Entries for May 2007

May 31, 2007

A Graphic Designer clears his name

Back in November, I wrote an entry suggesting that the publishers of Douglas Preston’s book Tyrannosaur Canyon were trying a bit too hard to associate their book with Jurassic Park. The cover looked just like Jurassic Park and all the blurbs talked about how much better Tyrannosaur Canyon is than Jurassic Park (it isn’t by a longshot).

I recently received an e-mail from Howard Grossman the Graphic Designer who designed the Tyrannosaur Canyon book cover. He wrote:

I was poking around on your (very enjoyable) blog when I came across my name in an entry dated November 20, 2006. As a humble designer of book covers for the last 25 years I am wise enough not to go head-to-head with the enviable talents of Chip Kidd. That is why the actual cover I designed (see attached) makes sure to avoid any such direct “borrowing”. I think the two front covers placed side-by-side prove my innocence.

The original hardcover version (done for Forge books) used my design. I would be curious at who did the edition that you show on your blog. They completely rearranged the elements of my design to do exactly what you argue—that is, create a direct rip-off the Jurassic Park cover. But they didn’t stop there, they decided to “credit” me with the design.

If you’re listening, Chip—I didn’t do it!

Here are the covers in question:

Book Comparison

As a photographer, I know that my profession occasionally shares a similar fate. Photo editors sometimes pick the photographer’s least favorite photo from a shoot, or they crop it in some strange way that fits their layout but completely destroys the carefully crafted composition. Try as we might, I guess we can’t control everything.

Previously: By nobody who brought you Jurassic Park

May 29, 2007

New Delta ad campaign an in-joke for nerds?

Delta Delta Delta
Changes in Delta*
Earlier this month, Delta launched a new ad campaign called “Change,” along with a new logo. Even before the launch, I’d found myself recently appreciating the logo for features I’d never noticed before. Somehow it had never dawned on me that, in addition to being an abstraction of an airplane’s wings, the actual shape of the logo is a triangle — the Greek letter Delta. Maybe it’s not as brilliant as the FedEx arrow but I like it.

The new red version of the logo has been promoted with a new ad campaign by SS & K. The campaign highlights all the changes recently made at Delta. The ads say things like “CHANGE IS: TXTING U UR FLT STATUS” or “CHANGE IS: NEVER BEING BORED ON BOARD.” I saw one ad that summed up the campaign’s theme as simply “CHANGE IS: DELTA.”

And that’s when I realized: Delta really is change. In physics, the Greek letter Delta is used to indicate change. For example, a simple formula for calculating a change in velocity might look like this (taken from this article about deltas in physics):


This would be read as, “The change in velocity is equal to the second velocity measurement minus the first velocity measurement.”

So is this an intentional double entendre meant to be appreciated by science and math nerds only? Or is it just serendipitous that Delta really does mean change, and that happens to be the word they based their campaign around? I’m not sure. But I appreciate it either way.

* I almost captioned this image “Can I help ya help ya help ya?” but thought it might be too obscure.

May 27, 2007

Idea: The Hamburdog

It’s Memorial Day weekend, so I thought I’d share a little something I came up with after one of my Memorial Day BBQs a few years back.

HamburdogYou know how hot dogs come in packs of 10, but hot dog buns come in packs of 8? This pretty much assures that there will be leftovers of one or the other at the end of the day. Hamburgers on the other hand can be spread out a little more evenly because you can control the size of the patties you make with your ground beef. But one year I ended up with too much ground beef, and too many hot dog buns.

That’s when it occurred to me: Nobody says that hamburgers can’t be shaped like hot dogs. Thus the Hamburdog was born. Just roll up the ground beef into tube shapes, grill as usual, and place on a hot dog bun. Add your normal hamburger condiments, and voila! It goes against everything you think you know about picnic meats, but it sure is tasty.

May 23, 2007

Idea: You Say You Want An Evolution (T-Shirt)

Today I had an idea for a t-shirt. Here’s the artwork I came up with:

Evolution Road

I decided to make it available with or without the caption, in designs suitable for dark t-shirts or light t-shirts. I like it both ways:

Evolution Road

It’s Charles Darwin meets Liverpool and it’s available now in dozens of styles and colors for men and women in the Ironic Sans store!

May 14, 2007

Idea: “12” — a spinoff of “24” for kids

12FOX should make a spinoff of “24” for kids. They should call it “12” and the main character should be twelve years old. Each of the 24 half-hour episodes covers 30 minutes in the life of Brad Bauer (or whoever). The first season could start at 7:00 a.m. on his twelfth birthday as he prepares to head to school, and end at 7:00 PM when he gets home. In between, Brad gets wound up in some crazy adventure and manages to save the day, while he tries to keep up with his classes, celebrate his birthday, and impress that girl he likes in algebra class.

Previously: What George Bush and Jack Bauer have in common

May 11, 2007

Basketball Court

I just noticed this. On the north side of City Hall Park, right next to the Tweed Courthouse, gated off from the public, there’s a basketball hoop.

Basketball at City Hall

When was this installed? Does anyone use it? Is Mayor Bloomberg enjoying an occasional game of H-O-R-S-E when he’s got some downtime?

May 9, 2007

Murmur at the poetry slam.

Um, hi. Is this thing on? Okay, um. So the name of my poem is “Murmur” and it was inspired by something called “reduplication.” That’s when you have a word that’s made of a repeated syllable or word. Like “Bonbon” or “Couscous.” Okay, so um… So I’m just going to read it now. *ahem*


Zsa zsa slapped a cop
who pulled her over in La-La land.
She left a booboo on his face
From all the bling-bling on her hand.

Dance the cha cha
Or the can can
Shake your pom pom
To Duran Duran

Bora Bora is an island
Walla Walla’s in the US.
The UN’s Boutros Boutros-Ghali
used to live near the Suez.

When you say night-night to your baby
there’s a fifty-fifty chance
That she may have gone wee-wee
Or made a doo-doo in her pants.

Mahi Mahi is a fish.
Add some tartar, it wouldn’t hurt.
Couscous makes a great side dish.
Have a bonbon for dessert.

Lulu wore a muumuu
cocoa-colored like her friend’s.
Fifi said it’s too matchy-matchy
But they’re buddy-buddy ‘til the end.

The Mamas and the Papas
Made “Monday Monday” a #1 hit.
Hindsight being 20/20,
Maybe the band shouldn’t have quit.

Mork said “Nanu Nanu.”
Luke rode on a taun-taun’s back.
Ralphie wants a BB gun,
and Mimi’s makeup’s out of whack.

“Knock knock” began the joke.
Lulu asked, “Who’s there?”
But the rim-shot came too early
on the tom tom and the snare.

Sirhan Sirhan shot RFK
It was a dum-dum move, that dork.
They would have sent him to Sing-sing
If he had done it near New York, New York.

“Ha ha” said Jerry Seinfeld
watching the “Yadda yadda” show.
Tsk tsk! Laughing at your own show’s jokes
is a TV writer no-no.

The dada artist drew a yo-yo
Being played with by a tsetse fly
Who was standing on a putt-putt course.
Nobody understood why.

The dodo birds have gone extinct.
Tut tut, there are no more living.
“Gobble gobble” says the turkey.
“Have a vegetarian din-din this Thanksgiving.”

Peter Pan was a goody goody
who lived in Never Never Land.
But now he’s on the wah-wah pedal
playing in a hard rock band.

It’s the same old same old with these rhymes.
And so it’s almost time to say bye-bye.
I’m running out of things to write. Um…
A sailor says “Aye aye.”

Choo choo goes the train.
Vroom-vroom goes the Corvette.
Oh no, this is my worst rhyme of all.
Now they’ll never link to me from boingboing.net.

May 4, 2007

Interview: Morgan Taylor, creator of Gustafer Yellowgold

(The fifth in a series of occasional interviews with people I find interesting or who work on interesting projects.)

Gustafer YellowgoldMorgan Taylor is a singer-songwriter who just released a DVD and CD set full of sing-along songs about a mellow yellow character named Gustafer Yellowgold. While the DVD is supposedly for kids, the songs have a definite grown-up appeal, a fact that hasn’t escaped the attention of bands like Wilco and the Polyphonic Spree, both of whom have had Morgan perform Gustafer’s songs as their opening act.

Morgan answered a few questions about Gustafer’s growing appeal, but before we get to those let’s take a look at one of the songs from the DVD:

Who is Gustafer Yellowgold?

Gustafer Yellowgold is a friendly creature who immigrated from the Sun to Earth and now lives in a cottage in a woods-y area of Minnesota with a pet eel and dragon.

The Gustafer Yellowgold DVD seems to be targeted towards kids, and you regularly perform the songs in live kids shows. But you’ve also taken Gustafer Yellowgold on tour opening for bands like Wilco and the Polyphonic Spree, performing to an older crowd. Who do you consider your target audience, and what do you think explains Gustafer’s crossover appeal?

My target audience is anybody who gets into it. There are many levels of humor in it and the music wasn’t written with any specific demographic in mind. I’ve always had a more whimsical side to some of my writing, so it seems that’s why it fits in with kid’s stuff quite naturally, but it isn’t kid-music-whacky, so the adults go for it too.

What was your creative and technical process for putting this together? Did you start with the songs? The characters? The art? What medium do you use for illustration, and what software was used in putting it all together?

For the music on the current DVD, it all started with the music. I had accumulated over the course of probably five years of writing since moving to New York City, about a dozen or so songs that were unusually “cartoony” compared to my other songs. It was those songs that I started to illustrate out into a picture book. We ended up crossing paths with an animator who used Adobe After Effects and we started making what would become our first DVD. To draw I use pencil on bleed-proof marker paper, then ink it with Sharpies and fine-tip black ink pens. Then most of the coloring is Prismacolor colored pencil, with some larger areas done in Crayola crayon. Then I scan into Photoshop and set up layered files for the animator with eyelids for blinking and small elements for movement. Ultimately we’re going for the “moving book” type feel. It’s what gives the work it’s mellowness.

Some of the songs on the Gustafer DVD already appeared on your earlier albums. When you wrote them originally, were you writing with Gustafer in mind as a future project? Or did you realize retrospectively that you had several good songs that would fit in Gustafer’s world?

Yeah, I had recorded some of this material with my old band a while back without any real foresight into using them for anything else later. It wasn’t until I started drawing stuff that I went back and pillaged my back-catalogue.

What is your background? Do you have formal training in music and/or art?

More like I ended up studying it because I had a natural knack for art and music. Nothing I ever learned in any class compares to just doing it. I constantly wrote, recorded and performed over the years, trial and error with various projects and bands. (mostly error unfortunately) I used to obsessively draw all the time when I was younger, making comics and taking life-drawing classes outside of school too. I took a break from serious drawing for a few years, and I this has been kind of a re-launching of my cartooning. So I’m really glad I found an application for it finally.

The New York Times called Gustafer Yellowgold “a cross between Yellow Submarine and Dr. Seuss.” Others have compared your music to the Beatles, and there’s definitely a surreal element to your style. So who are your musical and artistic influences?

I grew up listening to 70’s pop radio. I was the youngest of three kids, so there was a record collection waiting for me already when I was born. A lot of soft-rock. I’m a huge Beatles fan and I’m obsessed with KISS. I went through an 80’s cheese-metal phase until I discovered R.E.M. in 1985. I loved Marvel comics and still do collect a little bit. There are some great creators working in the comics field today that are really inspiring.

Gustafer YellowgoldTake a look at this image. On the left, we see Gustafer engaged in one of his favorite hobbies, jumping on cake. On the right, we see a tile mosaic from a New York City subway station. Every time I see the mosaic, it reminds me of Gustafer. Coincidence?

Yes! That is an amazing coincidence! That kinda freaks me out a little actually.

What’s next for Gustafer? Is a sequel in the works? A series? Feature film? Toys? And what’s next for Morgan? Any non-Gustafer projects coming up?

The 2nd DVD/CD set is near completion, and hopefully will see a release later this year. And we just received our first shipment of our Gustafer Yellowgold plush-toys. I’m sitting here among all the crates right now. We may have to get rid of some of our furniture to make room. All this time, as I’ve said “we”, I’m talking about me and my wife Rachel Loshak. She’s my partner in this and if it weren’t for her, Gustafer would still be a stack of drawings on our kitchen table. She’s the reason we’ve made it this far already, so I’d be remiss to not tip my hat to her in all this too.

Thanks, Morgan!

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World is available as a DVD/CD set exclusively through Barnes and Noble. To get more of a glimpse into Gustafer’s world, check out Gustafer’s website where you can tour his home, meet his friends, play some games, and see more of the videos from the DVD.