Author(s): Nick Bantock
"The Artful Dodger" surveys the vast and varied territory that Bantock's work encompasses: from his English art-school days to paperback covers, pure abstract experimentation to pop-up books, "Griffin & Sabine" to his most recent work. His own words lend a highly personal, often revealing angle to more than 350 color images.
Bantock, the creator of "Griffin & Sabine" (1991) and nine other unusual works of illustrated fiction, fashions an elaborately pictorial fairy tale our of the story of his charmed artist's life... the most intriguing chapters recount Bantock's amazing good luck as a young English dropout in the late 1960s. In spite of evincing no talent whatsoever, he enrolled in art school and soon magically discovered his gift for drawing. After completing his studies, he acted once again on intuition and impulse and waltzed into the offices of Penguin (having chosen that particular publisher because its "logo seemed friendly") and walked out with his first assignment, thus launching what became a 28-year career in book cover illustration. Bantock presents an impressive array of his diverse and striking work, including his covers for Flann O'Brien's "Third Policeman" and Carson McCullers' "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," then takes up the thread of his tale, recounting on word and image his move to Canada and his quest for more personal, challenging, and unpredictable outlets for his unique vision and technical mastery. Bantock proudly illuminates his creative process and also acknowledges his diverse influences, which range from Rembrandt to Odilon Redon, Joseph Cornell, old maps stamps, and Hindu art, and he takes his fans through each stage of the conception and birth of his books.