This year has proven to be our most ambitious and versatile to date. It’s also been one of the most challenging years to balance as I juggled my Spectrum and Flesk Publications duties.
Running a business is not easy. It involves hours upon hours of action, effort, decision making and the help of many to be successful. Every morning I wake up excited thinking about all of the things we can create during the day. Fortunately, I absolutely love my “job,” this art community and the books that we make. I’ve surrounded myself with smart, positive and wonderful people who share my passion for having fun and for making beautiful books.
We started off the 2015 by publishing two illustrated books with new stories. This includes Storms at Sea by Mark Schultz and The Book of Giants by Peter Meseldzija. Shortly after, Tribes of Kai and the supplemental collection Pridelands: Rival Tribes, an all-new graphic novel written by Lance HaunRogue and painted by Daren Bader, was released. These books are the result of years of work by these creators. It’s my pleasure to serve as the publishing vehicle to make these stories a reality to share with you all.
Soon after, Portfolio: The Complete Various Drawings by Mark Schultz debuted. I started thinking about this book a few years back. I knew that if we were going to recollect the five book Various Drawings series that we had to start from scratch and rethink everything about it. We updated all of the scans, printed everything bigger, added a handful of new pieces to fill in pages and completely redesigned the book in its new oversized format.
Monsters Attack!!! By Arthur Adams and Surrender, My Sweet by Bruce Timm were both big summer hits. Getting the chance to work with Arthur and his wife Joyce Chin to get Monsters Attacks!!! done in time for the San Diego Comic-Con show was a mad dash, but worth the effort. Mark Schultz offered the title suggestion. Mark said that it’s very important to add the three exclamation points in the title, which we made sure to do. I asked the designer, Arpad Terek, to give it a Japanese monster packaging feel, then Laura Martin colored the cover to give the book it’s final packaging.
With Surrender, My Sweet, Bruce Timm sent me his latest batch of new works and some layout guides, design ideas and copy notes to give this title a fresh look. I suggested to Bruce that we create a whole new series title and format for this year. We came up with the digest sized collection that proved suitable for the dimensions of the originals and offered a throwback to the paperbacks from the fifties and sixties. I’ve learned more about how to design from Bruce than from anyone else.
The Flesk blank sketchbooks were a bit of an experiment. I buy journals and sketchbooks often for writing. I thought, why am I buying these things–I’m a publisher, I’m going to make my own! I asked Frank Cho, Terry Dodson, Petar Meseldzija, Iain McCaig, Mark Schultz and Bruce Timm to provide some art and I got them made in the handy format that I like most.
The Art of Elfquest is our first of three books to celebrate the art and career of Wendy Pini. We should get our copies of the book anytime now. We will immediately begin to ship the books to our Kickstarter supporters and to those who pre-ordered the book direct from us when they arrive.
We’re hard at work on Elquest: The Art of The Story and Line of Beauty: The Art of Wendy Pini for next year. Did I mention how great it is to work with Richard and Wendy Pini? I can’t say it enough. I think it is safe to say that Richard is Wendy’s biggest fan.
The Nexus Chronicles is running behind schedule. It is almost done and we plan to send it to the printer soon. Just a few small details left to do. It’ll be worth the wait. The new release date is set for spring 2016.
Spectrum 22: The Best in Contemporary Art is available. We’ve shipped out the artist copies and pre-orders. We received our copies at the Flesk warehouse about a week before our distributor, which gave us a jump on our direct orders. Every artist that is included in Spectrum receives a free copy of the hardcover.
As Spectrum 22 makes its way into your hands, I’m already well into the planning stages for Spectrum 23 and working on the rough draft for the 2015 Year in Review. Spectrum is a tremendous amount of work, yet incredibly satisfying to be a part of. I’m already playing with some new design variations, too.
I hung out with Frank Cho for a few days recently. We got caught up on the next two projects that we will be working on together. We both have big things that we will do in the next 4 to 10 years. I’ve always been able to think we’ll into the future, as has Frank. I think he’s just getting started and can’t wait to see the future projects that he will be presenting to us.
Mark Schultz is currently working on an all-new 60 page Xenozoic story to re-introduce the series to new readers while setting the stage to finish the last storyline cliffhanger from 20 years ago. I’m not joking–I’ve seen the first five pages. It’s happening! We are not making any promises or setting any schedules. It will come out when Mark is done. This initial new story could take anywhere from 2 years (that’s when Mark thinks he will be done) to 4 years (that’s when I think it will be done) for Mark to complete. He’s finished the thumbnail drawings for the entire story and done a series of new character and environment designs. I’ve seen these, too. I ain’t kidding!
Moving on to a new topic, each year, one of the benefits of being the Spectrum director involves choosing who to contact to create the Spectrum Call For Entries poster art. I’ve been lucky so far in that my first artist choices for Spectrum 21-23 have said yes. Generally, I start thinking about a few names early in the year, then let their art percolate in my head for a while and then narrow the list down to one person. Contacting Android for Spectrum 21 and Victo Ngai for Spectrum 22 were clear and quick choices. For the Spectrum 23 poster I wanted to look outside of the typical Spectrum field and find a fresh voice. I asked someone who is a contemporary legend and who is highly regarded by professionals and fans alike, while being a constant source of inspiration. I got the chance to meet Claire Wending during a rare U.S. appearance at the Big Wow Comic fest in San Jose, CA. It was the highlight of the show when I had the chance to meet her in person and ask her if she could produce the art. The poster was mailed to the 5000 people on our mailing list in early October. All you have to do is sign up on our website to receive one for free in the U.S. For our international friends we have an online PDF that you can download.
Imagery From the Bird’s Home: The Art of Bill Carman is one of those special dream projects. Bill and I served on the jury of Spectrum 17 together and we got along well and have kept in touch ever since. This book was designed by Bill and perfectly captures his art. I could say this about all of the books that I’ve published, but this is one of my favorite books.
Our latest book is The Art of the Dam Keeper. It is a behind the scenes collection that serves as a time capsule to the Academy Award nominated short animated film directed by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi. Chapter introductions and interview material with Robert, Dice and the essential crew who worked on the film, plus a wide assortment of drawings and art are gift wrapped together in this charming and unique collection. Furthermore the formation of Tonko House and a glimpse into future projects are covered.
The history behind this book began when I inquired with Dice Tsutsumi if he would be willing to be a part of the jury for Spectrum 22 in July 2014. A few months later, in October 2014 I met Dice for the first time in San Francisco during the APE event at Fort Mason. I knew that Dice had left Pixar earlier that year, that he and Robert had completed their first film together and were touring the film circuit, and that they had formed Tonko House. I asked Dice if they had thought of making an art book for The Dam Keeper and if they would be willing to work together on one? He and Robert agreed, and production begin in earnest during the summer of 2015. We are all very pleased to offer this book. It’s a personal one that captures the heart of Tonko House and gives the viewer a genuine look into the beginnings of this new journey for Tonko House.
For 2016, I’ll be working just as hard as in 2015. We have the pair of Wendy Pini books to finish. I’ll also be intensely involved in the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live show in San Francisco. As Arnie Fenner always tells me, it’s all about details, details and more details!
I’ll have some new books to announce next year. I’m turning down all book proposals, and putting new projects on hold until I get caught up on my current obligations. I prefer to letting the books take their own time and not setting schedules. Personally, with the exception of Spectrum, I prefer to not set schedules. I think this is one of the reasons why I get along with the artists who I work with so well. None of us like deadlines. But somehow we still manage to get books out. Go figure?
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