Book Review: Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book

February 15, 2008

One of my all time favorite books is Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville.  I have read it countless times by now, own several different editions, and have the excellent audiobook version by William Hootkins.  I have long held that this book is the Great American Novel, and that American writers since then, Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, among others, have built careers making variations on Moby-Dick.  Now comes – the pop-up book!  Really, a graphic novel version of Moby-Dick, with pop-up elements, it’s very skilled and respectful distillation of the book’s characters, story and themes, managing to give you a sense of the epic and emotional sweep of the book in a mere eight pages.   But what an eight pages they are, as the artist, Sam Ita, has packed each fold out page with a mass of cleverly and often surprisingly done graphic and pop-up art.  Of course, it’s not a substitute for reading the novel itself, but as a work of art inspired by another work of art, it’s top notch, and would make an excellent introduction to the story for adults and children alike.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book”

  1. Steve Cooper Says:

    Exactly! I, too, am a huge Moby Dick fan. Sam Ita’s distillation of this epic is absolutely wonderful, as you say. A work of genius by a man with keen abilities as a paper artist, graphic artist, editor, and storyteller.

    The only line of your review that I’d contest is that this Moby Dick is “for adults and children alike.” That’s a qualification that critics apply to well-told Disney tales. Seems to me that Ita’s version of the whale tale is a work for mature readers. It deserves language that transends praise for Disney or any well-received children’s literature.

    Finally, you recommended the William Hootkins reading. His is good. I’d also recommend a wildly comic reading by Burt Reynolds, of all people. While his reading can’t be taken too seriously, Reynolds does invest the story with an unexpected liveliness. sc

  2. radiondn Says:

    You know, I have the Reynolds audiobook in my Amazon wishlist!

    With the line “for adults and children alike,” I guess I didn’t mean to suggest that Ita’s book is a book for children or that it was a Disney-ification of Moby Dick, but rather that it was appropriate for children to look at. Nevertheless, your point is well taken, and I may amend the comment to make my point clearer.

    Thanks for reading!


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