Received my three complimentary copies of ‘Young Dick Cheney’ in the mail today. Quite pleased with how they turned out, the printing job is fantastic and the entire package is quite attractive. I was a little worried about the ‘two color’ illustrations, since I had very little experience with color separations since my days back in the printing industry in the 80s, but I must say they turned out quite nice. Will make nice Father’s Day, Memorial Day or Fourth of July gifts, and are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine booksellers.
Since this one seems to be finally making its way towards the bookshelves, and the promotional advertising wheels are starting to turn, I think it is now safe to post some samples from this book. This project had its start clear back in the spring of ’07, when I was approached by the author to do some ‘spec’ illustrations for a book that may or may not find a home with a publisher. I usually give set-ups like this a wide berth, but there was something about this one that caught my imagination. The book was actually funny and well written, for one thing, and the authors seemed reputable, and I was experiencing some down time when they called, so I said ‘what the hell’ and provided a trio of spec illustrations for some of the early chapters. My only qualms with the project, which I voiced early on, was that the shelf life of a project like this would seem to me to be unusually brief. 8 months from now, this is going to be old news.
I was contacted again around xmas time by the author who had found a publisher, Alternet Books (this would be their first title), and who wanted to get the ball rolling, and there were various discussions about which direction the book should take, and it was eventually decided that a ‘faux 50s children’s book’, in keeping with the satirical nature of the piece would be a good way to approach this. I was able to modify my cartoon style and learned how to use the ‘watercolor brushes’ in my paint program, and we ended up with the style seen pictured here in these examples (the same examples that are being used by the publisher for advertising purposes). In addition to the 21 illustrations in two color for each chapter, I also later added several small black and white spots for various placement around the book. I wasn’t originally slated to do the cover treatment, but through a series of misadventures I ended up being actively involved in several aspects of the cover production as well.
The book is available for pre-order at Amazon (link) and should be out in a month or so. I’m looking forward to seeing how it does. After the heat dies down, I may post the rest of the illustrations from this project, but consider this a ‘teaser’.
We’ve had some interesting ‘advanced praise’ blurbs that will be used in the advertising and on the back cover . . . Arianna Huffington, Phil Donahue, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, are a few names that I’ve heard bandied around, and the author passed on a few interesting comments for my work personally (although I don’t think they will be used on the back cover), one from Marlo Thomas, who “liked my wallpaper”, and one from Mel Brooks who said the “drawings are wonderful”.
Because of the excess of down time I’d been experiencing this year, I accepted an assignment of the sort I usually don’t even consider. A series of three sample spec illustrations for a prospective author for a yet unsold book project. Nothing has come of it yet, and I won’t go into details about the book because of my agreement with the author, but I accepted this one because I got a kick out of the writing, and the author was known to me through NPR segments that I’d heard, and it was a book project that I felt I could get behind whole-heartedly. Even if nothing comes of it, I’m glad I spent the time on it, it was a fun diversion from the routine.
The author seemed happy with the spec drawings, and I pretty much forgot about the project after a few months had passed. It wasn’t until around Christmas that I was contacted again, and discussions began to take place regarding the finalization of the project.
I had done these spec illustrations in more of a loose caricature-ish style, reminiscent of some of my editorial cartoon work from previous years. As the project took shape, the style radically changed to more of a retro children’s book feel, for which my standard cartoon style (with minor adjustments) made a nice fit.