Strangeness & Wonder

A toy encyclopedia in times of confinement
did you knows illustrated by Ainara Azpiazu Aduriz (Axpi), AlexF, Amaia Arrazola, Ane Pikaza, Gastón, Char-Lee Mito, Elena Odriozola, Elisabeth Pérez Fernández, Helena Azkarragaurizar, Higi Vandis, Idoia Iribertegui, Iraia Okina, Javier de Isusi, Jesús Sotés Vicente, Josune Urrutia, Maite Gurrutxaga, Mikel Casal, Miren Asiain Lora, Ruth Juan & Yolanda Mosquera
Basque version: Juan Kruz Igerabide
English version: Talía Morales Sharp
Edited by Bixente Azkoiti & Begoña Lobo

ISBN: 978-84-122263-3-1
Out of series / Trilingual edition: Basque, Spanish and English / 1st edition: December 2020 / 18,5 x 23 cm / 96 pages / 40 illustrations in full colour / hardcover with dust jacket / printed at Brizzolis, Madrid, Spain

This collective book is a project encouraged by the Basque Government and Euskal Irudigileak, the Professional Association of Basque Illustrators, which we have given the form of an encyclopaedia of whimsical knowledge. Produced over several months in 2020, it features the work of twenty illustrators who were confined to their homes because of the pandemic. Each participant was asked to select two curious news items, those they found most evocative and closest to their personal interests, and to write a short text to accompany their illustrations. The result is a book that combines information and entertainment: a toy encyclopaedia in times of coronavirus.

When Euskal Irudigileak, the Professional Association of Basque Illustrators, proposed the edition of a book that would include the work of twenty illustrators created during the confinement, we did not hesitate: we would make an encyclopedia! Our first thought was to make one in a similar style to ‘Lessons on Things’, because it seemed like a good opportunity to resume the project we started over a decade ago with Micharmut, and which was interrupted by the death of this brilliant artist. We discarded the idea when we became aware of our own limitations; but, even though we lowered our pretensions, we maintained its core: the book continues to be an encyclopedia of whimsical knowledge, but a toy one, where lessons only occupy seven lines and the cover imitates sweet wrappers. 

Our inspiration came from trivia pages in comic books, family encyclopedias, books of useless information, and all those things someone decides to write on sugar sachets. We pay special attention to those questions that begin with the words ‘Did you know…?’, and which constitute a literary genre related to short stories, flap copy, and footnotes. We asked the illustrators to select two news stories of their choosing and to illustrate them. The question should provoke astonishment, and the commentary should be well documented, avoiding hoaxes and truisms, and seeking the approval of an authority, that is to say, a reputable name or a prestigious institution.

The title derives from History of Tlaxcala, a chronicle by Diego Muñoz Camargo (1529-1599) that recounts several recorded prodigies in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The seventh prodigy was the capture of a crane that had a strange mirror on its head. First, it reflected the sky and the stars, and then, battle scenes. This vision unsettled those who were present, and evoked in them feelings of strangeness and wonder.

The editors

VAT included