Mood: Happily rain-soaked.
Music: Space – Bond.
I have in my possession a signed copy of Brian Froud’s World of Faerie. I remember the day I got this book clearly, I was at Faerieworlds, a festival up in Eugene. The day was hot and sunny, the air heavy with music. Brian and Wendy Froud had set up their stall near the stage the musicians were at.
They were selling a variety of things, and I very nearly got a poster of Briar Rose instead of the book, however, once I noticed it I was drawn in – I flipped it open, and it caught me then and there, when it opened to the painting of the Magician. The painting (shown here) had a girl in a fancy dress shirt with wild brown hair and all around her were playing cards, faeries, and goblins. She had such an intense gaze, I wanted to ask her what she knew.
Oh, and she was wearing an amazing coat.
The book was purchased on the spot, signed, and then carted around for the rest of day while I enjoyed the rest of the festival. It wasn’t until later, back at my brother’s house, that I got a chance to read it.
Brian Froud has a style of writing that makes one think they are on a great journey, and with the added touch of his artwork, it certainly felt like one. From simple sketches of small faeries and goblins clothed in a mismatched array of fabric and feathers, to detailed paintings of beautiful women, each piece of art told a story, and I was eager to understand them all.
The book starts by saying it might have several titles, possible ones like ‘The Book of Mysteries and Love’ or ‘Brain Froud’s Book on How to Paint and Draw Faeries’ – the stated reason for the variety of titles is that the book is, naturally, a book about faeries.
Beyond the introduction, we’re led through a world beyond the ordinary. In one image, a giant sits atop a small house, his expression surprisingly haughty, considering his patched clothing, in another, a small boy – we’re told he’s supposed to represent both us and Froud – stands at the base of a rock, looking up at some creature with a giant nose. The next few pages follow the boy through a variety of paintings, giving voice to some journey he’s experiencing.
We discover quickly that Froud has a love for stories like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. He devotes a page to writings of Wonderland, and shows several paintings obviously inspired by the place – in one, a woman sits partly unclothed, staring off into space, while beside her stands a small white king, his arms wrapped around himself.
Have you seen Labyrinth? It was a 1986 film in which Froud had a hand. The reason I mention it is because, in my flipping through of the book (the better to describe each painting), I’ve reached the Magician’s page. Froud tells us the Magician is Alice grown up, but I am inclined to think she draws from a variety of characters – she holds a crystal of the same sort David Bowie’s character The Goblin King in the Labyrinth had, the kind he offered to the heroine in an attempt to distract her from saving her brother.
On the next page, we see the Magician again, this time in a less complicated landscape, she’s holding a sword, looking off to the side of the painting with a cool determined gaze. Above her flies an owl – one that looks suspiciously like The Goblin King’s other form.
Uh… well, on the grounds that this post is getting rather long, I’ll try to wrap things up. Froud also touches on Peter Pan, faerie women, and unicorn women. He leads us through nearly 200 pages of stunning images.
So, yes, I would recommend this book. I found it thought provoking, in the manner only art has to offer.
What about you?
P.S., the title of this post comes from one of the first lines in the book.