Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beautiful Book #34

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Retold by Sara and Stephen Corrin. Pictures by Errol Le Cain. Faber & Faber, 1988.

I recently turned 49 and kid myself on my good days that I've accomplished something with my life. Ah, but then I think of the life and productivity of Errol Le Cain and humility comes crashing down around me. Born in Singapore in 1941, Le Cain rode out the war years in India before he and his family emigrated to Britain. He died in 1989 at the age of 47, and during his short life he worked as both an animator and a children's book illustrator, producing roughly 50 books and working on many animation projects including the highly influential yet never released The Thief and the Cobbler, Richard Williams' 25-year epic animation project that has been described as "the greatest animated film never made."

I've chosen Le Cain's interpretation of The Pied Piper of Hamelin as today's beautiful book for its sinister medieval feel and its overall book design, but I've also included an image below from Thorn Rose because not only is it stunning, it shows a greater range to his style... and, well, because it's just damn hard picking a single book of Le Cain's to showcase. He won the Greenaway Medal once and was commended for it four times--not too shabby for an artist with no formal training. The man had talent in spades.  Do a Google image search on his  name and you'll see what I mean.

If you find yourself smitten, YouTube has several of his animation projects online from both his work with Williams' studio and his work with the BBC. I rather like this five minute short: The Sailor and the Devil. You could also watch Williams' 90 minute workprint of the Thief and the Cobbler if animation is your thing.

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