If you’re lucky, the overlap in the Venn diagram of books you love to read and books your kids love to read is more than a sliver.
Blexbolex’s Ballad is a mysterious little book. Starting with a simple, 3-page chapter about a child who walks home from school (“The school, the road, home.”) the second chapter adds a page in between each previous page (“The school, the street, the road, the forest, home.”) and the author continues that pattern for 7 chapters, eventually culminating in a story of over 50 pages.
The trigger of the form was firstly my stay with a group of artists working on comics in an unconventional way: OuBaPo. One of the exercises captured my imagination. It involved inserting one square of a comic strip between two existing squares, thereby diverting the narrative ellipsis towards another one. Then a meeting with a group of children gave me the real key to the book. They were playing a game where whatever path they took, they always got to arrive home.
The OuLiPo-inspired hijinx would be impressive on their own, but what’s truly amazing to me is that for a book that feels so analog and textured, almost all of the artwork was done digitally:
The images for the book are purely digital. Only three backgrounds on paper (two with pencil and one with ink wash painting) were scanned in to allow me to add substance to the shapes drawn on the computer.
This process makes the book something that feels both ancient and futuristic, or rather, simply out-of-time.
This post is the first in a new Bookshelf series in which I’ll be sharing one of my favorite books every Saturday.