Coming soon...

Published on 2018-05-22

This is what's been on my desk recently:

Carl Otto Czeschka: a mommy mermaid (mommermaid?) and her two mer-pups!
Carl Otto Czeschka: a mommy mermaid (mommermaid?) and her two mer-pups!

Carl Otto Czeschka!  I really hope that people like this idea.  He's not an artist who people know, but his style was absolutely one of the major influences on the late 1960s rock poster artists: skulls, serpents, mermaids and more, all in a style that looks like tattoo flash art.  (I found a rare, more elaborate image to use for the cover.)  

This campaign will be an experiment for multiple reasons–  Experiment #1: do people want to know about things THIS obscure?  I sure did, and loved learning about him.  We'll see what the public says.  Experiment #2: The stretch goal for this one will be that we increase the size about 30% and make it a hardcover, so if it does as well as the usual small books we make, this one will be a fantastic bargain.

Sergeant T. J. Weems (Jack Campbell) presents his strange findings in Aurora.
Sergeant T. J. Weems (Jack Campbell) presents his strange findings in Aurora.

Aurora!  I can't wait for picture grading to be done.  That's where a technician prepares the files so the film looks the same on all screens, it's a subtle but important step.  Our technician is excellent, but he's been having to work us in here and there between working on the Marvel movie trailers and things like that that pay his rent!  Most recent word is that the deadline to get it finished is Memorial Day, which means that we can start on all the Aurora fulfillment in August.  I can't wait for everyone to see this, it turned out beautifully.

A religious stained glass window by Alphonse Mucha, part of the expanded Le Pater hardcover.
A religious stained glass window by Alphonse Mucha, part of the expanded Le Pater hardcover.

Le Pater!  Man, this is a big one.  We've been late on a few books over the years, but I can honestly say that while I publicly said it was "our fault" as a company, that was the "Royal We" and I was just being kind and professional and covering for someone outside of our company (and outside of my control).  But this time, it is completely, absolutely, and totally my fault and my fault alone.  This book got larger in scope than I had laid track for, and I was getting so much pressure from people who wanted it IMMEDIATELY that I kept hitting the pause button to be able to come back to it when I didn't feel my decisions being influenced by negative pressures.  In each case, that was the right move because something even more spectacular opened up in the space that was created.  I tried sharing the process a couple times on social media, but there was always someone who commented something like "I understand that you think those original concept sketches for the series are fascinating, but you're missing the point and I want my book."  When the book is in the rear view mirror, I'm happy to really lay out the entire process, but that's why I've been so quiet about this one.  It'll be the most beautiful thing we've produced to date, and I just get distracted by the voices that aren't really interested in my development of the project and are just there to express disappointment.  I hope that helps give some insight on this project.  It's moving forward at the appropriate pace: slowly and surely, and it still looks like a Fall delivery is certain.

And: what's been on my turntable!

Three heavy-rotation titles this past month: The Easybeats, The Twilight Hours, and Chamaeleon Church.
Three heavy-rotation titles this past month: The Easybeats, The Twilight Hours, and Chamaeleon Church.

I finally unpacked my turntable after five+ years now that I'm settled into a home, and while most of my records are still somewhere in the ether, I luckily have these three with me.  

The Easybeats are an Australian band and this 1966 album is a beautifully odd blend of smart pop and edgy, manic delivery that makes me think they must have been incredible live.  You probably know the song "Friday On My Mind" but the whole record is fantastic– this was their first US release, but the record was re-released on Record Store Day in 2016 under the original title "Good Friday" so it's easy to find, if you're interested.  

The Twilight Hours is a band formed from the wreckage of Trip Shakespeare.  Matt Wilson was the founder of that band, and with his brother Dan Wilson and bassist John Munson shared lead vocal duties.  After the band broke up, Dan and John went on to form Semisonic, famous for the hit "Closing Time," and (in Dan's case) to co-write songs with people like Adele and Carole King and The Dixie Chicks.  Matt stayed in the indie wilderness with little commercial success but increasingly powerful songs, and a few years ago started this new band with John.  Brother Dan helps out on a few songs, so there's a lot of Trip Shakespeare vibe on here, but it's so so much gentler– as is appropriate.  Trip Shakespeare was drug-fueled youth, The Twilight Singers is a band made up of people who are not only married with kids, but visibly finding beautiful inspiration in both this new perspective on old times, and new experiences seen through a mature lens.  Give it time to settle in with you, and you'll find it to be one of the best records of any year.  It's pure American poetry and will reward every moment that you invest in it.  

Chamaeleon Church was a pretty insane record store find for me sometime in the mid-90s: the sticker read "w/Chevy Chase" and was an expensive $12 for that time.  (I had two mom-and-pop record stores within walking distance of my house as a kid, and I'd guess $5 was pretty much the average price for a good, mint, old record.)  There's a song on here called "Camilla is Changing" that is one of the best late 60s dreamy pop gems I've ever heard, and the entire record is something I put on constantly when I'm working.  They recorded and released this in 1968, no one in the world bought it, Chevy Chase gave up on music and entered comedy and got scooped up by Saturday Night Live... and a half a century later, this beautiful, beautiful record is a lost gem.  This was released on CD not too long ago, it's definitely worth ordering... you know you want to hear Chevy Chase play drums... and even get to sing lead on one track like Ringo did!

Aside from all this, I've been working on enamel pin designs, working with the letterpress people on the Orchid Garden prints, and generally trying to image what life-work balance looks like.  Please let me know in the comments what you want to hear about, and I'll touch on that next time!

Thank you!

Tom