Saturday, June 3, 2017


So this happened this week:

A friend helping her mom move unearthed this vintage storybook edition of Peter Pan. For some strange reason, she thought of me!

It's an oversized volume called The Picture Story Book of Peter Pan, published in 1931, and illustrated in voluptuous watercolors by Roy Best.

Obsessed as I am with depictions of Captain Hook in all media (to see how they stack up with my James Hook in Alias Hook), I couldn't wait to dive in!

This Hook arrives in full comic-opera regalia, complete with luxuriant, long black Charles II curls. And the red coat, which is standard in Hook depictions probably as far back as the original stage play in 1904. (And immortalized in the 1953 Disney cartoon.)

I do approve of the elaborate headgear here; my James Hook has an absolute fetish for extravagant hats.

But while J. M. Barrie makes a big deal of Hook's icy blue eyes, I find it a little bizarre that illustrator Best tints Hook's entire eyeball (what we usually think of as the "white") a fetching shade of powder blue.

Meanwhile, Best's version of Pan is much younger and way more cherubic than mine. In these illustrations, he's practically a toddler.
Which I guess makes a kind of sense, since the Pan in my book, is going through an eternal case of the Terrible Twos.

But I do love Best's  va-va-voom Tinker Bell. Just look at her, so saucily perched on her little vase, scantily-clad, and vamping like a mini Jean Harlow! Or a chorus girl in a 1930s Busby Berkeley musical.

It's plain to see why this artist was best known for his calendar girl pin-ups!

None of these images remotely resemble the characters as I see them in Alias Hook. But I'm such a sucker for vintage illustration, this one is definitely going on the "keeper" pile!

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