I know what you’re all thinking, and it’s true. It’s happened.
After 13 years of Handsome Franking our way through thousands of books, briefs and beer labels, finally we have the content that our Die Hard Paul Blow loving, Austro-appreciating, Spanish-speaking chess loving audience has been howling for...
Paul Blow’s award winning take on Stefan Zweig’s seminal text - The Royal Game / Novela de Ajedrez.
For those unfamiliar with Zweig's work, there is a book summary at the bottom of this piece.
When we were first approached by indie publisher Alma, it was clear from the start that attention to detail is a part of their DNA - and so it should be when you are creating bespoke editions of some of the best loved works of literature.
They needed an artist they could trust to grasp and convey Zweig’s complex themes in just a few images. Who better to distil any novella than the King of Concept, Paul Blow.
Armed with nothing more than a copy of the text (en Inglés) and the detailed dimensions, Paul set to work - and wow, did he work.
Sable black silhouettes attempt to swallow up the scarlet scenes, distorting all sense of scale. Now try saying that 3 times fast...
Paul’s signature figures and faces draw you into Zweig’s claustrophobic chess game, where monstrous chess pieces are part of the threatening cast. There simply aren’t enough honorifics to describe what Paul has done with the brief. The final work leaps off the page, leaving you reeling while still driving you to read on.
After some duels with duotone, the final product in its vivid crimson glory is stunning. All credit to Paul and the folk at Alma, it is a beautiful piece of work.
After the Great Chess Board Shortage of 2021, we can only hope that local chess suppliers have replenished their stock for when fans want to get 32 pieces of the action.
Shout out to Communication Arts for honouring Paul's work with an Award of Excellence for their 64th Illustration Annual - we think you'll agree it's well deserved.
For more excellent chess related content, visit Paul’s portfolio, Alma’s site or listen to Mick Flannery’s concept album Night at the Opera, as co-written by famous chess games.
First published in 1942."The Royal Game" is a novella by lauded Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. The tale is set in a prison where the protagonist, a chess master named Dr. B, is held captive by an anonymous dictatorship.
To pass the time, he challenges the prison's governor to a game of chess, but when the governor proves to be a formidable opponent, Dr. B is forced to rely on his memory of a famous chess match that he had once played.
Some describe the story as a meditation on the role of games and art in human life and how they can provide a source of hope and meaning in even the most dire of circumstances.