Friday 28 July 2017

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th July 2017 - "The Art of Stranski" by Lorenzo Etherington (Kickstarter / Self Published)

Our Picture Book of the Week this week thrums along with its own internal soundtrack full of mysterious horns and jungle drums...
Somewhere in an alternate universe, where evolution took a different turn, the world of "Stranski" exists.

It's a world populated by impossibly beautiful women with alluring eyes and long cat-like tails, of sentient animal sidekicks looking to cut shady deals and of gods who stride amongst us.

The first time I encountered Lorenzo Etherington's long-term back-burner project "Stranski" was through seeing some of his work on the art collective site DeviantArt. I'd long been a fan of Lorenzo and Robin's stuff for The Phoenix Comic, completely hooked in by their heady cocktail of bizarre worldbuilding, awesome characters and of course Lorenzo's glorious art...but Stranski, well that was something else. A siren song to someone who grew up as a kid hooked on old black and white movies from the 30s and 40s where Bogart slugged it out with Nazis, or James Cagney shot the heck out of a bunch of G-Men stooges.

Lorenzo posted a ton of these utterly astonishing wiggle-grams of his Stranski project...

Like tapping into the secrets of a master magician, you just daren't even ask how he DOES this stuff!
...which of course just hooked me in even more.

Stranski sort of half-exists as the grains of a story (and if you're lucky enough to own either of Lorenzo's previous mega collections of his art, you'll spot Stranski stuff cropping up in those too in more of a comic-strip form).

When the kickstarter for this collected volume was announced I was straight in there like a rat up a drainpipe, and couldn't wait to back it. As great as it is flicking through someone's work on the internet, there's still something quite intoxicating about having a printed hard-back version of their work collected together to browse at your leisure well away from the screen.

The project got its funding and then some, and the book turned up along with a pair of 3D specs, a glorious print (which I definitely need to get framed and stuck on the wall), with the book signed too.

A heady mix of glorious girls, insane machinery, automotive death machines and surly animal characters. Yep, how could you not want in on that?

The best thing about the collection is the fact that there's no explanation, no text, just the works presented 'as is' so you're left to weave your own stories around those fantastic images. It's like seeing the process and concept sketches for a movie that only exists in someone's head, leaving you to complete the plot yourself.

The book is lushly presented in hard back with decent quality prints of the work, and old-skool cyan/red 3D images tucked in towards the back (Obviously the images in the book don't wiggle into 3D life like they do here, so you've got to compensate somehow!)

For me, books like this are inspirational. All of Lorenzo's favourite subjects are mixed together into a crazy chaotic cocktail of pure awesomeness (I still get a huge kick out of spotting nods to actual real-life cars and machines in his work - retrofitting a 2CV with machine guns and plane engines? Yep, makes perfect sense to me!)

You're left at the end of flicking through this with a huge sense of admiration for a prolific and expert artist at the top of his game, but you're also left with a gnawing curiosity. What's going to happen to Stranski next? It's almost like it's pleading on bended knees to become...something - but what?

There's only one person who can answer that - and he's not telling!

Footnote: Was racking my brains for a really good example of the sort of manic music that Stranski reminds me of, only thing I could immediately come up with was the old 60s theme to Tarzan!

"The Art of Stranski" was made available through Kickstarter (self purchased).