45 ++ Best Dream X George Fanart – Its archives. We have left it as originally published without updating to maintain a clear historical record.
One summer afternoon in 1971, in the small town of Helots outside San Antonio, a young artist named James Marshall lay in a hammock and drew two small dots. His mother was watching inside the house
45 ++ Best Dream X George Fanart
On TV, and the bickering voices of the movie’s two protagonists, George and Martha, intrude into his reverie.
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The dots were the eyes of a cartoon character, two almost invisible spots of expression in a creature that, as Marshall drew it, began to take the form of a giant blob. He worked quickly, and somewhat nervously, because his career as a children’s book author was at a critical juncture that summer. Years ago, he made his debut as an illustrator
A short picture book with a text by Byrd Baylor that earnestly instructs children on how to deal with their fear of the dark. The book was not particularly distinctive or even very successful (
As one critic called it), but it gained some kind notice and encouraged Marshall to try again. At 29, with a dysfunctional career as a musician and a teacher behind him, he is convinced that he has finally found his calling.
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Marshall’s first book was filled with comic, hidden monsters, presented in a style that was dense and crosshatched, and owed a debt to Maurice Sendak, who has since dominated the picture book field.
Appeared in 1963. But the animal that Marshall now draws in Helotes was devoid of such graphic richness. Marshall abandoned texture and concentrated on line, and the result was—some would say—historic. That afternoon, James Marshall not only found his style—a style as innocent, sly, and childishly exuberant—but he discovered George and Martha, two of the most famous hippopotami in children’s literature.
In fact, Marshall didn’t realize they were hippos until someone pointed it out to him later. He knew who they were before he knew them. Unlike their malevolent television namesakes of Mrs. Marshall, George and Martha—as they develop over the years in the six-book series—treat each other with chivalry and tenderness. Although they are clearly more than friends, their romance, if we can call it that, is very chaste. The two, however, suffer from misunderstandings and wounded feelings, for despite the gross enormity of George and Martha’s physical souls, their sensitivities are truly delicate.
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My kids and I first encountered George and Martha several years ago and have followed their light hearted adventures ever since. We love the furry house shoes George wears when he raids the refrigerator at night and the way Martha sometimes puts a pencil behind her little earlobe. We know the history behind George’s gold tusk (he lost the original in a roller-skating accident), and we never fail to notice the Alamo souvenir fan that Martha leans on hers.
The George and Martha books are our particular favourites, but James Marshall is one of the country’s most prolific and successful children’s authors, and his collected works run to over 75 volumes. Almost all of them are picture books with a short comic text, read aloud night after night to sleepy preschoolers. As a parent, I’m partial to James Marshall books because they don’t get on my nerves; They wear well, and there’s something authentic about a child’s imagination in them, there’s some quality in them that I believe. Parents will soon learn to recognize which children’s books are really talking to children and which are only pretending (see
) Marshall’s work is the real thing—full of evocative energy, dumb humor, and now and then a fascinating glimpse of the macabre.
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Consider, for example, the Fool, perhaps the most irresistible character to inhabit a children’s book. The Stupids—whom Marshall created in collaboration with writer Harry Allard—are a family of cheerful lambasts who wear socks over their ears and eat their breakfast in the shower (“My eggs are all cold,” comments the father, Stanley Q. Stupid) with Marshall’s patented eyes. Bindu and Dolsh draw with smiles that perfectly convey the agonizing bleakness of an inner life. The humor is broad but nervy (the latest title in the series is
) and has been known to offend some right souls who don’t think the limited mental faculties of fools should be held up for ridicule.
Besides George and Martha and Stupid, Marshall’s most popular books make up the Miss Nelson series, which she also wrote with Allard. Miss Nelson is an angelic teacher who, when discipline is needed, mysteriously drops out of sight to be replaced by a violent educator named Viola Swamp. Of all the characters Marshall has created, the magical Miss Swamp has the greatest currency. Miss Nelson’s books are read aloud in so many households and elementary schools across the country that the very mention of Viola Swamp’s name sends children into shrieks of fear and shudder.
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In an era when children’s books aspire to be more sophisticated — writers like Sendak and Chris van Allsburg have produced mysterious, brooding volumes that have more to do with the realm of dreams than the huffing-and-puffing steam engines of yesteryear — Marshall’s work remains disarmingly direct. . These books contain moments of inspired, unabashed shamelessness that stick in the mind with surprising tenacity. I’m thinking of the title character
Dropping his pants to get inoculated with swine flu; Or Mother Hubbard’s dog—in Marshall’s incomparable version
In which two dogs with bandanas over their faces try to steal a four-tiered wedding cake from Bud and Pansy’s French bakery.
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“He’s a rare person among all of us,” Sendak said of Marshall, “he has a real comic spirit. He’s really got it. You either have the instinct to talk directly to children or you don’t. You can’t pick it up.”
James Marshall lives in rural Connecticut, in a former mill town called Mansfield Center, but his books are full of allusions to Texas—from the state flag and map in Miss Nelson’s classroom to the boy’s bolo tie and boots dancing around the mulberry bush.
“I’ll always love Texas,” he told me when I visited him in Connecticut last January. “Especially West Texas. But I’m from New England too. The only problem is I’ve never warmed up. Not once.”
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He lit a fire in a large Franklin stove that dominated the living room of his home, a nineteenth-century frame structure that had once been a general store. The house was small but efficiently furnished, with two bedrooms and a kitchen downstairs, and an attic studio. Marshall lived here alone, except for a cat named Marcel and another whose name I didn’t catch but who was screaming at the door, trying to get in from the snow.
Marshall opened the door for the cat and then stood by the fire for a moment until he was satisfied that it was catching. Finally he sat in front of a set of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined with cookbooks, art books, biographies and volumes of English history. He could have been any writer in his chat.
Which the author admits is a self-portrait. Spargel is an arch-Carmadgean, a former assistant principal who “had enough kids to last a lifetime” and “you’ll be sorry” and “I show no mercy.” Marshall depicts him with beady eyes, a villainous mustache, and a jawbone that protrudes like a mammoth. Adjust that image for reality, and you’ll see a faint resemblance: a 45-year-old of medium height, with dark brown hair and eyes, but entirely without Lamar J. Spurgle’s vindictive brilliance. Marshall, instead, is kind and rather bookish, with a sense of humor that’s deeper and more subdued than you might expect from the manic humor in his books.
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“People have very strange ideas about what a children’s author should be like,” he told me. “Kids always expect me to look like a hippopotamus, and adults assume that by nature I must be a little off the wall. They expect me to be crazy. It’s a word I wipe off the dust jacket of every book I’ve ever made. Would like to give – ‘Marshall has created yet another fantastic character.’
Cidet Cutup was born at Nix Hospital in downtown San Antonio and grew up on an old family farm sixteen miles outside the city off Fredericksburg Road. His father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad, but in the thirties he had his own dance band and appeared on radio shows. Marshall’s mother, who drove him to school in an old Meteor hearse, was also musical. She sang in church choirs and instrumental teas.
His father’s people have arrived
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