Best Cover EVER? An impossible task perhaps, but that doesn’t stop us putting forward a new candidate each week to suggest that their fave should be the one, the only, THE Best Cover EVER.
This week we welcome ‘Brick’ to claim the prize for a particularly brilliant work by Shaun Tan. Brick, aka John Stuart Clark is a cartoonist, artist, writer, educator, and more. Take a look at this review of his Knockabout graphic novel Depresso to see his work in all its glory. Next up from Brick is the still in the works Leonardo’s Bicycle. Yes, that Leonardo. See the description here for details.
THE ARRIVAL – Shaun Tan
Any number of brilliant covers by Will Eisner for The Spirit immediately sprang to mind, but that was the problem – the sheer quantity I would want framed in my hallway. And not just the front-cover but the full wrap-around, every back soliciting a low gasp when I turned my newly arrived copy over. As a kid, I lived on NATO military bases where the Yanks had everything from Cola to Chryslers flown into their PX, and ‘trash comics’ were readily available. A GI called Casey kept me well supplied, bless him, but in Westerns and war, horror and detective comics, never superheroes, which he felt were beneath me. The Spirit stood head and shoulders above even the Steve Ditko’s I collected, and it was through my efforts to copy Eisner’s covers that we discovered I was chronically colour blind – not good for a career cartoonist, I was to find.
Maybe that’s why the muted tones of Tan’s surreal masterpiece appeals so much, that and the tromp l’œil of the aged leather-bound tome, further reflected in the mould and damp stained chapter divides inside. Although still not sure I fully comprehend what the hell the fine detail of the narrative is about, that central distressed image of the quizzical émigré, suitcase in hand looking down at The Thing, strikes home with a vengeance. I was eight when I arrived in the fatherland of Great Britain. Raised amidst the mountains of Switzerland and jungles of Malaya, it was as alien an experience as that welcoming monster implies. The mock antiquarian context suggests arriving (and therefore departing) is what people with aspirations have been doing forever (UKIP please note) and, for maybe the one of most extraordinary comics the medium has spawned, the underplayed prescience of the whole is a work of acute integrity.
And now, as a bonus, a little internal artwork from The Arrival by Shaun Tan…