Elephants in the News

These pics show the “looser” approach I used in the last week or two… These more scribbly elephants will be spread throughout the book so hopefully they wont come across as a jarring style-change.

While I wait for the FINAL proof let me tell you a bit about the Elephant book and how it came to be. My Dad has written LIMERICKS for years and he has always expressed a fondness for elephants. (I remember his office at work had a few elephanty knick knacks about the place, including something I was fascinated by as a child; a cartoony cardboard elephant head mounted on the wall like a trophy). So, his co-workers started clipping news stories for him about elephants, in response to which he amused them by composing LIMERICKS about the elephants in the news.

Over the course of a year or two he amassed quite a few of these and a co-worker (named Ada Cheung) suggested he compile them into a little book. It was also thought that his cartoonist son might do a few illustrations. I am ashamed to tell you how long ago it was that I agreed to do the pictures… it was more than just a few years ago. I have a hard time keeping more than one project in my mind at a time, so the elephant book often took a backseat to my paying work and my comics. Dad often joked that, at the rate I was getting the art done, the book would be a posthumous publication in his case. However, I was able to get about 14 or so done in full colour and then I made a rough mock-up of the book which I sent my Dad for his birthday year before last. At this point the intention was to self publish. The book is not exactly kid-friendly because so many of the stories deal with Sex and Death; rampaging elephants, crushed zoo-keepers, failed breeding attempts, elephant poaching, artists using Dung in their artwork and so on. I always thought the book to be a bit too idiosyncratic for a big publisher.

Now comes the really amazing part: Early in 2005, Dad was in the Australian country town of Wollombi (where his sister, my Aunty Marg lives) defending his TRIVIA NIGHT TITLE; a BAKER family team are (or were at the time of this story) the reigning TRIVIA NITE CHAMPIONS at the Wollombi pub. While there, Dad met an ACTUAL publisher who offered to publish the Elephant book when he saw the mock-up I had made… And unlike our self-published version, he wanted to do it in full colour!

Here’s me living on the west coast of the USA, supposedly one of the main centers of the media universe, with some connections in at least one branch of “the media”, yet I had Buckley’s chance of getting this thing properly published. So I had resolved to just do a simple version on my own. Meanwhile, my Dad wrangles a book deal on trivia nite at the Wollombi pub!

I love it!!

It took a while to get the contracts sorted out but while that was going on, the editor and I were still working on the book. She expanded it from the 64 pages that Dad and I had envisaged, which required even more illustrations, and I hadn’t yet finished the initial batch I had planned to do. After I finally roughed out the remaining illustrations in pencil, the designer, then used these to layout the book. That layout came in handy when I was finishing the artwork as I knew where the text had to go.

As to the current form of the book; It will be 128 pages in full colour and it is smallish, about 7×6.5 inches. At last count there are about 60 full colour illustrations and a few of those are double page spreads. The text consists of two things; the series of elephant news clippings Dad has saved over the years, and a limerick he has written inspired by each story. It will be published by EXISLE PRESS. The publisher is Gareth St John Thomas, the editor is Anouska Jones, and the designer is Nanette Backhouse.

The book should come out in Australia next April/May so keep yer eyes peeled. It will be entitled “Elephants in the News: Pachyderms in limerick”.

5 thoughts on “Elephants in the News”

  1. Hey dude, just stumbled upon your blog and have to say… it’s freakin great!!!! We met you briefly at last years San Diego Comic con, I refer to your sketchbooks evrytime I need a little bit of inspiration!!

  2. John Hoffman>>Yes, perhaps hanging out in pubs isn’t a total waste of time after all…

    Mukpuddy>> Thanks for coming by. I remember meeting you also. How could I forget the lads who came all the way from New Zealand to attend Comic Con? I hope that you guys are all well!

  3. P-DAY (publication day) is near! isn’t it ‘citin’? Thanks heaps for your collaboration; also for the recent flow of memory-stirring piccies from yours and my shared past. Who says that middle age introspection blows no-one good?? Your friendly limericist (aka Dad)


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