By Marty Mulrooney
Mad Men: The Illustrated World by Dyna Moe is an official tie-in book based on the hit series Mad Men created by Matthew Weiner. Essential reading for any fan of the show, it provides insight into mid-century American office culture, shares authentic food and drink recipes from the 1960’s and even offers tips on fashion and beauty!
Mad Men: The Illustrated World is a refreshing change of pace from the usual style of TV show tie-in books. Instead of offering a predictable episode guide or photographs from behind the scenes, talented writer and illustrator Dyna Moe has instead captured the spirit of the show completely from scratch. Her art style is quite simply incredible, on the surface very basic, but in actuality astonishingly detailed, managing to capture each character to perfection.
There has obviously been a great deal of careful research done into the time period during which the TV show is set. Alongside her strong artistic talents, Dyna Moe also manages to engage the reader with her writing, which is both comedic and informative. Pages detailing such topics as ‘What’s In An Executive’s Desk’ and ‘Things Every Secretary Needs To Know’ blend fact and fiction with sparkling results. My personal favourite, ‘Seduction at 20,000 Feet’, offers advice on how to pick up subtle hints from your stewardess to sense her level of “gameness”. Genius!
Although an enjoyable read from beginning to end, there are quite a lot of food and drink recipes in the section entitled ‘The Home’ which can sometimes feel like padding. Of course, this will depend on the individual reader, but personally I felt that there were perhaps a few too many pages dedicated to snacks and beverages. However, I was delighted to stumble across the page detailing how to make ‘The Perfect Old Fashioned’. Finally, I can have what Don Draper’s drinking!
Far more engaging are the pages dealing with specific topics and characters from the show. One page offers a history of Broadway shows in the 1960’s (opposite a spot-on image of Lane and Cooper admiring some bizarre artwork hung upon Cooper’s office wall), whilst another offers a detailed biography of the real life Conrad Hilton. Such insight, accompanied by Moe’s gorgeous illustrations, really help Mad Men: The Illustrated World stand out. This is a fun book to flick through and browse and can often become surprisingly engaging too.
The greatest strength of Mad Men: The Illustrated World is that it never takes itself too seriously. The artwork is stylised and fun, with the entire book following its lead. This is a treasure trove of art, history, comedy and… Joan cut-out dolls! My only complaint is that it feels slightly short, although this could also be taken as a compliment. This book is so much fun to read, you will find yourself racing from one page to the next! An essential purchase for fans of the show and an effective showcase for the artistic talents of Dyna Moe.
9 OUT OF 10