Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Art, Movies, and a Purple Tollbooth

I was going to post some thoughts about the Battle Royale manga today, but I got distracted. There is something that is filling my heart with wild fuzzy joy, and yes, it does have something to do with books. One of my favorites, actually. Today, I stumbled across some concept art for The Phantom Tollbooth. (DISCLAIMER: Not for an actual movie, as far as I know.) 

For lovers of the book, the pictures speak for themselves: lush, whimsical, familiar, comforting as a warm blanket, and dazzlingly imaginative. I love, love, love this artwork.

Dictionopolis, the city of Books (A tree with pages for leaves!)

The number mines of Digitopolis (An otherworldly ant cave.)
A character sheet for Tock, the Watchdog. (I love the way his belly clock squishes when he sits. Very DalĂ­.)

There’s so much more on the artist’s blog: The Castle in the Air, the Humbug, the Doldrums, the Tollbooth itself. (Milo looks a little emo though.) From what I’ve seen, Lizzie Nichols is very talented, and I’ve enjoyed poking through some of her other projects as well. (Now that I’m nosing around the internet, I love this picture of Tock by Kim Hazel.)

I know I’m wading into sticky territory here, posting this. The books versus movies-made-from-books debate wages daily. There are many casualties, some infuriating, and my own feelings are complicated. (Sounds like a future blog post, no?) So I’ll narrow my scope. 

Art like this could do the book justice, but I’d still be antsy about a modern Phantom Tollbooth movie. (Honestly, I haven’t even seen the existing version.) It’s not that books themselves are so sacred that they should never, ever be touched by Hollywood. (Remember, I love musical covers and story retellings.) It’s just that my memories, the characters I hold in my head (the original illustrations!), for this particular book are so precious to me. It would need to be true. No gimmicks, no hip tricks. I’m also worried about the limitations of both animation and live action. (I really do need to do a separate post about this.) However, it looks like there is indeed a PT update in the works. I’ll be watching how it progresses closely, and I can only hope their creative team stumbles across these pictures first.


  1. I say go with the italics/underlining for book titles. Call me old fashioned, but it makes my heart happy ;)

  2. I tend to agree. I'll save it for non-italic mediums. Thanks!