Its a question that never made much sense to me being at art school, were you'd think people would be more inclined to ask what kind of visual artists influence you, or at the very least ask you what your major is or what you like to draw and with what tools. But, no.
Another college memory was of my friend Chema, who frequently spoke about wanting to have a library of her own, to just sit in a room surrounded by books. I don't know about you, but that just sounds awesome!
After bringing home some treasures from yesterday's Library Book Sale, I thought I would show off what I've got and maybe give you just a little bit of a hint of what I like and what inspires me.
Here's a shot of my main bookshelf. Its about six feet tall. I have plenty of other books that I keep on a smaller shelves closer to my bed and my chair, but these are the heavy hitters that I use the most frequently in my art.
Starting from the top left: The first four volumes of Bone, a collection of Mutts comics and the Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection. All paperback collections of the strip plus the Lazy Sunday Book, Tenth Anniversary Book and the Sunday Page exhibit book with the original pencil sketches, that one was quite the find!
Watchmen and Norman Rockwell's autobiography are a bit out of place on this particular shelf, but because I have so many books I have them organized by height and weight. More comics with five volumes of Zits plus the old Superman newspaper comic strips.
Mixed bag at the end with some books about the behind the scenes aspects of art and illustration and a handful of children's books that have beautiful illustrations.
Mythological Creatures. Every bookshelf needs at least one field guide.
On the far left you'll see my copy of the MST3K Colossal Episode Guide in order to help keep my snarky comebacks fresh.
Then theres my collection of comics trade paperbacks. Its a mix of material I've bought online and stuff I've dug up at used bookstores. All good finds as far as I'm concerned.
At the end: James Gurney's Dinotopia series. I actually met him at a museum tour back in high school were I told him I was interested in becoming an artist. He signed the inside cover with a note "To Erik, Fellow Artist" and then drew a little Stegosaurus (my favorite dinosaur!) He came to my college as part of another tour four years later were I was able to show him the autographed book and thank him for his encouragement.
A couple of more illustrated children's books, Ian Thorne's Crestwood House Monster Series. I kid you not, I found these books at Library Book Sale just a day after James Rolfe posted his retrospective on the series. Talk about timing. Also, the Pultizer winning Maus graphic novel.
A couple of other odds and ends. The Making of a Charlie Brown Christmas, a number of other illustrated books, including Howard Pyle's King Arthur and a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories illustrated by Harry Clarke. Looking back I can't help but wonder if my interest in horror and detective stories as well as my preference for lots of heavy black lines in my art might have been due to subconscious influence that both Poe and I share the name "E. Allan". Hm...
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Little Whistle as it was a gift from the artist himself, Tim Bowers. Its the timeless tale of a guinea pig wearing a peacoat in a toy store.
Here we have several books on figure drawing...
Gradually shifting into books on drawing comics.
And this section is the "Art of" books. Illustrators on display include such giants as Alex Ross, Jeffery Jones, Everett Kinstler, Frank Frazetta, Franklin Booth, Drew Struzan, Edgar Degas, Norman Rockwell and an considerable wealth of vintage children's book illustrators.
My Will Eisner Shrine
My collection of Marvel Essentials. These were how I first got into comics, and I would highly recommend them to any interested in getting into comics now, especially to young readers. Each volume reprints about twenty issues of its series in chronological order, so you get the see how these classic characters got their starts and how they developed over time. While I bought these books secondhand, they were in decent shape to begin with but reading and re-reading the Fantastic Four books contributed to their worn appearance, and regardless I still get them out every once and a while because a lot of the stories still hold up.
What I don't get though, is why the X-Men volume's spine is printed the opposite way of the other books. The only way to read the title is if I store the book upside down. Weird.
My collection of Communication Arts Illustration Annuals. Generously given to me by Dan of Clear River Communications.
Couple other odds and ends. Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, Dennis the Menace: Hank Ketcham's First Forty Years, Star Trek Sketchbook: The Art of the Original Series, now that was quite a find.
Animation Art, which was used as a text in my comics and cartoons history class in college. Then more comics: The Far Side and Foxtrot.
A couple oversized hardcover "How To" drawing books, Fairburn System's Visual Reference Books, my oversized Comics History textbook and three volumes from the Directory of Illustration.