Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chowder and The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder by Peter Brown - review

Chowder by Peter Brown
Who is my man Peter Brown? Is he the scholar who wrote so incisively about the early Christian church? Is he the boy who broke my friend Bill's heart back in high school? I don't think so, but I think I can find room in my life for another Peter Brown - this one, the one who can convey expression in a character at a great distance, or from behind. The one who created a bulldog who sits on the toilet to poop and who excavates bones instead of digging them up. The man who gave his bulldog's owner Eugene Levy's hair. I like this Peter Brown.

And he has another book: The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder
This book is about Chowder finding something he's good at - bouncing on a trampoline. There is something so precise and vivid about the artist's use of space, and light - almost hyperreal. The velvety colors, the large-scale, formal compositions - it all really showcases the wit of the story and the visual detail. On a page showing Chowder's trampoline, spotlit on a darkened stage, you can barely discern a few little drops falling from above, as the pre-performance hush is broken momentarily by the brief patter of drool on the trampoline's surface. Is that explicit in the story? No. You get it from the art. That, kids, is illustration.

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