larry gonick predecessor

Larry Gonick is this fabulously talented cartoonist who’s penned a series of illustrated history and subject guides. He’s probably best known for the cartoon history of the universe books, but he’s authored much more than that. If you’re not familiar with him, imagine a fusion of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers art style, Carl Sagan’s careful explanations, and a dash of Mad Magazine style humor, then go try one of his books.

I bring this up because I stumbled onto some really cool books from an earlier time that are thematically similar in the Posner Memorial Collection. in the 1850’s and 60’s one Gilbert A Beckett published several illustrated volumes, including The Comic History of England and The Comic History of Rome. The Posner Collection has the entire volumes scanned at high resolution. I’ve been looking over a couple of pages a day during lunch for fun. The art is an excellent glimpse into an earlier time, in terms of style, in terms of how they conceptualized things, and it’s revealing in terms of their biases and predjudices. The interface to view it is a bit kludgy, but it’s worth suffering through so you can check out the cool art. You can get started here:

Rome

England

Or you can quickly check out a sample page here. Tell me – who does that roman centurion look like to you?

(meanwhile though, go check out some Gonick too, he’s excellent!)

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