First, a disclaimer: I am in no way involved with this project. The gushing and fawning that follows is entirely genuine.
The Waste Land is an epic poem in five parts, a key modernist text by T.S. Eliot published in 1922. It’s famous for its disjointed style, multiple voices and heavy intertextuality. It’s not what you’d call light-hearted. Consider the opening lines:
1. Burial of the Dead
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
A trip to the ice cream parlour on a hot Summers’ day it ain’t. With its apocalyptic visions, raw nihilism and visceral condemnation of our culture as degraded to its very nadir, The Waste Land does not seem like it should easily lend itself to adaptation into a picture book format.
BUT! All the reasons why it shouldn’t work are all the reasons why it does. Fragmentation. Strong imagery. The layering of meaning. These are the things that make a picture book excellent. These are the things that make a picture book art.
Of course it’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek stuff that’s as much for babies as Go the Fuck to Sleep, or Where’s My Cow?. With a knowing nod to Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells immensely popular That’s not my... series it’s an experiment and a loving satire, and probably a whole heap of other stuff too. The only way to find out is to fund it.
If that’s not enough for you, here are my top 5 reasons why you should fund this kickstarter:
- While the title of this book may draw comparisons to the twee, hipsterish and affront-to-the-good-name-of-literature Babylit series it is absolutely nothing of the sort*.
- The artwork is delicious.
- If this is successful, there will be more (I’m putting in an early vote for Ariel). If there’s more, a mainstream publishing house could very well get involved.
- Christmas presents for every goth and every English teacher you know: sorted.
- I need this book in my life.
So please, go to artist M.E. Gilligan’s Kickstarter page, check out her art, watch the vid and pledge as little as £1. Let’s make this thing happen.
*I have nothing against educational primers, really I don’t, but this series is just a cash in. Each book has about as much to do with its literary namesake as the Bermudan economy relies on snow-blowers.