River of Ink

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Pub Date 20 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 26 Aug 2021
Humanoids Inc, Life Drawn

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Description

With grace, poetry, clarity, and expert knowledge, artist Etienne Appert brings us a book about the very origins of the art of illustration—what it means and why it exists.

“Why do you draw?” A simple question by a young boy moves the author to travel with him down the River of Ink, which flows from the present day back to the very first illustration drawn by a human. Along the way, they visit legendary artists of the past and encounter personal tales that explore the philosophy of communication through drawing. Why do we draw? It’s a simple question with a spellbinding and complex answer with an entirely new and entertaining look at the history of art.

Also featured is an illustrated interview between Appert and comics master Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, The Sculptor) that no reader should miss!
With grace, poetry, clarity, and expert knowledge, artist Etienne Appert brings us a book about the very origins of the art of illustration—what it means and why it exists.

“Why do you draw?” A...

Advance Praise

“Appert’s themes will resonate with both artists and their appreciators.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Appert’s themes will resonate with both artists and their appreciators.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781643375618
PRICE $22.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 8 members


Featured Reviews

A history of drawing, after a fashion, weaving together the writer-artist's own story, his family history, and the story of humanity at large – with particular emphasis on a fable of prehistory. It's about the why more than the when and how, and happy to expand on legends rather than getting bogged down in a search for facts which will never be reachable. It might be overwhelming read in a single sitting, but especially early on, to treat each stop along the river as a day's instalment works beautifully; at times it felt like the sort of curious animation you half-remember from one particular childhood half-term, and which nobody else ever recalls in the inevitable nostalgia chats. The prehistory strand didn't always work for me – the idea of people who don't know what mirrors are may draw from a Japanese folk tale, but given we now know that some other animals can recognise their reflections, surely this was one of the things humans have had since before we were even human? And what about natural reflective surfaces? But even when it doesn't convince the mind, it always pleases the eye. For better and worse, it is extremely French; even were you to anonymise Appert, and the idols he's interviewed and woven into the story*, there's no way you could mistake which comics tradition it comes from, and I don't just mean the nudity. But unlike a lot of works where that's the case, here I never felt that having come up via different routes, learned to overlook or accept different givens, was shutting me out; it's a deeply human and humane work about part of the core of what makes us other than entirely dreadful as a species. And did I mention it's very beautiful? *Edmond Baudoin and François Boucq, and no, neither is a name where I have more than the faintest recognition – though as a bonus for Anglophone readers, the English edition comes with an appendix where a Scott McCloud interview is likewise rendered in graphic form. That includes some excellent McCloud homages, which leads me to assume the other two are likewise being referenced in the style of their passages. The McCloud is, as one has come to expect from him, right on the border between winning and terrifying – "I see art as an antidote to life. [...] I will not accept having only one world. I can see so many in my head." I completely agree, while also recognising these as lines you could give, unchanged, to a cosmic-level threat. (Netgalley ARC)

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A richly illustrated tapestry exploring the philosophy of drawing, as retold accounts from Pliny the Elder, personal family history, and contemporary graphic novelists. A well-thought-out, visually-heavy essay on why we draw.

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