To Boldly Go

It’s been a very busy month since the fundraising portion of the Dylan Meconis Library 2012 project closed on Kickstarter. We closed with a fantastic $36,444 from 808 backers.

Pre-press work for all three books is right on track! Setting up three books in three formats, printed and bound three different ways (make that four, if you count the Bite Me hardcover) is no small task, so I’ve been hard at work in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, prepping images and laying out pages (over 250 of them).

Exciting for all of the books is the arrival of the press dummies!

These are unprinted-on but fully constructed versions of the assembled books in their actual materials (minus dust-jackets on the hardcovers). This allows me to check that the dimensions are correct, see how much each book will weigh (important for shipping!), and make any changes to pagecount or paper stock! Also it allows me to freak out because the books are totally going to be real.

Allow me to say: they look and feel amazing. The Bite Me paperback has three-inch french flaps (!!); the hardcover has a really stunning, soft cloth binding that will be foil-stamped. Outfoxed will be printed on beautiful toothy parchment-colored paper. AndDanse Macabre 2.0 is one of the cutest bitsy little hardcovers I’ve ever held.

Murray the skull agrees.

As for the actual content of the books…

Outfoxed

…is the easiest of the three projects, and has been basically print-ready for awhile now! All I’ve had to do is add a few incidental illustrations and adjust the technical settings of the book to fit the needs of my printer. I can’t wait to see the book in print, especially on that fantastic vanilla-toned paper!

Danse Macabre 2.0

…has been piles of fun. Finalizing the written content (both silly poems and some explanatory text), tweaking type design, adjusting my images to look less like they were scanned a few months ago and more like they were found under some flagstones in a German monastery, etc.

Here’s an wee bitty preview image of the final layout and design for one of the early spreads in the book, the CEO!

I’ve also applied for permission from the University of Heidelberg to license images from the original 1488 Totentanz, with some language help from my super-talented German-speaking colleague Sarah Burrini (check out her fantastic work in English at http://sarahburrini.com/en/). It won’t be cheap, but that money will support the incredible research institution that brought the Totentanz to a digital audience in the first place, and give me a chance to expose even more readers to some of the originals.

Bite Me!

is by far the most labor-intensive of the books! Here are all eleven pages of the newstory in Bite Me, patiently waiting in Adobe Bridge for to import them into the layout of the book – which I did just a few minutes later.

I’m also finishing up image quality touch-ups on the original book. This means everything from fixing flaws in the scans to removing smudges and cleaning up lettering or washed-out line work. Here’s a side-by-side example of some of this work in action! The top image is the original scan (which appeared in previous print editions) and the bottom is the new version of the image:

The changes may be subtle at a casual glance (cleaner/darker type and linework, less smudging, and you can finally see the lines of Lucien’s outfit) but these tweaks make a major difference over the course of 155 pages. Keeping the spontaneous, sometimes messy character of the original art but buffing it up to peak condition is something I haven’t had the time or money to really aim for in past printings. I’m confident that this is going to be the definitive edition.

Meanwhile, to give my hand a break from work-induced tendonitis, I’ve been moonlighting as Sarek’s aide in the Vulcan Diplomatic Corps at this year’s Trek in the Park. Sarek and Amanda are played by my lovely studiomates Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. That’s me down way down on the left, wearing an EXTREMELY logical miniskirt and cloak combo.

Photo by Merrick Monroe

Live long and prosper, y’all.