As promised in my post on Tales From Outer Suburbia, I have continued my quest to read more of Shaun Tan's works. I managed to get my hands on The Arrival and The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook. I love how diverse Tan is and these two books definitely showcase his range of abilities. The Bird King features his art in a variety of formats from half-formed doodles to pastels. He explains that by continuously working on his art he is able to improve his craft. It's a way to brainstorm ideas which he may or may not use in future books. He also uses it as an exercise for drawing realistic portraits. It's really minimal text-wise but very informative for students of art which is really his intended audience I think. It's difficult to explain just how powerful The Arrival is because it felt deeply personal to me. Tan manages to tell this deeply moving story without any words whatsoever. The Arrival is the story of a man who leaves his family behind to travel to a new country where he hopes to establish himself and send for his family. Everything seems alien and surreal and Tan depicts this by using fantasy elements such as tentacled animals for pets, giants sharing the skies with skyscrapers, and huge men in hazmat suits who spray poison at the unsuspecting people scurrying below. It's the wordless story of fear of the unknown and the desire to find a better place to escape the troubles of home. It struck me right in the solar plexus. The art is beautiful, the story is stirring, and the delivery is spot-on. If you want to learn what it's like start over and feel like you've entered an unfamiliar landscape then I highly recommend this book. 10/10
From The Bird King: A haunting portrait of solitude.
Reminds me of Tales From Outer Suburbia.
From The Arrival: The fear of crossing into the great unknown.
Clinging to the familiar.