A striking collection of images that ably spotlight the balletic artistry of board sports.

CONCRETE TO SALTWATER

Skateboarders and surfers defy gravity on a California beach in this vibrant photography book.

Averill, a photographer, surfer, and skateboarder, collects 10 years of his photos from the Venice, California, beach, which hosts an iconic surf culture as well as a thriving beachside skateboarding park (which, alas, is currently buried in sand because of COVID-19 restrictions). The setting offers a wealth of resonant visual juxtapositions. The ocean pictures feature surfers riding roughly 4-to-12-foot waves that curl into translucent green-blue pipes amid gorgeous beachscapes, where sea and sun mesh to drape the hills in a golden mist. The skateboard park is a riotous sea, frozen in stone, shaped in curves and undulations, and surfaced in perfectly smooth, gray concrete; it’s a terrain that looks simultaneously austere and sensuous through Averill’s lens. (A few photos cover excursions to grungier Los Angeles skateboarding sites, including a giant drainpipe and an abandoned swimming pool.) In part, the photos are an engaging fashion catalog; the surfers seem somewhat buttoned-down in their neoprene wetsuit uniforms, but the skateboarders feature a profusion of long hair and dreadlocks inside no-nonsense helmets and bulky padding on top of floridly tattooed skin, open to the sky. (Bridging the divide is a classic California tableau of a blond-haired woman in a bikini gliding along on a skateboard—while carrying a surfboard.) Still, there’s much commonality in the athleticism of surfers and skateboarders as they thread their ways along vertical surfaces and rocket off of them. Averill’s skateboard photos are particularly vivid in their portraits of elegant aerobatics; he captures the skaters high in midair, sometimes sideways or upside down, clinging nonchalantly—or not at all—to their flimsy boards. Their postures are crouched and twisted with spindly arms flung out for balance, yet poised and perfectly at ease. The result is a captivating vision of grace.

A striking collection of images that ably spotlight the balletic artistry of board sports.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73337-370-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: The Hesperium Group, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More thought-provoking work from an important creator.

THE SECRET TO SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH

The acclaimed graphic memoirist returns to themes of self-discovery, this time through the lens of her love of fitness and exercise.

Some readers may expect Bechdel to be satisfied with her career. She was the 2014 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and her bestselling memoirs, Fun Home and Are You My Mother? both earned universally rave reviews, with the former inspiring a Broadway musical that won five Tony awards. But there she was, in her mid-50s, suffering from “a distinct sense of dread” and asking herself, “where had my creative joy gone?” Ultimately, she found what she was seeking, or at least expanded her search. In what she calls “the fitness book,” the author recounts, from her birth to the present, the exercise fads that have swept the nation for decades, from the guru-worship of Charles Atlas and Jack LaLanne through running, biking, hiking, “feminist martial arts,” yoga, and mountain climbing. “I have hared off after almost every new fitness fad to come down the pike for the last six decades,” she writes. Yet this book is about more than just exercise. Bechdel’s work always encompasses multiple interlocking themes, and here she delves into body image; her emerging gay consciousness; the connection between nature and inner meaning; how the transcendentalists were a version of the hippies a century earlier; and how her own pilgrimage is reminiscent of both Margaret Fuller and Jack Kerouac, whose stories become inextricably entwined in these pages with Bechdel’s. The author’s probing intelligence and self-deprecating humor continue to shimmer through her emotionally expressive drawings, but there is so much going on (familial, professional, romantic, cultural, spiritual) that it is easy to see how she became overwhelmed—and how she had to learn to accept the looming mortality that awaits us all. In the end, she decided to “stop struggling,” a decision that will relieve readers as well.

More thought-provoking work from an important creator.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-544-38765-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more