Posts Tagged ‘blog: stuff I made’.

Let’s Make ‘Hierarchy of Beards’ and ‘Zoological Times Table’ Jigsaw Puzzles!

I’m turning some of my Victorian-style charts and diagrams into giant jigsaw puzzles!

puzzles

Check out this pitch video for more details!

I’m really excited about this project. The Hierarchy of Beards poster, and the Beards of our Forefathers book that birthed it, have led very exciting lives.

beards-bruno

Pat Race (the photographer, not the subject, of the picture above) took a copy of the book around the World Beard & Mustache Championships in Alaska!

beards-law

Reader Jonathan N. shared that his personal copy of the Beards poster had an uncredited cameo in an unrelated story about an unassociated legal dispute!

queensbrigade

One of the made-up beard styles that I invented was adopted by a folk band in Winnipeg!

And I conducted a lengthy interview with the world’s foremost beard expert!

It’s amazing what one can accomplish in just a few years with a laserlike focus on beards. And I fully expect the Zoological Times Table to take its place in this amazing pantheon, in time.

Puzzles are to posters as ice cream is to milk.

Both are great. Both can be satisfying. But only one is typically enjoyed via a process — spooning, licking, sprinkling, coning, piecing, assembling, dipping in chocolate. Sure, milk can have a process too (I like a latte as much as anyone), but puzzles are process. And like ice cream, puzzles can be pretty cool!

While I wait for the Nobel committee to award me a Metaphor Prize for the preceding paragraph, I will say that I have always been very proud that Wondermark readers are intelligent and charming people with the most discerning taste. I have sold many hundreds of these posters over the years, always to nice people with good-smelling hands.

So you deserve more.

In my new campaign, I’m offering those same posters and books (at cheaper than my typical retail prices) — a great bargain for anyone.

But then you also get this new thing. A puzzle is something to do, not just something to see. A puzzle is a group activity; a puzzle is an art piece; a puzzle is a game that can be shared across generations.

Now, there is a place for super puzzle-maniac difficult puzzles; I don’t think these are they. These are really pretty puzzles that are totally normal puzzles like you would find in the store.

If my lovely Victorian-style joke-puzzles sound like something that would be at home in your life, or the life of someone you care enough about to give a gift to — I hope you’ll reserve your copy (or copies) now!

There are three designs available: The Hierarchy of Beards, the Zoological Times Table, and Sponsored Messages, chock-full of all the labrynthine, intricate faux-Victorian classified advertisements I’ve been polluting my books with for years.


The Machine of Death game was a very complicated Kickstarter, but it is done now.

(You can buy the game now! You can also download the entire game for free.)

I learned a lot doing the MOD game! It was a giant Kickstarter that involved lots of complications — ultimately satisfying, but it took so very long to get settled! So following that, a thing I wanted to try, just to see if I could, was a project that would be deliberately simple.

Hence, the puzzles! In the campaign, you can also get books and/or posters, but that’s it. I will also be making videos along the way, if you’d like to check in on the updates.

So this is a bit of an experiment for me as much as it’s a product for you. Here it is! Puzzles! Grab ‘em while they’re puzzly!

A special advisory for early backers: the first few batches out of the puzzle-fryer will still be chewy on the inside — I guarantee it. 

You can wait, and get a puzzle later, and that’s fine…But it won’t have that flaky puzzle crust you’ve come to love. That’s not how I want my puzzles. Get ‘em fresh. They’re better for you before all the nutrients get blanched out.

Wondermark’s Jigsaw Puzzles of Fictional Victorian Charts

BOOKWAR continues

i am the night

Just 2 things, Ryan…

1. You don’t have to say “fiction novel.” The fiction part is implied by the word “novel”.

2. Why is this book in the Port Authority bathroom

UPDATE: I have learned that it is in every Port Authority bathroom, so I suppose that answers #2, while also raising new questions

I keep finding terrible book after terrible book that Ryan North wrote! And he, incensed, keeps making up completely untrue Photoshopped lies about me!!

oh no

[ BOOKWAR.TUMBLR.COM ]

Wondermark #1000 – Made with the help of the British Library

As I mentioned a while ago, the British Library has released a Flickr set of some ninety gazillion images from their collection of public domain books! There’s a ton of great stuff in there.

For Wondermark strip #1000, “A Terror Far Greater”, I thought it’d be fun to trawl the library’s set of images and make the comic entirely from stuff I found there. The scans (or perhaps they are photos) are of a decent resolution, although quite a bit smaller than what I normally work at — when it comes time to put this one in a book, we’ll see how crisp it turns out, but it works fine for the web. Using Photoshop, I am also able to firm up some of the softer lines.


(Click any image for bigger)

Here are the images I used for the first panel — the man’s body, the side of the house, the background garden, and the gun. (The Piranhamoose is already well-known to us.) The man’s face is from a different image (below)…

Both of the faces are from different sources, as is the cart. The original faces in the environment shot were just too wacky-looking to use without modification.

The man’s “hammering” pose comes from a different shot, as does the woman. In 19th-century European magazines, there are not a lot of dignified portrayals of individuals of color, so one that’s not overtly racist or caricatured is a nice find. The wall he’s working on comes from here, and in the picture above you can also see a different background (from here) that I didn’t end up using, in favor of keeping it consistent from Panel 1.

The rest of the panels are made from images of a stone tower, of the Pyramids (for the close-up in the panel with the hand), of a sunset, and of course of a bird.

I went through 100 pages of the Flickr set and found lots of great stuff but no sharks, so he had to come from my regular archive. The hammer was also an addition from a non-Flickr source (it came instead from the 1902 Sears-Roebuck catalog) (and even still, it ended up being more of a mallet).

Still, thanks to the British Library for this amazing resource! There’s probably a shark in there SOMEWHERE on pages 101 through 10200. I’ll find it eventually!!

When I first started throwing these comics together on a lark 11 years ago, I think I labeled them “01”, “02”, “03”, etc. When I put the first 20 or so on a very rudimentary website, I optimistically renumbered them “001”, “002”, etc. Well, NOW WE’VE BROKEN THAT FORMAT.

The last 11 years have been wonderful and I’m so grateful to be able to do what I do for a living; it’s the best job in the world and anyone else who says THEY have the best job in the world is CLEARLY MISTAKEN.

Thank you for all the support, the kind notes, and the moments when you think “You know what would be cool? If I shared my favorite strip with a friend who might like it!” This is a very easy thing to do that makes YOU look cool and makes ME look AMAZING because you probably won’t share one of the clunkers rattling around deep in the bottom of the archives, but rather a sort of MODERN CLASSIC, such as this one or this one or this one.

Now I guess there’s nothing more to do except start counting back down to 001! See you all in 2025 when we can start going back up again!!

Making the 2013 Calendar, Part 3

In Part 1, we decided to make a calendar this year!
In Part 2, we discussed the layout and format of the calendar — 27 biweekly cards in a modular, hook-based format AKA the future standard.

Drawing Gaxians

I drew twenty-nine cameo illustrations of Gaxian life in all its faceted wonder, trying to hew in tone toward the idyllic and classical. For the first time, I got to conceive of young and old Gaxians, Gaxians in different social roles, and in general different types of Gaxians distinct from our main friend Gax (this strip notwithstanding). I tried to give them a lot of individual character.

There are a few more in-progress pictures on my Instagram as well.

Now, for the coloring (which I knew would have to be spectactular), I knew I’d need help. So I enlisted the aid of Max Shepard.

Max is an illustrator and sculptor who worked with my wife Nikki in the puppet fabrication department at Robot Chicken. When their season ended and the show went on hiatus, I brought Max in to help out a bit in my office. As soon as I saw his painting skill I knew I had to collaborate with him in some more elaborate way.

I’m a very slow colorist and it doesn’t come intuitively to me, so I’m in awe of folks who can work with color skillfully. In fact, it was looking at Max’s portfolio that first gave me the idea that these Gax pieces could be hand-painted.

I think you’ll agree that he did a dynamite job! (Click any picture for a closer look)

Working just from my pencils, Max gave every piece a unique mood and distinct palette. I think they look super-great!!

Now that we had all the images, regular collaborator Zachary Sigelko and I figured out which element of Gaxian life each piece was illustrating. (I also put them in chromatic order so the entire year becomes a beautiful rainbow. A bit ironic, since rainbows don’t exist on Gax!)

The result is a calendar that will inform and entertain you with a new piece of valuable information about the horrible Gaxian culture every other week! If you click the picture below you might be able to read a couple of them:

IN THE PACKAGE

Every calendar shipped will include:

• A pre-drilled backboard and four hooks
• An easel (if you select that you need one). Easel styles may vary from the picture depending on stock available.
• The 29 calendar cards, every set hand-signed and numbered by both me and Max.
• A Dick Van Patten Is Not At This Address sticker of course

At this point I estimate that the finished calendars will start shipping out this coming Friday.

I should also note that I am splitting the profits from these calendars with Max — it couldn’t have happened without his fantastic contribution. So by picking up a calendar you’re supporting both me and him!

This is very different from the previous calendars I’ve done, but I really, really love it and I hope you like it just as much. I don’t mind being honest with you — I did not know if this was going to work. At every step of the process I could only see a half-step ahead, like lighting a dark path with a flashlight. Could I do drawings I would be happy with? Would the paintings look okay? Could we fit any text on the long skinny cards? Would the backboard idea actually hold the cards? But this is how we do things, folks. This is how all of us do things. One step at a time, and sometimes you take a risk, and sometimes it comes out amazing. I’m happy to report that this is one of those times.

Checking the records now, as I write there are only 26 copies left unclaimed. If this is a thing you might like to have, please do not delay! UPDATE: They’re all gone! Thanks so much!

Making the 2013 Calendar, Part 2

Here is Part 1, which details my thinking going into the making of this year’s Wondermark Calendar. I finally decided that I wanted to make another calendar this year, but began to think about how it could be done differently.

As detailed here, previous years of the Wondermark Calendar were comprised of cards sitting in brass desk easels. And since I knew that lots of people already had those easels, which are reusable, I knew that whatever I made this year should be about the same size as the previous calendars (which consist of a stack of 8.5″ x 5.5″ cards, thusly.)

But I also wanted to make it a progressive calendar, one that kept up with the days and weeks, rather than jerking to a halting stop every month until restarted. There must be a better way. A scroll? No. A waterfall? That doesn’t even make sense. A book? That’s not a calendar at all. Some sort of plant or food? Unexportable. A living animal with a lifespan of exactly one year? If I could figure that out, I wouldn’t be a cartoonist.

This is what I landed on:

It would be a stack of cards, each half the height of the previous calendar cards (which covered a month each), but each only containing two weeks. There would be no gaps between months. And when you passed the date on the top card, you could simply move the bottom card to the top and reveal a new two-week period on the bottom!

IT WAS THE PERFECT PLAN.

BUT WOULD IT WORK????

It sure seems to!

I’m not totally sure how it’ll read over the course of the year — it’s possible that it may take some getting used to, but ALL GREAT THINGS REQUIRE EFFORT so I’m not too worried about that. Overall I’m pretty intrigued by this concept — it seems archaic, in a pleasant way. It is even guaranteed to work if the power goes out (visible light permitting).

As you can see in this picture, rather than the cards sitting loosely in the easel as before, now they’re suspended from hooks affixed to a rigid backboard, which then itself sits in the easel. I think this makes for a very distinctive approach, but it does require some small amount of preparation. I’ll include a little baggie of hooks with each backboard (unassembled, so it can all ship flat), and I’ll even drill pilot holes in all the boards — so when yours arrives, you can put it all together in moments. I want this thing to work for you instantly.

Presumably, if this design works well and I decide to do another one, you will be able to keep the boards and simply re-order a refill of cards in future years! BUT LET’S TAKE THIS ONE STEP AT A TIME.

NOW, WHAT TO PUT ON IT?

The obvious elements to include on this calendar are: Dates. Holidays (including our new holidays). Illustrations and text.

I like inventing details about Gaxian culture (as in the Ask a Gaxian columns), so after a few misstarts and dead ends, I landed on the title THE GAXIAN ALMANAC.

Doing the math revealed that the calendar would need twenty-seven distinct cards to cover the entirety of 2013, so I decided to adorn each card with a factoid about Gaxian culture, history, or biology.

Now, it would be easy enough to make a bunch of Gaxian collage-images in the usual style. But since, for the first time, this calendar was to be machine-printed rather than hand-printed, I really wanted to do it in full color. And doing the collages would mean working at least partially digitally, when I really wanted this thing to feel hand-made.

So I started to draw.

TO BE CONTINUED…IN PART 3!!

The full title of the calendar is The Gaxian Almanac for Earth-Year 2013: Containing Elements of Knowledge Familiar to All Gaxians — An Entertainment for Enthusiasts; A Memento for Expatriates; and a Primer for Converts. It is available for pre-order now. As of this writing, out of 200 copies, only 124 remain. (UPDATE: They’re all gone now.) Each copy will be individually signed and numbered!