Graham Marks on a huge novel that conveys the essence of cinema…
The book I wish I’d written is Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which, truth be told, I also wish I’d drawn; but this is an idea I could never have had as, while I went to art school and am still not bad at still life, figure studies and portraits, I’m not that good either. Definitely not good enough to pull off what Mr Selznick has done, which is produce a wonderful hybrid – a great big 500-page novel that has 300 pictures… or is it a huge graphic album that has page after page with nothing but text on them? We, the readers, have to choose as we marvel.
Hugo Cabret is more than just a heavily illustrated novel – to call it that would be doing the book and the creator a great disservice – because the pictures aren’t simply placed in proximity to the text they’re illustrating, as has been the style since the Book of Kells. This is a story which somehow manages to bring an essence of the cinema to its animated black and white pages. It is the neatest of tricks, which I not only wish I’d thought of, but had the skills to pull off.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is published by Scholastic (978 0 439 81378 5, £10.99 hbk).
Graham Marks’s latest book is Kai-Ro published by Usborne (978 0 7460 7888 4, £6.99 pbk).