Volume 24, The New South, is on its way to subscribers all over the country and world. I’ll do a full post on The New South in a few days, once it has landed, but for the time being, I wanted to promote that wholesome, anticipatory tingle subscribers get when they know that something new and unexpected is moving quickly toward them on the light, determined feet of their friendly neighborhood mail carrier.
In case there are any of you out there who have not thoroughly explored this website yet, I just wanted to point out that we will be hosting auctions for various original illustrations by yours truly (that’s me, Robbi) (see right sidebar for link to ebay auction). I suppose we could also auction some of Matthew’s masterpieces, but we’re not sure they would draw in any bidders. For example, we were going to post Matthew’s Surly Giraffe drawing instead of mine, but someone suggested it might not even reach the minimum bid of $15. I wonder if you agree…?
Actually, the truth of the matter is, I find Matthew’s drawings so endearing that I can’t part with them. They somehow perfectly reflect the way that he sees the world, as is evidenced in his equally odd (endearing!) writing style. I suppose this is what the general population calls “blinded by love.”
At any rate, the real point of the auction is to let me draw whatever I feel like on any given day. Because I have good streaks and bad streaks, it should, in theory, get me drawing on a regular basis, giving me, hopefully, more good days than bad days as time progresses. Also, when I do illustrations for jobs, I tend to tighten up and have a hard time capturing the loose messiness that I like. So, selfishly, this whole auction idea is all about me ME ME. I’m hoping it will do me good. But at the very least, it will give you all something different to look at every week or so. And because I really don’t want all these things piling up in the already congested barn (paper is remarkably big and heavy, and I’ve heard that babies only grow to demand more and more room), selling them seemed like a good way to go. I’m delighted to see that Surly Giraffe is drawing some interest – I liked him enough that if he didn’t sell, I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
To give you a preview of what’s coming next, here’s Matthew’s rendition of the next auction, “Big Man on a Little Motorcycle”:
Except, imagine that I drew it instead.
If any of you out there want to fight me for Matthew’s original drawings, bring it. I can promise you, it won’t be nearly as civilized as an ebay auction.
We know how much you like Subway sandwiches and that you are particularly motivated by the $5 footlong and its enchanting anthem. We know that you eat twelve of them each year, spending approximately $60 to fill your belly on a dozen happy occasions with good, nourishing processed meat products on relatively fresh bread. We do not begrudge you this repast, but wonder if we might suggest an alternative means of allocation for those same funds, one which would nourish your heart and mind if not your legs and arms.
I’m writing today with a bit of an appeal. If you have enjoyed reading what we have to say on The Barnstorming (or now Idiots’Blog), why not become a subscriber and see what Idiots’Books is really all about? A subscription consists of six books a year for $60 (a number that bears uncanny resemblance to your yearly Subway budget) sent directly to your home along with an irreverent, newsy letter (kind of like this blog, but better). If you hate getting funny, unique, beautifully illustrated, brilliant, and lowbrow books in the mail, perhaps you know someone else who might be less opposed to such things? In our humble (though not unbiased) opinions, a subscription to Idiots’Books makes an outstanding holiday gift to that friend, relative, or colleague who seems to have everything else (why merely resent these people when you can make their lives even more charmed?).
Ok, ok. You are a smart, sensible, consumer who likes to see what he is getting before relinquishing the almighty dollar. We get it. We respect that. Here’s what our subscribers have received over the past year, just to give you a sense of what we won’t be sending them in the year to come.
Volume 23: Nasty Chipmunk
In which grandmothers are offended, lions are deposed, and forest fires are deliberately started. Also features a duel that ends badly for a bunny. Suitable for certain kinds of children and adults.
Volume 22: Tarpits and Canyonlands
That which goes up must come down. Sometimes a rough landing is made tolerable by the breathtaking views that precede it. This fine concoction is, in fact, an album combining pictures and words and music—the latter coming from our friends at Bombadil. If you are the cautious type, have a listen here to make sure that you like it first.
Volume 21: The Last of the Real Small Farmers
This illustrated interview with a guy named Bill tests the boundaries of nonfiction and uses a whole lot of green ink. It starts with a sweet potato and ends with a sweet potato, and in between the whole wide sweep of mankind’s dark compulsions is revealed. (A collaboration with fiddle-playing novelist Brian Francis Slattery.)
Volume 20: Jericho
As childhood ends, we all confront its opposite. The schoolyard is our battlefield. We are armed with our imaginations. The war that ensues is civil to the end, bloodless, but not without its casualties. If only we could have built a better catapult. If only kids were strong enough and wise enough to stay that way.
Volume 19: Floating on the Ocean
The maritime adventures of a profoundly unlucky man, this book is most compelling for the fact that it is not a book. Letterpress printed on pure cotton and produced in a limited edition of 300, this is what happens when Robbi finds her bad self alone with a Vandercook.
Volume 18: After Everafter
What happens when the lease runs out on the fairy tale ending? Augment your childhood traumas by finding out what really happened to Snow White and Goldilocks. Classified as Brilliant and Lowbrow by New York magazine, this book contains ten illustrated tales that may be recombined in ten thousand ways.
We’re not much for the hard sell, so we’ll leave it at that. You are, of course, welcome to go on reading about our home, child, books, and misadventures to your heart’s content while remaining well-plied with footlong sandwiches. But if you have ever been curious about these books you’ve been hearing so much about or if you fear the outlet mall and would just as soon take care of your holiday shopping here and now with a few easy clicks, start here to see your troubles fade away (like the bread crumbles, olives, and banana pepper bits left over once your footlong Subway is gone).
A few months ago we were visiting with Christian and Emily in Baltimore. I’ve known Christian for many years now. We met during the first few weeks of college when we both auditioned for the Frosh Review (a series of sketches and songs lampooning freshman life at Williams). We were roommates sophomore year and lived together in a suite senior year. All this is to say, I spent an awful lot of time with the guy. Imagine my surprise, then, to learn the other day that he can fly.
I offer the following evidence.
I wonder what will happen to my old friend if and when the scientific community learns of his dark powers. I’ll feel terrible if this post somehow contributes to his capture and containment. On one hand, I know that certain phenomena are best kept under wraps, but on the other, I cannot help but shout from the rooftops about the miracle of Christian and his wingless flight.
What, after all, is a blog for if not to post photos like this one?
It’s that time again, my least favorite aspect of our Idiots’Books industry: mailing time. It’s fun to come up with ideas for books. It’s fun to write them. It’s fun to put my head together with Robbi and brainstorm how the text and illustrations will interact. But once the books are written, illustrated, and constructed, we are faced with the decidedly unglamorous task of generating labels, folding letters, stuffing envelopes, and applying stamps.
Yesterday was a double-doozy on the mailing front. In addition to the Volume 24 mailing, we decided to send out a festive holiday postcard to 273 of our favorite people in the world. This required 273 labels and 273 stamps.
Alden tried her best to be helpful.
But, ultimately, she didn’t seem to understand where the stamp was supposed to go.
I wonder how much it costs to send a baby first class?
If you would like be on the list of “favorite people” who occasionally receive festive holiday (and other) postcards from us, just send me your mailing address.
After we finished with the postcards, I assembled the subscriber mailing. The current volume, titled The New South, is a cross-media collaboration between Robbi and me and our good friend Drew Bunting, who is not only an extremely talented singer/songwriter/punk rocker but also an Episcopal priest. I wrote a companion story for the album, which Robbi illustrated along with the jacket and disc itself. (I’ll do a full post on The New South next week once it has landed in our subscribers’ mailboxes.)
In any case, stuffing the CD, the festive holiday postcard, and accompanying letter into envelopes took some doing. Applying four stamps to each envelope took some doing. Licking each bad-tasting envelope flap took some serious doing.
Is this dull, tedious, and uninteresting? I suspect it is. This pleases me, however. I want you to feel just a little bit of my pain.
Now, to reward your persistence, here are some photos of the child in her throne, doing her best to dominate and demoralize a small cup of organic vanilla yogurt.
She has only recently gained the manual dexterity to bend the spoon to her iron will.
One could argue that she still has a ways to go before she will be able to boast of full mastery. Indeed, at times the spoon is still to much an impediment to the full, expeditious enjoyment of her meal. Who needs a spoon when one’s fingers will suffice?
Here’s hoping you are having a wonderful Friday and that your weekend is focused on something other than assembling large mailings (or learning how to use a spoon).
Mindful of our promise to maintain a sturdy tether to The Barnstorming vis a vis photos that Alden will some day hate me for once having posted, I offer you this delicacy from yesterday. Robbi bought Alden some new tights a few weeks back, selecting the 18-month size since undersized Alden is just more than 18 months old. Looking more carefully at the label, I noticed that the tights were, in fact, the 18-36 month size. Given that Alden is just now growing into the 12-month size (and still comfortably wears her 9-month onesies), there is a bit of excess fabric to contend with.
This kind of reminds one of Alden’s extraordinary pants, chronicled here on one of my all-time favorite Barnstorming posts.
I know that the era of complete control over photographic rights to my child’s embarrassing moments will someday come to a sudden end. Which is why we’re having Tarzan. A question for parents who might know: when does the dawn of self-consciousness occur? When is she going to start thinking I’m lame? I need to know how much time I have left.
Greetings, all. I have yet to post in the new space, so I’m going to disappoint all you rabid consumers out there and refrain from pointing you to more interesting pages on the site where you can buy stuff. You’ll just have to hold onto your money a little longer.
So – last week we went up to the big city (New York, that is) to have some important meetings that Matthew will describe in laborious detail at some other time. I’m going to tell you about the real trauma of it all, the messy awful parts, the parts that make me want to stay away from trips to the big city for important meetings. The real trauma of it all was not, in fact, the fact that we were going to be up in the big city with several million other people who were much more savvy, sophisticated, brash, well-dressed, sensible, and neurotic than we were (and still are). I mean, see how earnest and naive we are?
It begs the question, what could possibly be worse? Well, let me tell you. You might not have noticed in the full glare of the early morning sun. But if you look closely enough, you will see evidence of the nexus of trauma.
Actually, don’t look closely enough. I’d really rather you didn’t. But…
Okay. Now, I fully recognize that it’s totally (fill in a word for “catty” and “hateful” that rhymes with “twitchy” here) to complain about a big zit when, for the most part, you are blessed with decent skin. I know, I know. But this is all in the name of a good story. So, the morning light made my zit look not all that bad, but if you had seen me in person, you would know that it actually looked like this:
Who knew that a camera actually subtracts ten pounds from a zit? So yes, actually, two days before our big trip, this zit of gargantuan proportions settled in for what looked to be an entire nesting season. It was bad. It was really bad. I commanded Matthew to go forth and buy me all sorts of products after doing research on the net. It had become large and distracting and I was debating whether bandages were in order. And then, the real trauma occurred. I was giving Alden a bath and she points up to my forehead, right at the zit, and uses one of her favorite new words, and with gusto:
Oy, yoy. You can sure count on that kid being honest. Thankfully after two days of non-stop treatment, it settled down into more of an uncomfortable bump, and I was able to forego any serious cosmetic intervention. But for a while there, I was worried I was going to have to go into these important meetings with a nipple on my forehead.
This isn’t to say that the trauma of being in the big city with all those savvy, sophisticated, brash, well-dressed, sensible, and neurotic people was not great. I mean, look at where we’re coming from:
I’m so glad that we found this supply of bling on our way out of town. Not only had I forgotten my bling at home, but I’ve heard that important people in important meetings in the big city just won’t take you seriously without your bling.
Real trauma averted. Whew!
We were pleased to find out yesterday that Idiots’Books has been selected to appear at the 2010 Toronto Comic Arts Festival (affectionately known as TCAF), where we will join other purveyors of independent comics and illustrated words in selling and talking about our work.
Unlike the other festivals in which we’ve participated to date, we had to apply for this one, and so our chests are swelling (modestly) today with that special pride reserved for those who have been approved of by Canadian institutions.
For those of you who will be in Toronto this coming May 8-9, please stop by to say hello, buy books, or observe what happens when an infant is brought to a comic arts festival. Your guess is as good as ours.
One of our favorite features of the new Idiots’Books site is our online auction, which gives you all the chance to bid for original illustrations by Robbi (while giving Robbi the chance to draw anything and everything that occurs to her without me breathing down her neck). Once a week (or so), we’ll post a new image for your bidding pleasure. Most auctions will last about a week. Sometimes, to mix things up, we might post one that only runs for a few hours. We aim to keep this relationship fresh and unexpected.
By clicking on the text in the Auction section at the top of the right sidebar, you can link to the Ebay auction page for the related thumbnail. At the moment, the current auction is for a very fine illustration titled Surly Giraffe.
As the moment (10:18pm on Monday, December 7), the going price for Surly Giraffe is a mere $15. If that seems like an awfully good price for an original illustration by Robbi, that’s because it is. In the real world when Robbi is hired to draw illustrations like these, the price starts at about $300.
But the real world is dull and predictable, and so we offer you a sanctuary here. In the interest of fun (and so that you can get your hands on some affordable, original art), we’re committed to keeping the reserve price low. The reserve for Surly Giraffe, for example, has already been met. So have at it. Go get yourself some art.
Those of us at Idiots’Blog are under no illusions about the fact that a good percentage of you are here in search of photos of our child. For those of you who are coming to this blog without having been readers of The Barnstorming, here is Alden in all her undersized glory. This is, in fact, an especially representative image. Notice Stinky Hippo tucked under the arm. Notice Binky and his long orange strap. Notice the pink knit hat from Grandma Judy, the pink fuzzy bootie slippers, the pre-distressed designer jeans. Notice, the diffident, sideways stare. This is how she looks approximately 95 percent of the time.
I suspect she’d fit in perfectly slouching against the wall at the local shopping mall, loitering with her equally disaffected peers between the Gap and the food court. If only we had a local shopping mall, that is. If only she knew how to open the front door.