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June 20, 2007

Ramble on!

For the last week or so, it's really gotten down to the wire on my work-for-tooth project. It's not that my "client" has been harassing me or anything, it's just that we leave for MoCCA in two days (well, tomorrow, actually, since it's 4:30am right now) and then immediately upon returning from that, head off to Alaska for the commercial fishing season (I say commercial so you punks don't think I go up there all leisurely and casually kill a fish at a time. I kill them by the THOUSANDS, baby, and don't you forget it!). Where we live in Alaska, there is no phone, no supermarket, and only electricity by generator, which has a verkackt pull-cord on it so it's really irritating to start up when you want to do something requiring electricity, which means we do our best without it most of the time. Which also means we don't have access to a computer, or online etc. Actually, that's not entirely true - my sister's genius boyfriend put together a "cantenna" (so called, because it's made out of an old coffee can) that we hoist up on a pole while we're parked out on the tundra airstrip and aim over towards our nearest neighbor who gets satellite internet and steal his signal. So - if we're willing to start up the verkackt generator to charge the computer up (which takes HOURS) and if the weather is just right and we've got enough zip in our pants to drive out to the airstrip and hold the cantenna high over our heads with one hand while typing with the other, well, then, we could do some communicating with the outside world. But, I didn't feel like doing that, so just told my "client" that I would get her cards done before we left.

So anyway.
These cards are a real pain in the ass to make. First, and not least, is printing.

The thing is, I have to print it on double-sided card stock, but nice card stock, which means matt photo paper, which doesn't really feed very well into the printer because it's all felt-y, which means that I have to sit there and every time it chokes (which is about every other print) I have to pat it on the back, sing it songs, and help feed the piece of paper. Which takes an ungodly amount of time.

Then, after printing both sides, I have to score it where it's going to fold. The really irritating part about this step (believe me, there is an irritating part about every step of this process) is that I can't just score all the way across the card. Because of the way it's designed, I have to score for about 3 inches, then open the scorer, move the wheel farther down the bar to skip the area I don't want scored, then close it and score again. All the while maintaining my usual standards of precision.

Which basically means doing everything like a hunchback with my nose to the paper (just like how I write and draw).

Then, after that, I have to cut the certain areas out that need to be cut. Again, because this was designed the way it was, it means cutting a partial window out. But, I didn't want there to be obvious marks showing where I should cut, because all the paper still stays attached (you'll see what I mean when you see it) so I made these teensy tinsy little pink dots that I made the cuts between. They were so tiny I spent a lot of time trying to find the suckers.

And because they were pretty precise cuts, I couldn't do it with the trimming wheel, which meant I had to do it with my trusty exacto knife, which means that the cuts aren't super clean (the exacto blade drags the paper a little in the direction you're cutting, so it makes a little ridge, where the trimming wheel rolls and so it doesn't drag like that). This only matters because it makes the next step super long and tedious.

The next step is using the bone folder to fold at the scores and also to smooth out those dragged up edges. For anyone who isn't totally anal retentive, the second part of that equation is pretty much invisible, but for me (really, I'm not all that anal retentive, but when it comes to certain things like OHMYGOD dragged up exacto edges, I go CRRAAAZYY!) it means I have to go around all the cut edges with the bone folder and neaten everything up, smooth it out. Which takes a long time.

In this pic, you can see why I couldn't score all the way across, and why the cuts didn't cut out a complete window, but just a partial one.

For anyone who isn't into making stuff, this is surely a real bore. If you'd prefer to be entertained by some beautiful ladies from russia, click here instead. (I wasn't kidding). They send me emails all the time, those russian ladies.

Anyway. So once everything is scored and folded, I had to trim all four sides down, which was another pain in the butt, because I did it out of order and should have trimmed them before folding them because the trimmer couldn't handle the fold, so I had to unfold everything.

But, in the end of it all (did I tell you it's fricking HOT up here in the barn these days? No A/C + tin roof = sweaty buns!) I sent those suckers off and am glad to be rid of them. Oh, and then there was the whole fiasco with my printer eating the envelopes so matthew had to get new ones at the nearest location, which was like an hour and a half away, oy! But, this post has already gotten WAY too long, so I won't bore you with that, too. ... too late!

So, you can see the final product in action HERE, if you would like to understand why all of this was so gosh-darned complicated.

And, it seems that if I'm up to late, I tend to ramble and ramble on. Sorry about that. As you can see, I take my work-for-tooth work very seriously.

Hopefully I never ever ever get another tooth knocked out.

Posted by ribbu at 04:20 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2007

Hot off the Stovetop!

Spent the wee hours of today (last night?) (it's weird how the start of the day actually starts in the middle of the night, isn't it? It would be a lot easier if 12am were sometime around sunrise, so that when you're "up past midnight" it's really saying something...) trying to put together something a little flashier for the home page of Idiots'Books. Matthew pointed out that though it is spare and full of white space (something we're both quite fond of), it has a representative example of his writing but no indication of the fact that we are a writing/illustrating team. Early in the evening (say, around 11) he suggested I draw something, like him typing and me drawing or something. I immediately nixed that idea, in part because the whole idea of me illustrating the way that I get to illustrate for Idiots'Books is that I don't just draw the obvious, the representational. And, also in part because I can't do a convincing drawing of myself. Apparently, I have no idea what I actually look like.

There was also the issue that just having an image of me drawing and him writing didn't really show that we were collaborating.

So, we thought and thought. At one point, this was the idea:

(sketch compliments of matthew). "That's pretty basic. And not all that interesting," we thought. I think, now, in retrospect, we couldn't have been more right.

I then suggested that we take the writing side, and add a word, say, like "cat", and then on the drawing side, have an image, but not necessarily a cat, but related to a cat in some weird way.

I couldn't come up with anything good, so I put down a table. There is really no convincing way that I can relate a cat to a table other than putting it on top of or underneath it. But, you get the idea. In fact, at one point while we were brainstorming, I actually suggested that the connection could be that the cat eats the table. Clearly I was depending on Matthew for a genius solution. Matthew liked the general idea, but hated the cat and the table, which, in retrospect was, again, completely in the right.

Then he suggested that it's really the space in between the writing and the illustration where something unique happens - that space where the reader has to determine his own narrative, to reconcile the often divergent storytelling that's going on (and in this case, that would be inventively connecting the cat and the table in your head somehow).

So, I added the thought bubble. Please notice how well drawn it is, compared to the rest of it.

At this point (around 12:30) we realized that "cat" was way too literal. We might still be able to work with the table. Then we thought, okay, how about a more vague word - one that captures an idea. So I said, "Well, how about "colonialism" and then I draw a ship on the other side, and then the thought bubble has people massacreing(sp?) the natives" (this was fresh on my mind after the mural at Bookplate, I guess. Never one to avoid using old ideas again and again...).
"Well, um, except that's what colonialism actually is".

Hmph. I got in a huff over his being quite right, and we went back to thinking.

"Plus, that's so heavy-handed. Colonialism? Come on. It has to be something more basic."

True. We thought and thought and thought some more. Then we decided that we were making it too complicated.

"Perhaps we're making this too complicated," said Matthew. (Perhaps this was us giving up in frustration.)

And then, somehow, it changed from pages of a book to frying pans. People always ask us what's with the frying pan logo. I'm not sure where it came from originally, but dammit, I like it. I like its versatility. And I like that we're up here cooking things up. So, I spent the next three hours drawing, waiting to dry, scanning, patching together in Photoshop, laying out in GoLive for web, and posting. Go have a look over at Idiots'Books. I don't think it's half bad.

And that gives you an idea of how we work together. We talk ideas to death (literally) and then from the ashes something almost completely different springs, full-formed, and we say, "Why the hell didn't we think of that before?"

Posted by ribbu at 01:58 AM | Comments (2)

June 12, 2007

Did Anyone Notice?


Did anyone notice I got a comment from my new crush, Joe Garden?

I'm only writing this so that he'll find me again when he googles "Joe Garden" again.


I fooled you, Joe Garden!

Alright. I just wanted to brag. Apparently my old crush, Beck, never googles his name. That's another reason to be done with him. Where's your pride, Beck? Where's your curiousity, and love of life? Where is your unadulterated appreciation for your own fame???


And THAT'S why I like Joe Garden.

Posted by ribbu at 10:59 AM

June 10, 2007


I'm just writing to check in. To let you folks know I haven't forgotten you.

Here's the thing:
We've been busy.

We had a reading in DC last weekend:

... then another in MA (ssachusetts) this weekend. The one in MA was attached to a 10-year college reunion, and included lots of catching up, staying up late, and taxing my memory. Trying to remember ten years back is exhausting.

Both readings went really well, but we were so involved in, you know, reading, that we forgot to take any pictures.


So. Nothing exciting to show you there.

Also, last week, before this past weekend's reading, we figured we had to finish Volume VIII, to debut at the reading. So, I actually had to illustrate that and then we had to actually produce some copies to have on hand in case anyone wanted to buy them. So, that kept me kind of busy too.

Here's a teaser for those of you who weren't at the reading:

This book, though small, includes a lot of crossover spreads that have a lot of ink coverage. And, because I am who I am, uses up a TON of yellow ink. It seems that I like things that are made up of yellow. In order to save money, we order ink in bulk - 8 yellows, 8 magentas, 8 cyans, 8 blacks. Well, apparently I never do anything in blues, because I am all out of yellow and still have about 30 cyans in stock. Maybe the next book will be all blue. It will be called "Blue Book".

I have a sneaking suspicion that one will get nixed at the next creative meeting.

Well, the reading at reunion went exceedingly well. Except for a weird joke about our sex life that spiraled out of control to general hilarity, it went pretty smoothly and was well received by (most) all. Probably the best audience we will EVER have, what with them almost all being people who know and generally like us. I don't know how many people total showed up, but there was quite a crowd. It was a really neat way to reconnect (or newly connect) with folks we have something in common with.

Hm. This post is really boring. Quite.

I'll try to come up with something more thrilling next time. If I'm at a loss, I can always post more disgusting pictures of my recent bout with poison ivy.

Thanks to the folks who came to the readings, though. We had a great time. It's nice to know people are interested in what we're doing.

Posted by ribbu at 11:58 PM