Saturday, May 16, 2015

Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place

I had the pleasure of seeing this documentary the other night. I had known her books growing up, and always thought they had an impressive style to them, but I never really thought about them very much. But seeing the documentary, which gave a lot of attention to the way Burton brought together words and pictures in a way that was new, and considering the popularity of her books with children, it makes me wonder about how much influence she ultimately may have had. Her blending of text and pictures became the "right" way to do things in comics, in advertising, and even in poetry. It is interesting to think about young Jack Kirby and E. E. Cummings reading "Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel" or "The Little House", and how those books might have affected them. We can never really know what we do. There was more in this documentary that was of interest to me, though -- they talk in some detail about the studio that she and her husband ran, which produced all kinds of artwork and household goods. It sounds like they put a real premium on making sure that everyone working there was having a good time, and was bringing their own creative spirit to the work. Perhaps, one day, I'll write a book about the workings of great studios throughout history. After seeing this, I very much want to get all of her books on my shelf for reference. It's hard to say, but I think she might have found the iPad to be a wonderful thing.

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