Author Van Reid recently directed us to the extraordinary work of Mexican painter and engraver Eko, whose work has featured in a number of reissues of classic novels from Restless Books, including a 250th anniversary edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a 300th anniversary edition Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
Eko is also highly praised for his work on the graphic novel Pancho Villa Takes Zacatecas, published as an eBook in 2014, written by Paco Ignacio Taibo II (a.k.a. PIT), the prolific historian, biographer of Che Guevara and Pancho Villa.
Born in Mexico in 1958, Eko is an engraver and painter. His wood etchings, often erotic in nature and the focus of controversial discussion, are part of a broader tradition in Mexican folk art popularised by José Guadalupe Posada.
Eko has collaborated on projects for The New York Times, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Spanish daily El País, in addition to having published numerous books in Mexico and Spain.
Eko’s striking illustrations are integral to the Restless Classics range – newly introduced and illustrated series of great books from the past that, note the publishers “still speak to our time, our place, and, especially, our restlessness”.
Offering new editions of classic books that we have the best intentions of reading, but which, after we graduate from school, become less urgent priorities.
Just last month, Restless Books published a paperback edition of their English language release of The Wild Book by Mexico’s most prolific, prize-winning author, playwright, journalist Juan Villoro, illustrated by Eko.
A wondrous adventure story of a boy who goes to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers, which has sold over one million copies in Spanish.
Translated by award-winning Lawrence Schimel, reviewer Claire Foster enthused the book was “deserving a place beside classics like The Phantom Tollbooth and Half-Magic.”
Eko also recently provided illustrations for A Pre-Columbian Bestiary: Fantastic Creatures of Indigenous Latin America by award-winning Mexican American scholar Ilan Stavans, published by Pennsylvania State University Press, which the publishers enthuse “will delight anyone interested in the history and culture of Latin America.”
The book features lively and informative descriptions of 46 religious, mythical, and imaginary creatures from the Nahua, Aztec, Maya, Tabasco, Inca, Aymara, and other cultures of Latin America.
An inspiring record of resistance and memory from a civilisation whose superb pantheon of myths never ceases to amaze, A Pre-Columbian Bestiary features creatures such as the siren-like Acuecuéyotl and the water animal Chaac to the class-conscious Oc and the god of light and darkness Xólotl.
The magnificent entities in this volume belong to the same family of real and invented creatures imagined by Dante, Franz Kafka, C. S. Lewis, Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and J. K. Rowling. They are mined from indigenous religious texts, like the Popol Vuh, and from chronicles, both real and fictional, of the Spanish conquest by Diego Durán, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, and Fernando de Zarzamora, among others. In the spirit of imaginative invention, even the bibliography is a mixture of authentic and concocted material.
In addition to original artwork by Eko and other artists, and fresh introductions, Restless Classics brings the classroom experience to the reader with linked online teaching videos.