Comic-Con International Recap – We’ll Be Back!

As an independent book publisher in the West with mostly nonfiction titles, there’s never been a reason for us to go to Comic-Con International. Until now. Last weekend I had the privilege of being Fulcrum’s first-ever representative at San Diego Comic-Con International 2011. Aside from witnessing the spectacle and the cosplay of the show (it’s like Vegas meets Halloween meets Saturday morning cartoons meets BEA on crack), I was there to support Fulcrum author Matt Dembicki, editor of Trickster: Native American Tales.

Trickster Cover, Native American graphic novel

Comic-Con San Diego

Matt and Trickster contributing artist Andrew Cohen both made the trip out to San Diego for several reasons. One was a signing at an event across the street from Comic-Con called, coincidentally, TR!CKSTER.

Trickster Signing

Of course, another big highlight was walking the show floor and seeing an endless, chaotic parade of crazy costumes and talking to creators, fans, and publishers. Take a look at Matt’s blog for more pics of the show and his personal rundown.

Snoopy at Comic-Con International

But our main reason for attending Comic-Con was an Eisner Award nomination for Trickster in the anthology category. The ceremony was Friday night, and while we lost out to Mouse Guard, the three of us still walked away feeling extremely honored by the nomination and the chance to attend the gala with some of the industry’s finest.

Eisner Awards at Comic-Con

This honor became even more evident as I walked the show floor on Saturday. I ran into a few people I recognized from the awards gala and said either “Congrats on the Eisner” or “Congrats on the nomination last night.” They’d inevitably ask who I was with and what book we’d been nominated for, and after I’d explain, they’d still have a blank look on their face, or rather a look saying, Who the hell is Fulcrum? So I’d jump in and say that Trickster was our first foray into comics/graphic novels, that we’re not at all known in that world. One guy’s reaction to this really gave me some perspective: “This is your first graphic novel and you got an Eisner nomination? Ahhh, screw you guys.”

Yep, it’s our first, but it won’t be our last. Matt’s hard at work on a new anthology, tentatively slated for Fall 2012, and it’s going to give Trickster a run for its money.

Friday Author Link Love

Happy Friday all! Hope you have some good books to read and some outdoor activities planned. Here is a recap of some of the cool things Fulcrum’s authors and books were up to this week:

Walter Echo-Hawk, author of In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (978-1-93621-801-1, Fulcrum Publishing), was recently interviewed by J Kehaulani Kauanui for the radio show “Indigenous Politics.” Check out this podcast to hear the full interview. Walter Echo-Hawk is always a fascinating person to hear speak. http://indigenouspolitics.mypodcast.com

Richard Hetzler of The Mitsitam Café Cookbook (978-1-55591-747-0, Fulcrum Publishing) sat down with Serge the Concierge (blog) at Book Expo America in New York last month. The full interview was just posted on Serge the Concierge’s blog last week, and it’s a fun read! Check out the interview here to learn more about the inspiration for the dishes in the cookbook as well as how Richard adapted some dishes to make them more contemporary, while staying true to Native techniques.

Trickster Cover

We found out this week that Trickster: Native American Tales (978-1-55591-724-1, Fulcrum Publishing) won a Hollywood Book Festival award in the Comics category. Read about the other award winners here: http://hollywoodbookfestival.com/winners2011.htm. Congratulations to Matt Dembicki and the Trickster team! Speaking of Matt Dembicki, he is off to San Diego next week for Comic-Con International, where Trickster is up for an Eisner Award. Matt will also be doing a signing at Tr!ckster on Saturday, July 23rd, from 12pm-2pm. The San Diego Wine And Culinary Center wine bar directly across the road from San Diego Comic-Con will be transformed for one week into Tr!ckster, a 4,500 square foot area for comic creators to launch books or sell limited runs of new books or items with gallery space for display and a symposium spot as well.

Our friends at Indian Country Today magazine recently reviewed Every Day is a Good Day, Memorial Edition (978-1-55591-691-6, Fulcrum Publishing) by Wilma Mankiller. Following is a nice quote from the review: The endurance of this book owes as much to these women’s resilience as to the staying power of its author. Although she died in April 2010 at the age of 64, Mankiller had survived and indeed surpassed what might be considered more than her share of misfortune. In The Way Home, the chief, a key player in the rebuilding of her nation, wrote, “The question I am asked most frequently is why I remain such a positive person, after surviving breast cancer, lymphoma, dialysis, two kidney transplants and systemic myasthenia gravis. The answer is simple: I am Cherokee, and I am a woman. No one knows better than I that every day is indeed a good day.” “

Have a great weekend!

Trickster Gets a Nod from the Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards

Fulcrum received some very exciting news last week when we were notified that Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection, edited by Matt Dembicki, was nominated for a 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award. Trickster was nominated in the “Best Anthology” category of this prestigious comics and graphic novel industry award. Everyone on the Fulcrum team and the Trickster team is buzzing over this wonderful honor. Named for acclaimed comics creator Will Eisner, the awards are in their 23rd year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. The Eisner Awards are presented under the auspices of Comic-Con International, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to art and culture.

Trickster was chosen by a panel of veterans in the comic industry, but the final voting is done by you—comics writers and artists, publishers and editors, librarians, and retail store owners/managers. By voting in the Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards, you have a say in who is recognized and honored. Ballots with this year’s nominees have gone out in packets to Comic-Con’s mailing list. If you’re eligible to vote but don’t think a ballot is headed your way in the mail, a downloadable PDF of the ballot is available on the Eisner Awards website and a special website has been set up for online voting. The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 22 at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Ballots are due by June 13th, so vote now if you love Trickster as much as we do!

Designing Fulcrum’s Book Covers: An Inside Look at the ‘Trickster’ Cover Process

Book covers. The truth is, most people probably do not buy a book solely for its cover; but let’s face it, books do get judged by their covers. A book cover can impact a reader in many ways, and depending on the type of emotions a cover conveys, a reader may or may not pick up the book.

Last week, we gave our readers a behind the scenes glimpse at the discussions that helped shape the cover for the book Endangered. We had so much fun looking back on the cover process and divulging top-secret information, that we thought we would do it again this week. We caught up with the talented Matt Dembicki, author and editor of Trickster: Native American Tales. Matt and Fulcrum’s book designer Jack Lenzo had some very interesting things to say about what went into the Trickster cover process.

JACK LENZO, Designer: It was, well, tricky…

Okay, that’s a pretty terrible way to start. But this blog brings back much the same feeling I had when working on the cover. I didn’t know where to start. Matt Dembicki had brought us this amazing collection of stories, and with it he had this really interesting illustration that could be used for the cover. Easy peasy. Maybe not.

MATT DEMBICKI, Author/Editor: The initial cover was designed and illustrated by Peter Kuper (Spy v. Spy, World War III), who is well known for using stencils and spray paint to render his illustrations. I asked Peter if he would be interested in illustrating one of the stories for the book, but his schedule was full at the time. He did say he could do a cover, though. Getting the right image for the cover was going to be a challenge. I told Peter about the various trickster beings in the book—coyote, rabbit, crayfish, etc. I didn’t want just a coyote or rabbit on the cover; I wanted something that would convey that this is a collection of a range of trickster beings. Peter took that and crafted a wonderful image, combining all those animals in an ingenious way to create another image. Although the illustration was wonderful, it was a little tight in terms of adding title text and such, and there wasn’t much room for a bleed area.

JACK: Designing books for a living has changed the way I look at art. Rarely am I looking at what is in the piece as much as what is not in the piece. Where are the gaps, the pauses, the room for type. Fans of Exit Through the Gift Shop might appreciate this idea as it is much the same as when Banksy talks about going through museums looking at the spaces in between the paintings for places to put his paintings. Type is like art; it wants attention. And to get attention it needs proper spacing.

The illustration was great, but where could a title go? The image was just so incredibly dense with action. I know, I know. Just put a translucent bar across the middle and call it a day—my all-time favorite design solution. Check your bookshelf. Look familiar? Trying to avoid that trap, I attempted to give the type some space.

JACK: It just wasn’t making anyone, including me, happy. Could we simplify the image? Maybe. So we tried a few things like removing the background. Not terrible.

MATT: I asked my friend comic artist Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) to help with a design for the book, both the outside and inside. (The initial plan was to either self-publish Trickster or at least to present it as a full package to a potential publisher). On the cover, Rafer added a finely detailed image of actual fur from a red fox. (When I asked him where he got the fur, he said “Don’t ask.” I didn’t press it.) I really liked this detailing because it felt like a marriage of the cartoony mythical and real-world elements of the trickster.

MATT: The editors at Fulcrum weren’t as crazy about the fur part. I was willing to compromise on that, but I really wanted to retain Kuper’s image for the cover. Jack drafted a few sample covers, but the size of the image was again creating some issues. It was making it difficult to develop an outstanding presentation. That’s when Fulcrum asked if they could use another image, perhaps something from one of the stories. I agreed to it, but I was skeptical. I didn’t think there was one image in the book that could capture the essence of the book like the Kuper cover. I was wrong.

JACK: And then we wondered if anything from the interior might accomplish this same idea. The book was so full of amusing characters, but we kept coming back to the bunny. The interplay between the image and the title really adds a dynamic that the others lacked. I can’t help but feel for him and wonder what is in the works. Is he the trickster or the tricked?

MATT: When Jack presented a few more samples using images from the book, I think we all zeroed in on the one with the rabbit drawn by Jacob Warrenfeltz. It was truly a perfect combination of illustration and presentation, with a little mischief thrown in.

JACK: In the story, the art is predominantly black and white. In the end we gave it a bit of a twist for the cover by making it more of a midnight blue. It just adds a little ambiance.

MATT: I hated to let the Kuper cover go, but I agreed that this was the better image, given the circumstances. Any lingering doubts were quashed when I was at Book Expo America 2010, where the book debuted. Several folks stopped by the Fulcrum booth to thumb through the book simply because they were drawn in by the cover.

About Trickster: Native American Tales: The first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales, Trickster brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. More than twenty Native American tales are cleverly adapted into comic form. Each story is written by a different Native American storyteller who worked closely with a selected illustrator, a combination that gives each tale a unique and powerful voice and look. Ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish, these tales bring tricksters back into popular culture in a very vivid form.

About Matt Dembicki: Along with compiling and editing the book, artist Matt Dembicki illustrated one of the featured trickster tales. Dembicki is the founder of DC Conspiracy, a comic creators’ collaborative in Washington, DC, and has won acclaim for his nature graphic novel, Mr. Big. He currently works as an editor for a higher-education association. Visit his author blog at http://matt-dembicki.blogspot.com.

Trickster… a sneak peek

Fulcrum publishes graphic novels??!!

That’s right! For the first time in our quarter-century publishing history, we are breaking out into a new genre with this amazing collection of  Native American trickster tales. It is the first collection of its kind. Editor Matt Dembicki, of DC Conspiracy fame, brought together more than 20 Native American storytellers from the Cherokee Nation to the Chickaloon Village to visually tell their individual stories with carefully selected illustrators.

Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection is funny, dramatic, and educational. It is a powerful collection that will, like many graphic novels of late, appeal to both children and adults. Look for it on shelves in the next few months, and check back here often for more Trickster sneak peeks!

We are very excited about this one!

Visit Matt’s author blog at http://matt-dembicki.blogspot.com.

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