For our September update, we wanted to delve deeper into the collage and layout process. As you know by now, Corwin has spent the year buried in vintage Grimms’ books. He’d like to share some of the layouts he’s been making and explain how they fit into the project as a whole. We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look.
A Special Update from Corwin
For a story like “Rumpelstiltskin,” there have been many drawings of the character over time, which I tried to integrate together so you can better appreciate how different illustrators have imagined him. The trick with these collages is to find ways to make all these images work on one page. In the first image below, I have taken Rumpelstiltskin’s dancing scene and created a giant dancing ball. In the second, I’ve taken Rumpelstilskin’s legs from dozens of images and collaged them all together at the end of the story where Rumpelstiltskin angrily stomps his foot on the floor and splits himself in half pulling it back out.
For other stories, like “The Golden Key,” there are far fewer illustrations, so I started this collage with a couple of specific images from the story and then wove in pictures from other Grimms’ tales. Thus, in the image below, while the boy originally appeared in a vintage version of “The Golden Key,” some of the other elements are borrowed from stories like “Snow White” and “Three Little Men in the Woods,” as well as a lovely set of endpapers from a collection of Grimms’ stories (all of which will be referenced in our detailed endnotes in the final book).
Sometimes, it works best when a set of imagery sits alongside a story and flows in and out of the text rather than being a full page bleed, like this two-page spread from “The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn the Meaning of Fear.”
And in other instances a full, double-page spread is really the best way to share a particular scene. This layout from “Goose Girl at the Well” is the first of a set of two layouts in the story offering a view of the male gaze in fairy tale text and illustration.
In some cases a more radical approach is needed, like this transformation of a picture from the “Duration of Life,” or the image from “Iron John” when he carries the boy into the forest. For the “Iron John” scene, I overlaid the title character onto a decorative Grimm’s endpaper to achieve the effect.
Occasionally, the traditional imagery fits so well that I simply clean a scanned image, do a light reworking and recontextualizing, and then insert it straight into the layout. For example, I placed this image from the story “Six Get Through the Whole World,” where a king attempts to bake the six men to death by lighting a fire under the room they are dining in.
And of course, most significantly, I want to highlight the contemporary art and so before each story we will show the work from our artists on a minimalist, white background, like this beautiful painting by Tomokazu Matsuyama (which you will notice is a contemporary take on the scene shown in the image above).
We hope you have enjoyed this update, and we now only have three more stories (“Snow White,” “Snow White Rose Red,” and “Little Red Riding Hood)” to go! We are working hard to deliver the book to you just as soon as we can, while also juggling full-time jobs and more, so once again, thank you for your continued patience and support. We hope you have a lovely autumn. Look for another update from us soon!
-Corwin and Michelle