Illustration - Spring 2023 - Issue 75

News and Reviews

A round-up of interesting new exhibitions and scholarship, with short reviews of some beautiful illustrated books.

Barry Moser

Barry Moser is often described as the world’s greatest artist of wood-engraving, and we are privileged to be able to feature his dramatic, unsettling, and moving illustrations of classic texts. Professor Catherine J. Golden explores the work of this fascinating interpreter of the written word in a highly insightful article based on an extended interview with the artist.

The Illustrator’s Interview

Selina Alko is a celebrated illustrator and writer of children’s books who uses her lyrical and uplifting imagery to consider questions of race, identity and culture. Selina talks candidly about her stimulating work and the challenges and rewards of being an illustrator.

Ian Beck

Practically everyone has heard songs from Elton John’s classic album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and its sleeve is instantly recognizable. Ian Beck, who designed its famous imagery, describes the process of creation and how he arrived at the iconic scene on the front cover.

Mordechai Beck

Biblical figures might seem remote from ordinary life. Mordechai Beck rediscovers their humanity, explaining in detail the ways in which he represents their character traits in his exploratory, visually arresting designs.

Derso and Kelen

The political cartoons of Derso and Kelen are effective satirical commentaries which anatomized the troubled developments of the years between the wars in amusing and sometimes shocking designs. Stefan Slater and David Macfadyen consider these underrated and fascinating designers.

John Leech and his Contemporaries

The term “cartoon” as it is applied to satire only dates from the 1840s, and the idea of a visual commentary was developed by John Leech and his Punch contemporaries. Dr Mark Bryant discusses the origins of this distinctive form of protest as it engaged with the suffering of Victorian Britain.


Barely known in Britain, the French satirist Forain offered his own, acerbic take on the mores of late nineteenth century society. Continuing his intriguing series on graphic art on the other side of the Channel, Brian McAvera evaluates Forian’s art.


This is the second personal statement from an up-and-coming illustrator studying at the University of Gloucester. Zoë Reed, a second year undergraduate, shares her thoughts on her poetic imagery.


Look and Learn

The latest exhibitions along with details of important resources. 


Professor Catherine J. Goldenis Professor of English at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. She is the author of several books, among them Serials to Graphic Novels: the Evolution of the Victorian Illustrated Book. She is also the co-editor of a number of books and the author of articles ranging from studies of Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Victorian illustration, literature and culture. (page 6)

Selina Alkois an award-winning writer-illustrator who now spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration – as well as an alternative viewpoint. Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a Turkish father who spoke seven languages and taught painting and a mother who worked in the family’s century-old metal recycling business, she was surrounded by the melody of words and stories from different places. (page 14)

Ian Beck is an illustrator, author and painter. He has illustrated some hundred and forty books as well as writing novels for children and young adults. In 1973 he illustrated the famous cover for Elton John’s seminal album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which is considered in this issue. In April 2022 he published a collection of watercolour paintings of his area of south west London in lockdown, titled The Light in Suburbia.(page 18)

Mordechai Beck is a printmaker, artist and writer born in the UK, but based in Israel. His prints have been purchased by MOMA, the Library of Congress, the universities of Yale, Berkeley and others. His articles appear regularly in The Jewish Chronicle, and in The Guardian, Print Quarterly and Letter Arts Review. His fiction has been published in the Literary Review, The Jewish Quarterly and elsewhere. (page 22)

Stefan Slater is a retired consultant physician. He has collected books for nearly 50-years, focussing on the art, literature and political cartooning of both world wars and the years between. David Macfadyen graduated in medicine from the University of Glasgow, went on to study public health in London and Harvard, and has a doctorate in the History of Medicine. The authors have published widely in their fields and their book, The Political Cartoons of Derso and Kelen: Years of Hope and Despair, was published by Lund Humphries on 1 June this year. They share their research in their essay in Illustration.(page 26)

Dr Mark Bryant was an editor in literary and academic book publishing before he became a writer, journalist, lecturer and curator. He has written for The Independent, History Today, Military History Monthly and other publications. His books include The Dictionary of 20th Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists, and he has contributed articles to the  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (page 35)

Brian McAverais a playwright, art critic, curator and, occasionally, an art historian. His best-known plays are the cycle Picasso’s Women, which have been translated for productions into over 20 languages. His most recent book is a critical study of the Irish artist, Graham Gingles (“Graham Gingles Boxed In,” Cyphers, Secrecy And Sensuality, F.E. McWilliam Gallery, 2022). Brian is an avid collector of French nineteenth century illustrated books. (page 42)