Saturday, May 20, 2006

Artwork for a Book

Emperor Dad isn't the first story I've published, or had published. The bulk of my fiction has been short stories in the magazines. It isn't even my first book. That honor goes to Clean Slate Word Processing for the TRS-80 back in 1983. This was my big push as an independent software developer. I wrote a word processor program, and it was published by Howard W. Sams, a well-known technical publisher. The book was a companion piece. It included all the design philosophy, tips for use, and the complete source code. It was a lot of fun to write, and all of the content was up to me.

My magazine stories often had artwork, but that was the book editor's job. I never saw it until the last minute, and never had any input into what was illustrated. In general, I've been quite pleased, but it was always a surprise.

In Clean Slate, I had to do all of the diagrams and illustrations myself. While I could handle the charts and such, I wanted a more personable book than just a dry technical manual. So, I decided I needed a few cartoons, just to lighten the mood and bring a smile to the reader. I had the ideas, but it would take me weeks and they wouldn't look professional.

Working at Motorola, I had noticed down on the test floor, that some other employee was always doing cute signs, illustrating work-related notices with cartoons. I tracked Melvin Stephans down and asked him to do some for me. I gave him my crude sketches (very crude) and he produced the finished products which I passed on the Sams for the final book. I was very pleased.


Chris said...

Yes, those are cool illustrations. Did you keep in touch with your artist frined?

Henry Melton said...

I lost track of Melvin years ago. I wish I did know some artists. I've been thinking of how to provide some artwork for Emperor Dad and toying with the idea of putting out a call for someone to make cover art for it, but I don't know where the artists hang out.