Time to buy your 2016 calendar

Instead of going down to the local chain bookstore and buying whatever crappy calendars they’ll have on sale after Christmas, why not get something gorgeous and made just for we media types?

Since 2002, Scott Fybush — a broadcast consultant and the guy behind of Northeast Radio Watch — has sold calendars featuring scenic views of broadcast towers.

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The calendar is a high-quality publication, with coil binding and pictures from Scott’s own collection. Among the towers in this year’s edition:

  • WWV and WWVB in Fort Collins, Colo.
  • WIOD in Miami
  • South Mountain near Phoenix
  • KWAC of Bakersfield, Calif.
  • WABC of Lodi, N.J.
  • And the giant tower atop the Empire State Building.

And six more, of course. Scott also includes anniversaries of significant dates in broadcast history.

The 2016 Tower Site Calendar is just $19 plus $3.50 for first class shipping or $6.50 shipping for priority mail. Order them here.

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A 1992 graduate of Boston’s Brandeis University, Scott worked as a reporter for WCAP in Lowell, Mass., WBZ in Boston, R News in Rochester and WXXI, also in Rochester. In addition to his freelance work, he edits radio trade publications such as the Radio Journal, NorthEast Radio Watch and 100000watts.com.

Find his Fybush Media web site here and his Twitter feed here.

In bookstores today: A memoir by the NYT’s Charles Blow

New York Times OpEd columnist — and former graphics director — Charles Blow has a new book that hits bookstores today.

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It’s called Fire Shut Up in My Bones, and it’s a memoir of his formative years growing up in Louisiana.

The title is a reference to the Old Testament of the Bible. This is Jeremiah, chapter 20, verses eight and nine:

8. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long.

9. But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

The official book blurb says:

Blow’s attachment to his mother — a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry at a nearby factory, a soon-to-be-ex husband, and a love of newspapers and learning — cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It’s damage that triggers years of anger and searing self-questioning.

Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he’s ever needed and wanted, until he’s called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse.

A powerfully redemptive memoir that both fits the tradition of African-American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant.

Charles’ days as “just” a visuals manager are long gone, of course. He’s now a visual columnist for the Times and a constant presence on the cable TV new talk shows.

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The people he hangs with these days are giving the book rave reviews.

Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour writes:

Page by elegant page, Charles Blow has constructed an eloquent and courageous memoir that explains why black and white is never just that—whether it comes to race or the rich, conflicted stew of childhood memory.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper says the book is…

Powerful…so well-written.

Alice Walker, author of the Color Purple calls the memoir…

…a luminous memoir that digs deep into territory I’ve longed to read about in black men’s writing: into the horror of being submerged in a vast drowning swirl of racial, spiritual, and sexual complexity, only to somehow find one’s self afloat, though gasping for breath, and then, at long last and at great cost, swimming. I believe both Ancestors and Descendants will cheer.

Harvard professor and Oxford African American Studies Center director Henry Louis Gates says:

Above all, this is the story of a courageously honest man arriving at his decision to ‘stop running like the river . . . and just be the ocean, vast, deep, and exactly where it was always meant to be.’ Blow has written a classic memoir of a truly American childhood.

The Times ran an excerpt of the book on the cover of its Sunday Review section this past weekend. It’s pretty strong stuff. Read that here.

Like I said, the book is officially published today. You should be able to find it in your local bookstore. Naturally, it’s available at Amazon — currently for $17.08. Barnes and Noble is selling it for just 17 cents more.

Charles has embarked on a rather ambitious book tour. Last night, he was on Anderson Cooper 360. Today, he’s doing NPR’s Fresh Air, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and the Lawrence O’Donnell‘s Last Word on MSNBC.

Tomorrow, he’s doing a live chat with the Huffington Post, a radio show on WAMC in New York and MSNBC’s the Cycle. AFter that, he heads to Los Angeles, where he’ll be on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday.

Naturally, he’ll be hitting bookstores, book fairs and the like along the way. Find his complete schedule here.

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A 1992 magna cum laude graduate at Grambling State University, Charles worked as a graphic artist at the Detroit News before joining the New York Times in 1994. He was promoted to graphics director and then to design director for news. He left in 2006 to become art director of National Geographic magazine but rejoined the Times in 2008 in his current position.

Find Charles’ web site here, his blog here, his column archive here and his “public figure” Facebook page here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Charles is a really great guy. I’ll never forget the kind words he had for me 14 years ago after my first big national-level presentation at SND/Minneapolis. His enthusiastic support filled me with confidence about my teaching skills as well as my work as a visuals leader.

I have a copy of Fire Shut Up in my Bones on order and I hope to get it signed one day soon.

Here’s wishing Charles the best of luck.

How the cover came together for one of the year’s hottest nonfiction books

My old Rock Hill, S.C., Herald colleague Doug Most has gone on to have an interesting career.

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He covered Chris Christie long before the man had the power to shut down the George Washington Bridge. He oversaw a major revamp of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. And as a deputy managing editor at the Globe, he’s worked with my enormously talented friends Martin Gee and Ryan Huddle.

And now he’s written a book that’s taken off in a big way. The book is called The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway. The book has received love from the Economist and the New York Times. Amazon named it a Best Book of the Month for February.

Last week, he was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

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The official blurb:

We bound down stairs taking us deep beneath the streets to ride subways. We bury our faces in our books and phones while being whisked through dark and mysterious tunnels. It wasn’t always this way. Building America’s first subways was a complicated, terrifying journey filled with thrilling breakthroughs and horrific tragedies. In The Race Underground, (coming February 2014 from St. Martin’s Press) Doug Most tells the story of two great cities, Boston and New York, trying desperately to relieve overcrowded streets by convincing their citizens there was only place to go. Down.

The book sells on Amazon for $20.96. The Kindle edition is just $12.74.

It sounds like a terrific read. Doug tells me:

I’ve always been a journalist who appreciates the visual. I did a blog post of my own with the book designer who designed the cool cover for for my book.

That designer was Portland, Oregon-based Ian Koviak of BookDesigners.com. Here’s an excerpt from Doug’s post:

Q: After you read The Race Underground, what struck you the most in helping you create a design?

A: I read parts of the book and relied mostly on the synopsis, based on the time I had. I grew up in New York and have always been enthralled by the subway system and spent much of my childhood underground getting around to school, home and Coney Island! I guess a large part of the designs that I came up with tried to capture that excitement.

Early on in the process I had researched signage used in old subway cars and terminals and tried a few ideas out with that sensibility. I also played with images from the time period in both Boston and NYC.

Two of Ron’s design concepts that were not chosen:

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Ultimately I focused on an image of light at the end of the tunnel–representative of hope, the future, fear, and change. This was the selected idea. We played around with the typography/fonts a few times and shortly after had our final cover.

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It was a rather painless process and I was very pleased with the final.

Q: What do you like about The Race Underground cover?

A: I like its sense of hope and a look into the future. It doesn’t give away too much. It’s not busy and overloaded. The fonts speak to the time periods and the round hole of the subway track reflects the design of the original subways in NY.

Overall, it’s appropriate for the topic but also breaks the mold in that it almost looks like a novel and not strictly non-fiction, which is something I did like about the quality of the writing. It’s not just a dry report on history. There’s intrigue and tension!

Find the entire Q&A here.

Doug and I worked together at the Rock Hill Herald, back in the early 1990s. I moved on to Raleigh, Chicago, Des Moines, Norfolk and, now, the Orange County Register.

Doug left Rock Hill around the same time I did. He spent three years at the Daily Record of Morristown, N.J., and four years at the Record of Hackensack before becoming a senior editor of Boston Magazine in 2000. In 2003, he moved to the Boston Globe, where he served as deputy managing editor over the Sunday magazine and the travel, arts, entertainment and food sections. Along the way, he wrote a “true crime” book and taught at Boston University.

Earlier this year, Doug was promoted to a new DME position in which he will develop new print and digital concepts.

Find more reviews of Doug’s new book here.

Find Doug’s web site here, his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Holiday gift guide for visual journalists: Comics and cartoons

Why not toss some of your holiday gift budget toward a visual journalist who might be selling just what you need for that special someone on your list?

Today’s topic: Comics and cartoons…


Graphic novel: NAMESAKE

Meg Lavey — a web and mobile news producer and a SMO specialist for the PA Media Group of Harrisburg, Pa. — is the writer for a wonderful web comic called Namesake.

Meg and her Canadian artist pal, Isabelle Melançon, tell the story of a young woman who learns she has the mystical ability to travel between worlds. The problem is: The world she finds herself on is basically Oz — you know, from the Wizard of Oz books.

She meets people — or people track her — from other works of fiction. In fact, the first chapter of the story opened as a fictionalized Charles Dodgson is startled by someone coming through from the other side…

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…that someone turns out to be someone he knows.

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And, yes, nefarious forces are at work. All this is unfolding in graphic novel format at a rate of three pages a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

I’ve been following the story since it started in October 2010, and I’ll say this: The story is extremely well-drawn and well-told. Megs and Isa are doing a fabulous job. I’m totally hooked.

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Huge chunks of the Namesake story have been issued as Book 1 and Book 2.

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I have Book 1 and I love it. Book 2 should be arriving shortly. They’re available as softcovers for $20 each or $35 for both. Or, you can buy them for $30 each in hardcover or $50 for both.

In their online store, you can also find a number of interesting prints and posters by Isabelle.

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Find the Namesake web site here and the Namesake store here.

I wrote a Q&A with Meg when they launched Namesake. Find that here.

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A 2002 graduate of the University of Alabama, Meg worked for the student paper — the Crimson White — and was a member of ‘Bama’s famed Million Dollar Band. Meg worked at the Selma (Ala.) Times-Journal and the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier before joining the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal in 2004. She moved to the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson in 2006 but left the newspaper business two years later.

She returned in 2010 with the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa. I shadowed her one night, in her first month there. In addition, Meg is a tech blogger for the Unofficial Apple Weblog.

Find her portfolio here and her Twitter feed here.


Comic collections: COOL JERK

My friend Paul Horn “retired” in 2006 as a graphic artist at the San Diego Union-Tribune to concentrate on the comic strip he’s drawn since his college days at the University of Nevada, Reno.

That strip — now called Cool Jerk — is a weekly web comic. Paul’s been drawing it for so long, now, that he’s built up an impressive catalog of collected editions.

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The four Cool Jerk books each sell for $12. The Doc Splatter book — which emphasizes the ever-popular horror genre — is just $8.

The Donut Tattoo book is a book containing commentary, recipes and cartoons. Paul illustrated this for his wife, news designer and food blogger Darlene Horn. Now in its third printing, this book is just $5.

I own every one of them and I love them. That special comics fan on your Christmas list will, too. Order them here.

If you scroll down that page, you’ll find all sorts of other goodies: Cool Jerk t-shirts, buttons, canvas panels and so on.

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A 1991 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Paul spent a year as an illustrator for the Daily Sparks Tribune of Sparks, Nev., before becoming assistant graphics editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1990. He moved to the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1994 and worked there nearly 12 years.

I wrote about him most recently during the big San Diego Comicon. Find that here.

Find Paul’s web site here, his infographics samples here and his Twitter feed here.

Find Darlene’s blog, My Burning Kitchen, here. Find her Twitter feed here.


Sci-Fi humor: STAR BABE INVASION COMICS

My old pal Mike Fisher of the San Antonio Express News is a huge name in science fiction and horror circles. He’s cartooned for Starlog magazine since the 1980s. He also publishes the occasional fanzine comic, featuring his ultimate geekazoid character, 3D Pete.

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His last few issues have been called Star Babe Invasion specials.

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That’s the current issue at lower right. Mike’s selling it for just $5 at his web site.

Sounds like perfect stocking stuffer material for that sci-fi fanboy fanperson geek on your list.

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I’ve known Mike a long, long time. When I got my first fulltime newspaper job in Athens, Ga., he was an artist at our sister paper in Augusta. Later, I moved to the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald and he moved to Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. Where he eventually worked his way up to graphics editor.

He spent several years with Knight-Ridder’s TV animation studio, News in Motion, in Washington, D.C. He’s been with the Express-News for several years, now. I wrote about him most recently here.

Find Mike’s web site here and his YouTube channel here.

Find a nice Q&A with him here.


Indie comic collection: LATE NIGHTS AT KINKO’S

Will Pfeifer is a communication design specialist for the Rosecrance Health Network in Rockford, Ill.

In addition, he’s worked as a freelance writer for DC comics: Aquaman, Catwoman, H.E.R.O. and a handful of others.

Will self-published a collection of his old self-published work. According to the blurb:

This book collects a decade’s worth of self-published work, including eight issues of the pop culture satire Violent Man and various other short strips, behind-the-scenes drawings and oddball Christmas cards.

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Complete with pages and pages of self-serving annotations explaining all the outdated jokes!

The book is 233 pages for just $12. Buy it here.

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A 1989 graduate of Kent State Univeristy, Will spent 18 years as a designer, editor and movie columnist for the Rockford Register Star. He left newspapers in 2012. Find Will’s personal blog here.


Issue 1 of a comic: TOMBSTONE OF THE DEAD

Dan Taylor is a freelance comic book writer right here in Orange County, Calif. He’s the writer and co-creator of the web comic Hero Happy Hour, about the bar where superheroes hang out when their working day is done.

As much as I’d love to see a print version of Hero Happy Hour, one doesn’t exist yet. That I know of. However, Dan does have a few swag-like items for sale via his Zazzle store.

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Check it out here.

In the meantime, if there’s someone on your list who loves small-press comics and zombies and owns a Kindle, you’re in luck. Dan’s collaboration with artist Dan Lauer, Tombstone of the Dead

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…tells the story of Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday. They defeated the Clanton brothers in a soon-to-be-famous gunfight, but their troubles are just beginning. Because the dead have come back to life in Tombstone.

Go here to find issue one for the Kindle for under a buck-and-a-half.

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A graduate of California State University in Long Beach, Dan spent two-and-a-half years as an editor with IDW publishing before going it alone. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

You’re reading the sixth of a series of blog posts offering up ideas for Holiday gift giving, but with items created by your visual journalism colleagues around the world.

The schedule, so far:

DEC. 2: Greeting cards
DEC. 3: Cool stuff
DEC. 4: Homemade jewelry
DEC. 5: Paper and fabric goods and stuff for the home
DEC. 6: Children’s books

TODAY: Comics and cartoons
TUESDAY: Novels
WEDNESDAY: Nonfiction books

Also, check out the gifts for geeky collector-types that I wrote for the O.C. Register‘s Holiday Gift Guide in the Thanksgiving day paper.

Do you know of anything — or anybody — I should add to my list? Give me a ho-ho-holler.

 

Good news for design leaders? Perhaps you could be CEO one day…

My pal Jim McBee of the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune alerts us to a new book, published last week and that is going to be of interest to you.

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The new term here is “DEO” — Design Executive Officer. The concept is that companies and organizations aren’t changing fast enough to keep up with the real world. The remedy is to turn for leadership to folks who know about being flexible, about thinking quickly, who aren’t adverse to change and who excel at creative problem-solving.

Namely, the art director. Or design director. You.

From the official blurb:

Just as we took our cues from MBAs and the military in casting the ideal CEO of the 20th century, we can look to design – in its broadest form – to model our future leader, the DEO. These leaders possess characteristics, behaviors and mindsets that allow them to excel in unpredictable, fast-moving and value-charged conditions. They are catalysts for transformation and agents of change. A hybrid of strategic business executive and creative problem-solver, the DEO is willing to take on anything as an object of design and looks at ALL problems as design challenges.

Readers will learn not only why this form of leadership is essential to the success of modern organizations, but also what characteristics are best suited to this role. Through intimate conversations with leading DEOs, we explore the mindsets, communities, processes and practices common to creative business leaders. The book lays out—graphically and through example—how DEOs run their companies and why this approach makes sense now. We help readers identify these skills in themselves and their colleagues, and we guide them in using these skills to build, revive or reinvent the next generation of great companies and organization.

I don’t know if this book will actually help you or your newsroom. Perhaps you might buy a copy and casually leave it laying on your desk. Just to get your bosses talking behind your back about how, suddenly, you’re upper-management material.

I’m reminded of the time Felix Bellinger, Managing Editor of the Hamburger Abendblatt, told the World Editors Forum in Hamburg that the iPad is so important to the future of our business that the managing editors of the future will be iPad art directors.

That was three years ago.

Likewise, I think the concept here is fascinating. Perhaps this is the direction companies — especially media companies — should go. But it seems to me like a lot of wishful thinking. The authors are award-winning art directors from the creative agency world.

Granted, I’ve not yet read the book. You can bet I’m ordering one. Just out of curiosity, of course.

The paperback book is available from Barnes and Noble for just over $25. The owner of the Washington Post sells it for about a quarter cheaper. (Not 25 percent cheaper. A quarter cheaper.) Electronic version seem to run about ten bucks less.

Find the book’s web site here and its Facebook fan page here. Find the authors’ joint Twitter account here.

The official Rise of the DEO blog looks pretty interesting, in fact. Find that here.

A fun read. A great keepsake. And a very worthy cause…

While visiting family in Florida last March, legendary publication designer Robert Newman suffered a seizure, severe head trauma and then a brain hemorrhage. He was in a coma for weeks before he was able to breathe on his own.

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As soon as he could be moved safely, he was sent back to New York City, where he’s continued to recover. You may recall his friends held a fundraiser for him because, as a freelancer and consultant, Bob has no health insurance these days.

Bob wrote us over the weekend:

My recovery is going well. There have been setbacks, but it’s probably a miracle that I’m even walking around. I’ve got months and months of physical and swallow therapy ahead of me, and my days are still filled with doctors and tests.

The good news is that the thinking part of my brain is OK (or as OK as it ever was), and my hands and eyes are as sharp as they were pre-accident. On other fronts, I feel like my body and its parts aged about 15-20 years overnight, and that’s what I’m struggling with right now.

Some parts are definitely broken and most likely will never return to normal, but overall the outlook is bright, and I’ve recovered enough to dive into reading and watching movies and spending as much time as I can with my two young daughters (who manage to wear me out very quickly). I’m walking madly all over the Upper West Side, building back strength and endurance.

There’s no prognosis on when (or if) I’ll be able to return to work, and I’m avoiding jumping back into my online life for at least another month.

Which, of course, brings up the next point: The medical bills continue to pile up.

Robert’s pals Jeremy Leslie of Magculture.com and Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post have teamed up to publish a 64-page benefit publication called My Favo(u)rite Magazine.

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Eighty-eight designers, editors and photo editors from magazine and newspapers around the world, contributed to My Favo(u)rite Magazine. As AdWeek explains, the project is…

…a “love letter to print”—is a collection of essays in which creative directors from titles like Wired, Elle and Fast Company (and digital companies like Pentagram and AOL) reveal their all-time favorite magazine issues, plus an addition by Newman himself.

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The highlighted titles range from mainstream (there’s the iconic Harper’s Bazaar cover featuring Jean Shrimpton shot by Richard Avedon) to indie (Craphound, Hard Werken and The Germans — not quite household names).

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Robert tells us:

The printing was donated, some folks contributed generous advertising, and there’s no overhead, so all the proceeds are going directly to help pay those nasty bills.

It’s a great project, with very inspiring content, something worth saving and savouring.

A print version of the magazine is available for ₤15.99 ($24.98 USD), plus ₤6.00 ($9.37 USD) shipping. A PDF can be had for ₤12.99 ($20.30 USD) — with no shipping charge, obviously.

PalPal is accepted. (Those currency conversions were as of Sunday evening PDT.)

Go here to order a copy.

Read more about this project — and see more sample pages — at:

Find my earlier post about Robert here.

Find the Friends of Robert Newman Facebook page here.

Calling all fans of sports photography

Do you have a discount store in your area called Five Below? It’s like a dollar store, except everything is priced $5 or less. The chain is based in Philadelphia. Everything there is a “close out,” so they don’t take returns at all.

We stopped by our local Five Below last night, where I spotted something you should know about:

That’s a book called Slide Show by the editors of Sports Illustrated magazine. A stack of them, in fact.

I wrote about this book when it first came out, three years ago. But I see my old post has all the visuals stripped out of it. Therefore, I’ll take the liberty of repeating myself, if you don’t mind…

The book is a journey through the photo archives of Sports Illustrated — not the electronic files, but the actual slides. Fifty years’ worth of them.

What’s cool is that they show us each slide and its cardboard or plastic mount, including all the little stickers, marks, notes and caption info included there.

Like this one, on page 8, of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan:

The material on the left is the basic caption info, of course. The blue sticker indicates this frame was used in Sports Illustrated Kids. The yellow sticker indicates this was used in a commemorative Chicago Bulls special issue in 1996.

On the right is an “X number” that identifies the photographer and the assignment. The info shows this was “take one”, frame 8 of roll 17 by that shooter.

The red dot at the bottom right? That means the slide has been scanned into the Sports Illustrated photo library. Meaning the editors no longer have to use this slide.

This helpful diagram on page 15 explains all the lingo:

I’ve always been a Packers fan, so it tickled me to find one of my all-time favorite SI covers — Vince Lombardi’s last game as coach in Green Bay, a win in Super Bowl II — on page 39:

The authors show you the slide and the resulting cover. The text at right tells how the photographer ran out on the field with 20 seconds left to get his shot. This put him at risk — a couple of weeks earlier, Lombardi had had the photog thrown off the field for a similar move.

This one was shot just before the next Super Bowl, in January 1969. On page 91 is a very famous photo of Joe Namath lounging by the pool in Miami:

The photog, Sports Illustrated’s legendary Walter Iooss Jr., is quoted as saying:

Can you imagine what would happen if Tom Brady tried to do this today?

Ah, such simpler times then.

The book contains many, many iconic SI cover photos. I was 13 years old and a Sports Illustrated subscriber then this photo made the cover in 1976:

Those are pages 20 and 21.

I was a sophomore in college when this famous game — Chargers 41, Dolphins 38 — was played:

Those are pages 124 and 125.

One of the most famous SI covers of all time is “The Catch” by Dwight Clark of the 49ers. If you’re familiar with the cover, you can see how the art directors cropped the original frame:

I’ve always been partial to that picture, too — Clark played his college ball at Clemson. Apparently, I’m not the only one who likes it. The yellow stickers show the shot was used in at least eight issues before it was finally placed in the electronic archive. The slide appears on page 117.

I wrote much more about “the Catch” on the 30th anniversary of that moment back in January. Find that here.

Don’t let my preference for NFL football fool you, though. There are a lot of other sports included, as well. College football, basketball, golf, Olympics.

Another of the most famous sports photos of all time is this one of U.S. women’s soccer player Brandi Chastain:

You gotta love that headline on page 98.

By now, are you noticing how many of these original shots have plenty of dead space above the foreground? Is it possible SI photogs shoot everything in hope of making the cover, helpfully leaving room for the magazine’s nameplate? If so, I’ve not yet found proof in the book.

Pages 42 and 43 feature golfing great Jack Nicklaus:

See the blue mark, “original,” on that slide? They did that, the book says, whenever they duplicated a slide to sell or give to someone else. You never want to lose your original.

That’s precisely what happened with another iconic Sports Illustrated cover shot of 1976 Olympic great Bruce Jenner. At some point, over the years, the SI archives has misplaced the original slide of the famous “Awrright!” cover.

However, the book says, there were two SI photographers next to each other at the finish line of the 1,500 meters event of the decathlon. The resulting photos were nearly identical. This one, on page 156, is the one that didn’t get used on the cover.

And on and on. For 176 pages. The only complaint I have with the book: It’s not twice as large.

And that was the way I gushed about this book, three years ago. It list-priced new at $29.95 but Amazon sold it for just $19.77. Amazon is currently letting it go for $26.99.

And now you can pick up a copy at your local Five Below for five bucks. Go here to find the store closest to you.

Cheap Christmas gift alert

Looking for a cheap but fun Christmas gift? Why not buy from a visual journalism colleague?

For that lover of the classic sounds of early rock ‘n roll, what could be a better stuffer than a fresh and detailed story of the last tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper?

The Day the Music Died is a book by Larry Lehmer, longtime copy editor, copy desk chief and news editor for the Des Moines Register. The 2003 release was nominated for the annual Gleason Music Book Award. Afterwards, Larry was asked to work with the E! TV network on an episode of its Mysteries and Scandals series. He also contributed to a VH1 documentary on Buddy Holly.

The paperback is currently listed at Amazon for $18.21.

A 1968 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Larry spent four years in the U.S. Air Force and eight years at the Nonpareil of Council Bluffs, Iowa. After 25 years at the Register, Larry now runs When Words Matter, a Des Moines-based writing and editing service for businesses and families.

Find Larry’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.

This is the eighth in a series of posts about visual journalists who do great work on the side. Great work that could possibly make a fabulous Christmas present for you or folks on your list.

Previously:

Cheap Christmas gift alert

Looking for a cheap but fun Christmas gift? Why not buy from a visual journalism colleague?

Do you have a person on your shopping list who just loves to cook? Here’s the perfect gift for them: A cookbook by master cook and longtime cooking writer and editor Debbie Moose.

Debbie has published four cookbooks, and each of them is available for less than 12 bucks.

 

 

Find much better descriptions of each book here.

A 1979 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Debbie spent six years as a reporter with the Post of Salisbury, N.C., before moving to the Raleigh News & Observer in 1985. She spent eight years as an editor and sole writer for the N&O’s award-winning food section. In the 13 years since she left the N&O, Debbie has written two ongoing columns for the N&O and maintains a cooking blog. She also spent four years as a counselor and support group facilitator for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Find her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

This is the seventh in a series of posts about visual journalists who do great work on the side. Great work that could possibly make a fabulous Christmas present for you or folks on your list.

Previously:

Cheap Christmas gift alert

Looking for a cheap but fun Christmas gift? Why not buy from a visual journalism colleague?

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If you like literature — and most of us in the field of communications do — then you’ll go nuts over Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts and Misanthropes.

Writers Gone Wild was written by Bill Peschel, longtime copy editor for the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News, from stories he has collected over many years of writing and editing book reviews. I wrote a lengthy Q&A with him when the book was published last November.

As a bonus for you illustration fans, the cover was drawn by famed New Yorker cover artist Barry Blitt. Read more about him here.

Amazon sells the book for $11.21 but currently has one in stock for just $5.98. The Kindle version is currently going for $12.99.

In addition, Bill edited a second book this year: The Complete Annotated Whose Body? By Dorothy L. Sayers, in which a classic out-of-print mystery novel is revived and illuminated with notes and historical perspective.

Amazon is selling the softcover for $11.58 and the Kindle version for just $2.99.

And Bill ain’t done yet. Based on the strength of Writers Gone Wild, he’s been contracted to write another one that you just know will sell like crazy: Hollywood Gone Wild. No word just yet on when that one will hit shelves. Bill writes on his web site that this is…

…how Chip Kidd would have designed the cover, after getting hit in the head with a hammer a few times.

In the meantime, Bill has added Hollywood items to his old Writers Gone Wild blog. So you can keep an eye on the work in progress there.

As soon as the Hollywood book comes out, I’ll be the first to line up for an autographed copy. So I’ll keep you posted, of course.

A 1982 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Bill worked at small- and medium-sized newspapers, including 11 years at the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. He’s been with the Patriot-News for 11 years as well. Find Bill’s web site here and his regular blog here.

Find his Twitter feed here.

This is the sixth in a series of posts about visual journalists who do great work on the side. Great work that could possibly make a fabulous Christmas present for you or folks on your list.

Previously:

Calling all comic strip fans: Soon, you, too, can go Pogo

Hitting bookstores right about… now… is a new collection of classic Pogo comic strips by Walt Kelly.

Published by Fantagraphics books, this book collects the very first of Kelly’s syndicated Pogo strips, starting in May 1949 and running through the end of 1950. Also included are Sunday strips from that same period and Pogo strips from the New York Star from before Kelly was syndicated (Oct. 1948 – Jan. 1949).

The book’s consulting editor — entertainment writer Mark Evanierwrites in his blog:

I can rave about it because I deserve very little credit for its wonderfulness. Any book that properly presents the work of Mr. Kelly is going to be, by definition, wonderful…and Carolyn Kelly (daughter of Walt, companion of mine) and Fantagraphics Books made sure it was properly presented. Carolyn’s design work could not be more perfect for the occasion.

This is the first of what Evanier figures will be about a dozen books in all, collecting the entire run of Pogo.

For those not in the know, Pogo is about the adventures of Pogo Possum, a resident of the Okefenokee Swamp, and his pals Albert Gator, Howland Owl, Beauregard the hound dog and a turtle named Churchy LaFemme. Kelly used his strip as a device to poke all sorts of fun at humanity, current events and politicians.

And Christmas carols. Walt Kelly liked to have a little fun with those, too:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,

Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!

Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,

Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel,

Lullaby Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?

Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,

Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Perhaps one of the most famous moments from Pogo is this one, used in a World Day poster in 1970:

Pogo was one of the more popular comic strips of the day, running for 27 years. Kelly died in 1973 from complications from diabetes. Assistants carried on until the strip was canceled in 1975.

Kelly himself began contributing editorial cartoons to the Bridgeport (Conn.) Post at the age of 13. He went on to work at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to the films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Dumbo and Pinocchio. He left Hollywood during a labor strike, returned to the East Coast to work in comic books and eventually returned to journalism as  editorial cartoonist for the Star. When the Star folded, his relatively new swamp-themed strip was picked up for syndication.

Pogo: The Complete Daily and Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1 will be officially released Dec. 5. Amazon is preselling it for $25.24. Find it here.

Find the official Pogo web site here.

Find Mark Evanier’s blog here.

This goes to the top of my wish list

I’m a huge fan of Art Spiegelman. And especially Maus, Spiegelman’s cartoon retelling of the Holocaust and a son’s struggle to understand his Holocaust-survivor father.

Maus won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and rightfully so. It’s powerful work.

 

Previously, Spiegelman had been a big part of the underground comics movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But without even knowing who he was, I was familiar with his work during my junior high school years: Spiegelman was lead artist for Topps trading card company’s “Wacky Packages” stickers. And, still later, he did the “Garbage Pail Kids.”

Spiegelman even did magazine design for a while. He designed the New Yorker’s 9/11 edition. It was all-black, with the twin towers printed in blank ink on a black background. The only thing that makes the towers stand out is a gloss varnish.

If you tilt the cover just so, the towers kind of pop out at you and then disappear again, like a distant memory. It’s perhaps one of the best-ever 9/11 covers. And one nearly impossible to reproduce in JPG form.

Looks like a retrospective edition of Maus — called MetaMaus — is coming out in a couple of weeks. Check out this video trailer.

Amazon says this will ship on Oct. 4. It’s prelisted at only $21.28. Find it here.

Find a recent profile of Spiegelman here by the Montreal Gazette.

Thanks to Boing Boing for blogging about this today.

Meet Bill Peschel — longtime book lover, copy editor… and, now, published author

Nearly buried this week under the shuffle of election coverage and tea parties and such was the official release of a fun new book — one that literature lovers are sure to enjoy.

The book is called Writers Gone Wild. It’s a collection of brief tales of authors, novelists, poets and journalists and some of the crazy, unbelievable and just plain ol’ weird stuff they’ve done over the years. Let’s just say they’re a colorful bunch.

The book was officially released Tuesday. I read an advance copy and I’m strongly recommending it to you. In addition, you’ll find it reasonably priced — Amazon is currently selling the softcover for $10.76 and the Kindle version for $9.99.

The wild writer of Writers Gone Wild is Bill Peschel, a copy editor for the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., and longtime book reviewer and blogger. A 1982 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Bill spent his career at small- and medium-sized newspapers, including 11 years at the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. — where, I might add, we worked together. Bill has been with the Patriot-News for ten years.

Despite his busy book publicity schedule and his Election Day duties, Bill took some time to answer a few questions for us…

Q. I’ve always thought of writers as an honorable professionals — that novelists, poets and journalists represent some of the best, most articulate minds of their times. But many of the tales you bring us show us writers who have engaged in plagiarism, theft, fisticuffs, sexual deviancy… all sorts of shenanigans. Was my mental picture of these folks just completely out of order, or what?

A. Why can’t degenerates be great artists too? Writers draw on their experiences, so it makes sense that the ones who live the more extreme lives have the deepest well to draw from.

That doesn’t mean that they will have great stories to tell, or will remain healthy long enough to tell them well. William Faulkner was a great artist in spite of his alcoholism — which left him so debilitated that he suffered from the DTs and had to brace his hand against the wall so he could pour his morning drink — not because of it. It’s known that Eugene O’Neill’s greatest plays came after he gave up drinking.

Researching Writers Gone Wild also cured me of the pretty notion that art can Improve Your Life. True, it can widen your horizon and make you see the world in a new way, but only if you’re already open to that notion. Art is full of great works created by unhappy bastards — Ernest Hemingway, John O’Hara, Picasso, Jean Rhys — and it didn’t improve their lives one bit.

Q. Likewise, your book contains a number of stories of unsavory journalistic practices: Newspaper articles that were hoaxes, critics who took cash for good reviews. I knew journalism didn’t always have the high ethics that most of us strive to have today. But good grief, was it really THAT bad?

A. We’ll never know, will we? We only find out about the scandals that were exposed, such as the newspaper hoaxes, the fake reviews or the “pay for play” stories such as Alexander Woollcott taking money to pump Faulkner’s Sanctuary on his radio show.

Remember that, at one time, journalism was a disreputable profession. No one with a college degree would have been caught dead in the newsroom. Now, it’s practically a requirement.

Bill is just one of the many, many copy editors who have

saved this poor graphics geek from looking really, really

stupid over the years. And this graphics geek is grateful.

Q. You’ve obviously been collecting quotes and anecdotes for years. How long has this book been in the making?

A. I started in 1994. I wish I could say I had been slaving away on it, but I’d pick up the project, work on it a bit, then put it away. Or, I’d get into a fever and collect a bunch of newspaper articles — especially from the British papers such as the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian — about writers and file them away. And then I’d go away and get divorced, get married, move, change jobs, write some bad novels, have some kids. Up until three years ago, it was a quarter-assed effort.

Q. Why authors? As opposed to, say, athletes or musicians or politicians?

A. I’ve always been fascinated by writers, because I’ve been a longtime reader and longtime wannabe writer. Looking into their lives was not just a search for great stories, it was a search for inspiration, for best practices, for a better understanding of how I can be a better writer. But I am collecting material on musicians, politicians and movie starts, in hopes of writing more books.

Q. One of my favorite nuggets in the book is the San Francisco Chronicle telling Rudyard Kipling: “you just don’t know how to use the English language.” I’m sure it’s difficult to choose, but what might be YOUR favorite tale?

A. Samuel Beckett joining the French Resistance during World War II.

He was living in Paris during the occupation, and when he saw his Jewish friend being taken away or harassed, decided to fight back. For a year, he helped type reports on the disposition of German troops that were sent to England.

A Catholic priest betrayed the ring, and Beckett and his companion, Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil, fled Paris barely in time. They made it to the south of France and stayed there until the war was over. For his work, Beckett was awarded two medals by the French government. He rarely spoke of his Resistance work, and even his friends didn’t know about the medals.

I didn’t expect Beckett to take such a moral stand, especially when you think of all the writers who took immoral stands, such as Nobelist Knut Hamsum welcoming the Nazis to his native Norway and Ezra Pound supporting Mussolini and fascism.

Q. The cover illustration is VERY cool. How did that come about?

A. Penguin arranged that. It’s by Barry Blitt, the artist who created the New Yorker cover of the Obamas fist-bumping in the Oval Office.

Q. You’ve spent most of your professional life as a copy editor. What was it like being copy-edited yourself? Any horror stories for us?

A. None. My editor, Meg Leder, was a pro and comfortingly efficient. Considering that I wrote about how a manuscript by Piers Anthony was butchered by no less than four copy editors — he got his revenge by publishing the complete manuscript, complete with their snarky comments and his response — I was expecting something, anything. But not a problem.

Bill reviews books on his web site. Plus, he gets automatic street cred for using the typeface from the original Star Trek TV series. You gotta love that.

Q. As a longtime book reviewer yourself, you’re now having your own book reviewed. Has that been a painful process? What have the reviews been like, so far?

A. Only a few have shown up on blog sites, but they’ve all been positive, even enthusiastic. Same with the radio and blog interviews I’ve done. It might be that with a title like Writers Gone Wild, people are anticipating a downmarket book, a National Enquirer-type book. Instead, I was shooting for People magazine: gossipy, but well-sourced and always entertaining.

Q. There are a LOT of folks out there in newspaper land who are either a) working on a book idea, or b) HOPING to write a book one day. What quick advice can you give them?

A. You have to commit yourself to getting it done. That’s where it begins, and when trouble strikes, that’s the place you have to return to, to begin again.

The second key is not to commit to the book — that’s too daunting. Instead, commit only to write for that day. Terry Pratchett has said he committed himself to writing 300 words a day, no matter what. Grandfather dies, go to the funeral, write 300 words. Get sick, skip a day, make it up the rest of the week. Do that for five years, and you’ve got eight books. And the time will pass anyway, so why not use it for something you’re passionate about?

Believe me, I dithered over this project for 16 years and frequently thought I would never finish it. Someone looking on would have kindly suggested that I might not be cut out for a writer. So, if I can have those doubts and work it through, you can, too.

Bill, at his desk at the Patriot-News, this past July.

Q. What has been the reaction at the Patriot-News about your writing a book? Have they had any trouble with the idea?

A. Uniformly positive and enthusiastic. Also shocked. I had kept the project quiet until a few months ago. Not from fear, but it feels like I’m bragging. I worry I’ll bore people with the minutiae from my Fascinating Life of a Writer: “Well, I sat at the computer and wrote. Then I played Zuma. Then I listened to iTunes and drummed that neat solo from ELO’s ‘Do Ya’ on the back of the chair.”

See? Enthralling.

Bill’s official publicity photo.

Q. What the hell is that thing you’re wearing in your official publicity photos? [The typographical shirt] That is so COOL…

A. That’s exactly what it sounds like, a shirt with giant letters on it. My wife sewed it from fabric she bought. She also does the children’s Halloween, quilt-like comforters for the bed, and medical scrub shirts. Those are my favorites, because I’ll go to the fabric store with her and discover all kinds of cool designs. My favorite now is a collage of Three Stooges photos and movie one-sheets. A real guy’s shirt.

Q. Are you working on your second book yet? What’s it going to be about?

A. I’m annotating the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body? and will self-publish it as an e-book and trade paperback through Amazon. I’ve posted a number of guides to her novels and short stories on my website, but this will be the first time I’ll be able to combine those notes with her text. The copyright to her first two novels were not renewed, so they have fallen into the public domain.

As for the Gone Wild series, I want to do one on Hollywood, and have done some research and even written the proposal for Penguin. Whether that happens will depend on the sales for Writers Gone Wild, so if anyone wants to see a Hollywood version, run to your bookstore and buy Writers.

It’s just like voting, except you do it as many times as you want legally.

The book is called Writers Gone Wild. The stories are presented as briefs and they’re grouped into logical categories. It’s a fun, breezy read and one that will most definitely enthrall you, no matter how deep or shallow your knowledge of the great writers and authors throughout history.

This week, Bill is posting book excerpts on his blog. Besides, Bill’s blog is a great place for any book lover to spent time. Find it — and bookmark it — here.

Find more information about Writers Gone Wild, including wallpapers for your computer, an offer of bookmarks for librarians, a podcast and other goodies, click here.

Read Lynn Vehl‘s review of the book in the Paperback Writer blog.

Writers Gone Wild was released by Penguin books, a mainstream publisher. Therefore, it’s available nearly anywhere you normally buy books: Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. If you pay more than $11 for it, you’re not trying hard enough.

Sports photographer Vernon Biever dead at age 87

Longtime sports photographer Vernon Biever of Port Washington, Wis., died Wednesday night. He was 87.

Journal Sentinel file photo

Who was Vernon Biever? One of the first official NFL team photographers, writes Amy Rabideau Silvers of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He began photographing the Green Bay Packers — originally for the Sentinel — in 1941, as an 18-year-old college freshman and eventually earned himself a spot on the club’s payroll.

He shot the Packers for decades. Just a few of the iconic pictures he made of the Packers’ glory years in the 1960s:

If you’re into sports photography — or just a Packers fan — then his book is a must-have. Find it here.

Biever’s sons followed in his footsteps. John, 58, is a noted photographer for Sports Illustrated and Jim, 49, shoots for the Packers today.

Find a nice obit in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Find galleries of his work in that paper as well as the Green Bay Press-Gazette and the Green Bay Packers’ own web site.

UPDATE: Friday, 11 a.m.

Also find a nice story in Friday’s Press-Gazette. Read his Press-Gazette obit here.

From the SND/Denver workshop: Order your own copy of ‘Ink’

Did you catch all the buzz about the tabloid that was produced during the Society for News Design’s annual workshop last month in Denver?

Produced by three former Michigan State classmates — with illustration, graphics, photography and articles by a huge number of industry professionals — Ink was distributed to attendees Sunday, as they checked out of the hotel and headed home.

Robert Newman was kind enough to mail me one last week. And what a feast it is:

Well, now you can have a copy of your own. The Denver Post’s Graphics Garage is selling copies for $10 each, which includes shipping anywhere in the U.S. International customers can buy copies for $15 each.

Today, SND vice president Steve Dorsey posted a nice Q&A with the primary forces behind Ink:

Nick Mrozowski, former designer at the Virginian-Pilot, former design director of the Pilot‘s youth tab, Link, and now creative director of i in Lisbon, Portugal.

Carrie Hoover, former designer at the San Jose Mercury News, the Portland Oregonian and now design director of Fashion Boston magazine.

Krissi Xenakis, former designer for Link and currently a grad student at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

A sample of the Q&A:

CARRIE: Ink is the newspaper we’ve always wanted to create. Krissi, Nick and I worked together at our college paper, and there we always tried to make our newspaper the best it could be. But I think this project gave us the capability to take that drive, and the experiences we’ve each had since college and create the paper of our dreams … or as close as we could get.

We gathered the contributions through connections we’d established in our careers somehow. Whether the contributor was a direct colleague or a friend of a colleague. The creative community can be so connected, and that made the collaboration aspect of this project seem almost natural.

KRISSI: Each spread has its own story. But, our underlying theme was to celebrate print and really showcase some of its best features. We started out with 24 pages and by the end were asking Damon for over 40.

There’s lots of stuff here of interest to you. Some of it ties in directly to the Denver workshop and some is only tangentially related.

For example, there is this roundup by speaker Robert Newman on clever — yet, low-budget — conceptual cover ideas for alt-weeklies (click for a larger view):

You can also get a look at those in Robert’s Facebook gallery.

The back page of the tab illustrates all sorts of interesting facts and numbers — from the World Association of Newspapers — presented in infographic form:

That was by Carlos Monteiro (graphics), Lúis Mirãnda (text) and Carrie Hoover (design).

Nuno Duarte and Patrícia Furtado of the Portugal’s Lisbon Studio produced this fun double-page cartoon on the merits of print:

The most excellent Mr. Sam Hundley of the Virginian-Pilot contributed a pull-out poster for the center spread:

Rich-Joseph Facun of the National newspaper in Abu Dhabi donated a photo essay of his own family life in the U.A.E. This essay ran over four pages:

Fun design touches abound throughout the paper, even on pages primarily covered by text. This deliciously naughty illustration  — uncredited, unfortunately — runs with a Q&A with Ellen Lupton of the Maryland College of Art and the author of books about publication design:

Carrie’s financé — Martin Gee of the Boston Globe — created the Commander and Mr. Pee, two cut-out action figures for your desk:

From time to time, folks will discuss — in bulletin boards or in chatrooms — how to explain to friends and family what we newspaper designers do for a living. Most folks just can’t wrap their heads around visual journalism, it seems.

This was addressed in one of the most amusing spreads in Ink, this article called Sh*t my mom says:

The illustrations — of the mothers of various designers — are by Richard Câmara of Madrid.

The one spread I’m less than happy with is this one, covering the big templating debate:

This one reads way too much like an ad for Roger Black‘s templating packages through Ready-Media. There’s even a list of features and a price list down the right-hand rail.

At the rear of the section are “classifieds,” in which attendees were offered sticky-note-sized spaces on which to convey pretty much any message they wanted:

A few samples:

Amusingly, the classified submissions didn’t take up all the space allotted to them. You find this at the bottom of the second page:

Read all about it on the SND home page.

Order your copies of Ink here.

Chicago, as seen through the eyes of Tribune photographers

A new book to be released next month will feature photography by Chicago Tribune photographers.

Tribune director of photography Robin Daughtridge writes:

Tribune photographers, en route to “official” assignments, often stroll through the Loop and capture fleeting moments during peak light. Other times a photographer waits for hours for the split second when a runner bounds across a sun-bathed bridge. Whatever the season, whatever the time of day, Chicago Tribune photographers are out there—watching, composing, recording.

The book will be called Chicago in Season and will begin shipping Nov. 19. List price of the book is $34.95, but the publisher — Pediment Books — is currently offering preorders for nearly a third less than that.

Order your copy here.