Archive for the illustrated books Category

Zines are still kicking

Posted in illustrated books, writing with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by scratchyb

Missed my self-imposed deadline for the Odjit cartoon last week. It’s almost done, and will be up soon.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I stopped by the Chicago zine fest.  It’s interesting because I used to make zines in the 90’s, and was also involved in a local independent “newspaper”.  I briefly thought about getting back into it, since I loved the independence  of creating and designing my own little books.  But the scene was filled with what amounted to photocopied diaries, and by 2004, I was certain that blogs had killed the zine format.  So I went to this event hoping to see some interesting, innovative things that you can’t do online.  And I did, at first.  But then I looked at the other tables, and it was like I was right back there in 1995.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Maybe it’s my age, but what I’d like to see is an independent book movement, something that focuses on quality handmade work, and not just some arbitrary value placed on a photocopy just because the original was pasted together with loving care.

Not to end on a negative note, there were some very cool artists there.  I picked up a couple of cool comics by Will Dinsky (one with Japanese binding–put the stapler away), saw some great artwork by whoever the hell brosef stallin’ is, and spotted a few other people doing great work in keeping this medium alive.

Recent work for October

Posted in Art, illustrated books, Process with tags , , , on October 29, 2009 by scratchyb

October was mostly all about a commission and then a couple of pieces here and there.  I did a bookplate for a contest at the blog “A Journey Around My Skull,” one of the musts that I have on my feed.


I recommend subscribing to A Journey Round My Skull if you are at all enamored of illustrations and books, especially those that are rare and hard to find.

I also did a drawing for what I hope to be a bookmark.  I plan to get a bunch of these printed up, as soon as I scrape together enough for a new and improved inkjet printer.


Other than that, nothing much else.  Why the sparse output?  Well, I may have mentioned it before, but I only do this for a hobby.  I actually make a living as a librarian, specializing in library IT.  It’s really only been recently that I’ve started pushing to get my work out there more and more, and to improve and develop as an artist.  The two go hand in hand for me, the exposure creates opportunities and deadlines, which pushes me to put more effort into my work than I otherwise might.

Shifting gears? No.

Posted in Art, illustrated books, Process, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2009 by scratchyb

While this blog has largely been about my ongoing and completed art projects, I sometimes touch on writing issues.  See, I didn’t start out thinking of myself as an “artist”–still don’t, it’s not that accurate when you think of the concepts that go into a work of art.  I’m more of a visual storyteller.  Anyway, I used to see myself as a potential writer.  So, I thought it would be cool if I could write and illustrate.

So, financed by a lucrative “library career” scheme, I set to work trying to perfect the right balance of storytelling and illustration.  Graphic novels, too much.  But illustrated books?  Just about right, except I’d like to do something for adults as well as kids.  While I’ve nothing against kids, I suspect my ideas would just scare them and annoy their parents.

The trouble is and always was: how do you get published?  I went to conventions, I tried to schmooze with
the insiders, and learned there’s a reason they’re called insiders.  I read just about everything I could on publishing, until I was filled up to the eyes with crap about jumping through the right hoops, persisting in sending out stories (just not to us), and how I should just keep writing.  Yep, did the short story submission thing, wrote a few bad novels for practice, until I started to suspect that the publishing industry simply couldn’t be open to new authors anymore.  Frankly, I suspect that the readers of most literary and science fiction magazines are just authors trying to get published in those magazines.  The industry is eating itself alive.

Which is why I find this Threat Quality post on self-publishing so interesting.  I’ve mainly thought of self-publishing as a way to make my own aesthetic decisions about the work I create, since the books I envision are complete works of art.  But it seems the technology and the time is ripe for something more.  Recently I also read this article by Time Columnist Lev Grossman on the future of books.  It’s definitely worth reading, since it posits that e-books are going to increase self-publishing, decrease writer’s wages, and essentially challenge the publishing industry to change their archaic “gatekeeper” mentality.  Maybe by crowdsourcing their selection?  Sucks for editors, but hey, then they can go back to actually developing books and authors.

While on the surface the electronic format doesn’t seem to offer much for my own goals, I think that the possibilities are just starting to bloom.  There’s plenty of web comics already out there, and I personally like the idea of DIY print-on-demand, giving people a PDF and letting them print their own copy, with instructions for folding it up into a nice booklet that they can bind however they like.  Or online books with integrated, dynamic illustrations.  So I plan to move further along in that direction this year.  I’ll start small, just a few little books, as I get the hang of it.  Keep an eye out until then.