Monday, 17 September 2012

THE SKETCHBOOKS OF A.B. FROST

Following up on last week's collection of unpublished drawings by illustrator William A. Smith,  here are some unpublished drawings by the great A.B. Frost.


In a series of tiny pen and ink sketches (less than 3 inches tall),  Frost noodles around with different treatments of an old geezer by a country pond.


In his sketches, Frost subtly honed his final pictures for maximum effect.  For example, the following is an unpublished sketch for The Bull Calf,  Frost's parable about a "humane man" who scolds a farmer for mistreating a calf, until he gets his own first hand experience with the vexatious little beast:


Even in his preliminary sketch, look at how astutely Frost captures the body language between the calf (with his feet firmly planted for maximum stubbornness, his tail and ear pulled roughly),  the exasperated farmer and the know-it-all city slicker.

Compare the sketch with the final published version:

Frost transformed the naive "humane man" from a city slicker to a religious Quaker.  He decided to conceal the stubbornness of the bull calf until after the humane man buys it.  He gave us a foretaste of the long country road where the bull calf would soon be dragging the humane man.  These and other subtle touches are why Frost's final versions were so devastatingly funny.