If parlors were still in fashion, Olly Moss’ Silhouettes from Popular Culture (Titan Books) would definitely make for an amusing end table accessory. A collection of laser-cut silhouette profiles (frequently framed as if taken off a 19th century cameo) of figures from movies, television, cartoons, and other modern entertainment media, Moss’ book cunningly contrasts an archaic mode of craftsmanship with nerd culture icons. The book’s front cover provides a good taste of what the artist is going for here: a black silhouette of Elsa Lancaster as the Bride of Frankenstein, which includes the white steak in her trademark hair.
Moss typically lays his 7-x-7 inch volume with a single unlabeled profile on each page facing each other – though in a few cases (three pages devoted to consecutive Doctor Whos, a bevy on Bonds, the three kidnappers from The Princess Bride), he’ll cram more on a page. Though most of the cartoon and computer game heads are easy to identify, some of the others may require more than one pass. I didn’t initially glom onto the Whos, for instance, until I saw the Dalek silhouette facing them on the fourth page, but then that show has never had the same nostalgic cachet for this Yank as it would for Britisher Moss. Have to admit I felt dumb for not immediately catching the Jay and Silent Bob silhouettes, though.
Many of Silhouettes’ two-page face-offs are fun by themselves (sixties era Batman versus Dark Knight Bats, ninja turtle versus Prince Valiant, alien versus Ripley) though occasionally they come across a bit puzzling (Don Corleone versus Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s Black Knight?) But to see Bogey and
Bergman, Marty McFly and Emmett Brown, Statler and Waldorf, on opposite pages is to be reminded of the enduring nature of great pop partnerships.
A fun volume to peruse by the flickering light of the flat screen.