I wish that the book _100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design_ (Lawrence King Publishing) had been bigger. That's a compliment, of course. The book is large format, with colored reproductions on almost every page, but still the text mentions a lot more examples than it includes. I found it handy to have my computer for consultation, so that when the authors mentioned, but did not illustrate, as an example of sequential narrative in pictures, "Trajan's Column (113 CE) in Rome, which is also the wellspring of Roman typography, telling the tale of the emperor Trajan through inscribed pictographs and words," I could easily see what they were talking about. Ditto for "the true forerunner of the modern sequence," a Suprematist book for children from 1922. There are two dandy included illustrations, though, one showing a Dubonnet ad, depicting a man drinking a glass of the aperitif and becoming sequentially more fulfilled thereby, and Milton Glaser's lighthearted take on Mozart silhouettes, _Mozart Sneezes_. The topic of sequential narratives is "Idea No. 58" of the hundred presented here, each of them on two pages, with brief, intelligent, and useful text to explain the idea and the two or three pictures that accompany it.
A reader realizes that the authors probably agonized over what to mention, to illustrate, and to leave out. They probably didn't want to stop at 100 ideas, and many of the ideas, like No. 58, could have their own books, not just two pages. I bet the authors, too, wanted their book to be bigger. We are in good hands; Steven Heller was an art director at the _New York Times_ for over three decades and Véronique Vienne has been the art director of various magazines. "Our aim," they say, is to determine, define, discuss, and illustrate the big ideas that created the critical mass that produced the art and craft of contemporary graphic design." The ideas are in more-or-less chronological order, with The Book coming first followed by Body Type (writing on or tattooing the body), and with Pixelation and Ambigrams coming toward the end. It is a wonderful tour, and often it is historic and sociological, rather than just graphic. For example, Sexual Taboo Busting, Propaganda, and The Universal Pricing Code all get their two pages here, and are of course concepts not limited to graphics. It isn't surprising that human anatomy is all over the place here. The pages on Pointing Fingers show one instance of the old time woodcut of a finger pointing for emphasis (but used in a modern poster). As well here are fingers pointing out of a poster, as in the famous "I Want You" style, which James Montgomery Flag copied from a British recruitment poster. Clinched Fist shows that this hand sign has been a symbol of military (and anti-military) power. Saul Bass's famous poster for _Anatomy of a Murder_ is here (on the pages for Primitive Figuration) showing a body dismembered. Funny Faces shows a delightful typography of bold, bulbous capital letters, each adorned with an eye spot or two, and a simple row of squares to represent teeth. It is amazing how much personality the letters have.
I have only mentioned a few themes in this wide-ranging book. There are pages for Dust Jackets, Rays (as in the ones behind the head of Mickey Mouse, and also behind that of Chairman Mao), Ransom Notes, Parody, Nostalgia, White Space, Tags, Psychedelia, Comix, Vibrating Color, and much more. It is a handsome book with lots to look at, well laid out and with informative text. It could serve as a sourcebook for designers, but we all see this sort of art every day; thinking about these hundred ideas can help us make artistic, technological, and social sense of what we are seeing.