When ‘reading’ Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, I wondered a great deal about the background to the book, and how he had managed to work on one thing for so long.
Now I know. There is a companion volume out, where Shaun describes his work on The Arrival, and how he thought, and how the ideas arrived. It is beautiful.
It’d be so easy to assume that a ‘picture book’ can’t mean a lot of work. But here you can see just how much went into each and every one of all those drawings that fill The Arrival. For instance, there is a picture of a group of people sharing a meal together. Simple? Well, first Shaun invited some friends round for a meal, then he filmed them eating, and then he drew countless pictures of the people round the table, until it became what’s in the book.
As for how he built a small city of cardboard boxes, and filmed himself with his dad’s overalls and a garden pesticide sprayer, to achieve that industrialised genocide feeling, well…
This book is like being invited to Shaun’s studio and getting a personally guided tour where he explains all his thoughts and how he tried various ideas until he got it right.
If you liked The Arrival, then this is a must.