About this project
My name is Evan! I've made a huge series of illustrations for Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, and I'd like to publish the entire illustrated text of the novel in a classy and carefully-designed hardcover edition. This Kickstarter is a way for you to preorder the book and help make it happen. Thank you for having a look!
Moby-Dick is the second public-domain book I've illustrated and self-published, and it's one that I am uniquely obsessed with. Even 160 years after its publication, it's a strange, fascinating, impossible book. It's nothing like everything you've heard about it. It's an adventure story and an encyclopedia of an enormous, grotesque industry on the threshold of the modern world. It's a unique and passionate articulation of the self-destructive extremism that has always been a driving force for the United States.
(Let me remind you that the text of the book is in the public domain, and available for free all over the place)
It has been an honor to spend so much time in this book, and I am looking forward to presenting it in print in as beautiful a way as I possibly can.
Since early 2015 I've made a series of 53 full-page ink illustrations for Moby-Dick. I've tried to represent the enormity of the book and its diversity in tone and format—some images are portraits, some are dramatic moments, some are diagrams, and some are icons. I've posted all of them online as I've finished them.
The illustrations are drawn in brush and pen and ink, in a densely-crosshatched style deliberately reminiscent of scrimshaw, a craft common on whaling ships of the era, and discussed in the text. My hope has been to work with old-feeling illustration techniques in an unexpected and dramatic way.
Visual research for this project was constant throughout its process, beginning with a visit in 2015 to the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaleship, and one almost indistinguishable from the text's descriptions of the Pequod.
This edition of Moby-Dick will be 640 pages in length, and 7 by 10 inches. The book will be hardcover with white lightly-textured fake leather over board, with the title printed in black and debossed on the spine. The covers will be totally blank and white. The edges of the text block will be stained black, and the book will come in a black matte slipcase, with an illustration of the whale on two of its sides. An overall aesthetic of melodramatic light and shadow and traditional techniques used in aggressive, modern ways is meant to inform the illustrations and the design and treatment alike.
In the typesetting of this edition, I've been a little more reverent of the unusual typesetting choices of the first American edition than most modern editions are. The display type is Two Lines English Egyptian, a digital revival by Jonathan Martin of one of the first commercially-available sans serif fonts, chosen for how it works with the illustrations, and how it reflects the same transitional period into modernity and industrialization as does the book itself.
The first edition's "ETYMOLOGY" and "EXTRACTS" sections are included, and there is no back matter or anything: just the text itself.
You can download a free preview of the first several chapters of the book right here, to get an idea of what the entire book will look like.
I'm keeping this simple and focusing on making this book exactly the way I want it to be. Just a few extras will be available through the Kickstarter:
Screenprint: A 12 by 18 inch screenprint in white ink on black paper, of the illustration "This breaching is his act of defiance." These will be signed and numbered, and there will be very few or none of them available after this Kickstarter.
Scrimshaw Medallion: A 1-inch diameter engraved medallion based on 19th-century scrimshaw. The medallion is of shell and is slightly iridescent and irregular in coloration. The backing is zinc. The image is an illustration of the Pequod: the art shown above is not final.
Wizard of Oz illustrated: The first book I illustrated and self-published was L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book is published in a hardcover edition with nearly 100 illustrations. Copies gotten through this Kickstarter are at a significant discount.
My Moby-Dick book: The very copy of Moby-Dick I worked with during this process. It's worn out and full of post-its and marks and notes, and I've drawn Captain Ahab on the title page. There is of course just one of these available, at the $160 tier.
Thank you for your interest! I hope you'll consider backing, or helping me spread the word about this project.
Risks and challenges
For this book I'm working with Make That Thing again: they're coordinating with the printer and they'll do the order fulfillment when the books are received. These are both things they are very good at and have done many times!
The book is entirely laid out and ready to go to press right now. We're already talking to the printer we'll use, and the goal for this project is based on their quote. This process should be pretty smooth, but delays can happen in book production and I'll let backers know if anything comes up!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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