rather cherubic young children in a playground. But what really made me decide to illustrate the rhyme was a series of illustrations by one of my favourite illustrators, Raymond Briggs. His illustrations, like his takes on most nursery rhymes and fairy stories, are wonderfully unconventional - the characters in his version are an odd bunch indeed.

What excited me about doing this was the graphic possibility of actually putting the letters in the characters, so it's not just someone representing B doing the biting, it's B himself. This meant a more graphic style than I was used to. In each of these drawings I tried to integrate the letters into the line and the general form, which meant not thinking about anatomy so much as 'shapes that worked'. In this respect I was greatly influenced by the character designs of Tom Oreb, who I'll post about later. Also an influence on the style used were Al Hirschfeld, Ronald Searle, Kay Nielsen and Aubrey Beardsley.

This is still a work in progress: the hooded figures in some of these drawings were inspired by similar characters populating Goya's Caprichos and the illustrations by Gustave Dore. It was then pointed out to me that, the way I've drawn them, they resemble Muslim veils. Not particularly wanting to be un-PC or offensive, I'm therefore going to change 'B' and 'X,Y,Z and &' (other hooded figures shown here are either obviously hooded as opposed to veiled, or not portrayed in a negative light). A few others will also be changed, simply because they don't 'look' right. Eventually, however, when I'm happy with all the drawings, I'm making them into some sort of book.

Click any image to enlarge, of course.

A was an apple pie

B bit it

C cut it

D dealt it

E eat it

F fought for it

G got it

H had it

I inspected it

J joined it

K kept it

L longed for it

M mourned for it

N nodded at it

O opened it

P peeped in it

Q quartered it

R ran for it

S stole it

T took it

U upset it

V viewed it

W wanted it

X, Y and & each wanted a piece in hand


Michael Sporn said...

An excellent piece. You took a lot of care with the images. It would make an fine booklet.

Matt said...

These are quite good.