A Conversation for Paul Kidby - Discworld Illustrator
NAITA (Join ViTAL - A1014625) Started conversation Jan 29, 2003
I'm not a big fan of Josh Kirby's art, but the covers were at least much better than the ones the poor americans got. And I'm not saying that because the man has passed on.
The Discworld books didn't start out with any kind of realism in them. Yes, they were always fairly well written and the characters were 'real'. But Josh Kirby's art 'fit' the early books. Only when the characters appeared for the third (or sometimes just second) time the discrepancies between cover and person became jarring. (Except for Granny Weatherwax who could not be portraid properly in Kirby's style.) Together with their reappearance in new books Pratchett moved step by step from the world created as the scene of the fantasy genre spoof of Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic and into the world we now know as Discworld. At the same time he built something in the minds of the readers that didn't fit with Josh Kirby's rough, comic style.
On the other hand this meant that he didn't impose an actual image on the readers imagination. Having Kidby's portraits to put on every character is not necessarily a boon. Or so I think, but then I don't have a visual imagination so I don't 'see' the characters anyways.
Good article, IMNSHO
Geggs Posted Jan 29, 2003
Well said. The books do seem to have become more 'real' as the series has continued.
This is particularly telling in Night Watch. For years now I've thought of Anhk Morpork as an impression of a city, it's there as a backdrop. Nowt more than scenery. But in Night Watch I actually get the feeling that the city works. It's viable. You could live there. No-one in their right mind would want too, but you could if you had too.
Kirby's cartoony style fit at the start, as you say (apart from drawing Two-flower with four eyes and not glasses on the front of Com and TLF). But you get the impression that Pterry's thinking drifted away from there since, well, since Jingo, I think. So by the end it didn't quite gel. Still sad that he's gone though.
Mina Posted Jan 29, 2003
"Josh Kirby's painting always had a comic style, which many of the fans felt did a disservice to the Discworld, and stripped the books of the sense of reality that Pratchett was aiming for. Paul Kidby's painting takes a more realistic line. While Kirby's depictions made you see the Discworld as a fantasy, Kidby's renditions seemed more believable"
Maybe this is because I haven't read Pratchett for a long time (although I was a huge fan at the beginning) and I haven't seen the new artist, but this bit confused me quite a lot.
I'm not sure how art in a comic style is a disserve to a comedy book. The books are funny! They aare about a fantasy world! Why the fact that this is depicted on the cover is a problem is beyond me I'm afraid.
Nice entry though.
Geggs Posted Jan 29, 2003
I must admit, I never really had a problem with Kirby's covers either. But I know that many fans did...
cafram - in the states. Posted Jan 30, 2003
I'm one of those awful people who judge a book by its cover, and was put off by the cover of COM about 6 years ago...I didn't start reading them until mid 2002!
I loved the cover of NW, even before the relevance with the Rembrandt was explained to me
NAITA (Join ViTAL - A1014625) Posted Jan 30, 2003
I love it when I realize on my own things like Kidby copying Rembrant, and the man himself (pterry) sneaking in more or less obvious references in the books. But I also love reading what other people have discovered, slapping my forehead when I've missed the obvious and just wondering what the heck some people have in their heads that enables them to spot the really obscure. Most recent example being the vampire Loewehof Kreuzfahrt in the Vampire's Diary.
Oh, and I wouldn't have noticed the Rembrant thing even if I had borrowed to book with the dust jacket on.
cafram - in the states. Posted Jan 31, 2003
Nahaldnwalme Posted Apr 29, 2004
I am an avid Discworld fan (and strangely so- a 15 year old girl) and I did have a problem with Kirby's covers- who can forget the famous portrayl of Twoflower on the COM cover- in which he actually has FOUR EYES rather than glasses?!
Despite that though- i admired his work- as all attempts of mine to draw Discworld scenes and characters have failed horribly- and he was one of few that had been there from the begining.
Adding to that though- Kidby certainly has flair- and I greatly enjoyed pouring over the illustrations of The Last Hero- and inspired by the cover to Night Watch- i even watched a documentary upon the real painting by Rembrant! So i can partially say Kidby is giving me a cultural education- when Kirby certainly didn't!
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