One amazing title I picked up while on the road for my book tour I haven't yet had a chance to blog about: Scott Musgrove's The Late Fauna of Early North America. It's a radical expansion of a little chapbook I bought awhile back, and works equally well for the graphic novel enthusiast and the art book collector. Musgrove's style is a bit like if Mark Ryden had decided to focus on chronicling imaginary animals. He's also clearly influenced by the Grotesques of masters like Bruegel and Bosch. At first glance, these are kinder and gentler grotesques, but the longer you look at them, the more you realize the deeply, deeply strange nature of these creations.
A highlight of The Late Fauna, besides the amazing art, is an introductory section that provides a cryptozoology context for the beasties, along with faked images and a very clever full-page photo of the artist supposedly painting one of the imaginary animals, with the critter sitting for the portrait, but just hidden by the angle of the photo. Another highlight are the sculptures and other types of representations.
With names like the Long Necked Lotus Loris, Northern BaronBeest, and Spangled Swamp Horse we should be well into dangerous "whiimsy" territory, but somehow even the floating creatures seem fully grounded in something real. Seeming to burst forth from the page, this effect aided by the paintings included in the book in their actual frames, these monsters are a wonderful and exotic part of the glorious history of the made-up bestiary. Other extras include a Fauna Viability Timeline and a color-in page. Highly recommended.