Now Hiring: Illustrator

Are you are artist looking to sink your teeth into an amazing project? I’m currently seeking an experienced illustrator to collaborate with on a graphic novel.

This is a 21-page black and white comic—the first installment of a 90-page graphic novel. The artist is responsible for pencils and inks, but not lettering.

This is a self-published work, with the intention of finding a publisher for distribution. I’ve worked with many artists before and have self-published several books on my own and as an editor. I love the collaborative process and can’t wait to see what the right artist can bring to this story.

This is all out of my own pocket for now, so the budget is small. But this is paid work for a serious project – so please, serious inquiries only. Page rates are commensurate with skill and experience.

Requirements:

  • Experienced comics artist with at least one prior work of significant length (24+ pages)
  • Willing to commit to a long-term project with realistic, manageable monthly page goals
  • Able to work collaboratively with a partner to bring a story to life

Some notes about style and tone: The story is realistic and has just a handful of characters. It is set largely in the woods and in a New England seaside town. Atmosphere is everything in this story, so an artist that embraces heavy stylization could be perfect. This is a black & white book.

Man, I hate listing influences. You can only sound like a pretentious asshole. But on the other hand, it’s useful shorthand for getting on the same page about the look and feel of a story. For this particular project, I’m looking for an artist who enjoys the comics of Lilli Carre, Gilbert Hernandez, Dan Cowes, Jeff Nicholson, Emily Carroll, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Also, a healthy appreciation of Twin Peaks and vintage Mad Magazine would be helpful.

If this sounds like you, please send your name, contact, and a link to some sample work at dave @ davekender.com.

I’ll be happy to send you the story summary, script, and we can set up a time to talk.

FTB Graphic Novel icon

Tutorial: How to build a DIY book press

When the Boston Comics Roundtable received the copies of one of its books from the printers, the books’ spines had an annoying habit of popping up in the middle two pages. In retrospect, we’d probably pushed out luck in making a 72-page book saddle-stitched (a.k.a. staple bound). You can only fold so many pieces of paper and expect it to lie flat. But I’ve seen this same problem plenty of times with homemade comics.

Bowing staple-bound book

The problem at hand: some books just don’t fold well.

There’s no point in spending all that time inking and lettering just to have your books come out looking unprofessional, so here’s a (relatively) quick and dirty DIY way to build a reusable book press that will flatten the hell out of your comics’ spines.

The guiding principle in this project was to build it as cheaply as possible. In the same spirit, you should feel free to replace materials as you see fit, and as you can find them.

Total cost for the version detailed below: $67.87 (in 2011 dollars). It could conceivably cost millions by the time you read this.

I’m sure you can do better if you can shop at a big box store rather than pricier, independently-owned city stores (much as I love local business).

Preface

This particular book press was designed to fit the maximum number of books simultaneously, two stacks at a time. If you don’t need or want to flatten quite so many books, you can easily truncate the length of the planks and use only four bolts.

Materials

  • Two (2) lengths of 2″ x 8″ oak board, about 3.5′ to 4′ in length (approx $25-40)
    • This is the most important item. Because the wood will be taking a lot of stress, you should avoid softwoods like pine, despite the temptingly cheaper price. If you can’t find oak, try beech, ash, maple, or cherry
  • Two (2) piece of scrap wood about half to two-thirds the length of the oak board (free, hopefully)If you’re resourceful, you can find these lying aroundSix (6) carriage bolts, 10″ to 12″ in length (approx $2-3)
  • Six (6) wingnuts with threads to match the carriage bolts (approx $1-2)
  • Twelve (12) washers that match with width of the carriage bolts (approx $1)
  • Four (4) 8-10″ mending plates or similar flat plate (approx $1-4)
  • Four (4) saw tooth picture ring hangers (approx $1-5)
    • This can be substituted with a number of things. Scroll down the page to see how they come into play, then use your imagination. The important thing is that they exceed the width of the mending plates

Hardware needed

Note: The actual number of items in the picture above is inaccurate. You’ll need more of each of these things. READ THE LIST OF MATERIALS. The picture is merely illustrative what the items look like: washers, picture hangers, nails, wing nuts, carriage bolts, mending plates, and screws (L to R).

You’ll also need a few tools:

  • Drill
  • Wood clamps
  • Hammer

Before leaving the store

Take the two planks of hardwood and lay them flat against each other. Make sure they are indeed flat. If the wood is warped, it’s not going to do much good as a book press. Also, make sure you have the correct drill bits to match the width of the carriage bolts.  A good hardware store employee should be able to offer suggestions for alternative materials if you can’t find exactly what you need.

Setting up the planks

Arrange the two planks of hardwood so that the edges line up, width-wise. As you can see from the photos here, the lengths of my book press don’t quite match up. That didn’t matter to me, since I was building for function first, aesthetics after.

Then place your scrap wood planks above and below the hardwood. These provide a padding for the wood clamps so you don’t dent your nice oak. Place the scrap wood roughly in the center of the oak. Then clamp down to hold them all in place.

Clamp it together

Clamp your good wood between some scrap wood so you don’t leave clamp marks in your finished product.

Now we’re going to measure for drilling the bolt holes. In order to prevent the wood from cracking or splitting, you don’t want your bolts placed too close to the edge. I placed the holes 1.5″ away from the length-wise edge, and 2.5″ away from the width-wise edge. Be sure to drill all the way through both oak planks. Repeat until your four corner holes are done.

Check the width of the holes. The carriage bolts should be able to smoothly pass through both planks.

Check your diameter and alignment

Check that the holes are wide enough and align correctly for the bolt to pass through.

Before final assembly, we need to drill the holes for two more bolts in the center. Place two or more bolts into their holds to keep the boards aligned. Release the wood clamps. Now measure to the center of the board and make pencil marks for two more holes, each 1.5″ from the edge. Place the scrap wood on the top and bottom of the oak planks, double-check that the planks are aligned correctly, and re-clamp. Drill the two center holes.

Measure twice, drill once

Leave the bolts in the first set of holes when you drill the next set of holes to be sure that the alignment remains accurate. (Yes, I made this in my apartment living room. It was a mess.)

Assembling

Once the six holes are drilled, place the carriage bolts, washers, and nuts in each hole. You should have a washer on both the top, between the nut and the wood, and the bottom, between the bolt head and the wood. The purpose of a washer is to distribute some of the pressure across a larger area of the wood.

Add the washers on both sides

Add washers on both sides to distribute the force across more of the wood.

Once all the bolts are in place and fit correctly, it’s time to build guard rails from the mending plates. These will provide a the plane against which you can align the books’ spines. There will be two rails for each stack of books.

To begin, take the side of the bottom oak plank (the one with in contact with the head of the carriage bolt). Measure the distance between the one of the side bolts and one of the center bolts. Make a pencil mark at roughly 1/3rd the distance and 2/3rds the distance. The exact spacing is not crucial.

HINT – if you plan on using this for the same size book every time, you might want to grab one of those books at this point. Make sure that the rails will be in contact with the spine of your book. If you plan on pressing several different sizes of books, you could add three or four guard rails spaced more closely together to hedge your bets.

Line spines against guardrails

The finished book press. Note how at least two guardrails are making contact with the books’ spines.

Once your measurements are made, use your drill to pre-drill the holes for the mending plate screws. The pre-drilling will prevent the wood from splitting when you put the screws in, a vital step when working with thin planks like this.

Always pre-drill

Always, always, always drill a small pilot hole before putting a screw into the thin edge of piece of wood. Otherwise you might split it and ruin the whole board.

After pre-drilling, screw in each of the mending plates. Because they’re only anchored in one place, they may swivel back and forth a little. That’s okay.

Now we need to fashion some little sleeves along the top plank for mending plates to slip into. The sleeves are needed to keep the plates from swiveling all over the place. But because they’re completely unattached to the mending plates, you’ll be able to lift off the top half of the finished book press whenever you need to.

The sleeves won’t bear any real weight, so I got creative at the hardware store and opted for an inexpensive set of picture hanger hardware (sometimes referred to as “saw tooth ring hangers” or “frame backs”). But because the rise in them was a little low, I bent them with a pair of pliers until they could accommodate the guard rails.

Use picture hangers as sleeves for the guardrails

Picture hangers made handy sleeves for the guard rails. They don’t need to bear any weight.

It will help if you also make some tiny pre-drill holes for the picture anchor screws, as well. Remember, if you split the wood, you’ll have to start this all over again. And because there will be a lot of pressure on these boards when you’re pressing a book, you want to avoid creating any weaknesses in the integrity of the wood. Once pre-drilled, attach all the picture hooks, as in the photo above.

Bookpress assembled

Everything lines up? You’re ready for a test press.

You’re now done assembling your book press. Lay the whole thing over, so that the bolt heads are on the floor. Unscrew the wingnuts on the bolts and life up the top oak plank. It should lift up without too much
difficulty and come cleanly away from the bottom portion. If it doesn’t, you may want to make larger holes for the carriage bolts to pass through.

If everything worked smoothly, you’re ready for a test drive.

Test ‘er out

As I said before, with this particular design, I wanted to get as many books in as possible, so I built it to accommodate two stacks of books at the same time. The only tricky part of this design is that the columns will always need to have an equal number of books in them at any given time.

Start out with a small stack of books in each side. Line the spines up against the guard rails. If you need to, tip the book press back so the books fall into the rails. Now push down a little on the wood and screw the wingnuts down. If your books have slippery covers and are sliding all over the place, you’ll probably need to make a few adjustments,square up the book columns, then make a few more adjustments, etc.

You may want to place some scrap paper or some already damaged books between the wood and the cover of your book, in order to avoid scratching your salable materials.

The key principle here is PRESSURE. Push down as hard as you can on the upper plank, and keep screwing in the wingnuts. When it feels like you can’t turn any more, stand on the upper plank. I promise, this will give you even more downward pressure. While you’re standing on the plank, make your last tightenings on the nuts.

HINT – if you notice the wood planks starting to bow, you may be applying too much pressure on the sides. Ease up a little, or try and clamp down harder on the center bolts to even it out.

Keep the books aligned as you press down

Depending on the slipperiness of the cover stock, books may slide around as you tighten the bolts.

The waiting game

How long do your books need to stay in the book press? That’s a good question. It will depend on a lot of circumstances, including the number of pages in your book, the type of paper, the amount of pressure you were able to apply, and atmospheric factors like temperature and humidity. I suggest at least several days to a week. If you like, you can leave the books in the press permanently, removing them only when you need to sell them.

The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 18

ragbox-5-18-lettered

PANEL 1
Pull back to see the two of them once again. Angel removes the cape. Paul looks in the mirror.

PAUL
I guess you can’t expect things to stay the same forever.

PAUL (CONT’D)
Hey, that looks great. Exactly what I wanted. How’d you know that?

ANGEL
It’s my own little gift.

PANEL 2
Paul stands up and reaches for his wallet in the back pocket. Angel gives a shy smile.

PAUL
Let me tell you. You are a gifted practitioner of your craft.

PANEL 3
Paul places several bills in her open palm.

PAUL
This is for you, tip included. I’ll be sure to come back from now on. Send my daughter over, too.

PAUL (CONT’D)
You just got yourself two new customers.

PANEL 4
Paul is about to leave. He turns back to her. Desiree is reentering.

PAUL
And if you find yourself in need of a book, come by 1312 Juarez St.

PAUL (CONT’D)
My new bookstore’ll be open in just a couple of days.

PANEL 5
Similar. Paul exits. Desiree and Angel stare at each other in shock.

DESIREE
1312 Juarez!

ANGEL
So that’s who bought Augustin’s building.

PANEL 6
Angel turns back towards the chair. She pooches her lips out and gives a nonchalant shrug.

ANGEL
Eh…

ANGEL (CONT’D)
Could be worse. He could be a bad tipper.

END.

The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 17

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PANEL 1
A silhouette of Paul getting his hair cut.

PAUL
A real sense of community. You don’t get that too often these days.

PAUL (CONT’D)
At least not out in the suburbs. That’s where I’m from, originally.

PAUL (CONT’D)
And you save a bundle living out here.

PANEL 2
Paul and Angel.

PAUL
Of course, that’s not why I came out here.

PAUL (CONT’D)
To be honest, I think I really came out here for the pastries from Paneria del Sol.

PAUL (CONT’D)
You know that place, right by… what is it? Patricio’s Bodega!

PANEL 3
Angel.

ANGEL
Mm-hmm.

ANGEL (CONT’D)
It’s closed now.

PANEL 4
Paul has turned around in his chair to look at Angel.

PAUL
You’re kidding?

PAUL (CONT’D)
Oh! I hadn’t even been over there yet. I didn’t know.

ANGEL
Yeah. About three months ago. Big video rental store moved in. A real shame. I grew up with those cookies.

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The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 16

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PANEL 1
Paul is sitting down. Angel is tying the cape behind his neck.

ANGEL
Tell me what you want.

PAUL
Hmm… well, I guess a bit off the sides, but not too much. Not that there’s that much to take off! Ha ha.

PAUL (CONT’D)
Can you make it look like that fella on TV? The lawyer, you know? But shorter around the ears. Does that make any sense?

ANGEL
I know exactly what you mean.

PANEL 2
The two of them. Angel has started to cut.

PAUL
You from around here?

ANGEL
Ragbox. Born and raised.

PANEL 3
Paul.

PAUL
Just bought a place here myself. I love it, so far.

PAUL (CONT’D)
Gorgeous architecture. All this wonderful detailing. Shame so much of it has been let go.

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The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 15

ragbox-5-15-lettered

PANEL 1
Desiree goes over to Angel. They are both still laughing.

ANGEL
Well, I…

ANGEL (CONT’D)
HA HA

ANGEL (CONT’D)
I guess I just talked myself out of that promotion.

DESIREE
I guess so.

PANEL 2
Closer. Angel and Desiree both still laugh.

ANGEL
And all that about “I’ll buy you out.” That was great. That will shut him up.

DESIREE
I can’t wait!

PANEL 3
They go to the counter, each standing on different side. Both are more serious.

ANGEL
What?

DESIREE
It’s true. I do want my own salon. And I want you with me.

PANEL 4
Angel looks away.

ANGEL
Oh, Desiree…

ANGEL (CONT’D)
I don’t know. Antony and I are making all these plans….

PANEL 5
Close up of their hands on the counter. Desiree puts her hands over Angel’s.

DESIREE
(off above)
Just think about it, will you?

DESIREE (CONT’D)
No promises now. Just think about it.

ANGEL
Okay.

PANEL 6
Wider shot. PAUL, the book store owner, enters. He is a good-spirited white man in his early 50s. He’s balding, but what little hair he has hangs ragged over his ears. Desiree walks away from the counter, past Paul, on her way outside.

DESIREE
¡Ai! Lo tomas. Necesito un cigarrillo.

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The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 14

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PANEL 1
All four of them. Desiree helps the Old Woman into the seat.

AUGUSTIN
I’ve heard it a hundred times before.

PANEL 2
Desiree has lowered the helmet onto the Old Woman’s head, and pushes the button to turn the dryer on.

SOUND EFFECT
clkk

AUGUSTIN
It takes more than big words to –

SOUND EFFECT
(starts small, then gets much louder)
WHHHRRRR

PANEL 3
Angel and Augustin. Angel cups a hand to her ear, smiling, making an “I can’t hear you” look.

ANGEL
What?

AUGUSTIN
I said it takes more than big words –

SOUND EFFECT
(very loud)
WHHHRRRR

PANEL 4
Desiree and Angel look at each other, both raising their arms in an “I don’t know” look.

SOUND EFFECT
(very loud)
WHHHRRRR

PANEL 5
Augustin begins to exit angrily, grabbing the bundle of receipts from the counter as he goes.

PANEL 6
Augustin exits through the door. Both Angel and Desiree fall into hysterics of laughter.

GO TO NEXT PAGE

The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 13

ragbox-5-13-lettered

PANEL 1
Pull back and to the side so we can see more of Augustin. She turns on Augustin again, but she’s starting to lose her ferocity.

ANGEL
And fourth…

ANGEL (CONT’D)
I already said you’re fat… and I don’t like you. So I guess I don’t have a fourth point.

PANEL 2
All three of them. Angel walks away, trying to collect her thoughts. Desiree sits with her arms crossed. The entrance is visible on the right. The tip of a cane pokes through the door.

AUGUSTIN
Fine! I –

PANEL 3
Angel has positioned herself against the far wall. The Old Woman who walked out in the beginning has returned. She is tiny, and hunched with age, and still wears the curlers. She takes no notice of anybody, and passes directly between them.

AUGUSTIN
I…

PANEL 4
Same. The Old woman continues towards the seats with the hair dryers.

AUGUSTIN
I can see where this argument is going.

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The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 12

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PANEL 1
Augustin moves in close to Angel. Desiree stands beside her, furious.

AUGUSTIN
But you, hermosa…

AUGUSTIN (CONT’D)
You should be warned against the foolishness of an old maid.

PANEL 2
Augustin and Angel face each other in profile. He raises a hand to her chin. Angel stares at him coldly.

AUGUSTIN
You still have a few years to cash in on your assets.

AUGUSTIN (CONT’D)
If you came with me, I promise… you’d never have to look at this dump again.

PANEL 3
Same. Augustin turns his head to look at Desiree, now visible between their profiles. Desiree looks up and away, trying very hard not to feel the sting of the insult.

PANEL 4
Angel pushes Augustin’s hand away from her.

ANGEL
Two things you should know:

ANGEL (CONT’D)
First: Just cause I work in a hair salon, doesn’t mean you or anybody else can put their fat, little fingers anywhere near me.

PANEL 5
Angel advances on Augustin. He takes a step backward.

ANGEL
Second: I am proud of where I’m from and who I associate with.

PANEL 6
Angel continues to advance. This time, angle over Augustin’s shoulder.

ANGEL
Third: You better get ready to hand over those keys, because Desiree is going to buy you out.

ANGEL (CONT’D)
And she and I…

PANEL 7
Same. Angel does a half-turn towards Desiree, unseen behind her.

ANGEL
Wait… How did you say it…? We both buy it… or you buy it and I work here…?

GO TO NEXT PAGE

The Ragbox, Chapter 5, Page 11

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PANEL 1
Desiree, lashing out against being ignored, throws her arms in the air and walks towards Angel.

DESIREE
Fine. Leave us here. Like you left Silvia out in the cold. Homeless and alone.

PANEL 2
Desiree throws her arm around Angel proudly. Angel’s reaction should register that she’s never heard the following idea before.

DESIREE
We don’t need you here. Angel and I got big plans…

DESIREE (CONT’D)
We’re opening our own salon. How do you like that? And we’re taking all the customers with us.

PANEL 3
Close up of Augustin. He looks quite serious as he considers this.

PANEL 4
He bursts out laughing.

AUGUSTIN
Your own place? Fine! Go ahead!

PANEL 5
Pull back. Augustin pulls at a piece of pleather tearing away from one of the barber’s chairs. Desiree has let go of Angel and crosses her arms.

AUGUSTIN
Tell you what? You get the money together and I’ll sell you this place as is.

AUGUSTIN (CONT’D)
Let’s see you get by on $15 perms and horsehair extensions.

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