July 13, 2010

Art Attack!: Acclaimed artist/writer, genius... Graham Rawle

Graham Rawle is such a neat guy... I know, because I've met him! And right before I got to meet him and request to have a quick snapshot taken (about which he was very gracious, btw), I attended a presentation Graham gave discussing his latest work, 'The Wizard of Oz'. The text of the book is actually L. Frank Baum's original story, but all of the imagery is 100% classic Rawle.

Here, take a gander...

This beautiful book cover only hints at
the visual delights that await you, inside!

It looks like Toto is about to be a bite-sized
snack for the Cowardly Lion, here. But we
all know that's not the case, not with his
BFF, Dorothy, around. Besides, even if
Dorothy wasn't nearby, that little dog could
"Toto"-lly kick Lion's ass all by himself!

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...
Oz is but a dream.

(Or, IS it?)

Here, we see a scene with a completely
different take, Rawle's take, on the
Wicked Witch o' the West's flying monkeys.

(I really dig Graham's sense of humor!)

And speak of the devil, here's
the WWoW, now! Weird as
she looks (and despite how we
expect her to appear because of
the MGM classic movie), my
understanding is that this is
actually much truer to how
she's described in Baum's
original book.

That was but a Whitman's Sampler, if you will. The rest of it is just as yummy for your eyes! So if I've piqued your interest, go ahead and pick up a copy of 'The Wizard of Oz', illustrated by Graham Rawle. You won't be disappointed.

Another creation of his, that I absolutely dig with a passion, is his book, 'Woman's World'. He both wrote and illustrated it, however, most of the "illustration" inside of the book is actually all cut 'n' pasted text and embellishments from old women's magazines of the 1940s. If you can believe it, Graham spent 5 years working on this book, and most of that time was spent cutting, collecting, organizing, pasting and basically assembling every word of the story... one by one. Hearing Graham talk about the process in his presentation was absolutely fascinating. I mean, the organizational system, alone, which he devised for the project was so impressive (if not a bit confusing) you could tell that this guy isn't just arty; he's also a smarty. I guess one could say he's an "arty-smarty"! Well, I will anyway...

Check out some of the stuff I'm talking about, below...

This is the cover for the
hardback edition.

(The one that I have.)

And this, here, is the wonderful
paperback/graphic novel edition.

(I want it, too! That cover appeals
to all of my kitsch-y sensibilities!)

This is just a glimpse into the madness...
Graham spent an average of 17 hours a
day, 7 days a week for 5 years sitting here
clipping 'n' pasting. Altogether, a total
of 40,000 fragments of text from vintage
women's magazines was assembled to
tell this unique and strangely charming

And, here, you can see the fruits of
his obsessive, slave-type labor.
You might suspect that it would be
hard to read, but it isn't! In fact,
Graham worked at figuring out just
the right formula, or words-to-page
ratio, that would be easiest for a
reader to tolerate. And it works!

As for the story to this intricately composed novel, let me share with you what the dust jacket says. It gives away just enough to set the scene and pull you in...

"Norma Fontaine lives in a world of handy tips and sensible advice. Whether it's choosing the right girdle or honing her feminine allure, she measures life by the standards set in women's magazines. But Norma discovers that the real world is less delightful-and more sinister-than the one portrayed in the glossies. When dark secrets threaten her brother's blossoming romance, Norma must decide whether to sacrifice life in a woman's world for the sake of her brother's happiness. As her decision is slowly revealed, readers realize that, like life in the magazines, Norma isn't quite what she seems."

Intrigued? Good.
Now, go find a copy and read it!
I think you'll be glad you did.

Look! It's Graham with
little ol' me! Like we're
"buds", or something.

(Yeah, right... I was lucky
he agreed to stand next
to me for the photo.)

I don't want to go on FOREVER (and believe me, I could), so I'll cut this one kinda short. I didn't even get to talk about Rawle's 'Diary of an Amateur Photographer' (one of my top faves), or his long-running 'Lost Consonants' series. Oh, well. I guess I'll cover those in a follow-up edition... Really, this man's work is quite prolific, plus everything he does is smart, clever, and funny! I just can't seem to say enough good things about the guy.

I know, how's this sound?
Graham Rawle... ARTISTIC GENIUS!

Yep, that about covers it.

~All pics via Google Images, except last personal photo of Anthony w/Graham, courtesy of Tommy Kovac.~


  1. VERY very cool, Anthony! I must admit that I had never heard of him - and now I am fascinated! Thank you for the informative post, and for introducing me to a new artist!

  2. Graham's great, but he should feel honored to be standing next to YOU, my handsome & talented husband. :)
    I love the picture of his studio during his work on Woman's World. And I love what I've seen of "Lost Consonants," although you didn't get a chance to really talk about that.
    Very cool post!

  3. Very cool. I love eccentric and obsessive artists because well, that's what some people say about me lol...

    BTW, my studio is named Art Attack Studio. =D

  4. Ooh, fascinating! I hadn't seen his work before. Or maybe I had but immediately shoved my head back up my rear and forgot. I can see why you like this...it's akin to your love of ephemera and retro-style and create visuals.


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