December 05, 2010

Super Animation #2

See more Super animations on Aaron Dietz's YouTube channel.

November 21, 2010

A Superhero Meeting

In Super, there's a chapter that consists of the minutes from a regular ol' Superhero meeting. During the TNBLE Seattle reading, I wanted to present this chapter, and instead of just reading the minutes, I ran a live meeting similar to the one that transpired in the book, including the audience as Superhero attendees of the meeting.

Thanks to Arianne Garden Vazquez for videotaping the reading, and thanks to Priya Keefe and Chris Hammersley for playing the parts of Moonclaw and Auslander!

November 12, 2010

Become a Superhero: The Video

My novel, Super, is a very interactive novel, and even a year or so ago, I was experimenting with ways to demonstrate what the book was like in a live setting.

The following is one such experiment, attempted in December of 2009, well before I even had a complete Superhero costume.

Thanks to Arianne Garden Vazquez and Kymberlee della Luce for volunteering, and thanks to Arianne for filming!

November 07, 2010

Become a Superhero!

At the Book Release Party for Super on Tuesday night, guests will walk in and be transformed into a Superhero with complimentary capes, Superhero logos, masks, and more!

If you're not able to make it to the book release party, there are still many ways in which you, too, can experience a transition into a Superhero lifestyle!

1. Turn your phone into a Super phone by downloading a Super mobile phone background image, designed by Super book designer Charlie Potter.

2. Turn your computer into a Super computer by downloading a Super desktop background, also designed by Charlie Potter.

3. Photoshop images of your own by adding the Super logo and other official designs to your images. Download a set of Super assets here (for personal use only--you may not sell or distribute works made with these assets). Here's a low-resolution preview of the assets:

Just putting the logo on a sign is hilarious enough (see example 1 and example 2), but the following is an example of someone going way overboard (in a delightfully positive way):

October 04, 2010

How Super Came to Be

The cover of Super, by Aaron Dietz, from Emergency Press; cover design by Charlie Potter
Charlie Potter is the extraordinarily talented book designer behind the novel Super, from Emergency Press. The novel's storyline is presented as a series of varied county-level government documents, and so the book contains over 40 different layout styles. Potter also produced numerous illustrations that appear in the book, as well as supporting logos and documents that will be used in trailers, costumes for events, and other promotional materials.

In the following interview with Charlie Potter, the designer of Super elaborates on how the book's design came to be.

First of all, how did you come up with the cover concept? It's very catchy!

I love signs. I love danger signs the most, like the one with the truck almost tipping over on a tight corner or that guy being horribly struck by lightning. So the icon is basically taken from the sign that would indicate that there are Superheroes working nearby.

What parts of the inside of the book are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about the bits I had more creative input on. For example, the detective notes (I chose to present them in a visually-connected way, rather than as a straight-forward list of notes), the stick-figure diagram (I can’t look at it without laughing--I really can draw better than that), and the Superhero signage document.

A small part of the stick figure diagram from Super, created by Charlie Potter

The signage document was originally supposed to be a patrol map that tells Superheroes things like how far of a jump it is between buildings, how high up the roof is, and so on. I told Aaron, the author, that it would be odd for a hero to have a map in their pocket. When a driver first hits the street, the DMV doesn’t give you a map, but they will give you a rule book and a guide to signs. So that’s what we made: a driver’s guide for the Superhero.

But honestly, Aaron had some very visual ideas with clear direction, which is rare when working with a writer. I just had to dress them up mostly. At the same time, I had a lot of freedom with the project so I’m excited about the whole book.

This was obviously a much more complicated book to put together compared to the average novel. How did you manage that complexity, and how did you communicate with the author, Aaron Dietz, to complete the project?

Communication was pretty smooth between us--smoother than any project I’ve worked on. At the beginning, I set up a Google site with file deposit pages for inspirations, design previews, resources, and so on. We’re still using it for promotional stuff. I submitted design ideas through it and he and I commented on them or he would create Word docs with lists of edits.

The site was also good because it versions uploads, so we could revert to an old design easily if need be. At times there were a few print-outs when it was necessary to draw out an idea, but overall the process was very green. We rarely met in person about the project even though we see each other almost every day.

But the thing that helped the most was that we had a clear idea of how the book was going to be, and what it could do. This is something that was established very early and continues even now. It was a very cooperative and supportive process.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in doing this design?

The biggest challenge of this book was that I wanted it to look like an accumulation of government-made documents and logos but still make it look good, trying to ride that line of terrible and awesome.

Did you do any research to help you prepare for creating these "government-made documents"?

People can tell if you are drawing from memory or if you’re drawing from real life. So, I did a ton of research for this to make this look believable. But this wasn't too difficult and I had a lot of help and suggestions on where to look. There is just so much! In fact, I have enough material now that if there were a second book I wouldn't be drawing from any of the same sources.

What other things are you creating to help with the book's release?

Currently, I’m designing a series of posters that would encourage Superheroes from other counties to move to and work in Pike County, the setting of the novel. Most Superheroes think it’s more dangerous in Pike County and would rather live and work where their average life expectancy is higher.

Also, I created some stickers that we'll use to turn people's outfits into Superhero costumes during the book release party (this November).

What other kinds of work do you do, and is there a specific focus in your art?

I have no focus, but there are some things I’m better at than others.

I enjoy illustrating and have done a few books for a friend of the family. I would love to do more of that.

At my day job, though, I work as an instructional graphic designer; which is not too far off from what I was for this book.

September 21, 2010

Quotes From Super

Quotes from my novel are up on the Super page of my Web site. I'm also printing a few here. Exclusive content, some of it!

"That's the bad thing about cable--it takes longer to decide nothing's on because you have to flip through more channels." -Alabaster Wight

"You'd think time travel would be a pretty cool power to have but it's not. Most of the time, you're told what to do by various versions of yourself who are from some future time in which you've really messed things up." -Apostolos

"Anti-Terrorist Bomb Squad is highly entertaining to play, but it fails miserable as a socially responsible video game." -Jerboa

"I know Superheroes aren't supposed to drink so much, but lately that's the only way I can get out of the costume." -Alabaster Wight

"That's funny. I usually keep the rock slab in the closet." -Auslander

Oh, and if you're interested, ask me about the Super Action Team--it's an opportunity for you to receive my undying gratitude for doing very little work to help me promote my book.