Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bradbury and Art and...

The artist most associated with Ray Bradbury has to be Joe Mugnaini. His designs have graced the covers of several Bradbury books - The Golden Apples of the Sun and Fahrenheit 451 to name just two. He also created the line-art images that accompany Bradbury's stories in Golden Apples and some editions of The October Country, and created memorable backdrops for many of Bradbury's plays.

But how much of Mugnaini's full body of work do we know? Not much, is my guess.

Fortunately, a new book is in preparation, which will showcase a fuller range of Mugnaini's work. Wilderness of the Mind: the art of Joseph Mugnaini is due for release in early 2010. The official website of the Mugnaini estate provides some tantalising thumbnails indicating what we might expect to find inside the book.

The book is written by Ryan Leasher, with layout and design by Jessica Forsythe and a foreword by Ray Bradbury. Diana Mugnaini-Robinson will be adding a preface. Ryan very kindly answered some questions about the book, which I gather he has been preparing as a sideline to his day job in the movie industry.

"The April Witch" from the portfolio Ten View of the Moon.
Image copyright The Joseph Mugnaini Estate, 2009. Used with permission.

Ryan says, "We've had unrestricted access to the estate's archives and, most importantly, to Joe's journals. What we've found is nothing short of amazing."

"No previous book has come even close to showing the depth of the collaboration between Joe and Ray. We've got stunning concept work, including the very first and never-before published Fahrenheit 451 sketches. They were discovered hidden in a scrapbook in the estate archives, safely tucked away by Joe's wife Ruth some forty-five years ago and not seen since. Well, until now."

The book isn't restricted to Mugnaini's work with Bradbury, but reveals the lesser-known side of his work: "The book will include Joe's views and teachings on art. Although Joe was best known to many as an artist and illustrator, his greatest impact was as a teacher."

For the first time the beautiful Ten Views of the Moon portfolio will be reprinted in its entirety, including both Ray Bradbury's and Norman Corwin's full text. The ten-lithograph portfolio was originally intended to be produced in an edition of a hundred and fifty full sets, but the printing stone for "The April Witch"(pictured above) - arguably the best of the portfolio - broke after only eighty-five portfolios were produced.

At first, Ryan says, the challenge (and the fun) was finding new pieces of artwork: "I even ended up travelling to Japan to meet with two Japanese collectors of Joe's work. Now, though, the challenge is figuring out how to choose which of the thousands of illustrations and paintings will make the final cut for the 400-page book."

The book isn't yet completely finished, partly because of the extensive work required to make sure the reproductions are as close to the original pieces as possible, with an emphasis on colour reproduction.

Ryan's final comment is, "We've already got quite a few surprises in the book and we're working on few more...and one of them is big."

The target release date for the book is currently "early 2010", but anyone wanting to be kept informed of developments is encouraged to use the email link on the Wilderness of the Mind website. When a date and price have been fixed, it should be available to order through the Art of Fiction link on the Wilderness site.

As someone who has searched in vain through library catalogues for works by or on Mugnaini, I will very much welcome this publication. My thanks to Ryan Leasher for providing details of the work in progress.

On Saturday 24 October, it was Ray Bradbury: Painter at a gallery in Santa Monica, where one of his classic paintings went on display. The LA Times gave this preview and interview with Ray.

Finally, If you're looking for strange connections, the Marooned blog has an interesting series of connections between Bradbury and Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx. Even if you have never heard of Sixx, the insights into Bradbury works are quite good - see the first instalment, on Bradbury and fire, for instance.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Forthcoming Event

The Ray Bradbury Theatre and Film Foundation has announced the programme of events for the forthcoming Bradbury Theatre and Film Festival.

On the bill are screenings of short films from Chard Hayward (The Pedestrian) and Chris Willett (The Attic), and live performances and workshops. Below are some flyers giving fuller details (click on them to enlarge). It sounds like a great event for anyone within travelling distance of Ventura, California.

On the subject of forthcoming events, a reminder that Bradbury's hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, will be presenting the annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival this coming Friday, 30th October 2009. As usual, the event is held in the historic Genesee Theatre. Details of the event can be found at the Waukegan Public Library website.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Flying Machine

A while ago I requested information about The Flying Machine, a short film from 1979 based on the Bradbury story. I still haven't seen the film, but have been given more detail by the film's writer-producer-director Bernard Selling.

Bernard tells me he produced the film on a budget of $20,000. It has a running time of 18 minutes, and was distributed on the educational market by Barr Films of Pasadena. The film was shot partly at the Yamashiro Restaurant in Hollywood, whose pagoda is claimed to be the oldest structure in California. Exteriors were shot in Malibu.

As well as James Hong, the film features Hong's nephew Craig Ngu. Michael Chan plays the Bird Man.

Bernard is currently investigating the possibility of a DVD release for the film. His website features this intriguing flyer (pun intended!):