Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Looking for Parrot’s long lost mother

Following on from an earlier post, here’s a Brockhampton Press semi-strip book featuring Bruin, or as he’s known in the original Danish, Rasmus Klump. This little book is in the same small horizontal two-colour format as the Peter Pan book seen recently on Michael Sporn’s Splog.

Published in 1959, Bruin the Deep Sea Diver was the third Bruin book in this format. The back cover lists two other titles, Bruin Sets Sail and Bruin is Shipwrecked.

The book begins by concluding the previous volume’s shipwreck story. In Bruin is Shipwrecked, he and his crew were washed off the deck of the good ship Mary in a storm and came ashore on an island populated by turtles. Thinking the Mary was lost, they decided to make a new ship, a paddle boat fashioned out of a hollow log. Now, setting off to circumnavigate the island they find the Mary safe and sound, but with a stranger aboard.

In the Danish book series, all this is included in the shipwreck book, Rasmus Klump på Skilpaddeøen, rather than the diving book, Rasmus Klump som dykker.

These stories were originally published as a daily comic strip, and all he book collections are abridged, leaving out some panels. This little book skips quite a few, but even so I won’t reproduce the whole thing here.

I’ve scanned the following pages in higher resolution: one, two and three, four and five, six and seven, eight and nine, ten and eleven, twelve and thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. This brings us up to the proper end of the shipwreck story, and to the point where the Danish version of the diving story begins.

But wait, on page fourteen something very exciting occurs! Despite the book leaving out so many panels, it manages to include an event missing from the Danish books, namely the first appearance of Parrot as an egg, and the only appearance of Parrot’s mother!

But who is this parrot, you ask? Well, throughout their adventures, Bruin (Rasmus), Pingo, Percy the pelican (Pelle), and the old salt Wilmot (Skæg), are accompanied by the little ones (de små), a little turtle (Pilskadden) who only speaks its own turtle language, and the turtle’s little friend. In the first few stories the turtle’s friend is a frog (Frømand), and then in Rasmus Klump som dykker the turtle and frog suddenly produce a small pram, out of which eventually comes a baby parrot (Gøjen). Shortly afterwards the frog, a male like most characters in the strip, meets a female frog and leaves the crew, so for the later books the little ones are the turtle and the parrot.

All the stories feel like an imaginative play session between three children, Bruin, Pingo, and Percy, with the little ones being a pair of lively toddlers sometimes playing in parallel and sometimes joining in the main action, and Wilmot as an indulgent adult who sometimes plays along, but is quite distracted and would just as soon have a nap while the game continues.

So, for readers of the Danish books, it’s long seemed quite mysterious the way Parrot appeared out of the pram. But having seen two drawings of Parrot’s mother, I wondered were there any more? Google have recently put online scans of several years worth of back issues of the Glasgow Evening Times, and in its pages, starting with the issue of February 8th 1954, we can find the complete early newspaper strips in translation.

Here then is the complete appearance of Parrot’s mother, three panels published in the Evening Times on Saturday August 13th, 1955, and below a further view of the egg before it’s tucked in by turtle, from the following monday’s issue.

Finally, a quick look at my very battered old copy of Rasmus Klump som dykker, with the pram first appearing on page two, and Parrot popping out much later in the book.

One day perhaps we’ll see these stories reprinted unabridged. The easy pace of the original stories are still perfect for young children, and for older readers who like sharing some of their adventures before having forty winks.

Rasmus Klump copyright © Egmont Serieforlaget.

Flowers for Jams

Here in two parts is Sapovnela, a short film from 1959 by Georgian director Otar Iosselaini. The YouTube page includes the following note:
‘Sapovnela’ means ‘the flower that nobody can find.’ We present this film without subtitles (the voiceover was forced on us by the censorship in the Soviet times but the film was banned anyway due to its ending). This was my first attempt at combining music and colors. Also, this is a story about the old florist Mikhail Mamulashvili who created wonderful compositions in his small garden.

- Otar Iosseliani

The first person that came to mind as I watched this was blogger Jams O’Donnell, AKA Shaun Downey, whose own flower photographs I’ve always enjoyed, and so I sent him the link last week as a whispered hello. Today I read the sad and unexpected news that Shaun is gone. He was a humane blogger, a good online friend, and a very nice man in person.

Ní beidh a leithéid arís ann.

Below are some examples of Shaun’s flower photographs recently posted on his blog.

Images copyright © Shaun Downey.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Peter and Wendy, Dor and Peggy

Earlier this month, Michael Sporn posted scans of a curious Disney book, a 1953 adaptation of Peter Pan published by Brockhampton Press in a semi-strip format used by them for a number of characters including Bruin, aka Rasmus Klump. What makes the book notable is that it follows JM Barrie’s story more closely than the Disney film, and so provides images rendered in the Disney style of episodes not included in the animated feature.

Unusual, but not unique as Brockhampton Press published at least one other Peter Pan tie-in book that was similarly more faithful to Barrie than Disney. The scans in this post are of another 1953 book, an edition of JM Barrie’s novelisation of Peter Pan and Wendy, abridged by May Byron and illustrated according to the model of the Disney film. I don’t think it’s the same illustrator as did the other Brockhampton Press book, as these drawing seems of a much higher standard. I would guess that the other illustrator had sight of at least some of these drawings to work from though, particularly the elegantly rendered one of the Never-Bird’s nest at the end of this post.

This book originally belonged to my mother, Dor. She turned ten the year it was published. Most of the illustrations are line drawings, and she carefully coloured several of them. When my daughter Peggy saw the book a couple of years ago, she asked if she could colour in some of the illustrations that were still untouched.

The book ends with Wendy growing too old to fly back to Never-Land with Peter, and her place being taken first by her daughter Jane, and then by her grand-daughter Margaret. Dor didn’t have a daughter, and died fifteen years before her grand-daughter was born, so I was very happy for them to meet in the pages of this book. I’m now no longer sure in some cases who coloured which drawing.

This is just a small selection of the images. The book was heavily illustrated, and the artist seemed someone with a strong sense of the requirements of book illustration as distinct from animation.

Any resemblance between this image and the title page of Sadie the Air Mail Pilot is unlikely to be a coincidence.

A Disney Wendy House, not seen in the Disney film.

Finally, here is the Never-Bird’s nest. This hasn’t been coloured in, so I was able to make a nice clean scan of it.

The book is copyright © 1953 Walt Disney.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Biscuits from the North Pole

These chocolate wafer biscuits were amongst the treats handed round at a recent presentation of Kjetil Berge’s Breaking the Ice project, which I’ve written about earlier.

He has now completed his appointed rounds from London to Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, and then in Russia through St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, and Nikel, and finally to Kirkenes in northern Norway. Now we are very happy to see him back in his more southerly home again!

Below are some videos of the journey - more here.

Narva, 24 December 2012

St Petersburg, 27 December 2012.

Petrozavodsk, 29 December 2012.

Murmansk, 3 Janury 2013.