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The Witches
Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl
Invisible Cities
William Weaver, Italo Calvino
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Mervyn Peake, Michael Moorcock
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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Zerfoss, John Coulthart

The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales - Seymour Chwast As much as I enjoyed Seymour Chwast's treatment of Dante's Divine Comedy, his Canterbury Tales never comes to life. Perhaps the success of Chwast's Divine Comedy was due to the inherently graphic nature of much of the Commedia and the sparseness of the comic's text—Chwast's Divine Comedy is something like a collection of single page posters of the most memorable scenes with little need for narrative. Chaucer's second masterpiece is an entirely different matter. The brilliance of Chaucer is both in the melody of his verse and in his varied, but often lively narratives, and this is something Chwast's comics cannot possibly deliver. Chaucer gives us a ribald Miller's Tale full of dirty slapstick. The infamous kiss in the dark and the vengeful poker to the bum are brimming with vulgar hilarity. Chwast gives us a stilted narrative with a zephyric pen and ink fart followed by what might as well be a scrub-brush to the bum. It isn't funny to see it. If the verses bring back giggling memories of raunchy middle school body humor, the comic embarrasses, reminding us of just how juvenile we once were. Much of the book seems to focus on Chaucer's ribaldry, and without any of the puckish charm of the English verses. These comic tales just fall flat amidst a swamp of limp prose narrative and boringly salacious imagery.