The Tontine

Here is another of those book jackets I was given a while ago. This one appeals to me for its title script—which I’m guessing was done by the illustrator, Herbert Ryman—not only because of its obvious handwritten appearance, but it was published in 1955, long before the proliferation of script fonts. Thomas B Costain was a Canadian journalist, reporter, writer and editor who turned into a bestselling author of historical novels in his 50s. I was quite interested to read about Costain’s life and career, but Herbert Ryman proved even more engaging! He was an artist and illustrator whose considerable body of work includes watercolours of the Californian coast, the wonderful Ringling Brothers Circus posters, designs for attractions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and a long association with Walt Disney. He art directed Fantasia and other animated features and drew the first illustrations of the theme park that become Disneyland.



I have Prince memories that define moments in time. So long ago, in Carlton with my Melbourne radio friends when the first Prince album arrived in the studio, and how they laughed at it, convinced this strange new artist would never make it. In London, with my good friend, seeing Sign o’ the Times at the Leicester Square Empire Cinema, emerging late into a still-light balmy midsummer evening. In New York, with old friends newly met, staying up late watching footage of Prince in concert. And in Sydney in 2012, seeing him live, oh how lucky to have done so.