Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Sunday Books - Mervyn Peake & Michael Moorcock

Perhaps for completists, this is nonetheless a beautiful book containing a selection of the drawings and pictures that Mervyn Peake produced for his two sons while they were living on Sark. These are not finished drawings. They were done on Sundays (hence the title) with his sons sitting either side of him whilst he told stories and conjured fantastical worlds. Peake’s style is distinctive, and even in these quick works we see the start of the path that leads to his paintings and line drawings.

In this work, pirates abound along with fantastic creatures and the occasional cowboy. The stories that went with them were not written down, so the text has been provided by Michael Moorcock, a friend of the Peakes and long time supporter of Mervyn Peake’s work. An introduction puts the illustrations in their family context, and a suitably daffy story ties the selected pictures together into a narrative.

Moorcock has fun, with unobtrusive allusions to aspects of his own work and the wider world of comics and illustrated stories that were Peake’s own inspiration. And the reader of the book will also have fun, because these are pictures you can return to again and again. The line drawings are full of detail, the colour pictures are gloriously vivid, and evoke those childhood picture albums and annuals that I remember with great fondness.

If you can spare the cash, this is well worth it.