Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Far Arden Dummy

In a little over a month, the real, ISBN-laden Far Arden will hit the shelves. In the meantime I've received the dummy copy from our printer in China. Chris and Brett at Top Shelf shipped it to me after signing off on it, and since I'm the end of the line, I get to keep it!

I'm really excited about having this dummy, probably because one of my favorite books as a kid was Aliki's How a Book Is Made (which may have been the first graphic novel I ever read).

Anyway, the part where Aliki's furry main character gets a dummy copy of her book from the printer stuck out to me as the highlight of the entire publishing process. Sure, having the final book is great. But the dummy stands on its own: there's only one in the world (compared to the thousands of printed copies), its role is of critical importance (the last chance to check for mistakes before the plates get burned), and it's a novelty (the first time you get to see your book in one printed unit).

The Far Arden dummy is especially interesting because it's tagged all over with Chinese stamps and handwriting. But don't take my word for it:

[ click for larger images ]

A digital print out of the cover. The book will be hardcover, and so there needs to be a lot of bleed where it wraps over the cover board and tucks behind the endpapers.

The endpapers will have the arctic map that was on the the interior pages of the self-published version.

The 384 page book is divided into 24 signatures. Printers print books on large sheets of paper -- in this case 8 pages per side -- and then cut and fold these large sheets down into 16 page booklets. Crack open most hardcover books and you can see the signatures. Because books are printed on such large sheets, the interior pages (usually) have to be multiples of 8 or 16. This is why you might see blank pages at the beginning or end of a book -- they are parts of a signature that have no content.

Here are some samples of the Chinese markings from the publisher. They probably read, "This American book looks nutty, but it's ready to go to press."

Finally, here's the whole book wrapped up. She's a beast!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest Strip on The Daily Cross Hatch

Check it out:



Big Funny: Deadline MAY 1

So I was over at the watercooler today, and a co-worker leans over his cubicle wall and says, "Hey Kev, what's this 'BIG FUNNY' all the kids are talking about?" So I say, "Well, Doug, check the BTA blog in a few minutes and I'll tell you!"

So here's the scoop:

Minneapolis cartoonists have a tradition of curating a yearly show at the Altered Esthetics gallery in Nordeast Minneapolis. Last year we mounted Lutefisk Sushi: Volume C, which was a huge hit, had a ton of great contributors, and had an absolutely packed opening night party.

This August we're doing something a little different: Big Funny, a nod to the glorious & wacky full page (and often full color) newspaper comics of the turn of the century). Where Lutefisk Sushi asked participants to create mini-comics and gathered them all up in a BOX, Big Funny is asking people to draw a 15.5"w x 20"h comic strip (color or bw) which will then be printed in a big fat NEWSPAPER.

The Big Funny gallery show this August will have original art from the Big Funny newspaper, as well as vintage turn o' the century comics (thanks to collector extraordinaire Steve Stwalley). You'll also be able to get your hands on the Big Funny newspaper -- right now we're thinking it'll be 48 pages.

Interested in having your cartoon grace one of those pages? Here's a quick guide to get you started:

  1. Read through www.cartoonistconspiracy.com/bigfunny. That should answer most of your questions.
  2. Create your comic. Keep these specs in mind:
    • Art should be 15.5" (wide) x 20" (high)
    • If you're doing color, make it 300 dpi
    • If you're doing black and white, make it at 1200 dpi
    • You can submit more than one cartoon
    • All submissions must be DIGITAL
    • [This is a truncated list to get you started -- PLEASE read the info on the Big Funnywebsite!]

  3. Content: This show is a nod to the old-timey comics, but your comic can be any style, theme, etc. Just try to be funny (it is called Big Funny, after all)
  4. Deadline is MAY 1, 2009

Unlike Lutefisk Sushi, this is a juried show, which means that some comics won't make it in the show. This has less to do with us being art snobs, and more to do with the complicated nature of putting a physical newspaper together on time and on budget.

We've already got a few submissions in (which, for a month before the deadline, is pretty outstanding), and they look great, so keep 'em coming!

If you have any questions, please read the Big Funny website. If you still have questions, please leave them in the comments section, and we'll answer them there.


Monday, March 16, 2009

T-Minus Featured As Junior Library Guild Selection

Zander and I (and Jim) were excited to learn recently that the Junior Library Guild has picked T-Minus: The Race to the Moon as a Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2009. JLG highlights soon-to-be-released books that they believe will provide "excellent reading experiences for children." We know what a great book T-Minus is (because we've been living and breathing it for the last year) so it's exciting that JLG feels the same way!

The recognition from JLG includes a write-up in their monthly magazine:

[ click for larger version ]

I should stress, though, that while the "official" age range for T-Minus is listed as 8-12, the Junior Library Guild recommends it for grades 7-11 (ages 12-17), and we here at the studio feel like there is nothing about the book that skews terribly young.  From the candle-lit sketches of Tsiolovsky to Germany's V-2 rockets to the various disasters and successes of US and Soviet rockets, it's a well-rounded introduction to the space race. And in Jim Ottaviani's capable hands, the whole epic story is seen through the eyes of two NASA engineers, Max Faget and CC Johnson. So don't let the age range scare you away!

Learn more about the Junior Library Guild
Pre-order T-Minus

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nubby Invades TheDailyCrosshatch.com

Head over to TheDailyCrosshatch.com to meet their new mascot, Nubby, created by yours truly. DCH asked me to help design a new logo to coincide with their revamped website and Nubby is the result. He (or she?) was inspired by all the nib pens I used to use for cartooning back in college. The sharp, sturdy, weapon-like point of a Hunt 102 is such a contrast to the ultra-sensitive, almost fickle Windsor Newton Series 7 brushes, or the soft-headed Micron pens I use today. So Nubby is a nod to the old days, the days of experimenting with different inks and paper, the days of careful dipping and the inevitable splatter lines when the nib's sabre-like point caught itself on the paper's grain.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Zander Cannon interview at Comic Book Resources

I recently did an interview with Alex Dueben at Comic Book Resources, in which we talk about Top Ten, The Stuff of Life, T-Minus, and a little-known new project of ours at IDW, Bumblebee.  

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Far Arden Interview on Newsarama

Both T-Minus and Far Arden come out in May, so it's going to be a busy spring!

Click here to read my recent interview with Zack Smith over at Newsarama. It was a strange feeling trying to remember way back to the beginning of the creation of the book. I was reminded that pretty much everything in chapter 1 is made up on the spot. Those were nutty times...

Support arctic fiction! Pre-order Far Arden today!


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Zander Cannon giving a talk at the Loft Literary Center on Tuesday, March 10th!

click on image for article

This coming Tuesday (3/10/09) at 7pm, I'm going to be giving a "reading" of an excerpt of Top 10 #4, the latest issue in the new iteration of the comic book series by Gene Ha and me.  If you're wondering how one would give a reading of a comic book, that makes two of us. What I decided to do was to project the pages on a screen to allow people to read the comic themselves (as well as the layouts and script of those pages) while I give a sort of "director's commentary" there at the podium.  

The event is held at the Target Performance Hall at the Open Book building here in downtown Minnneapolis, and is free and open to the public.  Come on by!  Bring lots of questions!

The information is here:

and the Open Book building can be found here:

1011 Washington Ave S

The City Pages covered the event using some out-of-date information from our website:

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