Friday 30 August 2013


Read on my Kindle
Here's my review and artwork for August's Artful Readers Club.  I wanted to read 'The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button' by F Scott Fitzgerald because we have the DVD and I always like to compare a movie with the original story.  Have you read 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris and seen the movie with the lovely Johnny Depp?  Then you will know how different a film can be from the original book.

The only thing the film of 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' has in common with Fitzgerald's story is the title and the concept of someone being born old, living backwards and dying as a newly-born baby.  I felt Fitzgerald cheated a little here because Benjamin should have lived another nine months in the womb going backwards until he was a mere speck in the process of his creation.   It is a case of the film being so different that Fitzgerald ought to be given the opportunity to write the book of the movie if he were still alive.
And the film was better!

My version of Benjamin Button.  I think I would have enjoyed a book about these fellas instead.
Although I realised that this was only one story in a book of short stories, I expected it to take up a good proportion of the book, so it was rather a disappointment to find how quickly it ended.  When I was quite young I read a couple of Fitzgerald books and never took to his writing, and I have to say that his style doesn't appeal to me enough to read any more of his books.  In fact I'm not even tempted to read the other short stories in this book.

There's not a lot I can say about the story.  Benjy is born very old, which he objects to.  The story rambles through his life backwards in what I found was a rather pedestrian and uninspiring manner.  Sorry all you Fitzgerald fans.


I was stumped to come up with an idea for the artwork, which is always the case if I haven't enjoyed or been inspired by a book.  Then I remembered reading a sentence that said various newspapers of the day ridiculed Benjamin by drawing him with the body of a fish, the body of a snake, or with horns.  That gave me a start.

This is the final piece of artwork.   

You will notice that the central figure has a tail and pitchfork as well as horns.  I thought just giving him the horns was a bit wimpish, so I gave him a bit more of a devilish appearance.

This is how I created and put the whole thing together:

I started by drawing the three figures with a Pitt Artist's pen, and painted them with Inktense pencils and a little water.

For the background I worked through various ideas in my mind, but decided in the end to cut up pieces of newspaper and glue them randomly on a sheet of paper, to represent the newspapers that were always commenting on his strange life.  I gave the newspaper background a sepia tone on Photoshop and reversed it just in case it was possible to read some of the modern text.

Then I needed a clock to indicate the reversal of the passage of time, though it is still the right way round in the picture above.  I forgot to keep the original picture before starting to alter it and had already faded it out a little and added some white lines across the clock rim.  I think the image came from a shop catalogue but I can't remember which.

I flipped the clock to indicate the reversal of time. Then I merged the three images together on Photoshop.  It took a little messing about because they were all different sizes, but I managed it in the end.  I finished off by adding the name of the book by copying the title text from the book cover.

I didn't have any faith in the whole image right from the beginning and found it hard to persevere.  It was only the absolute lack of any other idea that made me soldier on.  And you know what?  I was really happy with it in the end.
It only 'shows to go', as we often say.


  1. You may not have been inspired by the artwork, but I was. And as always, I love everything you draw. You do it so easily and well, too. The sad part of this is, the story didn't live up to your expectations, but the artwork certainly did. And it did for me, too!!

  2. I've not read the book or seen the film, but I am surprised that the film was better - this must be quite a rare thing. Your artwork is fab. A xx

  3. Your picture of three of BB's stages is great, glad you persevered to the bitter end. Like those colourful Benjamin Buttons too! Valerie

  4. Ha! we both had the same idea for backgrounds with torn up paper :D Guess it's the desire to rip out the pages in frustration coming through :D XXX

  5. Great illustrations. Haven't read mich Fitzgerald for a long time, didn't see the movie, but knew of the story....really unusual when the movie is better. xox

  6. I agree that Fitzgerald is somewhat of an acquired taste. I have only read the Great Gatsby and loved its slow, going nowhere narrative but if all his books are similar I can see it wouldn't suit me. Wonderful original illustrations, perfectly coloured and I like the torn paper background. Had you thought of just posting a lovely photograph of Brad Pitt. I would have been very happy with that!!

    Janet xx

  7. Thhis is adorable, my friend.This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen in my whole life.

  8. The backwards clock says it the art piece...sorry you found the story lacking. I haven't read it so I can't comment!

  9. I don't know of the book or story but it certainly looks as though you represented it superbly by your descriptions!

  10. I loved your artwork for this story. It really has lots of character as your art always does, Jez. I have not read a great deal of Scott Fitzgerald. I like the Great Gatsby, as I've had to study and teach it so I've explored it a great deal. I don't know if I would call it great literature, though. Years ago I had to teach some of his short stories and I have to say I was left unimpressed. Usually I think he just overwrites, so it's interesting to hear that you thought this one was pedestrian. Julie Ann xx

  11. Neat! I kind of like the background all by it's self too. Is that weird? There is something compelling about the type facing every which way to me.

  12. Don't know the book but I loved that movie. Very impressive and sad too. Love how you put your artwork together, I'm glad you persevered ... ;-)

  13. Very original and whimsical illustration! <3

  14. You always have such clever ideas for your artwork. Blessings, my friend!

  15. I never realised it came from a short story. I've seen the film a couple of times and never remotely been tempted to read the book... which is unusual as I do like to compare (I completely agree about Chocolat)

    I really like what you came up with in the end and as usual am in awe of your Photoshopping :)

  16. Jez this is outstanding, you are so talented and I am glad you are part of Paper Saturdays. Hugs ManonXx

  17. I always enjoy visiting your blog, Jez, as you come up with such original ideas! I don't think the book is for me - I do also enjoy comparing films to their source material, but I haven't seen the film - but your artwork is quirky and brilliant :)

  18. Shame the book was a little lacking, but your artwork is great. Love those little button people lol Great final piece.

  19. I have not read the book or seen the film and your review makes me think I won't do so. Your art work however is great.
    Jen x

  20. Love the artwork.....but feel the same about Fitzgerald as you...I read "The Great Gatsby" and another of his novels (it must have made little impression on me as I can't even remember the title!) and found them difficult to read. And even Brad Pitt couldn't get me to see the film.
    Hugs xx


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