Monday, May 25, 2015

Heads of Clay

Suddenly got the urge to work in 3-D. These are small, No more than 2.5x2" and fun to do. They are made with Sculpy, and painted with acrylics.

G. W. Bush

G. W. Bush
R. M. Nixon

Ronald Reagan

LBJ

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On Judging a book by its Cover- Go Right Ahead, Judge Mine


One of the lamest sayings is "You can't judge a book by its cover". It is the job of a well-designed cover to convey a sense of why the reader should take an interest in what the book has to say.  The cover has to give us a reason to spend our precious time (and money) with this particular book. If a book doesn't deliver on the promise of the cover, it will have indicted itself as untrustworthy, a self-inflicted wound at the core of any author's most essential attribute, their credibility. 

In a sense, if a cover is badly designed, it could and often does actually function well. It's warning us the author doesn't care enough or isn't wise enough to present his work credibly. That is a strong signal that the book itself will be less than worthwhile. Good job, amateurish cover designers, and thanks for sparing us the effort of slogging through your badly-organized and poorly thought-through material. 

Above is the cover for my book, due this Fall, about coping with young-onset Parkinson's Disease.  The publisher, Penn State Press has chosen an image and presented it in a way that is compelling, and gives you an idea of what to expect from the work. You will be up close and personal with the effects of the disease. Choosing this image and setting it against the simple background tells you we are serious. In combination with the title, with its layered pop music reference, it conveys the hope that there will be wit as well.

Does the content stand up to the promise? I invite you to see for yourself this Fall. 


(This is a cross-post from the Alaska Parkinson's Rag)
 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Coming this Fall From Penn State Press "My Degeneration" my "Graphic Novel" Memoir of Coping with Parkinson's Disease

It is official: "My Degeneration" will be published this Fall. Unlike my usual work which is normally hours, even minutes in the making, the process of going from initial concept to final images has been over three years. This is due to a number of factors, not the least being the difference in book publishing culture and newspapering. Think difference between a flash flood and a glacier.

I redrafted the initial manuscript entiely when academic publisher Penn State Press expressed interest in the manuscript. They had a number of criticisms that instantly made sense once they were  voiced. Too wordy, too disorganized, and too much humor, which they believe the readers would find tiring. It also seemed to me that I needed to recalibrate the surface of the story from a scheme that initially was meant to appeal to a general comics audience to a more straightforward narrative for patients, families and medical people.

The rejiggered manuscript went over well when it went through peer review, a normal path for academic books, but a little out of the ordinary for a comic book. It could be my imagination, but interest seemed to go up after the two very positive peer reviews came back.

The momentum has quickened. The people at Penn State are hustling to get the book into their fall catalog.  We are working on two possible cover designs, should have a decision on that shortly.

So the meat hits the counter soon. The fact that other people are now doing actual work on production and marketing make the whole thing seem more real, and a little more scary. It's one thing for one guy to fart around with his little story and pictures. It's another to have other people to throw in their sweat and time. I do think there is valuable content in the book for people with Parkinson's, their caregivers, families, and those who treat them in the medical-industrial complex. I hope the atypical format of comics will get that content out to to people who would not ordinarily encounter it.

Come Fall, I guess we'll see.

Here are a couple of sample pages


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Power and Creativity, A Talk Given to the Staff at the Anchorage Museum