Monday, April 28, 2008


The slow shift from one project to the next is getting underway here. Shelves and mental space must be cleared and restocked. As for what’s to come, for the moment I’ll just say that on Friday I was in Queens walking toward the Noguchi Museum to begin researching drawings for a great picture book text by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, and that as I walked the words of Chapman, Cleese, et al., rang in my ears: “And now for something completely different.”

Still, you can always find a point of connection if you know where to look, and on the museum’s gift shop wall I found mine: A George Nelson ball clock, just the sort that you see in the family scenes in Moonshot. I don’t imagine that the Moonshot family paid $315.00 for theirs, but I was still somehow glad for the segue.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

None Dare Call It Done. And Yet...

I reliably disappointment friends who ask if I’m happy to be done with a book. The thing is, it’s hard to be happy about being done when you don’t know if you are or not, and I almost never do. There’s no strip of tape to break as you cross the finish line, and usually there’s not even a finish line. For weeks after the final (“final”) art is turned over to the publisher, you, the editor, the art director, the designer, and the copyeditor are still looking for and catching things that might need work. (Whether you catch something or not, just the knowledge that you and others are looking manages to strip a lot of the sheen from the idea of the big finish.) Even weeks later, after the first proofs have come back from the printer, straggling problems may reveal themselves. So it’s good news here that Moonshot has now been through all, or at least most, of that. The proofs are reviewed, tweaked, corrected, patched, and amended, and shortly on their way back to the printer. There are worlds of work left for the publisher, Atheneum, but as far as mine own part is concerned, well, not until I have the bound book in my hands will I call it done, but as they say at NASA: the vehicle is through the region of maximum dynamic pressure!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Less than a month after the interior artwork was turned in, and the first proofs of Moonshot are here on my desk! Note the First Proof band in which the pages come wrapped. Not so dissimilar from the familiar Sanitized For Your Protection band, but we don’t dwell on that. Anyway, if you don’t know, proofs are what the printer sends to the publisher after the printer has received the original art, but before the book itself is printed. When the publisher receives first proofs, the art directors and designers put them under a good light, give them the eye, and then ask that the printer use less blue here, more contrast there, clean up that spot and that speck, and so on, all through the book. The printer takes these comments and produces—second proofs. This process repeats until everyone’s done all that they can to make the pages look their best. There's a nice old-fashioned sense of craftsmanship to the process, and also a meaningfulness to seeing a publisher working to make your book look the best that it can.

Only after everyone's satisfied (or, sometimes, reasonably satisfied; this is the real world, after all) do the printing presses roll in earnest.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cheshire Moons and da Vinci Glows

That’s two great Moon terms, in one great (?) blog posting. You can find both terms explained in this brief NASA Science News article, and at the same time get ready for the barely there crescent Moons to come on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. As a special bonus, the Moon on Tuesday will be served with Pleiades.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gray Lady, Gray Melon

This (unretouched) image from today’s paper is the sort of thing I’d like to see more of in The New York Times.

(Copyeditors: The New York Times? The New York Times? The New York Times? Eh?)