Illustrated Books for Adults

The book project that I’ve been wanting to do for most of my adult life is an illustrated dark fantasy book for adults. There is a story that my parents read to me, and I somehow missed reading to my daughter – written in an overly sentimenal style, at its core is something very surreal, very dark, with a simple but profound message. I think it would work well with all of the original saccharine sweetness stripped away, completely rewritten and illustrated with lush, sensual full colour images throughout.

Angela Carter is a writer that is the perfect illustration (see what I did there?) of someone whose books are just crying out for full illustration. If you haven’t read her books or stories, you’ve probably seen The Company of Wolves. She is a gorgeous writer, and I would very much recommend picking up The Bloody Chamber, if nothing else.

Why don’t we see more illustrated books for adults? Of course there are graphic novels, but I’m talking about something that has story at the heart of it, with art to complete the experience. After all, much of the books that people would have read once upon a time were illustrated – Dickens, etc. Why has that fallen totally out of fashion, and would a modern version work?

One of the old projects that I always wanted to do was a pillow book of sorts…not specifically in the Japanese sense, but as something very dark and romantic that an adult would read (or, more to the point, that a couple would read to each other in bed). Sensual dark-fantasy stories and poems and art – a book that you would give to a lover in hopes of reading it together. That one is still on the list. :)

So, would a modern illustrated book sink, or swim?

1 thought on “Illustrated Books for Adults”

  1. That’s an interesting question, and it’s one I think you should answer by writing one and seeing if it hits.

    Get to work.

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