Announcing Forthcoming Books by Paul Hornschemeier and Carol Es

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Take note, kids – this is how you lure top talent to your small press… Find authors you like as they’re graciously doing book signings, and then present them with at least ten books to sign.  As they wade through the task of signing each and every book you plonked down in front of them, make small chitchat, eventually steering the conversation to your fledging small press that they’re way too good for in the first place.  Suggest doing a project with them like you’re half kidding, and then email them later that evening with a more firm proposal, steeling yourself against near-certain rejection by acknowledging that they’re probably too busy to spend any time thinking about the fool you just made of yourself anyway.

I followed the above steps, and now I’m the proud publisher (along with Justine, of course) of a book by the great cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier (learn more about him at his website).  Paul is well-established in the alternative comics scene, having published multiple books with the top publishers in the game, including AdHouse Books, Fantagraphics, Dark Horse, and Villard.  He has two major books forthcoming this year, and he is widely published in anthologies (including Mome, generally regarded as the best alternative comics periodical to come along in many years), as well as being a sought-after illustrator and graphic designer.  His work is characterized by obsessive attention to form and detail, humanized by multi-layered emotional storylines – in short, the very embodiment of what great comics can accomplish.

To be working with an artist like Paul is a feather in our young cap here at Chance Press, and it is a daunting task as well.  As a noted graphic artist who designs all of his publications from front to back, Paul is on the same level as the greats in the industry (Chip Kidd, Chris Ware, Jacob Covey, Jordan Crane, etc.), which makes it imperative that we put everything we have into any book of his that we publish.  Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeve, and it will be very exciting to see how it all plays out.

What about the book itself?  Paul is relaunching his comics series Forlorn Funnies this fall via a hardcover release from Fantagraphics, and Chance Press will be publishing the companion piece to this book: plans, sketches, notes, etc.  The behind-the-scenes nature of the book complements the look of our handmade books really well; Fantagraphics will publishe the full-color, polished and finished-looking product, while ours will be a little rougher looking, with hand-cut paper, exposed thread binding, and other touches that people have come to expect from us.  This will be an ambitious project, with a higher page count than anything since A Common Thread, a fairly complex convertible “M” binding (more on this in future blog posts), and a large print run of at least 100 trade copies.

Release of this book should coincide with the Alternative Press Expo in October, where we will be exhibiting for the first time.


We’ve known Los Angeles artist Carol Es for a couple years, even having the good fortune to spend some time drinking with her and her pet gorilla MJP last year.  Both Justine and I thought it would be great to work with her on a book project, although we assumed that she – who has created mind-bending artist books that sell for over $1000 a pop – would have no interest in working with such neophytes (though she’d likely be too nice to say so).  Well, I finally got up the nerve to suggest project to her, and she surprised both Justine and I by accepting the job and even adding that she thought we’d never ask.  Some sappy “you’re-so-great-no-you’re-so-great” emails followed, and then we got down to planning the book, which promises to be a doozy.

Like Mr. Hornschemeier, Carol is a huge get for us – she has exhibited artwork all over the country, received numerous grants and fellowships, and her work resides in the permanent collections of multiple esteemed museums and special collections libraries including those of LACMA and UCLA.  Her art is full of wide-eyed power, combining the gritty, urban aesthetic of Los Angeles, playful yet haunting cartooning, and mixed media elements to create a startlingly authentic experience of what is swirling around in the artist’s own head.  As I mentioned earlier, to be working with an artist of this caliber so soon into our tenure as small press publishers is a little frightening, like we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.  Still, I wouldn’t have suggested the project if I didn’t think we could pull it off; we’re just going to have to push ourselves to do Carol’s work justice.

Not much about the book has been finalized at this point, although we will be using the same removable-spine accordion binding used by Two Fine Chaps on their fine publication of The Chase.  The book will be published in a deluxe edition only, although a small zine/sketchbook may end up being published separately.  The goal here is to produce a book that bridges the gap between a zine and an artist book and to offer something to the art/book collector who wants a very limited edition handmade book and who might spend $150, but who just can’t afford $1000.

We will be working on Carol’s book this winter, and it will likely be released in the early part of 2011.  Who’s excited?