Chabon on "idealized nightmares"

From Michael Chabon’s blog:

In October 1964, STERANKO (one senses that he might like it written thus) produced a special number of Genii, The Conjuror’s Magazine, dedicated to Houdini. In it he revealed, in startlingly generous detail, many of the secrets of the liberationist’s art. To my eternal sorrow, I learned of the existence of this remarkable issue when it was too late to be of assistance to me in writing
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Among the many mad pleasures of Genii, Volume 29, No. 2, are a number of drawings, unsigned but unmistakably the work of STERANKO himself, illustrating a series of truly bizarre liberationist stunts. These images do not, for the most part, depict real, or even possible, escapes; in their modest way they are in the nature of Piranesi’s prisons, or Boullée’s monuments, or Lorraine’s landscapes: dream contrivances, idealized nightmares, deeply rooted, it seems to me, in the vibrant, desperate imaginings of a gifted boy trapped by the crushing prognosis and swift passage of a coal town boyhood. I know how they would have delighted the imagination of Joe Kavalier.

The Art of James Steranko: online gallery





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