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In 2008, I published an essay about Luigi Serafini's CODEX SERAPHINIANUS. I'm raising funds to release a new and expanded edition.
In 2008, I published an essay about Luigi Serafini's CODEX SERAPHINIANUS. I'm raising funds to release a new and expanded edition.
24 backers pledged $1,806 to help bring this project to life.

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Update 3/7: Wow, less than 24 hours and I already made it! Thanks so much to the original group of backers who got me this far. I don't want to stop here, though! I intentionally set the goal fairly low - basically at the minimum amount I'd need to do the book right. However, there are some nice improvements I could make if the project hits $1500 or higher. These aren't stretch goals per se - the more money that comes in, the more I'll be able to afford premium materials to make the book. These could include

  • Handmade paper for the book covers
  • Higher quality paper for the text
  • Letterpress printing (for the covers)
  • More materials from the actual Codex incorporated into the binding of both the deluxe and the standard editions.
  • A color section with photographs of Serafini's books - maybe even bound separately as a supplement.

You get the picture... so let's keep the party going! Tell your friends, share on social media, all that jazz. And now onto to the original story...

I discovered Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus in the spring of 2007, and it has fascinated me ever since. For those that aren't familiar, the Codex Seraphinianus is an encyclopedia of an imaginary world, written in an imaginary script and complete with chapters on flora & fauna, animal life, social rituals, food, sports, architecture, math, and science. It is often referred to as "the strangest book ever written," and it has had a cult following ever since it was published in 1981. It used to be very difficult to find, but that ended when an affordable edition was published a few years ago, finally making it available to the masses.

I spent so much time thinking about this book (as well as Serafini's later works) that I ended up writing a long essay on my blog in January 2008, mostly just to untangle all the thoughts bouncing around my head. Unexpectedly, this essay got a fair amount of attention from people interested in the Codex, especially since there wasn't that much information about it available back then. Around the same time, my wife and I started up Chance Press and decided to publish a chapbook version of the essay. We released a 50-copy edition with a two-color cover that we printed in the living room of our first apartment together.

Surprisingly, that edition sold out quickly, and after a couple years, enough people had asked about it that we decided to publish a second edition. Aside from a few small revisions, it's largely the same as the original edition, and I reused the cover artwork, which is representative of my design skills at the time (AKA not great).

Piles of the 2nd edition
Piles of the 2nd edition

Fast forward to this year, when that edition also sold out, putting the idea in my head to revisit the essay a third time. However, having written it so long ago, a lot of the information is now out of date, so I couldn't just slap a new cover on it and put it up for sale on the Chance Press website. Instead, I decided to rewrite a lot of it from the vantage point of someone who has obsessed about this book for a decade rather than just under a year. The new version includes a summary of the publication history of the Codex, a theory of how to "read" the book, other critical responses, and analysis of Serafini's other major book works that have appeared since the Codex was published. I don't love tooting my own horn, but I'm not aware of anything else that goes this deep into Serafini's work (in English, at least).

Notes and revisions for the new edition
Notes and revisions for the new edition

It has taken me over a year of writing and rewriting, but I'm finally ready to publish the essay for a third time. I'm very happy with the result, and now comes the hard part - making it into a book. 

That's where you come in. I'm raising funds to cover the initial print run - the size of the run will be determined by how much money I'm able to raise. To compensate you for your support, I'm offering some neat rewards. In addition to the book itself, I'm planning a handmade deluxe edition for die-hard fans, as well as items from my collection of Serafini source material (including a book signed and inscribed by Serafini himself). 

Every reward $15 and over includes a copy of the book. As for the extras, here's a breakdown:

For $25, you either get some offprints from the now sold-out first and second editions of the book, or a copy of The Believer magazine with Justin Taylor's excellent article about the Codex.

 For $35, you get a rare postcard with an unpublished Serafini illustration:

For $40, you get this cool book featuring an interview with Serafini:

For $50, you get this even cooler book featuring an interview with Serafini:

For $300, you get this extremely rare book with numerous Serafini illustrations:

And for $500, you get this unspeakably rare signed/inscribed book:

I have some really neat ideas for the standard and deluxe editions, including using actual pages from the Codex Seraphinianus as part of the binding. Chance Press has always prided ourselves on imaginative handmade books, so even though I'm planning the edition to be printed and bound off-site, I'm sure we'll figure out some neat handmade touches just so the book fits with everything else we've published.

For instance, here's the last book we funded on Kickstarter, by comics legend Kim Deitch:

Not bad, right? This new book won't be nearly so elaborate, but the fact is that I love making books, and I hope I'll be able to add another one to the pile.

Thanks for your support!

Risks and challenges

Risks are minimal - the manuscript is done, so I just need to format it and then I can go to town. I have been making books for ten years now, so I'm not anticipating any roadblocks. One thing to note: although I mentioned the book being handmade in the video, if this project gets way overfunded, I may decide to have the books printed professionally, although in that case the hardcover versions will still be made by hand.

The one thing I'll say is that, despite my best efforts, I ALWAYS underestimate how much time things take. So be prepared for delays! I'll do my best to avoid them, but I can't promise anything. Definitely don't order it if you intend to give it to someone for the holidays, a birthday, graduation, or new year's 2019 present. (Okay, maybe new year's 2019 is safe, but the other ones aren't.)

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    *POSTCARD*

    Thanks for your help! You'll get a postcard featuring the cover design for the book to keep in your box of cherished memories. Note: all higher reward tiers will include this postcard.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    *THE BOOK*

    The main event! You'll get a brand new copy of the 3rd edition of "Collecting and Confronting the Worlds of Luigi Serafini."

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    *BOOK + EPHEMERA*

    You'll get the book plus a set of two rare overrun prints from the covers of the now sold-out first and second editions of the book.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    *SERAFINI OBSCURA #1*

    You'll get the book plus an item with some obscure relation to Luigi Serafini. This reward includes a copy of The Believer magazine with Justin Taylor's excellent article about the Codex (discussed at length in the book).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    *DUCKMARE*

    You'll get the book along with a rare postcard featuring an unpublished illustration by Luigi Serafini (titled "Duckmare").

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    *BOOKSTORE REWARD*

    You'll get five copies of the book for your extremely cutting-edge bookstore. This reward can scale if you want more copies ($70 for 10 copies, $105 for 15 copies, etc).

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    *SERAFINI OBSCURA #2*

    You'll get the book plus an item with some obscure relation to Luigi Serafini. This reward includes the book "New Italian Design," which features an interview with Serafini about the Codex Seraphinianus, among other things. Until recently, this was one of the only interviews available in English.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    *SERAFINI OBSCURA #3*

    You'll get the book plus an item with some obscure relation to Luigi Serafini. This reward includes the book "Iconica," which features images of Serafini's sculptures and environmental installations.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    *THE DELUXE BOOK*

    You'll get the deluxe edition of the book, signed (by me) and limited to 20 lettered copies. This will be a hand-bound hardcover that incorporates actual pages from the Codex Seraphinianus.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    *SERAFINI OBSCURA #4*

    You'll get a copy of the deluxe edition, plus a rare Serafini item that isn't available anywhere else. This reward includes a (slightly worn) copy of the little-known "Etimologiario," a book for which Serafini provided numerous illustrations.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    *SERAFINI OBSCURA #4*

    You'll get a copy of the deluxe edition, plus a rare Serafini item that isn't available anywhere else. This reward includes a copy of "I Disobbedienti," a book for which Serafini provided four full-color illustrations. This copy contains a lengthy inscription handwritten by Serafini himself, using his famous script.

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Funding period

- (30 days)