Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baron von Munchausen - Gustav Dore

Hello Junketeers- speaking of Junkies- its well known that I'm a junkie for old cartoon books especially ones with no punchlines; visual gags. So every time I travel to a new city or country I like to scout the used book shops for old out of print books. I've gotten a pretty good collection. I have every book about Charlie Addams and I have an all most complete collection of VIP (Virgil Partch) books.

I think this obsession began when my folks gave me an old copy of Andre Francois cartoons when I was a kid. I still have and treasure that book.

It's gotten to a point where I have to cover my eyes when I pass an antique book shop, for fear I'll go in there and spend all my money. At this point I have to be careful because my book shelves are beginning to collapse due to over weight cartoon books.

In any case, about 15 years ago I discovered a large edition of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, illustrated by the great Gustave Dore. It was from a British publisher, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, but oddly there was no publishing date, but it seems to be 100 years old. I got it for a great price ($25) because it was falling apart. The spine was busted and the pages were quite loose. I took it to a friend of mine and he fixed the spine for about $100.

But the strange thing is, I forgot to read the damn book! Well having just finished a wonderful book, Gilliam on Gilliam I remembered my old edition of Von Munchausen and took it down and began to read it. I should have Netflixed the Terry Gilliam version to compare to. But I do recall the sequences in the Middle East and the world's fastest man. But what was particularly interesting was the Gustave Dore art work which was on every page (Man, that guy was prolific!) I only knew the french genius' work with huge religious themed books, “Dante's Inferno”, Milton's “Paradise Lost”, and stuff like that. But, these drawings were quite the opposite. Whimsical, humorous and surreal, What a revelation! In fact I remember about 20 years ago when I used to hang out with a Brilliant character artist, the late, David Levine, and he said I should check out Mr. Dore's humorous works and I thought he was crazy. But if you look at his pen and ink humorous sketches compared to David Levine's you can see the huge influence the french artist had on David.

In fact I was so inspired I may try to create an animated version of the legendary tall tales of the Baron. They are public domain, by the way.

Thanks for your interest!


  1. I know the feeling about needing to cover one's eyes while passing a used book shop. There is something utterly addictive about searching the stacks for forgotten volumes!
    I think everyone would love to see a Plimptoons take on the wild and weird world of the Baron...

  2. These are incredible. I believe I found a copy in my local library system. I will have to search for it again.