June 30, 2011

Vintage Moveable Review: The Fisherman and the Demon

I have been working my way through a translation of Arabian Nights; getting lost in the tangle of ancient stories woven over a thousand and one nights. As a Western reader, I have found it difficult to appreciate this revered collection and its unfamiliar patterns of storytelling. I think that is why I have a certain love for this featured pop-up book, which singles out one of the more beloved stories from the intertwining tales.

In the early 1960’s, the British publishers Bancroft and Co. teamed up with the massive state-owned publishing house Artia, based out of Prague to create a series of colorful pop-up books based on the Arabian Nights. Two illustrators, Frantisek Sklar and Jaroslav Beza came together to create vibrant renditions of these classic tales, but little is known about the collaboration or these artists.

Today, we are looking at The Fisherman and the Demon printed in Czechoslovakia in 1960. This hardcover landscape format book has two large pop-ups with simple pull tabs that serve as the front and rear endpapers with a six page color booklet bound inside. The paper engineering is very simple box layers with expressive artwork in line with Kubasta, who was creating books with Artia at the time. There is no record of who did the pop-up design for this series, so we must assume that there was someone creating it in-house for Artia. I won’t go into much detail about the storyline, but I feel that buoyed by the wonderful art, this story stands up on its own. Now I have to keep my eye out for Sinbad, Aladdin and Ali Baba to complete my collection.



paperboxx said...

Three titles have been also published in 1959 in Germany (see bibliography Lebende Bilder Katzenheim/Friedrich 2010 p. 19 : Ali Baba und die Seerauber, p. 81 : der Fischer und der Dämon ans p. 103 : Die Abenteuer Sindbads des Seefahrers). The impressum says "designed by Jaroslav Béza and František Sklář", but we also think, that someone else was responsible for the paperengineering. We had tried (together with our Czech friends) to find more information but without success. As the paperengineering is rather simple it might be right to assume, that artia itself did it by using (prepared?) illustrations from Béza and Sklář. It might have been the same way as it has happend at that time with the movable books of Jiri Pavlin and Gustav Seda.
Thanks for your blog. Have a look on our blog blog.paperboxx.com and www.paperboxx.net, showing some of the works of Pavlin - Seda.

Kyle said...

Thanks to Paperboxx for adding some more details to this beautiful book. I agree that the design is similar to some of the Pavlin & Seda titles so it is possible that it was all created in house. That reminds me to keep hunting for those early Pavlin & Seda pop-up books.