Duck Duck Book

5 – matchbox labels
11.8.2004, 12:04 am
Filed under: art & entertainment

Matchbox labels : over 2,000 elegant examples from all over the world / Jane Smith ; captions by Natasha Lomas.
Richmond Hill, Ont. : Firefly, c2004.
[MCL call number: 741.694 S651m 2004; two copies, no holds]

This odd little collector's book contains reproductions of matchbox labels arranged by type. The book's nine sections display matchbox covers with people, architecture, transport, animals, the natural world, objects, industry, leisure, and graphics. Flipping through this book you will see sweet little illustrations of workers, hotels, airplanes, ping pong equipment, nature scenes, socks and scarves, glamorous cigarette-smoking ladies, toothpaste, families reading the newspaper together, and much much more. (There is a whole page of elephant matchboxes!) The illustrations are in full color and are beautiful. Text in English, French, and Spanish.


5 – imaginary people
11.8.2004, 12:03 am
Filed under: literature

Imaginary people : a who’s who of fictional characters from the eighteenth century to the present day / David Pringle.
Aldershot, England : Brookfield, VT. : Scolar Press ; Ashgate Publishing, 1996.
[MCL call number: R-809.927 P957i 1996; two copies, reference only at Central and Midland]

There are a lot of dictionaries and encyclopedias that give information on imaginary people, and most focus on Great White Literature and leave out characters from children’s books, comics, mystery novels and other ‘genre’ literature. 

Pringle writes in his introduction that his focus is on characters created in the English speaking world, and emphasizes that his sources include those outside of the world of novels, but even with that in mind the book shows some of the same gaps I listed above.  The book includes entries for Alice of Wonderland fame, the Borrowers, Perry Mason, Betty Boop, V.I. Warshaksi, Tintin, and Andy Capp; but Moomin (from Tove Janson’s Moominfamily series) Pippi Longstocking, Marlys (of Ernie Pook’s Comeek), and Arkady Renko (Gorky Park) are nowhere to be found.  Death is listed, but it’s the old, bony guy with the scythe, with no note about the goth girl from the Sandman series. 

So what’s my point?  Not everyone you want to find is in this book.  But then, it’s only 296 pages long.  The entries are well-written and interesting, with citations for works in which each character has appeared.  The book has a nice indexes to creators (authors, cartoonists, etc.) in the back, and a really long bibliography. 

5 – encyclopedia of chicago
11.8.2004, 12:02 am
Filed under: history & geography

The encyclopedia of Chicago / edited by James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, Janice L. Reiff ; cartographic editor, Michael P. Conzen.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2004.
[MCL call number: 977.311 E56 2004; two copies, no holds]

An encyclopedia, all about Chicago.  Neighborhoods, communities, political history, municipal projects, businesses, organizations, and famous daughters and sons of the city.  It seems to focus on historical information (that is, before 1980 or so), and has many lovely photographs, maps, and other illustrations throughout. 

As with many encyclopedias, the internal arrangement provides amusement to the reader who examines each subject’s neighbors on the page.  For example, because my mind is not arranged in alphabetical order, I do not think of the Industrial Workers of the World right before I think of Infrastructure.  And yet there these two very useful articles are, side by side. 

In general the range of topics is good.  Some examples of articles I found interesting are: Kindergarten Movement; Housing, Mail-Order; Haymarket and May Day (naturally!); Book Arts; Underground Economy; Leisure (includes maps of where movie theaters were located in different years); Gas Stations; and Religious Geography. 

There is a long section on Racism, Ethnicity, and White Identity, but I wanted an entry for Emmett Till.  He’s not even in the index.  Also, more information about Chicago’s outdoor murals would have suited me (murals are touched on in the sections on Graffiti and Art, Public, but don’t merit their own entry).  But I don’t know if you all care about these things.

The main encyclopedia is followed by a dictionary of leading Chicago businesses (1820-2000), a biographical dictionary, a list of Chicago mayors, population data for Chicagoland cities, and an index.  There is also an extensive timeline in a glossy color section in the middle of the volume.

Even though this book is far from perfect, I wish there were a series of such encyclopedias, one for every city.

[n.b., please see the addendum to this entry, dated 6.9.2005]

5 – sequential tart
11.8.2004, 12:01 am
Filed under: art & entertainment, websites

Sequential tart [periodical].

A magazine about comics, by and for women. Sensible and fanciful, informational and amusing, and generally worth visiting.