Sunday, October 21, 2007

Folio Folio Folio!

Picture the Bug standing in the bright Brisbane morning, suitcase in one hand, paper bag of books in the other, with tears rolling out of her goggly eyes...

Why is this sleep-deprived scribbler crying?

Well, she doesn't want to leave (a) Brisbane, (b) her buddy mister J, and (c) Folio bookshop.

Folio (80 Albert Street, Brisbane) is the workplace of said mister - when he's not busy being a world-famous wrestling cartoonist and wrestling announcer. And after spending an hour there, I am convinced that the place defies the laws of physics. SO MANY amazing books... As I browsed (trying not to lick the merchandise) the shop seemed to unfold into more and more dimensions of wonder... To give just one example, there is an entire section of visual "source books" - volumes full of copyright-free images for artists to use as they will. For the last ten years my Dover Animals book has been a constant companion, providing inspiration and anatomical guidance for everything from squids to seahorses, and even my beloved papier mache bat:
Folio not only had the animals book (though I noticed that it was tucked behind the counter, on hold for some lucky customer) but volumes full of art deco fabric cuts, 19th century mechanical devices, Victorian decorative effects, flowers, costumes... Oh, the joy of it!

Me, I was in the market for a slightly different kind of source book. My graphic adaptation of Hamlet involves a lot of plants and flowers - mostly weird, creepy, carnvorous-looking ones. And I needed a book of old-fashioned botanical illustrations from which I could draw inspiration for those plants. The art section of the shop had some lovely books on botanical illustration technique and history, but none that were quite what I wanted... and then, up above the counter, I saw it...
The Taschen 25 Book of Plants. It's an enormous (and very heavy) hardcover book, 442 pages long, full of beautifully reproduced colour plates of German botanical illustration. The style of the drawings is lush and slightly creepy - all those fingery roots and grasping tendrils and snapping flower-heads... Exactly what I need. And only $75 ! A bargain, I reckon. I love Taschen books. The smaller, but also very beautiful, book of Piranesi etchings that I bought last week is also one of theirs.

One hour in Folio was definitely not enough - and seemed to whiz by unnaturally fast (even by bookshop standards) in the shop's time vortex. Not wanting to miss my plane (and so become a complete "graphic novelist" cliche), I tore myself away from the shelves, scooped up a copy of Shaun Tan's The Arrival as an "arrival-into-the-world" present for new baby nephew Ethan, and got ready to say goodbye.

And this is where we find the Bug, standing outside Folio, sniffling a tearful farewell to the shop and, more importantly, to her wonderful friend mister J, with whom she'd had so much fun watching wrestling DVDs and talking over cups of tea until 2 am that morning.

I'm such a sap.


drjon said...

Folio's not just a bookshop, it's also a tiny little portal into L-Space...

spacedlaw said...

Sounds like a great place indeed. And I am most jealous that you should be able to meet J...(and now I know why he's been quiet all week).