Temptations to Astonish

May 23, 2010

I reread The Phantom Tollbooth recently, and was taken by the introduction Maurice Sendak wrote in my edition. 


An excerpt from Maurice Sendak's appreciation for The Phantom Tollbooth:

"Tollbooth is a product of a time and place that fills me with fierce nostalgia. It was published in New York City in 1961, that golden moment in American children's book publishing when we lucky kids- Norton, Jules, myself and many more-- were all swept up in a publishing adventure full of risks and high jinks that has nearly faded from memory. There were no temptations except to astonish. There were no seductions because there was not much money, and "kiddie books" were firmly nailed to the bottom of the "literary-career totem pole." Simply, it was easy to stay clean and fresh, and wildly ourselves-- a pod of happy baby whales, flipping our lusty flukes and diving deep for gold. Tollbooth is pure gold." 

I can't help to feel we who are working on our comics today, will someday look back with the same sort of nostalgia. I know this moment in publishing won't last forever, who knows when the end will be... but I think it's important to realize how amazing things are at the moment, and that we take advantage of it. Sometimes it's difficult to pay the rent, and working on these giant stories becomes overwhelming. So much writing, and drawing. From self publishing to those with big book deals, this is our time for high jinks, and our moment to dive for gold. 

I also think picturing myself as a happy baby whale takes some pressure off. That will be my new secret mantra. "I am a happy baby whale. I am a happy baby whale."


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