This cute story will just make your day. I Kidd you not.

Some days, we struggle with deadlines and outdated equipment and balky front-end systems and balky managers.

And some days, it’s a pleasure to be at work.

Craig Schaffer of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle had one of the latter last week. He produces a weekly graphic column-like snapshot for his paper’s business page.

Last week, his topic happened to be famed book designer Chip Kidd. Click this for a larger view:


That ran in last Tuesday’s Eagle. Craig shared on Facebook:

I did a graphic in today’s paper on Chip Kidd, Berks native and probably the most famous graphic designer alive today.

This afternoon I find the sweetest thank you note from his mom and dad on my desk.

Is that cool, or what?


A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa. He moved to the Reading Eagle in 2005. In addition to Snapshot, Craig also produces a “hand-drawn nature column” called Sketchbook that appears every Wednesday in the Eagle‘s Berks Country section.

Find his Snapshot gallery here. Find his Sketchbook gallery here.

I most recently wrote about Craig’s work this summer on the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Find Craig’s online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

UPDATE – 9 a.m.

Craig tells me the business cover story that day was on Kidd. Find that here.

And then there’s this:


A fun way to illustrate contrarian newspaper leadership

Surely you remember this famous publicity shot of Orson Welles for the classic newspaper-themed movie Citizen Kane.


In that movie — near the beginning, at least — the lead character played by Welles takes over a newspaper, bucks the industry trends and sets the world on fire with his leadership.

Well, try this on for size: The innovative owners of the Orange County Register, as depicted in a huge, six-column photo on the front of today’s business section of their own paper.


On the left is Eric Spitz, the president of Freedom Communications. On the right is Aaron Kushner, CEO of Freedom and publisher of the Orange County Register.

Is that fun, or what?

The picture was shot Tuesday on the top of our parking deck out back. Staffer Leonard Ortiz did the honors. Design chief Karen Kelso art directed… meaning she and a team of interns lugged around all those papers and set them up just so.

I checked in on the prep work Tuesday afternoon and offered a helpful suggestion: I told Karen she should run around and put one of my Focus pages on the top of each of those bundles. Can you believe she was too lazy to do that for me? Sigh

Here is how the picture was used today:


The occasion is the one-year anniversary of when Aaron and Eric took over the reins here at the paper and started this amazing renaissance, including 22 new stand-alone sections, three new magazines, three new dailies, 25 massively expanded broadsheet weeklies and 175 new newsroom employees.

Of whom I am one, of course.

There is a hallway here on the third floor where they’ve posted photos and brief bios of each new hire. The lore here is that when the paper began this hiring spree last summer, someone had the idea of leaving the pictures on the wall, rather than swapping them out from time to time.


As a result, our wall runneth over. Impressive, isn’t it?


Every once in a while, I swing by there and check out my own picture.


Yep, I’m there. Guess that means I’m still employed.

The top of reporter Mary Ann Milbourn‘s story today:

When two East Coast investors with no newspaper experience decided to buy the Orange County Register a year ago, print journalism remained in decline nationwide, and the industry’s desperate solution consisted of layoffs, an emphasis on the Web over newsprint, and deep cuts to print editions. Newspapers seemed to be trying to save themselves by killing themselves.

Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz had a different idea: Do exactly the opposite.

For the past year, Kushner, a former greeting card executive, and Spitz, a tech entrepreneur, have doubled the newsroom staff, dramatically expanded the daily paper and elevated the print edition over the Web. Now, only paying readers get access to the Register‘s online content.

Industry watchers call this a radical experiment, but Kushner and Spitz see it as playing to strengths the rest of the business has too often forgotten: The drawing power of quality local journalism, of striving to cover a community top to bottom and of making sure subscribers know they are valued. That must be a newspaper’s contract with its community, they say.

It requires investment, not cutting, but if a paper keeps that promise, Kushner and Spitz say, subscribers and advertisers will come.

Unlike much of the Register, today’s anniversary story is not behind our paywall. So you can read the whole thing here.

This is just the latest of several nice stories written recently about this paper. A roundup:

  • Jan. 1: “Orange County Register Owner Aaron Kushner Defies Trend To Shrink Costs” by Elliott Spagat of the Associated Press
  • Jan. 31: “The newsonomics of Aaron Kushner’s virtuous circles” by Ken Doctor of the Nieman Jorunalism Lab (In fact, go here to find a picture of our hiring wall as it looked at the start of the year)
  • April 3: “The newsonomics of the Orange County Register’s contrarian paywall,” again by Ken Doctor of Nieman
  • May 1: “An ink-stained stretch: Can Aaron Kushner save the Orange County Register—and the newspaper industry?” by Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review
  • June 25: “One newspaper cuts to survive; another invests to thrive” by Rem Rieder of USA Today
  • July 23: “California newspaper defies industry wisdom to stay alive – and prospers” by Rory Carroll of the Guardian
  • July 24: “Against all odds, a new newspaper war erupts,” again, by Rem Rieder of USA Today

How better to explain the business of comics than with a comic?

Cartoonist Paul Horn is at the world-famous Comic-Con in San Diego this week, peddling his line of Cool Jerk books and merchandise in the small press section of the enormous convention.

Of course, you’d know this already if you read Sunday’s U-T San Diego. The business section featured a full-page, first-person story about small comics operations and how they use Comic-Con to attract an audience.

The story, naturally, was told in comic format. Click for a larger look…


…or, if you prefer, find it here in an easy-to-read slideshow format.

Paul explains how the con operates and how the small press publishers treat it as a job — “one where you work for five days and have 51 weeks off in between,” he says.


Adding commentary is Paul’s wife: Designer and food blogger Darlene Horn.

Paul tells us:

I was contacted by U-T San Diego business editor Diana McCabe to produce a full-page comic detailing the business of exhibiting at Comic-Con. Since I can only talk from first-person experiences, I talked about Small Press. The piece was mostly autobio with very little goofiness/hyperbole. But I did manage to get some Cool Jerk flavor (and products) in there.


I also included the voices of a couple creative friends of mine who had to leave Small Press under similar circumstances but with different approaches.

Paul also throws in an amusing success story.


Paul is coming off a pretty severe injury to his drawing hand: He fractured his thumb in November, requiring surgery. He wore a cast for a full month and then went through physical therapy for two more.


He tells us:

My thumb is still not 100% and it gets really achey after cartooning (because of the demands of using a brush for inking). I discovered these limits while inking this package, which is about 5x more area to draw/ink than the typical Cool Jerk.

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 before “retiring” in 2006 to concentrate on his free-lance graphics work and on his strip, Cool Jerk. Which I really enjoy.


A 1995 graduate of San Diego State University, Darlene spent nearly eight years as an editorial design assistant for the Union-Tribune. In 2005, she moved to the Los Angeles Daily News as a business section desk editor and designer. She moved again in 2006 to the Orange County Business Journal and leaped to the San Diego Business Journal a year later. The SDBJ laid off a number of staffers earlier this year, including Darlene.

Darlene is perhaps best known as the creator of the food blog My Burning Kitchen. She recently posted her annual piece on where to eat — and where not to eat — while in town for the convention. Find that post here.

The two of them collaborated on a really cool book they launched during last year’s Comic-Con:


Find that book for sale here.

Paul, of course, has published several collections of his Cool Jerk work and one of additional material.


He has a new one out just in time for this week’s con: Volume Four of Cool Jerk, entitled Thinkulus.


As soon as Comic-Con ends, Thinkulus will go on sale at Paul’s online store. So remind yourself to buy a copy of each of his and Darlene’s books — which range in price between five and twelve bucks apiece.

Or, if you like, buy ’em from Amazon. Paul’s stuff is available there now, too.

If you’re at Comic-Con this week, make sure you stop by Paul’s table. It’ll look something like his setup recently in Denver:


Paul tells us:

I’ll be in Small Press, K10 (back of the Exhibit Hall, near the bathrooms aka vomitorium/cosplay emergency repair station).

Um… right.

Full disclosure: I love Paul and Darlene. They came to see me in my second or third week here in Southern California. Darlene even cooked for me. And Paul personalized a drawing of my favorite Cool Jerk character. It hangs by my desk here at home.


Comic-Con runs through Sunday. Both Paul and Darlene are live tweeting as much as they can — Darlene a little more, probably, because she has one more good thumb than Paul has. Find Paul’s twitter feed here and Darlene’s Twitter feed here.

Step-by-step through a fun, comic book-themed illustration

Illustrator Craig Schaffer of the Reading Eagle‘s Business Weekly won a first place in Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s annual Keystone awards with a fun, comic-book-themed illustration about — what else? — A fun, comic book-themed local company.


Craig writes that, for this story, he…

I wrote the story, designed the layout, took photographs and created the illustrations.


That’s the front cover. But what you really need to see is the inside illo. I can’t find a copy of it anywhere…

UPDATE – 11 a.m. PDT

Here it is. Click for a much larger view:


…but you get several up-close looks at it in this video the Eagle produced while the work was in progress last December.


A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa. He moved to Reading in 2004. Find his online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation of the Reading Eagle is 49,437.

Silicon Valley Business Journal launches redesign

The Silicon Valley Business Journal of San Jose, Calif., launched a redesign last week, executed by master redesign consultant Mario Garcia.

On the left is a front from several years ago. On the right is the current edition, as tweeted over the weekend by American City Business Journals’ creative director Jon Wile.

120107SVBusinessJournalOld 120107SVBusinessJournalNew

The overhaul was a major modernization, in terms of typography, a more magazine-like format and increased use of infographics.


The Business Journal ran a story in the new edition in which Mario talks about the design. Unfortunately, that story is behind a paywall. Find a considerably shorter version here.

Mario is designing the entire chain of 40 Business Journals. This is the first of them to roll out a new look.

In his blog this week, Mario is taking a closer look at this project. Today, he posted an overview of the San Jose redesign. Wednesday, he’ll write about how the project evolved over time. Thursday, he’ll explain the Business Journal‘s new typography, color palette and style guide.

Find Mario Garcia’s blog here. Find Mario’s Twitter feed here.

Find Jon Wile’s Twitter feed here.

A look at day two of Milwaukee’s series on the paper industry

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel embarked on a large, two-part project about the paper industry in the state of Wisconsin. Which isn’t doing so well.

We looked at that back on Monday. Find that post here.


Today, the Journal Sentinel came back with part two, which focused less on Wisconsin and more on the Chinese paper industry and the effect that industry has on Wisconsin.

Paper trees in China are cloned. You see a woman tending clone seedlings in Hainan, China, in the front-page photo by staffer Mike De Sisti.

The story by John Schmid begins on page 17, along with several more pictures of the cloning operation.

As was the case on Monday, these pages are designed by staffer Nick Lujero.

Page 18 is stuffed with graphics — by Journal Sentinel graphics editor Lou Saldivar — that show the world’s paper producers and how they’re all affected by the growing Chinese paper industry.

One key graphic is this one that shows the difference in the growth cycles of the Chinese eucalyptus tree and a typical Wisconsin hardwood.

The Chinese tree matures in just six years, as opposed to 60 years for the hardwood.

In addition, the Chinese industry is using updated technology to turn all that pulp into paper. The largest paper machine in Wisconsin can produce 1,014 tons of paper daily. But the largest paper machine in China — shown in this photo by Mike De Sisti…

…is four times the length of a football field and can produce more than four times that amount of paper.

Eye-opening stuff.

Find the Journal-Sentinel‘s “Paper Cuts” series home page here.

Average daily circulation for the Journal Sentinel is 185,710.

Financial Times’ German edition goes out with a smile

Last Friday, the German edition of the Financial Times printed its last edition.

Master news design consultant Mario Garcia writes that…

…the newspaper, which printed on the traditional Financial Times peach-colored paper, wore black, with a headline that read: Finally Black.

Note the “fun” the Financial Times had with its nameplate. You’ll find the missing characters piled up at the bottom of the page.

In addition, the paper was illustrated throughout with what the Guardian called “gallows humor”:

In one typically mordant cartoon inside the paper , on Friday, a newspaper seller says: “A good daily paper? I’d recommend the FTD”. The customer, Death in his black robe and holding a scythe, replies: “OK, I’ll take it”.

Mario concludes:

Clever last presentation for a newspaper that offered plenty of visual surprises, but perhaps not enough.

Find Mario Garcia’s blog here.

For what it’s worth, Michael Bloomberg is considering buying the Financial Times group. Adam Clark Estes of the Atlantic reported Sunday:

Bloomberg paid a visit to the FT‘s London headquarters and chatted up some editors, the media mogul equivalent of kicking the tires. One FT editor asked Bloomberg if he was going to buy the paper, Bloomberg replied, “I buy it every day.” Privately, Bloomberg told one of his associates recently, “It’s the only paper I’d buy.”

Milwaukee takes a lushly-illustrated look at the paper industry

This weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel embarked on a large, two-part project about paper.

Greg Borowski — the Journal Sentinel‘s senior editor for projects and investigations — tells us their…

… Paper Cuts project examines the decline of the state’s paper industry, driven by the shift to digital and the drive by China to become a paper power.

Part one started on the Sunday business front. Click for a larger view.

Greg tells us:

This is our most involved effort of the year. We set out to do a project that takes full advantage of the strengths of digital and full advantage of the strengths of print. Lots of interesting things on how we put it together as well, from gathering the data from library volumes to winning a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant to get us to China.

Of interest, perhaps, is the way the various pieces work in print and online. We had a designer — Nick Lujero — assigned to the project early, so his views helped shape the reporting as much as the other pieces shaped the design.

Pages four and five feature nice photography by staffer Mike De Sisti and a number of graphics by staffer Lou Saldivar. Here is page four…

…and here is page five.

Notice the extensive use of torn paper effects. If you can’t use torn paper for a series about paper, when can you use it?

Like Greg says, there are a number of items of interest in the online presentation, including a video and a video “motion graphic”…

…plus, both the map graphic and the timeline across the bottom of page four and five are represented in interactive form.

The producer for the multimedia segments was Emily Yount. Copy editing the project were Russ Maki and Jacob Muselmann.

The reporting was done by John Schmid — who, I believe, is the same John Schmid I worked with back in Raleigh, two decades ago. Find the prose version of his story here.

Here’s how the Journal Sentinel referred to this story from page one yesterday.

Part two — which appears to focus more on China — runs Wednesday.

Average daily circulation for the Journal Sentinel is 185,710.

What you need is a big glass of whiskey

Bill Wachsberger — a designer for Gannett’s design studio in Nashville, Tenn. — writes to show us the…

…Sunday Biz cover I did from the Tennessean. Something very different: Stock photo  and no ordinary headline. The lede is treated as the head.

Click for a larger look:

The story was about the growth of whiskey distilleries in Tennessee. I had art of these two guys holding their product, but I didn’t want the cover to look like an ad.

I saw a paper’s front page on your blog in the last couple years that had an A1 centerpiece with no head. I tried to borrow off of that idea.

Bill might be referring to this page, in which the Star Ledger of Newark ran a centerpiece story with no headline at all. The first three sentences — which ran slightly larger than usual — served in place of a conventional headline.


The lesson to be learned here: When you see an idea you think you might be able to use, don’t just rip off the idea pixel-for-pixel. Rather, use the idea for inspiration. For best results, use the idea in a way that a) Fits your story, and b) Fits in with the style of your newspaper.

Bill Wachsberger is a designer for Gannett’s design studio in Nashville, Tenn. A 1997 graduate of the University of Miami, Bill spent a year as a copy editor and designer for the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and three years as a news design planner at the Morning News of Savannah, Ga., before joining the State of Columbia, S.C., in 2001 as an A1 and special projects designer. He moved to the Baltimore Sun in 2004 as news design director but was laid off in 2009. He spent two years working off and on as a temporary contract designer for the Washington Post before signing on in Nashville a year-and-a-half ago.

A happy portrait subject

My old pal Rick Tuma of the Chicago Tribune creates watercolor portraits for the Trib‘s Monday biz page.

Rick writes today:

Some of the Chicago Tribune profile subjects are happier than others. Take today’s, for instance, Amanda Lannert, CEO of Jellyvision.

Check out her instagram photo on Twitter:

What’s even funnier is that Amanda’s sister, who works at Sirus XM, called us asking if she could buy the illustration. When pressed, she admitted she was buying it for herself, not for her sister.

The two must be very competitive with each other!

I wrote about these business page illustrations back in June. A couple of weeks ago, Rick offered the blog an exclusive “how-to” instructional essay, which I was happy to post.

A few more examples of these business illustrations…


A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Rick Tuma has worked for the Tribune since 1983.

He also runs a free-lance studio on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

A fascinating how-to by master illustrator Rick Tuma

Recently, I’ve written about master illustrator Rick Tuma and the wonderful watercolor portraits he’s created for the Chicago Tribune business pages.

Rick compiled a brief how-to instructional aide. And he offered it to the blog.

Not being crazy, I accepted.

Here is Rick’s narrative…



Every artist has his or her own way of working. This will show how I tackle the business profile portraits for the Chicago Tribune — on deadline.

Each illustration takes from eight to 12 hours to produce and are often worked in around other assignments.

The first step, after receiving the assignment, is to gather photo references.

Since these portraits need to be very sophisticated, good-to-great references are important. After gathering images, I create a photo comp in Photoshop from which to draw from.


I solve all my distortion issues here (big head, small body). Frequently the photos I work from do not have a usable torso, so I scour the web for appropriate bodies, as I needed to do with this individual.

Secondly, a sheet of tracing paper is placed over a laser print copy of the photocomp.

I then pencil the shapes, including tonal — much like creating a topographical map. I am creating my own “map” of the subject, a color-by-number type of guide for laying down my paint.


I have found that it is best to solve where the colors and shades of light might go at this stage of the process. For me, it speeds up the process of painting.

The other benefit of this stage is to begin to impose my own personal style of drawing onto the caricature/portrait.

I scan the sketch and boost the contrast in Photoshop.

Third, I prep my watercolors and tape my laser print copy of the pencil sketch to a sheet of 9″ x 12″ Series 400 Bristol vellum-surface paper.

When placed on a light box, my high-contrast sketch proof is clearly visible through the Bristol paper. I work this way to avoid any pencil lines in the painting.

I make it a policy to paint the head before anything else. If I am not successful capturing the life and personality of the face, I can start over without having to toss out an almost-completed painting.

I use Holbein Antique Juane Brilliant for Caucasian skin tones and a combination of Windsor and Newton Brown Ochre and MaimeriBlu 270 Sangue di drago for African skin.

Light box on.

Light box off.


When I feel like I’ve captured the face and hair, it is time to finish the torso portion of the painting.

There are three places that can ruin your portrait: The eyes, the mouth and the areas directly around both of those.

The eyes top my list of what’s important. Watch positioning of them because it can be frustrating to finish and discover the person is looking over your shoulder instead of into your own eyes. Been there and done that.

The final painting.

The published version.

Rick ends up his narrative with this photo of his workspace.

A few more samples of Rick’s watercolor illustrations the Tribune ran over the past year:




A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Rick Tuma has worked for the Tribune since 1983. He also runs a free-lance studio on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Cool sideways page alert

My favorite part of the Virginian-Pilot today was the business front.

While the business nameplate and the right-side rail are oriented conventionally, the designer chose to rotate the centerpiece — which is a brief history of the commercial shipping port here in Virginia — and present it as an alternative story form, using containers stacked aboard a ship as a visual hook.

This worked out pretty well. Folks who live here see these ships all the time. And yes, the containers are indeed stacked on the deck. I’m surprised more of them don’t fall off in transit.

The history is presented in all-text form. A chronology. You’ll recall we don’t call it a timeline unless there’s an actual line on which we’re showing when events happened. Go here to read more about timelines vs. chronologies.

Along the hull of the ship is a fever chart showing the amount of freight that ships through the East Coast’s five largest ports. Hampton Roads is shown in white — which pops the most off of the grey hull art.

I can make a pretty good guess at who might have designed this, but I’ll hold off until one of my former Pilot colleagues can give me a clue. Please let me know.

UPDATE – 7:40 p.m.

Presentation team leader Paul Nelson tells us in the comments of this post:

Josh Bohling designed The Pilot page.

Heh. Should have just guessed.

Oh, and if someone at the Pilot could send me a PDF of the page, I’d be much obliged.

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

UPDATE – 6:33 p.m.

Mike Goebel of the Champaigne, Ill., News-Gazette alerts me via Twitter:

Oh, very nice indeed. And it’s another sideways treatment. Here it is vertically…

…and here it is horizontally.

Unlike the Pilot‘s solution, the designer here — Mike himself — chose to turn the secondary story on the page as well.

Sideways pages can become a real cliché if you do them too often. But when the art is right and the design is done as well as in as these two examples? Hey, go for it.

My old pals in Des Moines have done a bunch of these sideways sports fronts — always to good effect. Find a few samples here.

Average daily circulation for the News-Gazette is 41,026.

Wonderful portraits of local business leaders, the old-fashioned way

With its last redesign a year ago this month, the Chicago Tribune started a weekly feature for its business front in which it profiles a local business leader.

The feature is illustrated with an enormous portrait, beautifully rendered by master illustrator Rick Tuma.

Monday, the Tribune ran a retrospective of the entire series. Rick posted on his Facebook timeline:

A years worth of work combined onto one page. Today the Chicago Tribune Business section celebrated its one year anniversary since the 2011 redesign be revisiting some of the profile subjects. 49 portraits in a row.

Yes, each of these is done the old-fashioned way: With watercolor. The Tribune carefully frames each portrait and sends it to the subject, Rick says.

He answered a couple of questions for us:

Q. On average, about how long does one of those big biz portraits take you to draw?

A. These take as long as they need.

I realize that is not a definitive answer and the reason is the nature of my visual resources. If I’ve got great, sharp photos of the subject I can get started pretty fast and roll right on through – maybe just under two working days. (We all know that those days are full of interruptions, newspapers being what they are).

Poor photos set me back, especially if I have to scour the web for them. Most of what I’ll find are handout images that everyone is using and that makes it difficult to produce something fresh. Off the top of my head I think I’ve had to settle for handout images four or five times out of the 49 of the collection.

I try to have two or three going at the same time so that I can pencil them at the same time, paint them at the same time, keeping a better forward momentum. Lately it has been difficult to set them up like that.

Q. Do you ever get feedback? “You had me perfect!” “I’m not that fat,” etc…?

A. Feedback has taken many forms. Most of it is word-of-mouth, or comments given to the reporters. The most hilarious was when one of the CEOs told the woman managing this project that those who’ve been interviewed and painted have taken to calling themselves The Big Head Club. Another CEO (of a beer distribution company) told our reporter that everyone was treating him like a rock star, bringing copies of the page for autographs.

The most unusual was our profile of the Chicago Federal Reserve chairman, Charlie Evans, two weeks ago. His PR folks called me, on my cell phone — a number I do not give out to anyone other than family — to ask me what the process was for doing the portraits! This, despite the fact that they were not responding to our reporter’s attempts to set up an interview. Apparently he liked what I said because they agreed to an interview soon after.

One last ‘story’ comes from a recent Peter Lisagor Award for illustration, the entries being four business profiles. Sheli Rosenberg, profiled July 18, 2011 — our fifth profile by that time — sent me a nice email congratulating me on the win, along with an apology for not having given me a better photograph to work from.

A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Rick Tuma has worked for the Tribune since 1983. He also runs a free-lance studio on the side. Find his web site here and his Twitter feed here.

Oh, and if you’re not Facebook friends with Rick, you ought to be. Among the many interesting things Rick posts: His collection of goodbye portraits for former Tribune colleagues. Here’s the one he painted of me when I left the Trib in April 1999:

Wow. That’s a long, long time ago. I still wore a tie then.

Average daily circulation for the Tribune is 414,590.

The coolest blobs of paint you’ll see all day

David Kordalski — assistant managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealerwrites today in the Plain Dealer‘s Not-So-Plain-Dealer visuals blog:

For the past three years, we’ve teamed with Workplace Dynamics to find the Northeast Ohio workplaces that are viewed highly by their employees.

That partnership results in a special section. Here is the cover, illustrated by Andrea Levy:

David writes:

This year, we were able to do not one, but two covers, as the section broke in two pieces due to press configuration issues. And as she often does, Andrea Levy made a mess of things. Literally, by smearing paint all over ties and tools and model Dale Omori’s shirt.

The project also involved graphics editing by Scott Sheldon and art direction by David himself.

Here’s how the Plain Dealer promoted the section on today’s front page:

Find the Plain Dealer‘s visuals blog here.

Average daily circulation for the Plain Dealer is 246,571.

You need a dirty mind to be a business editor

Lee Steele of Hearst’s Bridgeport, Conn., hub found this today, reposted it on his Facebook timeline and called it…

…A headline goof probably too dirty even for Charles Apple.

Heh. Wrong.

That’s pretty bad. Those of you considering phasing out your copy desks, take note: A newspaper or web site really needs to be able to catch something like this.

“RIM,” in fact, stands for Research In Motion — that’s the corporate parent of BlackBerry.

I’m not sure from which paper that came. It could have been just about anybody — that’s a Reuters story and even Reuters file art. But the story is most definitely from the past day or two.

Thanks to Lee for the tip.

Previous howlers for that sixth-grader in us all…

May 18: Coon Rapids, Iowa, Enterprise – We never had cheerleaders like this when I was in school.

May 11: Seattle Times – How on Earth could anyone write a headline like this unintentionally?

May 4: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – Someone probably did, once they realized the word they had accidentally hidden in the headline.

April 20: Tampa Tribune – That’s one naughty-looking sandwich.

April 6: – Yet another word to stay away from in a headline.

April 5: Mouse Works books – Nothing but natural ingredients for this bear cook.

April 2: MSN Now – Is this headline for real? I’m afraid it is. And it’s intentional.

March 20: Canada’s Wildrose Party – The wheels on the campaign bus go ’round and ’round…

Feb. 27: Weld for Birmingham – There’s no way this headline wasn’t intentional.


Dec. 7: Waitrose Weekend – “The most accidentally pornographic pile of newspapers ever seen.”

Dec. 3: Washington Examiner – Stop using this word as a verb!

Nov. 15: The Manila Mail – Double word score!

Nov. 13: MSNBC – Regardless, it still sounds painful.

Sept. 19: CBS Local Media – What goes on in Minneapolis stays in Minneapolis.

Sept. 9: – Does the president know about this?

Sept. 7: D.C. ExpressWay too much information, guys.

Aug. 26: Portland Oregonian – This headline should have been avoided.

July 6: USA Today – No wonder the sun’s so hot!

Feb. 3: Gloucestershire (U.K.) Echo – What’s special about girls’ schools?


Aug. 30: Skyway Drive-In – Vampires suck who?

Aug. 10: New York Times – The late, great trouser snake.

Clever magazine cover alert

Here’s the cover of the next issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, cover dated May 28:

Very amusing. But elevated to genius status by the small copy at the bottom of the cover:

Find Businessweek‘s Flickr design page here. Find the Businessweek design department’s Twitter feed here.

Find the Businessweek web page here.

Thanks to Alan Formby-Jackson for retweeting a link to this cover this morning.

A fun way to show Friday’s Facebook stock debut

As you know, Facebook stock went on sale Friday.

At the close of trading, Facebook‘s stock price was four dollars lower than when it went on sale at 11:30 a.m. EDT. However, the closing price was 23 cents higher than the official IPO price.

Evidently, this disappoints a lot of folks who either hoped or expected to see the stock take off yesterday afternoon.

The San Jose Mercury News summed it all up pretty well this morning with a low-flying balloon illustration by staffer Doug Griswold and a package of infographics. Here is today’s front page…

…and here is just the centerpiece.

This smaller chart downpage puts the Day One performance of Facebook stock into perspective, comparing it to similar experiences of LinkedIn, Groupon and Google.

Naturally, the centerpiece also ran in the Merc’s Bay Area News Group sister papers.


Average daily circulation for the Contra Costa Times is 67,464. Average daily circulation for the Oakland Tribune is 52,459.

Average daily circulation for the San Jose Mercury News is about 225,175.

If you thought that was a negative portrayal of the day’s news, however, think again. That wasn’t negative at all, compared to the front of today’s New York Post.

Now, this is negative.

Average daily circulation for the Post is 555,327.

All of these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Fun front-page illustration depicts Facebook’s software engineers

Today, the San Jose Mercury News ran an interesting story on the learning curve — “Boot Camp,” they call it — through which Facebook puts all its newly-hired programmers.

The Merc‘s Mike Swift writes:

Bootcamp is one part employee orientation, one part software training program and one part fraternity/sorority rush. When new engineering recruits are hired at Facebook, they typically do not know what job they will do. They choose their job assignment and product team at the culmination of Bootcamp, a program that exemplifies Facebook‘s adherence to founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s “Hacker Way,” an organizational culture that is supposed to be egalitarian, risk-taking, self-starting, irreverent, collaborative and creative.

Each new recruit needs to take a deep breath. Within a few days, all are expected to be pushing live software updates out to the better part of a billion users. If a Bootcamper crashes part of Facebook doing that, well, it won’t be the first time.

As great as the story is, the lead illustration on page one — by Jeff Durham — is a terrific.

Click for a much larger look:

Here’s how the Merc used the illustration on page one today.

And, of course, the same illustration ran on the front of the Oakland Tribune.


And perhaps the Contra Costa Times, too. That one didn’t show up at the Newseum, though, so I don’t know for sure.

A few samples of Jeff Durham’s work:



In addition, Jeff works in retro-style science fiction.

Find his portfolio here, his blog here and his Facebook fan page here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation of the Mercury News is about 225,175. The Oakland Tribune circulates 52,459.

The front page image is from the Newseum. Of course.

A fun way to illustrate gas prices eating up your budget

This one was sent to me a week ago, but I lost it in the shuffle of my return from Nigeria.

It’s a great page, too, despite it being a week old. My apologies.

Click for a much larger look:

Hugo Torres of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson sent us the page and also filled us in on the story behind it:

It all started on Thursday night [March 29]. I received my line-up for Friday Biz cover and my centerpiece was a story about gas prices, how they’ve been on the rise with a focus on the numbers in Tucson. My editor told me that a photo was shot for this story, and it was a picture of the prices sign at a local station…

Mmm, pretty straight forward — boring, I thought — so I started to do some quick sketches of a big evil gas pump eating a price sign. Suddenly, something popped up on my head: PAC-MAN.

I knew I had a potential effective, original and fun idea. So, I started to sketch the little yellow guy eating price signs (instead of the pellets), and ‘ghosts’ running away from him (instead of coming after Pac-Man). I even thought about a hammer head for the package: MONEY EATER.

I showed the sketch to my editor. She was so thrilled about it, that she went to talk to her boss and they decided to run the story on the Sunday business cover, instead of the daily Friday page. With this rotating schedule we have around here, [it just so happened Hugo was also] the Sunday biz section designer as well. So I could devote a bit more time on the illustration (a couple of hours after finishing my Thursday shift doing Friday Biz and a couple of hours more during my Friday shift, while doing the whole Sunday Biz section pages).

I had so much fun doing this illustration. It started as Friday half page and ended as a Sunday almost full page. Originally, the Pac-Man had the ‘GAS’ label on top of him, but I didn’t like it, so I started to think another way to solve it. I decided to draw a gas pump as part of the maze and I connected it to the Pac-Man using a ‘hose’. At the very end — when I got the story on Friday night — I run a by-the-numbers box at the bottom of the illustration and I even drew the numbers using the 8-bit font style.

I don’t have the exact number, but I think I saved my Adobe Illustrator file at least 50 times, changing little things here and there.

A native of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Hugo is a graduate of the Universidad del Noroeste in Hermosillo.

He spent two years as art director of Frontera in Tijuana, winning multiple SND awards. He also earned a master’s degree in business administration from his alma mater. He’s worked as a page designer and assistant visuals team leader at the Star for more than 10 years, now. In addition, he writes a soccer column for the Star‘s weekly Spanish edition.

A few samples of Hugo’s work:




Find his portfolio here, his soccer blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Arizona Daily Star is 89,874.

Cool front-page watercolor illustration by a tiny California paper

I’m familiar with neither the Napa Valley Register — a 12,710-circulation daily in Napa, Calif. — nor the work of illustrator Kelly Doren.

But I just love the watercolor illustration he created for today’s story about the area’s possible glut of hotel rooms. And the way the Register played that illustration on page one today.

Click for a much larger view:

Here is just the illustration:

If anyone out there knows where I might find an online portfolio of Kelly’s work, please let me know.

UPDATE – June 19

Find Kelly’s portfolio here and his blog here.

Read the hotel story here by the Register‘s Jennifer Huffman.

That front page image is from the Newseum. Of course.