Giveaway Winner

TricksterCongratulations to Laith Preston, the winner of our Banned Books Week giveaway! Laith is the lucky lucky winner of one copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection.


Thanks to everyone who entered. Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter to win our Perfect Pumpkin giveaway.

Banned Books Week—The Catcher in the Rye

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our designer, Jack Lenzo.

The Catcher in the Rye

There is something especially satisfying about reading a banned book. My first encounter with banned books came as a young teen. My mom ran the bookstore at Holy Cross Jr. College in South Bend, Indiana (the very same place where Rudy went to get better grades so that he could go to Notre Dame and play one down in a football game that was already over).

I was a freshman at the high school next door and had to help my mom out during registration because for one week at the start of each semester it was crazy busy. The reason I mention this is that in what seemed like a fairly conservative place, I kept handing these young impressionable students a stack of books that included The Catcher in the Rye. And every time I grabbed it off the shelf, my mom felt the need to comment on what a horrible, filthy book it was and couldn’t believe that it was being assigned in class.

Okay, let’s stop there and reflect. What would your thirteen-year-old self have done? Of course I read it. Anything that could incite such an impassioned response from my mom, time and time again, was clearly something I had to get my hands on. So there I was, reading The Catcher in the Rye with the satisfaction of the guilty. It did a couple of things for me.

First and foremost, it inspired me to start making up my own freakin’ mind. If a priest (or a brother…I can’t quite remember which vows this particular professor had taken) and my mom can have a differing opinion on the value of a book, what else was out there in the world? Books often make very different impressions on people based on when in their lives they read them. And hell, she may have never even read it herself and instead just passed along yet another person’s take whose opinion might have had some agenda that my mom failed to convey. You just never really know. Reading that book was the only morally ambiguous thing that a man of the cloth ever inspired in me. Can you imagine a world where this could be the norm? If they can read it and still be priests, I probably wouldn’t go to hell for reading it, so read it I did.

Aside from opening my eyes to choices outside my mom’s iron curtain, reading The Catcher in the Rye showed me that banned books, much like the rest of life, are mostly hype. I was actually disappointed by the general lack of offensive material. And when it came down to it, I thought Salinger’s Franny and Zooey was a much better book. But I wouldn’t have been able to form that opinion if I were afraid to read it in the first place. And that’s really what banned books are about: fear. Someone is afraid you will lose all ability to be yourself (or perhaps what they want you to be) if you are allowed to read a book, which is just ridiculous.

A special thanks to that priest (or brother) who indirectly opened my eyes to the possibility of creating my own reading list and thinking for myself.

Jack is the designer at Fulcrum. He appreciates looking out his window and seeing mountains instead of cornfields, and bumper stickers that say Naive instead of Native. Some of his favorite projects have been ones that have overlapped with and informed his own experiences in the West.

A Fulcrum Field Guide to Birds and Other Publishing Creatures

Last week, a few of us at Fulcrum stopped by the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art to catch their Thinking About Flying exhibit.  For our readers not in the know, the exhibit consists of homing pigeons that patrons can take home and release.

The marketing team unilaterally decided that we were responsible enough to keep a homing pigeon alive for a couple hours.

Our marketing manager and a certain brave blogger pose with their newly acquired homing pigeon, Smoky.

When it was time to say good-bye, our ornithophobic marketing assistant and our bird-happy blogger had mixed reactions.

Smoky didn't really know what to make of freedom when the time came. Not to worry, moments later he figured it out.

There’s still time to visit the exhibit, and I can think of few things more enjoyable than taking in the sights of downtown Denver while carrying a homing pigeon in a cardboard box.

In fact, we were so stoked from our homing pigeon adventures that it was only a matter of time before we latched onto a new Internet trend: owling.

Hooooo hooooo! They say the Internet is slowly killing the book industry. We say O RLY?

Even our authors got into it. Here, Matt Dembicki, editor of Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic Collection, does his best owl…or maybe he's just being the hero that Gotham deserves…a silent guardian, a watchful protector, or as some might say, a dark knight.

We hope this was as much of a hoot* for our readers as it was for us!

*I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Denver Publishing Institute in the House

TricksterLast Friday, Fulcrum opened its doors to one hundred publishing students from the University of Denver Publishing Institute, who were here to learn about the publishing industry from the point of view of a small, western/midwestern indie. We discussed the process behind publishing books like Eisner Award–nominated Trickster, and the (debatably) trickier process of landing a job in the publishing biz during a time of declining book sales, mass bookstore layoffs, and the omnipresent competition of a little thing known as the Internet. Our advice (for both making good books and nabbing a publishing job): a copy of Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage, eye of skink, and the long-lost half of an ancient and mysterious golden amulet.

In other Fulcrum news, with summer winding down, we’re looking forward to the arrival of our fall list. Next month we have two great books coming out:

The Legal Universe by David Wilkins and Vine Deloria Jr. is a comprehensive examination of the historical evolution of the legal rights of various minority groups and the relationship between these rights and the philosophical intent of the American founders.

The Hank Adams Reader is a collection of Hank Adams's previously unpublished letters and essays.

Fulcrum Friday Round-Up

Fulcrum’s editorial and production manager, Haley Berry, is headed to San Diego this weekend to attend Comic-Con International 2011 and TR!CKSTER. She’ll be there supporting Fulcrum’s Trickster: Native American Tales at both a Comic-Con-sponsored event (Eisner Awards) and a TR!CKSTER-sponsored even. For comic buffs, Comic-Con San Diego is one of the most important and exciting weeks of the year. We are honored that Trickster can to be a part of the festivities with an Eisner Award nomination. Here’s what Haley will be up to this weekend (besides geeking-out on all the amazing exhibits):

Friday, July 22, 7:30 pm

Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards ceremony. Trickster, edited by Matt Dembicki, is up for an award in the anthology category, so keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 23, 12–2 pm

Trickster: Native American Tales signing with editor Matt Dembicki and contributing artist Andrew Cohen, located at TR!CKSTER, a comics gallery and symposium spot across the street from Comic-Con.

Check back next week for photos and ramblings from the show and, most importantly: did Trickster win the Eisner?

Another event that we’re excited about this weekend is the Harvest Days cooking demo hosted by the Denver Public Library. Head over to Fresh City Life, the DPL’s blog, to learn more about this great summer event, but it includes sampling some delicious food (beet green and walnut pesto and roasted Kohlrabi with Parmesan Cheese), a mini-farmers market, and a giveaway for a CSA Season’s Egg Share and one Veggie Box pickup. I’m there!

Enjoy your weekends, and don’t forget to check back next week to hear more about Comic-Con!

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.

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: 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!

Familiar faces at ALA

We were delighted to see Trickster, Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection contributor Tim Tingle featured in today’s blog post from American Indians in Children’s Literature! Our ALA attendees, Brynn and Carolyn, had a great time at ALA. They’ll be posting their thoughts on the show this week, so stay tuned!

Twitter Giveaway

For all of our fans attending ALA, and for our fans who wish they could be attending ALA, we’re offering a Twitter giveaway this week! Simply mention @FulcrumBooks in a tweet, and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of Trickster, Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection.

Good luck, everyone!

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