Friday, September 13, 2013

The Monosyllabic Palahniuk Series

As promised, here are the monosyllabic titles of Chuck Palahniuk:

I suppose Doomed and Damned are technically only one syllable too. But they are longer words, and don't go with the four to five letter titles I chose. Plus, I've already read these books, and I haven't read Doomed or Damned. Like my Vonnegut Fortitude and DeLillo White Noise pieces, these are personal projects, not commissioned by anyone. I've been a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk's writing for a long time, and lately I've been having a good time basing personal projects around books and stories. These are strictly for fun, and exercising the creative muscles that tend to atrophy if they're not flexed in new and different ways than they're used to working.

Choke, from the overview: "Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park."

 My idea for this one came fairly quickly. Using the fork prongs to double as legs, positioned in a very suggestive manner, dawned on me almost immediately.

Rant, from the overview: "A high school rebel who always wins (and a childhood murderer?), Rant Casey escapes from his small hometown of Middleton for the big city. He becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. On appointed nights participants recognize one another by such designated car markings as "Just Married" toothpaste graffiti and then stalk and crash into each other. Rant Casey will die a spectacular highway death, after which his friends gather testimony needed to build an oral history of his short, violent life. Their collected anecdotes explore the possibility that his saliva caused a silent urban plague of rabies and that he found a way to escape the prison of linear time..."

This image took a bit longer to get to. I was going back and forth on which themes or bits of the story to reference for a while. I was pretty much stuck on the "biohazard" symbol, and wanted to include it in some way. I finally noticed that it looks a lot like a steering wheel, and made a great vehicle (pun intended) for implying Rant's involvement in Party Crashing- and the fact that he may or may not have used his car as a way to time travel into the past.

Snuff, from the overview: "Cassie Wright, porn priestess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. Snuff unfolds from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Mr. 600, who await their turn on camera in a very crowded green room. This wild, lethally funny, and thoroughly researched novel brings the huge yet underacknowledged presence of pornography in contemporary life into the realm of literary fiction at last."

This idea also came fairly quickly. I was initially toying with images of movie cameras, clapperboards, boom mikes, and beds. Then I started thinking about how the 600 men were waiting in line for their... uh, turn, thought about "take a number" tabs, and how they almost look like the droopy tip of a condom. If you're not familiar with the book, Mr. 600, a former porn star himself, shaves his pubes.

I've heard Chuck Palahniuk's writing described as minimalist. He  has a utilitarian way of constructing his prose. I wanted this series to reflect the simplicity and minimalism of his writing style.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"'Twenty Common Mistakes About the End of the World'"

As I had mentioned in a previous post about a piece based on the Vonnegut short story "Fortitude," lately I've been interested in playing around with illustrations for various written works. I also recently came across the 50 Watts blog, and the Polish book cover contest in particular. I came across it too late to enter the contest, which took place in 2011, but it looks like it would have been a lot of fun. It got me thinking about what book I would have worked on, had I entered. Who's to say what I really would have done two years ago, but I settled on White Noise by Don DeLillo. One of my favorite novels, I could have taken it a hundred different directions, but chose to keep it fairly simple as I addressed the themes of death, and consumer culture and mass media- television in particular:

Are you old enough to remember seeing "off-the-air" screens on t.v.? It really wasn't that long ago. I was thinking about referencing everything from the black cloud of Nyodene D., to the cage of poisonous snakes that Orest Mercator plans to immerse himself in, to the bottle of Dylar, but finally settled on this. Like I said, I wanted it to be simple, and of course fairly conceptual, because dammit I just can't help myself. An off-the-air screen forming the grimace of the Angel of Death, or Grim Reaper if you prefer. I also tried out various title treatments, but I just fell in love with this one. I wasn't necessarily trying to make it look like a Polish book cover, because let's face it, the contest is long over. And entering contests that ended two years ago is a little sad. But I've been influenced by Polish and Czech design for a long time, so it would have come out in my work whether I was in the contest or not. You can see winning entries to the contest here. Check them out, and read White Noise!

Here's what it might look like in real life:

Stay tuned for more projects based on literary works. I'll be posting a personal series I recently finished on the monosyllabic titles of Chuck Palahniuk: Choke, Rant and Snuff. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Turning legalese, I think I'm turning legalese

I recently worked on a couple pieces for Corporate Counsel, which should be out now. One was for an article urging those in legal departments to write in plain English, as opposed to legalese. Even if the person reading the documents is a lawyer, staying clear of the technical jargon will be greatly appreciated.

The second illustration accompanied an article about a recent SEC rule that would have made U.S. mining and petroleum companies disclose if they had given money to foreign governments, but was vacated by a federal judge. The article explains that the rule provided much needed transparency, and followed rules adopted in many European countries. The author further adds that the SEC should re-propose the rule, in order to get back on "the transparency rails."

 As you can see in my sketches above, I was originally focusing on the transparency angle, as well as the fact that it affected mining companies (what with the canary and all). But the editor wanted the image to keep with the metaphor of a train from the article title, and have the focus be more on the U.S. versus the European countries. Since it emphasized how the U.S. is now falling way behind, with regard to transparency, I thought it would work well to show the Euro countries in the form of a high speed train, and the U.S. as a slow pump car. I suppose it would work for a story about our actual train/transportation system as well.
Thank you so much, Paul!