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May 26 2011

Book Blog: Garden

by Sahar Baharloo

In last week’s Book Blog, I talked about Dayanita Singh’s beautiful Send a Letter and the pleasure of books that could never be formatted for the Kindle. This week, we’ll talk about another book that is almost in that category: Garden by Japanese comic-book artist Yuichi Yokoyama

Notice anything peculiar about this cover? Hint: it is backwards. Are you asking yourself, “Why?” Yeah, me too. My guess is that it is supposed to mimic a book in Japanese, which would be read from right to left. This is a very strong design choice, one which probably could have been edited out. This book is already difficult to interact with and making the cover overly complicated isn’t helping. Even adding a title page or two would have helped to direct the reader. No one should have to struggle to find the beginning of a book.

Anyway . . . Garden is about a group of creatures who come across a garden filled with unexpected and surreal environments. What I found the most intriguing was that there is no hero, side kick or any other archetypal characters you’d expect in a comic. Instead we are met with a group of characters, ever-changing in number and form. Sometimes there is just a handful of them, and at other times there are dozens, with their heads and bodies morphing from panel to panel.

The characters’ dialogues are basically descriptions of what they are seeing and mostly go something like this: “Is that a lake filled with couches?” or “This mountain is covered in hair.” It is sort of like what would happen if your visual senses had direct control of your brain and you just declared whatever you were seeing. This way of telling a story, however, is something that I hadn’t seen before and appreciated.  

The only real example of color in Garden was hidden under the dust jacket. 

Book Blog is a weekly showcase of book design from ArtAsiaPacific’s areas of coverage and is written by AAP’s designer, Sahar Baharloo. All images were taken by our photo editor, Alis Atwell. 

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