The Airplane Book: a horror of color
I present to you all one of the most visually arresting books I've come across since I've been collecting. I found The Airplane Book at a thrift store awhile back and when I went up to Andrea to show her what I was buying, she looked at the book and then at me. Obviously puzzled, she asked "Why?" I proceeded to show her the wonderous glory that lay within the book. It wasn't pretty, I tell ya. I had to convince her that this book was worth getting for the bizarre symphony of color alone, but she wasn't buying it. Good thing it was only 40 cents. At least I had THAT going for me.
Illustrated by the well-known and very prolific (he illustrated about 500 books in his lifetime) Art Seiden, the story is a simple follow-us-as-we-show-you-all-the-goings-on-behind-the-scenes-of-an-airline type of book. The character designs are nice, and simple, typical of Seiden's work. His style was similar to Mary Blair, JP Miller, and The Provensens during the 50's, but then by the mid-60's things began to change. The look and style of most children's books took a strange route, far removed from the stylish characters and no-line shapes that were very popular during the 50's. Pen and linework began to be the norm, and thus the effect of the earlier colorful shapes were not as strong. But here, in 1972, Art Seiden looked like he was trying to get back to the stylings of the 50's and implemented color as a stronghold, using linework sparingly.
It works. Up to a point. Unfortunately for Art, the culture and style of the late-60's and early-70's were very strong, and so we have here in this book a gushing of vibrant colors and patterns -- garish and loud, so typical of the time. It's almost hard to imagine puke-browns could live in brilliant harmony with nuclear greens, but somehow Art kinda pulls it off. And thus, you see why this book has become one of my favorite finds of recent. It's not often you'll see a grey-toned child wearing a cobalt blue dress and poo-poo brown leggings. You gotta love the use of ochres and avacodo greens for the interiors of the plane, as well as the pink striped seats for the pilots in the cockpits. Seems like Art was given free reign on everything in this book. I can't imagine him going to any real airplane and checking out the decor for reference, although I do have to say, I've seen some incredibly ugly plane interiors in books and on the internet, so maybe he wasn't too far off.
Anyway, I've got a good majority of the book scanned for your pleasure and on display at my Flickr. You can check out the photoset HERE. Enjoy! That is, if you can stomach it.