Well, I’m happy to see (through the surveillance device I’ve had installed on this blog)
that many of you are checking out MousesHouses, the source of the picture of that nice little mouse doing the fan dance from the other day. Now, normally a blog subtitled “Pictures from my own private mouseland” would send me screaming in the other direction, but for some reason, I really like these mice.
I am not a fan of cuteness in general, unless I gave birth to it myself
and animal-looking animals doing human things usually makes my skin crawl — at least, if the animals still look fully animal-like. In Beatrix Potter’s work, for instance: never liked those pictures (and the stories terrified me when I was little — all I remember is a lot of whippings, peckings, and terrified animal children hiding in baskets and watering cans. Was there more to those stories?).
I am fine with anthropomorphism, but I think the artist owes it to the viewer to put a little spark of humanity into the eye of the animal, if it’s going to be doing human things; and I also appreciate it when the illustrator doesn’t just make it look like the characters are people wearing animal suits, as in the deeply unpleasant Arthur series.
Mary Raynor is one illustrator who does a great job of making the animals remain animal-like in their postures, even while playing with toy trains, going to the opera, or buying ketchup in bulk:
See how she’s teetering on her trotters, just like a mother pig would as she reached for a heavy bottle of ketchup. (By the way, I heartily recommend the Pig family books by Raynor: Mrs. Pig’s Bulk Buy, Mr. and Mrs. Pig’s Evening Out, Garth Pig Steals the Show, and Mrs Pig Gets Cross. It’s pretty much about my family, except that they’re British, and are pigs.
There was a story a while back about a recently-rediscovered collection of fanciful Victorian taxidermy. These, at least, are well done, if somewhat, you know, full of dead kitties:
I’m not sure what drives a person to pour so much time, energy, and formaldehyde into a project like that, other than the fact that he has some time to kill while his wife is at her mother’s house, thinking things over.
In general, I think posing animals, whether dead or alive, and taking their picture is something that ought to be booed and hissed. What do you think? Does it ever turn out well? The only exception I can think of is when people put a shirt and tie on labradors. For some reason, that always gets me; and it sure looks like the dog is just glad to be getting some attention. Harder than you’d think to find a picture online, though.
Well, now I just have to come up with a title for this post, to give the impression that it was about something.