May 10, 2011

Z is for Zebra

        In my collection of block printed animal alphabets, Z is pretty much always for zebra.  That's partly because there aren't a lot of options, of course - zebu and zorilla being all that spring to mind.  But it's also because zebras, with their graphic pattern of black and white, are practically block prints on the hoof.  Here are four interpretations from alphabet books, plus a bonus zebra.  This bonus (the first one here) is by Jacques Hnizdovsky, among my all-time favorite block print artists.  He'll get a post of his own at some point, but for now just enjoy the boldness and humor of his wonderful portrait of a zebra.

        Next comes the zebra by Christopher Wormell from 
An Alphabet of Animals.  This handsome creature's black and white are set off by the strong sunlight and deep blue sky of his background.

        Third, a friendly zebra from David Frampton's My Beastie Book of ABC.  Refusing to be bound by either convention or reality, Frampton gives us a cheerful citrus-colored zebra.  He's also opted to show the head only, instead of the whole beast like everyone else.  (I like the verse, too!)
        I've chosen to show not only a bunch of zebras, but to double them, too, with the reflections of their stripes in the water hole.  These zebras come from my Amazing, Beguiling, Curious: 26 Fascinating Creatures, although I actually made this print long before I had any intention of doing a book… or even any expectation of completing an animal for every letter of the alphabet.

        And finally, here's the heraldic zebra from C.B. Falls's ABC Book.  With its bold solidly colored background and ramping pose, it's a zebra any knight could be proud to show on his standard.

        Five interpretations of Z is for Zebra, and each one unique!  I love how different artists can interpret the same straightforward subject in such wonderfully different ways.  There are black and white renditions, black and white with colored backgrounds, and fully technicolor.  There's zebra in profile, zebra from the front, zebra cropped, and zebras multiplied.  There are realistic zebras, stylized zebras, and totally imaginary zebras.  Five ways of looking at a zebra.  Never again think of "Z is for zebra" as just a boring old cliché!

    (For more about the alphabet books, look here,
and another post here.)

[Pictures: Zebra, wood block print by Jacques Hnizdovsky, 1970;
Zebra, linoleum block print with multiple blocks by Christopher Wormell, from An Alphabet of Animals, 1990;
Zebra, wood block print with multiple blocks by David Frampton, from My Beastie Book of ABC, 2002;
Three at the Water Hole, rubber block print by AEGN, from Amazing, Beguiling, Curious, 2010 (sold out);
Zebra, wood block print with multiple blocks by C.B. Falls, from ABC Book, 1923.]


Nan said...

I love your zebras best! The reflections are delightful.

Unknown said...

Myself and my dad found the second one down in car boot sale for £1.75 and discovered how much I a bargain it was and had to snap it up.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Wow, great find! I'm jealous! =)