Call Me Illustrator

Call Me Illustrator

Call Me Illustrator

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
June 30 2010 11:18 AM

Call Me Illustrator

Perhaps, out of virtue, curiosity, or academic obligation, you’ve attempted Herman Melville’s Moby Dick , but found the dense blocks of 19 th -century text tough to absorb. Might pictures help? That’s the premise behind Matt Kish’s ongoing project to create a drawing for every page of the novel.   Kish, a librarian by training, was inspired by artist Zak Smith’s recent project to illustrate each page of Thomas Pynchon’s 760-page Gravity’s Rainbow .   But while Smith stuck to stark black-and-white, Kish’s work is bombastically colorful and collagelike, with illustrations layered atop pages torn from old mechanical manuals, scientific charts, and textbooks. His version of the immortal opening line announces the narrator with strutting graffiti-style bubble letters, a '70s-rad rainbow, and a whale that seems a cousin of Pac-Man. Queequeg is a Medusa-man , Ahab is always red-eyed , and hell never looks the same twice. And 293 pages (and a book deal) into his 522-page-long journey, Kish’s quest seems better-fated than the one that inspired him.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.