Banksy has had a slew of books released about him over the past year. Are they any good, which one should you buy, are the older ones worth getting? For what it’s worth here are eight of the main currently available contenders reviewed.
Seven Years With Banksy (Robert Clarke / Michael O’Mara Books)
What’s it about? A look at Banksy from a more personal view and not just from his street art.
Unique Selling Point: The author claims to have actually met the man himself on more than one occasion including waiting outside once when he was once doing some graffiti in London. He writes about dreams he has had about Banksy.
Not so great: It’s quite unlikely that Banksy will ever be writing a book entitled “My Seven Years With Robert Clarke”. And if the typeface was any larger this book would be printed in fuzzy felt.
Who’s it for? People who enjoyed Bobby’s shower dream sequence in Dallas.
Wall and Piece (Banksy / Random press
You’ve got this one already, right? What do you mean “no”? Ignore the rest of this article and just start with this one (and by the way its now 2012 in case you hadn’t noticed).
What’s it about? All the best work displayed as it was intended, including plenty you won’t see elsewhere, with loads of verbal wit too.
Unique Selling Point: It’s from the horses mouth.
Not so great: it’s a few years old now so misses out a lot of the more recent work but, hey, if you want that there’s always the Internet.
Who’s it for? Pretty much everybody
Banksy – The Man Behind The Wall (Will Ellsworth Jones / Aurum Press)
What’s it about? A weighty tome from a ‘serious’ investigative journalist that seeks to find out who Banksy is without killing the golden goose.
Unique Selling Point: The author has actually occasionally got off his arse to go and interview people face to face rather than just spending a couple of hours on Google doing copy and paste.
Not so great: The author says it is time that Banksy should officially reveal his identity – as if this decision has something to do with Mr Ellsworth Jones who needs to sit himself down and get his ego back under control.
Who’s it for? People who didn’t know know a lot about Banksy before 2009 (for example Will Ellsworth Jones).
Banksy: You are an acceptable level of threat and if you were not you would know about it. (Gary Shove / Carpet Bombing Culture)
What’s it about? A collection of some of the best photographs of Banksy’s work including recent pieces with an irreverent tone.
Unique selling point: The author knows a good photo when he sees one.
Not so great: The Banksy Flickr group appears to have been mugged for the content of the book or, put more simply, you can see all this stuff elsewhere for free.
Who’s it for? People who like pretty pictures and who think they are above actually buying a book by Banksy himself “‘cos he’s like old hat”.
Banksy Locations And Tours Volumes 1 and 2 (various editions) (Martin Bull / Shellshock Publishing)
What’s it about? The definitive printed guide to the locations of Banksy artworks in the UK.
Unique Selling Point: Author Martin Bull has actually been to all these places, knows the history of the pieces and shares all this knowledge in minute detail.
Not so great: You’d be ill advised to go to these locations without checking their status via the free updates available from Shellshock publishing.
Who’s it for: Those who like a walk in the less salubrious part of the UK or those who suffer from Anoraksia.
Banksy Myths and Legends (Marc Leverton / Carpet Bombing Culture)
What’s it about? All the gossip and rumours, kind of like if OK magazine did a Banksy special.
Unique Selling point: It’s in a A5 format exactly like Banksy’s early books which is pretty cool if you think the best place to appreciate art is in the toilet.
Not so great: What’s fact, what’s fiction? Confused? You most certainly will be.
Who’s it for? People who still think Popbitch is a good source of information.
Banksy’s Bristol: Home Sweet Home (Steve Wright / Tangent Books)
What’s it about? A look at Banksy’s early career before he became a household name (well everyone in my household has heard of him by now anyway)
Unique Selling point: Some genuinely interesting content and insights put together with care from contacting people who know.
Not so great: Let’s face it, camera and picture quality often sucked in the late 90’s.
Who’s it for? Those with an interest in the early days.
Banksy: The Bristol Legacy (Paul Gough / Redcliffe Press Limited)
What’s it about? Banksy’s impact on his home city reaches far and wide and its all documented here.
Unique Selling Point: The most in depth look at how his 2009 Museum show was put together, interviewing some of those who made it happen.
Not so great: includes quotes from serial art lover antagonist Brian Sewell like anybody should give a fuck what he says,
Who’s It For? Those who went, obsessives and nosey parkers.