Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Now?

 Ah, New Year’s Eve.

We’re just about to turn out the lights and lock the doors for the last time on 2015. This time of year is calm like a flat tire: quiet and motionless because all the air has been let out and it ain’t goin’ no further. It’s a great time to sit and reflect. Or, if you’re anything like me and you’re terrified at the torrent of existential thoughts that rush in to fill up the vacuum of silence, it’s a great time to do busy work with the radio on while you tap your fingers nervously and your left eye twitches.

We always claim that the end of the year sneaked/snucked up on us. But it takes an entire year for it to do so. If the end of the year were a monster in a horror movie and took an entire year to chase us down, I’d be rooting for us to have our faces eaten. I’d be yelling at the screen and pointing, certain that the characters inside the magic talkie box can hear me: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? IT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU! AND IT HAS BEEN FOR LIKE A YEAR!” Plus, the end of the year happens, like, every single year. Why are we always so surprised?

Mebbe because we never really know what the year is going to throw at us. I’m also always surprised by how much gets crammed into a single year. Like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag (if her bag contained things like holiday travel and colonoscopies instead of lamps and other household durables). For instance, here’s 2015 in a nutshell:

-Finished the book.
-Got rejected by like a million publishers.
-Put together and ran a (successful thanks to you) Kickstarter campaign.
-Printed the book.
-Sent the books to you.
-Had my first book signings.
-Got engaged.
-Learned peanuts grow underground.

So…what happens now?

Welp… I’m not too sure. See, we’re past the part where I know what the eff is happening. I mean, at least when I was working on the book or trying to get it printed, there was a clear-ish start and finish. But now it’s this big, open-ended…thing. I guess it’s a process? One where my connections and social capital are really going to come in handy.

So…if any of you happens to own a large publishing company and you’d just plum forgotten up until this moment, drop me a line.

While I’m holding my breath for all those mucky-mucks at the publishers to come crawling back, I’ll continue to do signings and promoting the book where I can. It’s now available for sale on my website (there’s also a list on that page of the other outlets where “Saturday” can be found) if you know of anyone who’s looking for a book that’s non-standard in just about every way.

There’s a part of me that’s super cavalier. There’s also a part of me that’s fairly cautious. Maybe a big part.

The latter is like having a driver’s education instructor constantly inside my head, depressing the passenger-side brake pedal every time the car is in any gear other than “park”. I picture him as having a well-trimmed mustache and wearing a tie with a short-sleeved shirt. He has my safety in mind and means well. But were said instructor to have control of the wheel, I’d never get anywhere interesting.

He’s fond of rules. And following them. There’s a set of rules for just about everything. Here’s the set he wrote about books (this is in the manual under “Creative Endeavors”, Chapter 64, subsection C):

1.)   Do not attempt to write and illustrate your own book.

If you decide to disregard Rule #1 (doing so may invalidate your warranty and result in serious injury or death), be sure to read, understand, and obey the following rules:

1.)   Choose an acceptable, pre-existing genre and subject matter.
2.)   Decide the size and format of the book based on ease and cost-effectiveness of printing.
3.)   Choose your target audience and tailor every element of the book to their interests.
4.)   Send the idea out to agents and publishers for vetting. If the idea does not garner interest, shelve it. If an agent is not interested, no one will be interested.

But, like I said, he doesn’t have control of the wheel. I do. And it’s about time to get back on the road. I kinda feel like starting on that next book. And not paying much attention to the manual (again).

I’m afraid of a lot of things. Spiders. Clowns. Contracts that involve a lot of legalese that I’m expected to sign. Responsibility. Germs. Clown germs. But when it comes to drawing, I’m not afraid of much. Not because I’ve carefully considered the dangers and know how to diffuse them. Not because I’m brave. It’s because I know there’s fun to be had. My pursuit of that fun is stronger than my fear of what might happen if it goes wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with the rules. But I don’t think that following them will get me anywhere that interests me. There’s fun to be had in another direction, so I’m headed that way.

It’s just that, because of that passenger side brake, I’ll be going there very, very slowly.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

This and That.


Just wanted to send out an update and give everyone the skinny. You know: the scoop, the D.L., the Q.T., the juice. First off, my 1950s slang class is going really well.

Also, I had my first book signing at our local bookstore (Bookpeople of Moscow), who were gracious enough to fit me in during a pretty busy season. It went very well. It was short, but there were loads of people who said nice things about Saturday right to my face, which is where I prefer nice things to be said. Granted, A.) I knew most of the people who came and, B.) They have to continue living in the same small town with me and so are socially encouraged not to be super mean because I’ll see them again in the future and I can hold a grudge longer than a Hatfield and McCoy put together. You hear that, SHELDON? I haven’t forgotten about that thing.

But I digress.

It reminded me how much I love our community and why I love my hometown. And that was maybe the most Rockwellian thing I’ve ever said. Gah! Sincerity. Quick: Think of a fart joke to wash the taste of real emotion out of your mouth!

Books are arriving at their new homes at various rates and times. I know because you’ve been telling me. Not right to my face this time, but to my computer, which in turn tells it right to my face. And you’ve also given me some of the best compliments I’ve ever had. I will keep these compliments with me and take them out when I need them to keep me warm, like when you put a hot potato in your pocket on a cold wintry night. What? You don’t do that? Well, it’s great. Plus, your pants smell like potato, so…bonus.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, reviews. While it’s flattering to receive compliments from people I know, it’s also nice to get them from strangers. They’re not obligated to be kind the way friends and family sorta are. For example, here are a few of the internet reviews that have come in:

I.M. Realperson: “This book great!”

Phil Intheblankreviews: “SATURDAY  is a terrific product. I use  SATURDAY  every day and I don’t know how I ever got along without it. I would definitely recommend SATURDAY to a friend.”

ReviewBot3000: “This book adequately conforms to human standards.”

NoahsMom: “Is this where I was supposed to type something? I’m not sure how this thing works. Love, Mom.” “Your service or product is good.”

What? How dare you suggest these aren’t real, live humans giving my book four star reviews. All these reviews are merit-based, like every other review on the interwebs.

Ok, jokey jokes aside (NEVER!), y’all have said some beautiful things about the book, and I’m grateful. One person (granted, a friend I’ve known for 15 years, but still…) brought up the amount of “care” put into Saturday. I think it’s a great word that nicely sums up my goals for the book. I cared deeply about every panel and every page. And I’m happy to now be sharing that with you.

Ugh: “sharing”, “caring”, “community”: Today’s post is just an all-star lineup of mushy words and sentiments, isn’t it?

Now, a few S.F.A.Q. (Somewhat Frequently Axed Questions):

International Shipping Costs and their existential ramifications: (Yup, I thought I’d start out with the most exciting topics in case you lose interest and don’t read the rest): I substantially undercharged for international shipping. But the explanation is simple: I’m dumb. So much so that pretty much all that extra money pledged for Kickstarter (thank you), went toward shipping. No bigs. It was never about money. Given the amount of time and personal money I’ve invested, CLEARLY, it was never about money.

My brother in law, who’s very smart and very business savvy, did a quick calculation of the entire affair and told me that, if I sold every single book, I stood to make a couple hundred dollars. It forced me to acknowledge that I’m a bad businessman. But I’m good at making fun things and sharing them with people. So I suppose that’s the point for me.

I’ve talked about my goals for Saturday many times (good craftsmanship, big, strange, funny, etc.). But the pie-in-the-sky goal was to make something that people want to read over and over and something that maybe possibly maybe inspires people the way my favorite books inspired me. The only problem with that goal is that there’s no real way for me to know it’s happened. The only thing I can do is make something as fun as I can and then share it. And that part HAS to be enough for me. It has to be satisfying and sustaining for me (because the money sure isn’t going to do either of those things).

What Now? Book events, maybe some comicons, etc. Work-wise, I’ve started a new series of fun, single-character poster illustrations. They’re sort of a palette-cleanser after eight years working on the same project.

When will the next book come out? I’m not too sure on that one. I’ve started a new book, but it’s on hold right now. I can’t jump straight from one book to another. I need a breather. But I will definitely keep you in the loop.

Ok, that’s enough jibba jabba. If you made it this far, you’re probably exhausted. Re-hydrate and relax for the rest of the day.

And thank you again. For everything.



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Firstest Book Signing of Saturday!


Good news: I’m having my very first book signing! It’s at our beloved Bookpeople of Moscow on Thursday, December 3rd from 6-7 pm. It’s the first time my book Saturday will be available at a bookstore (which is pretty exciting for me).

Haven’t heard of Saturday? It’s a lavishly illustrated book about an odd family, a rotten swamp of a week, and the wild ride back to almost normal. It’s chock-a-block full of strange characters, odd cultural references, mostly-appropriate jokes, and enough detail to choke that one kind of pig that only eats details. So, it’s like…a lot of detail.

“I’m skeptical, Noah,” I hear you say, skeptically, “I mean, sure, Saturday is so elaborately drawn it makes me want to spit on an illustrated manuscript* and the book’s size is wide enough to sit a family of three quite comfortably*, but is that really enough for me to want to take this book home?”

Certainly not, sir or madam. Why, there’s a whole host of other reasons to bring “Saturday” home to your loved ones. And here they are:

-Saturday is multipurpose! It’s a mix between a graphic novel and a children’s book. It’s the spork of books!

-This book will sit by the door (assuming you leave it by the door) and wait loyally for you to return every day. It’s reading material AND a companion. It will also guard your house while you’re away. I mean, it won’t DO anything, but it will be there if someone breaks in. Perhaps the thief will be distracted when they see the book and sit down to read it instead of stealing anything. Then you’ll have TWO companions waiting when you get home. Awww.

-Own a piece of history! This being a book and all (ask your grandparents if you’re unfamiliar with the medium), it continues the proud tradition of Gutenberg and it’s printed on paper just like the…er…ancient Egyptians used to use! Why, paging through Saturday is like traveling through time. Bring a big stick in case you have to fend off Morlocks*.

-It’s funny (in parts). Aren’t you tired of all those children’s books about tax law and estate planning? Good news! Saturday has almost none of those things and way more of the stuff enjoy, like bathroom humor and enough references to “The Golden Girls” to make you Blanche!

Why, with that bushel-full of reasons and my charming, country-fried way of a’ speakin’ (he said, with his thumbs hooked beneath his suspenders), I’d reckon you’re just about all outta excuses. So come on down to Bookpeople of Moscow (Thursday December 3rd from 6-7 pm) and pick up a swell gift for your loved ones just in time for the holidays. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of my book, too. Or just swing by to say ‘hi’. In the immortal words of England Dan, “I’m not talkin’ ‘bout movin’ in, and I don’t want to change your life, but there’s a warm wind blowin’ and the stars are out, and I’d really love to see you tonight (Thursday night).

*Don’t spit on any illustrated manuscripts. Think of the feelings of the long-dead monks, please.

*Assuming this family’s…ahem…southern borders, side by side, measure no more than 18” across.

*Don’t bring a big stick to Bookpeople. It’s probably against store policy. And anyway, Morlocks live underground, so no worries.