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Gabriel Liston has one month to illustrate this adventure tale by Julia Stoops set in Portland's Bush-era activist culture.
Gabriel Liston has one month to illustrate this adventure tale by Julia Stoops set in Portland's Bush-era activist culture.
83 backers pledged $5,025 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Illustrations for the novel Parts per Million project video thumbnail
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Dear Reader,

As an illustrator who loves reading illustrated novels, I've longed to see more contemporary novels incorporate illustrations. This summer, I'm thrilled to be illustrating Julia Stoops' activist-adventure novel Parts per Million. Set in Portland during the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it features the voices of Nelson, Jen, and Fetzer, three mismatched activists who discover and expose corrupt war-technologies research at a prominent University. When they take in Deirdre, an Irish photographer with a hazy past, their modus operandi gets blasted apart inside and out. I love the characters and how they mess up and have to figure themselves out. 

Developmental sketch of Nelson, Jen, Deirdre and Fetzer
Developmental sketch of Nelson, Jen, Deirdre and Fetzer

 

The novel is told in five parts. With your support, I will create five, full-page illustrations for the novel, one to introduce each of these parts. I've already begun research and sketches to create the looks of the characters, to recreate the Portland of 2003, and to place these activists in these spaces.

Illustration for Part Three of Parts per Million
Illustration for Part Three of Parts per Million

 

About the book and author

Julia Stoops is a visual artist, designer, and writer who spent a dozen years working on Parts per Million. Her time spent volunteering in the newsroom of a community radio station informed and inspired some elements of the novel. In 2016 she submitted the manuscript to Laura Stanfill at Forest Avenue Press, who fell hard for the story and will publish it in April 2018. You can read the first chapter here, it's told from Nelson’s point of view.

Over the years, Julia has engaged with many people in her quest for accuracy in context, voice and detail. My drawings will be held to her tough standard. 

About the illustrator

That's me, Gabriel Liston. I draw pictures of people in action and the landscapes they’re engaged with. I don’t use a camera, but I have a lot of sketchbooks. 

Sketchbook page, January 21, 2017, Portland, Oregon
Sketchbook page, January 21, 2017, Portland, Oregon

The sketches become illustrations, prints or oil paintings. Often I incorporate an extra bit of historical/geographical research. Portland’s Froelick Gallery presents much of the work I do, like this water reclamation/murder story from 1906, or images from the closing of Crater Lake National Park in 2013. I’ve done illustrations for Graywolf Press and Akashic, and documented events for Greenpeace USA and 350PDX.

Shell Protest at St Johns Bridge: American Medic
Shell Protest at St Johns Bridge: American Medic

 

Why this project, and why we want you involved

I’m biased toward pictures and think contemporary novels need more of them. Parts per Million is a great book for me to prove that with. It’s a solid, very visual tale. It’s set in the early 2000’s, when GWB is about to launch another war for oil; here in Portland, Oregon, John Nelson has sacrificed a career as a Forest Service biologist and crossed over to direct action. He’s expanded the tactics of his colleagues from blockading forest roads to message amplification via undercover reporting, video, and community radio. Jen is the hacker-heart of this cadre of activist-journalists and has little patience for those who take their eye off the ball. Fetzer is older, maybe wiser, pretty much knows what’s got to be done and knows how to make their ’85 bio-diesel Oldsmobile Toronado go. Then Franky, a young, well-intentioned, trust-funder magazine model and the primary check-writer, brings in a stray Irish photographer, Deirdre, and their already shaky world gets turned upside down.

I draw from direct observation and memory; what photo references I do use are filtered through sketches before influencing the final picture.

Illustration from The Reclamation of Lafe Pence
Illustration from The Reclamation of Lafe Pence

 I already have one Parts per Million sketchbook more than half-filled, and I expect to fill a second. I am taking time out from my other work to get these pictures drawn right and delivered on time. This commitment is more than an independent publisher can cover on their own, so I am asking our circle of fans and enthusiasts to support the project together.

With the help of literary advocate Kristi Wallace Knight, we have developed a roster of rewards to show our gratitude. Publishing illustrations in Parts per Million will both enhance the novel and demonstrate the expansionary role artwork can play in literary fiction. Please join us.

 Yours,

Gabriel Liston

PS: An extra thank you to guitarist Moses Gunesch who, for reasons intrinsic to the novel, allowed me to record him as he learned an Irish reel on a fiddle that had lain untouched for a decade.

Finally, as an example of a recent print, The Gods Can Do Anything, 15" x 22', silkscreen, created for Passages Bookshop
Finally, as an example of a recent print, The Gods Can Do Anything, 15" x 22', silkscreen, created for Passages Bookshop

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Julia, Kristi and Gabriel hash out the details at our favorite hangout.
Julia, Kristi and Gabriel hash out the details at our favorite hangout.
 

Risks and challenges

The final illustrations will need to be approved by Laura Stanfill, publisher at Forest Avenue Press, which should happen in late August 2017. So far Laura has liked everything she’s seen of my illustrations, and the team and I are confident that the final five drawings chosen for the novel will be welcomed.

We understand the responsibility that comes with launching a Kickstarter, and that the work continues long after the campaign is over. Between the three of us (Gabriel, Julia and Kristi) we are well-placed to produce the rewards and send them out on time. Kristi is the project manager and budget master. Julia and I are long-time professional artists. We know how to make things and deliver them on time.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Postcard of a book illustration

    A thank you postcard from Gabriel and Julia of one of the Parts per Million illustrations, and your name on the acknowledgements page in the printed book.

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    Parts per Million button

    A 1.25" Parts per Million button depicting the 1985 Toro. Includes your name on the acknowledgements page in the book.

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    A Parts per Million bookplate

    One 4x5" Parts per Million-themed relief print bookplate hand-carved and printed by Gabriel Liston. Plus a postcard and your name on the acknowledgements page.

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    Parts per Million patch

    A patch Jen would be proud to wear! A 5x5" silkscreened Parts per Million-themed canvas patch, suitable for cargo shorts or hoodies. And a postcard and your name on the acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Set of five postcards of illustrations

    A set of five, 5x7" postcards depicting Gabriel Liston's five final illustrations published in the novel. Suitable for sending to your representatives! Includes your name on the acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Parts per Million zine of scenes

    Think of this as a companion volume to the novel. Get the story from Deirdre's point of view -- an important and lyrical character whose scenes were developed with, but not included in the published version.

    Each zine has a unique stenciled cover and includes ink sketches of scenes from the story, produced especially for this zine. Signed by Gabriel and Julia. Includes a postcard and your name in the book acknowledgements.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    For early birds: bookplate + signed copy

    You get the 4x5", Parts per Million-themed relief print bookplate hand-carved and printed by Gabriel Liston, inside one of just five hot-off-the-press copies of the novel (not a galley, not an advance reader copy), signed by both the author Julia and the illustrator Gabriel. Ships before the books hit the stores. Plus you'll get a postcard and your name in the acknowledgements.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Parts per Million Activist Package

    A set of five different postcards of the final illustrations, suitable for sending to your representatives. Two buttons. A hand-silkscreened canvas patch. And your name on the acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Parts per Million Advocate Package

    A Parts per Million bookplate, a silkscreen patch, a copy of the zine of additional scenes. And a postcard and your name on the book's acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Hand-bound hardcover edition

    A limited edition copy of Parts Per Million hand bound into a reclaimed, tough-as-nails library cover. This is how Gabriel Liston builds his sketchbooks and swears by it for beauty and durability. Each copy has a unique stenciled cover, and is signed by author Julia and illustrator Gabriel. Includes a bookplate, a postcard and your name in the book acknowledgements.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Publisher feedback for writers

    Forest Avenue Press founder Laura Stanfill will provide her professional feedback on either a query letter plus the first three pages of your manuscript, or the first five pages of your manuscript. And from the rest of us, a postcard. Plus your name on the book's acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $140 or more About $140

    Hardcover with tea and a sketch

    Meet for tea with author Julia and illustrator Gabriel at our favorite hangout in Portland. Chat about the process, and get yourself sketched by Gabriel into one of the hand-bound hardcover editions before we finish our tea and hand over the book.


 Includes a bookplate, a postcard and your name in the acknowledgements.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Portrait with your favorite character

    Step into the world of Parts per Million! An 8x10" drawing of you with your favorite character from the novel. Drawn on 100% acid free rag paper. Includes a bookplate, a postcard and your name on the acknowledgements page.

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    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    Original illustration

    One of the five original 8x10" illustrations chosen for printing in the book. Drawn on acid-free rag paper. Includes a postcard and your name on the acknowledgements.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Sketchbook of Parts per Million drawings

    Own the dozens of studies and outtakes that go into preparing the final five illustrations! One of Gabriel Liston's original 8x10.5" sketchbooks used to develop the characters, locations, and even the kickstarter video for Parts per Million. Hand re-bound from a reclaimed, super-tough, cloth library book (like all Gabriel Liston's sketchbooks). About 90 pages (mostly packed with drawings, only a little writing). Plus a postcard and your name on the novel's acknowledgements page.

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Funding period

- (26 days)