word craft


The Illustrated Novel

Denslow Oz

I’ve always loved the illus­trat­ed nov­el. While the hey­day of the illus­trat­ed nov­el was the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, it exists today, if it exists at all, almost exclu­sive­ly in nov­els for young peo­ple. I think it adds enor­mous­ly to the reader’s plea­sure. Con­sid­er the orig­i­nal Ten­niel illus­tra­tions of Alice in Won­der­land, Denslow’s Wiz­ard of Oz, Shepard’s Wind in the Wil­lows, or Wyeth’s Trea­sure Island. I read these books as a kid and can­not think of the texts with­out think­ing of those illus­tra­tions. Good text and good art, togeth­er, make great books.

City of Light, City of DarkI often ask that my nov­els be illus­trat­ed, but only rarely get my wish. The great excep­tions are the Pop­py nov­els, so splen­did­ly illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Flo­ca. I may have writ­ten those books, but when I imag­ine the char­ac­ters I think of his art. Flo­ca  has become a major illus­tra­tor in his own right (and write) but I’m proud that his first work was in our graph­ic nov­el City of Light City of Dark.

Paul O. Zelinsky’s first illus­trat­ed nov­el was my Emi­ly Upham’s Revenge. 

Trai­tors’ Gate was illus­trat­ed like a Vic­to­ri­an nov­el, with more than six­ty illus­tra­tions by Kari­na Raude.

The most beau­ti­ful edi­tion of Crispin is a South Kore­an edition.

Pub­lish­ers will tell you the illus­trat­ed nov­el is expen­sive to cre­ate and dif­fi­cult to pro­duce. No doubt. They also say young read­ers don’t want them, a claim I do doubt very much. I so wish the illus­trat­ed nov­el would come back into favor—and into the hands of young read­ers. What’s your favorite illus­trat­ed novel?

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