Sunday, August 22, 2010

Graphomania, the Voynich Manuscript and Invented Texts


I'm starting work on the second book of a projected Manny Tippitoes trilogy, which will feature a Book of Forbidden Knowledge. In doing a little research into textual arcana I came across
The Voynich Manuscript. This book is believed to have originated in the 15th or 16th centuries and is written in a script and language that is similar to, but significantly different from, western ones. It has baffled scholars and cryptographers for centuries. The only known copy of the manuscript is at Yale University. One of the things that apparently frustrates would-be translators or de-coders is that the Voynich text (which is named after a book dealer who once owned the book, btw) looks like a guide to herbs, astronomy and possibly pharmaceuticals. It is also equally possible that the hand-written manuscript is an example of scribomania or graphomania.
As with so many things, the combination of age, possible value and the challenge of translating a mysterious text have driven many people to try and decipher the Voynich Manuscript. In the world of Manny Tippitoes; a similar text, written by a mad monk, will be a central focus for a number of characters.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dutch Mystery Covers


The invaluable A Journey Round My Skull blog has posted a number of paperback covers from Dutch Mystery Novels. Dutch looks innately funny when it is spelled out, I have always found, but the graphics on some of these are amazing. A very nice selection from a blog that consistently posts some great graphics.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The King


Jack "The King" Kirby has been a long time hero of mine, from the time I first came across a pile of Marvel Comics with their covers torn off in the cafeteria at elementary school to the present. There's a thinly veiled tribute to Kirby in Manny Tippitoes in the character of Lou "The Lord" Kaplan, who is referred to several times as a comic strip artist in the 1930s and comic book creator in the 40s and 60s. A few years ago I picked up a copy of The Collected Jack Kirby Collector, No. 1, a compendium of articles from a fanzine. The book has a series of interviews and panel discussions with Kirby. I came across one quotation from an interview printed in the program of the 1975 Comic Art Convention. Kirby was discussing how his creative partner Joe Simon, along with other artists like C.C. Beck and Will Eisner, had left the medium for commercial art in the 1950s.
"I suppose I'm considered some sort of dinosaur in the field, but I'm sticking with comics. I feel it's an important and powerful medium. I feel its been belaboured by people who have an axe to grind - it's been down and it should be lifted to a point where it really proves its national importance. This is a visual age and comic books are a visual medium. Not only can the intellectuals grasp it but also the common man. And, despite what a lot of people may say, it's the common men who make history."