Eyeball Calibration & Nuisance Printing

Last April we started printing the text pages for Oddballs. After a few weeks, when we were about a quarter of the way through, we looked at the six completed sheets and decided the printing was consistently too light (impression good, ink weak). Friends said they thought we were being fanatical again, and they were right, and so were we in being fanatical. So, the completed pages were put aside & the whole thing begun again.

When cleaning up the project last fall, we couldn't bring ourselves to throw away the first run pages. All of them remained in the order they had been printed, last back to first. Flipping through any given one, it was interesting to see where the color started, what we adjusted it to, and how well we maintained that color (this being particularly challenging when inking by hand). Even though the pages were printed too light in color, that in itself can be a useful reference. Overall, we found flipping through a set of the sheets an effective way of calibrating our eyes before a printing session. But only if each set of pages remained in order they were printed. So, we chopped the sheets down the center fold, leaving us with two leaves, each printed verso only: a pile of Frozen Dead Guys, a pile of Bill Miners, etc etc. About 60 sheets (pages) in each pile.

We did a quick perfect bind with some sunken cords, and used odd sheets of heavy handmade paper for wraps. Just before sticking each glued-up set in their wraps, we wondered, what would someone think this is, if they stumble upon it in a hundred years? (Besides a waste of time & good paper.) We were committed to doing a few days of long-overdue nuisance printing, and so made up a simple title sheet to go in the Oddballs pages, and a spine label. More on the nuisance printing to follow...


Cervantes Gets Corked, & Other Oddities

Boston's storied Bromer Booksellers were sufficiently inspired by Jim Westergard's Oddballs to create an entire catalogue around the concept. From the introduction to the just-released e-catalogue #19:

"Odd is interesting. Not only is this true in human society, in which the eccentric and extraordinary are examined as objects of curiosity, but it is especially true of the vehicles for human expression. That last term was used with great deliberation, as the assortment of oddities in our latest offering are not limited to books: indeed, they do not even have to be on paper, as the set of erotic porcelain lithophanes demonstrates. Optical devices such as lithophanes, and zoetropes seem odd to us now, but were some of the only forms of entertainment available to a world without electricity; from this perspective, one can easily imagine that current trends in entertainment will seem equally odd to future generations.

"The books found within our eccentric gathering work just a little harder than their straightforward counterparts in trying to gain our attention. Witness, for instance, a two-volume edition of Cervantes' stories printed on cork [shown above; why would anyone do this?]; a miniature panoramic alphabet of insects etched so finely, one would mistake them for actual specimens; or the book that lent its title to this catalogue - a beautifully printed and illustrated work by the Heavenly Monkey Press [sic] on those characters from history whose personalities and antics keep us from averting our collective eyes."

We won't get too worked up about them appending the word "press" to the imprint's name, because Anne, David, Phil & the gang are our friends; and because we appreciate being considered sufficiently odd for inclusion. They also have a good (but tempting, so be careful) blog.


Westergard's Up To Something Fishy

Jim Westergard's site recently posted six new engravings he's editioned, the blocks having been commissioned for an upcoming book from Deep Woods Press. The one above, "John's Browns," is our particular favorite. The six engravings will be included in The Intruder, a chapter from Robert Traver's (a.k.a. John Voelker's) 1960 book Trout Madness. Publication is slated for later this year.

Each of the six engravings measures approximately 4 x 6 inches, and has been printed by Jim in an edition of 20 copies. His original prints remain among the best art deals available, especially for work from an artist of his caliber.


Printing Damp, One Way & Another

We were recently introduced to the site and blog of poet/artist/handpress printer Alan Loney (our very late arrival being yet more proof that we're never up on things). He has recently become interested in gathering details on the various techniques printers use for printing damp. Someone tipped him to the description we posted while printing Oddballs last summer. As contributor Sebastian Carter writes in his entry, "There is no comparison with dry paper from the point of view of quality of impression." He also touches on some of the technical challenges posed by things like wood engravings and large areas of black. These accounts, plus Loney's own adventures in printing and publishing, make for interesting ready.

Loney's blog also includes a brief mention of a new book of his poems published by Ninja Press, titled The Sirens.


Oh the Places Cthu Will Go

Anik See over in Amsterdam tipped us to this brilliant project: artist Dr FaustusAU is running H.P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Chthulu" through what looks to be a fully functional Seussifier. An earlier version of the cover listed the author as R.J. Ivankovic; not sure if that's a pseudonym for the artist or someone else who actually converted the prose to verse. Regardless, what a brilliant project, and done so well. Dr F's site reports that he has received numerous offers to publish the work when it is completed. Kids are never too young to be introduced to the Great Old Ones.