Mel Birnkrant

Continue to THE WILD RUMPUS           Return to CONTENTS
        WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is Copyright 1963 by Maurice Sendak,
photographs and text are Copyright Mel Birnkrant. Interview is Copyright by Plillip Weiss.
          With the finished samples in a bag, I traveled to Manhattan, to the studio of the photographer who shot all of the photographs for Colorform's catalogues, each year.  Actually, all he really did was determine the exposure, and click the shutter of his enormous 8’X10’ view camera.  I always did the rest, the setting up and lighting.  But I was given access to all of his equipment, lights, props, and huge seamless paper backdrops.  Nonetheless, these photographs were expensive, several hundred dollars each.

I carefully posed each Wild Thing, suspending it by nearly invisible thread.  I attempted to arrive at poses that captured the personality of each Wild Thing, and doing what I do best, I tried to make them look alive. 

These photographs are, more or less, all that remains of the original hand drawn prototypes.  These fading images are all that's left of the first official dolls of the Wild Things, at the very moment that they looked their best.  I believe the photos were intended to appear in the Colorforms catalogue that year.  Alas, that never took place.  I have no idea what became of the 8’X10’  transparencies that we shot that day.  But I was given two sets of prints, one cool, one warm in tone, and these are all that now remain.  To my dismay, I see that these are beginning to fade.  So, before they completely disappear I will try to bring them back with Photoshop, and, hopefully, preserve them here.
          The final photograph was quite extravagant.  It took several hours to set up. I was attempting to recreate this image from the book.  If things had gone as we had hoped, the two missing characters would have, one day, joined the group.  This print, by the way, commemorates Maurice receiving the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 1970.  He signed it “Maurice Hans Jewish Anderson.”
P.S. You can Click on these next two pictures to make them even bigger.