fbpx
552 Drawings of Moby-Dick: Librarian Matt Kish Chases His Own White Whale

552 Drawings of Moby-Dick: Librarian Matt Kish Chases His Own White Whale

“Call me Ishmael,” goes Moby-Dick’s famous first line, perhaps one of Western literature’s most instantly recognizable openings. Well-meaning readers everywhere stumble soon after that clearest of introductions; Herman Melville’s novel of obsessive revenge is also famously thorny—the first 100 pages or so delve into 19th-century whaling practices in exquisite, often painful detail. Many book enthusiasts give up before the water starts really roiling.

Not Matt Kish. In an ode to his favorite book—which he calls an “almost postmodern novel”—the Ohio-based librarian has created a collection of 552 illustrations inspired by every single page of Signet Classics’ paperback edition of Moby-Dick. To complete the project, Kish spent nearly every day for 18 months toiling away inside a converted closet space. The drawings, scratched out in ballpoint pen, marker, paint, crayon, ink, and watercolor on yellowed pages, are a testament to the artist’s own obsessive quest for meaning and absolution.

Matt Kish’s 'Moby-Dick in Pictures' brings the illustrator's favorite novel to life.
Page 109 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)

In an interview with publishing company Tin House, Kish notes, “I see now that the project was an attempt to fully understand this magnificent novel, to walk through every sun-drenched word, to lift up all the hatches and open all the barrels, to smell, taste, hear, and see every seabird, every shark, every sailor, every harpooner, and every whale.” Released by Tin House, Kish’s book Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page (2011) is a full collection of the project, packed to the gills with lo-fi illustrations and rough-around-the-edges charm.

While Kish has since illustrated other novels—Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of DarknessMoby Dick remains his magnum opus, an expansive work about the ups and downs of obsessive passion. “It was a hard thing, a very painful thing,” Kish explains in the same Tin House interview. “But the novel now lives inside me in a way it never could have before.”

The novel now lives inside me in a way it never could have before.” — Matt Kish

Moby-Dick in Pictures

Page 053 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 74 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Matt Kish’s 'Moby-Dick in Pictures' brings the illustrator's favorite novel to life.
Page 131 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 176 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 230 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 266 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 279 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Matt Kish’s 'Moby-Dick in Pictures' brings the illustrator's favorite novel to life.
Page 374 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Page 533 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Matt Kish’s 'Moby-Dick in Pictures' brings the illustrator's favorite novel to life.
Page 548 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)
Matt Kish’s 'Moby-Dick in Pictures' brings the illustrator's favorite novel to life.
Page 549 (from Moby-Dick in Pictures)

Matt Kish: Website | Instagram | Purchase Moby-Dick in Pictures

Want to be featured in Lightbox? Email editor@notrealart.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens is an arts writer who lives in the Midwest and enjoys saying "excuse me" when no actual pardon is needed. She is the founder of So Long See You Tomorrow, an organization that helps artists and creative entrepreneurs write about their work, craft a story, and get back in the studio. Learn more at: https://solongseeyoutomorrow.com

>
0 Shares
Email
Tweet
Share
Pin
Share
Flip
Buffer
WhatsApp