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Charly

When a good dog dies there is no memorial parade. There’s just a lot of little things that aren’t quite right anymore. A quiet in the house at dinner time that seems unfamiliar. Tears fall every time you get lost in a careless moment of recollection.

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When a rescue dog comes into your life, you don’t know what they have been through. But they often have a look in their eyes that tells you more than you might want to know. Sometimes they come with scars you can see. Did they get time to be a bouncing puppy with their mother nearby? Did they romp and play with their siblings?  Have they learned not to trust the domineering animals on two legs? Did they get to sleep on the sofa –  because they can now, no need to look guilty.

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And you hope their past wasn’t that bad and you hope they will forget it if it was and you love them. And in time the look mellows. And they shine.

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And when they are gone you wonder how you lived your life before they joined it.

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hp2 hp1I just ran across these covers from (I think) the book’s release in the UK. Now, please don’t hold this against me, but I am not the ‘most biggest’ Harry Poter fan in the world so I don’t know all the details of editions release, colors used, day of the week when a new one came out. Anyway, what interests me is how these covers just feel wrong. And I’m not an expert cover artist, but these feel like what the covers should have looked like – if the books weren’t very good. That’s an odd thing to say, but that’s what they feel like and no slight against the artist or designers. It’s not JUST the art or JUST the design. They seem to latch onto the wrong tone. They feel too lite, too bright and a bit too reduced. They feel like an after school special announcement instead of belonging to one of the most read books of fantasy ever released.

I’ll need to think about this some more to understand what I’m reacting to.

I’ll be at the Barnes and Noble in Tigard on Saturday July 26th at 2:00 PM.

Actually I am often at the Barnes and Noble in Tigard buying books and stuff and I don’t announce it on my blog, but this time I’m there because they asked me to be. I’ll be doing a drawing lesson and a little dancing and I will be happy to sign books while I am there. I’ll even sign books by other people if you really want me to.

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You can read all about my visit by clicking on this link. This is the Barnes and Noble at the Bridgeport Mall off the 5. I guess I should qualify this by saying I’ll be there by 2 if I find parking. So I better leave a half hour for that.

They will have Earthling! and The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot to sell. They may have my other books available too but since I still don’t understand book distribution and ordering in these modern times when an individual can always get a book, but schools and stores can’t seem to – they may not have any of my other books. I will have copies of all my books with me to look at including a copy of The Great Thanksgiving Escape! Which sin’t released until September.

So if you are in the Portland area, stop by. Say hi. Or ask me if I wrote The Lorax. depending on my mood I might say I did.

 

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Scrolls lasted until about 800 AD or so, then the codex format took over. Well now some people think we are in a post codex world – back to scrolls (scrolling) in a digital world. But this document is a great reminder about why stuff on paper looks and feels so great.

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This is a French Paper Co. promotion from those paper obsessed folks at CSA design. As they say in the brochure – “Paper works best when printed with designs & messages that matter.” This is a wonderful counter against the modern notion of digital everything, everywhere, all-the-time. There is a timelessness and a sense of mortality with printed material and this paradox makes for a rich experience.


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I spent many years of my life enshrined in the digital end of design after starting my career at a newspaper and in an ad agency doing print design. I still have a soft spot for traditional print design (especially when it’s as great looking as this promotion) and I hope it doesn’t go away. I still love ink on paper. I think that’s why even after all the jobs I have had in digital media I find myself still working in books.

 

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I updated my website with info about my next book, The Great Thanksgiving Escape, which escapes in September from dank, dark warehouses.

It’s a Thanksgiving story. I hope the title didn’t give that away.

The first review ran for it in Kirkus, and they said very nice things and I could breathe again – so I guess I can start my publicity push…which mainly focuses on me walking around town with a copy of the book under my arm and when people look at me I say – “I noticed you seem interested in my NEW book!” and I read it to them. Out loud. After all, picture books are meant to be read aloud. This does lead to some delays and frequent calls to the police, especially when I do this while I’m in line at the grocery check-out at around 5:30.

OK. That’s not true. That’s not ALL my promotional ideas. I also super glue several copies of the book to the outside of my car and I update my website and blog.

OK. Sadly enough, my main publicity idea is updating my blog and website.

And the radio ads I’m taking out for it.

 

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Erik Johnson has a new Kickstarter for a fascinating and funky little book that is part graphic novel, part art book, part endless opera cycle.

It’s an idea born from putting a bunch of genres and formats into a blender and getting something delicious. Something different. And you know, if you know Erik’s work, it will be exquisitely designed and printed.

Check it out and consider supporting it.

 

Batman. Bat who?

 

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Here is a great post by Mark Evanier that examines the creation of Batman. But it’s also a nice essay about what it means to create something. In the world of comic books this an important and complicated issue. We have grown accustomed to the idea of a certain type of creator these days. A romanticaly inspired myth of a single cartoonist who creates a Thing. But often the truth is many people are key to a work.

There are of course some cartoonists who do it all. Charles Schulz famously never had another artist write or draw a panel of his Peanuts comic strip. Other cartoonists are happy to hire help and that was a tradition back in the 1930’s. Many cartoonists sought success so they could ‘retire’ from actually drawing and writing their work. Remember all those Disney comic books and comic strips that were signed by Walt Disney? He didn’t quite have the time to draw all of them. In fact, he drew none of them. He found better cartoonists to do it and  you must credit Walt Disney for his ability to spot and nurture talent. Anyway…

One odd thing about comic books was the very early acceptance that a character would be shared. Because of deadlines and workload it took more than one person to get a book out. And as comics grew in popularity it became the method of operation. So we have dozens of people writing and drawing Batman through the years. I have a friend who pointed out how odd this tradition is. If a novelist creates a beloved charter, most often that novelist writes the books featuring that character (at least until they are dead and the property is in the public domain – Sherlock Holmes anyone?) But in general we don’t expect JK Rowling to put out a Harry Potter adventure writen by a different writer do we? How odd that we just accept that a comic book character will be handed from one artist and writer to another.

It happens in other illustration mediums, but far less often and most often under secrecy. There are children’s book series which have become Brands and are created by teams. But usually this work is done as For Hire work and the additional writers and artists are not directly credited. Somewhat like the traditional role of a Ghost Writer. So perhaps comic books get kudos for being more open about the fact that this happens.

But when comic book characters became Big Entertainment Business there was a legal need to put a Created By title onto a character so they could sell the stuff to a larger company and that company would be comfortable knowing who had the right to sell the rights. There is a long tangled history of this issue in comic books which I will not go into.

But the article looks at the history of Batman and how one man did end up with a Created By credit that is certainly questionable.

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