Sendak on Illustration / Extruded Characters

Maurice Sendak, on what it is (to him), to illustrate a book. He talks about the illustrator quietly wishing to have written, with imagemaking the next best thing to do. Feels as if a similar place-in-the-food-chain logic has been used as basis for criticism of the just-released 'Where The Wild Things Are', directed by Spike Jonze. Will go see but expect that Spike has just tried to do something else.

The book of course is one of the greats, with less than 200 words and it's wonderful left-to-right kinetic. A 101-minute film of the three-dimensional world is a different object. The book is so much about the drawing, the hairyness and claustrophobia emerging from hairy, claustrophobic linework.

So illustrators have a crisis about their pictures spoiling a book for the mind's eye. Here it seems is an equivalent, of a filmmaker extruding a two-dimensional classic. It looks as if the collaboration with Jim Henson's Creature Workshop gives the cinematic monsters their own breathing space, with a Big Bird inflection.

It is a strange and counter-aesthetic compulsion to make something that innately belongs to a world of flatness and line, literally live-action and three-dimensional. A clear example was Robin William's incarnation of Popeye. Here is E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre original, c. 1930, with the archetypal, everything-facing-the-front face.

And here is the 'live' but dead version. Same for Carreyfication of Dr. Seuss. Leave well alone. It worked already.

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