Updates on Upcoming Books

I wanted to share a quick update on all the upcoming book projects that are currently working their way through the pipeline. I have been working furiously these past few weeks to complete the next wave of titles, as well as moving the following waves forward. At present, this is the publishing schedule that I have committed myself for the next 12 months. We will see how well that prediction holds.

Upcoming Book Projects

Book 20: Portraits – This art/photography book features 30 models and 270 pieces. All of the artwork has been completed and are ready for the page layout stage in Scribus. I have told myself that this would be the first entry in an ongoing series, but any future volumes will be largely dependent on sales and the public’s reaction.

Book 21: Anthology III – This art book features 102 works in pop art, graffiti and zine style, created at various points from 1998-2017, plus a mirrored set of 102 “remixed” pieces created exclusively for this release. All artwork has been completed and is awaiting the Scribus page layout stage. I still need a formal title and have been tempted to use “Graffiti Bridge” or something similar.

Update (5/10): I came up with a good title for this book: Riot Act: Anthology III. A nice nod to my current “favorite” Pearl Jam album, which I recently purchased on vinyl LP. I think it fits nicely. As for future anthology books, I still have a number of digital artworks created in 2004-05 and the 2007-2017 “desk calendar” series. Not entirely sure how to proceed with the former, and the latter will prove a great challenge for the digital version, as I would need a large enough resolution for the calendars to be seen properly on mobile devices. We’ll see how things go.

Book 22: Immersive Van Gogh – This photography book is based on the interactive art exhibit currently running in Chicago. I am currently working on the mastering and editing of photos. It will take readers through the journey of the show, as well as a look at the gift shop. Once that has been completed, we will move on to page creation on Scribus.

Book 23: Lost in the Long COVID Winter – This photography book features 150 color photos that were taken from January-April 2021. Mastering and editing is now complete, awaiting the page layout stage.

Book 24: The Loop – This photography book features monochrome images of downtown Chicago, specifically the area known as “the loop” south of the Chicago River. Two photo sessions have been completed and another one or two will be needed to capture more locations and landmarks. I am aiming for a final photo count of 150. Once that has been completed, we will move on to the page layout stage.

Future Book Projects

University of Chicago – This photo project will feature shots taken around the University of Illinois-Chicago campus located on the city’s south side. One photo session has been completed but several more will be needed. Final image count and mastering choices have yet to be determined.

The Misadventures of Mattie Rose – This photo project features photos of my baby daughter, nicknamed “Shark.” This will be the first of an ongoing series, as we will capture her life growing up into adulthood. This first volume will cover her birth in July 2020 to April 2021. Photos need to be pruned down and edited, and final mastering decisions have yet to be made, although I would prefer to keep the pictures as close to “raw” as possible. The title is still tentative and is subject to change.

Sega Genesis: 500 Greatest Video Games – This nonfiction book will feature a collection of the 500 most popular videogames for Sega Genesis, based on comprehensive polling of players, industry insiders, magazines, websites and social media influencers. It will feature full color screenshots, most likely captured from actual hardware. The database has been completed and properly ordered, and the next stage will involve writing the essays and capturing screenshots.

Conversations on Ghibli: The Works of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata – This nonfiction book will examine the careers of Japanese animation filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, whose iconic works include Horus, Prince of the Sun, Heidi, Girl of the Alps and Studio Ghibli. This project has been long in production but frequently stalled. I just need to sit down and write chapters, and I tell myself to finish one or two essays per week.

Adventures in Laserdiscs – This nonfiction book will offer film essays based on the titles in my personal laserdisc collection, which includes beloved classics, modern (1980s-1990s) movies and over a dozen titles published by Criterion Collection. This project has not formally started, beyond my stated intention, but I’ve wanted to write another movie book for quite some time and this feels like the perfect hook. As with the Ghibli book, I just need to sit down and write something every week. Baby steps. That’s how you achieve any major goal in life. Baby steps.

How to Make Art & Photography Ebooks – This tutorial book will show readers how to create art/photo ebooks that are optimized for mobile devices and affordable for Amazon and consumers. In other words, I share all my secrets, and at this time, it appears to be a genuine secret. There ought to be hundreds, if not thousands of art and photo gallery ebooks available on Amazon today for five dollars or less. I may make this title Book 25, if just for the milestone, and the length should be pretty short and simple.

Adventures in Laserdiscs

Trainspotting, released by Criterion Collection on Laserdisc.

A number of years ago, I went through a pretty serious love affair with Laserdiscs, the home video format that was a high-end alternative to VHS and Beta cassettes in the 1980s and 1990s. While never achieving mainstream commercial success, the format was embraced by diehard movie lovers and filmmakers who wanted the best possible home version of their work. Movies on disc would feature widescreen presentation (at a time when nearly everything on tape used the dreaded “pan-and-scan”), audio commentaries, deleted scenes and other bonus features. In other words, an early version of what would become standard on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra Blu-Ray.

My laserdiscs have been sitting in boxes for the past three-plus years, and they haven’t been touched since my move from Minneapolis to Chicago. My Panasonic laserdisc player broke down, and since the media is long since obsolete, repairs today are virtually impossible, and so the movies sat in storage, wasting away. Meanwhile, I finally moved on to Blu-Ray and streaming services like Netflix and HBO Max, and also purchased a very nice 4K television last year. It would seem that going back to a home video format now three generations removed is beyond pointless, it’s just silly.

And, yet…part of me still doesn’t want to give up on these large, bulky discs. I found myself enjoying Laserdiscs much more than I had expected, and under the right conditions with the proper restoration and dedication and care, the format could still rival DVD. I found that animation was especially impressive, as one never had to worry about compressed digital artifacts, excessive edge enhancement or other compression problems that plagued DVDs. Criterion Collection was another welcome example of LDs at their best, and many of their titles include bonus material seen nowhere else. And let’s not get into all the great music discs that have never been released on the later formats.

And so I had a crazy idea: maybe I should write a book about this subject. I am very eager to get back to writing about pop culture and movies, something that I haven’t done since the publication of Pop Life and Greatest Hits in late 2017. All of my efforts since have been on the art and photography side, which is very important to me, but it’s not everything. I still need more creative outlets. So maybe this idea could work?

Right now, I am assembling a spreadsheet of my laserdisc collection to see where things stand. After that comes the all-important writing part, and since I’m looking at roughly 100 movies to review, this could become a very meaty book. At this point, it’s all just speculation and guesswork. But we’ll see how things go.

Of course, I ought to remind you that I also have two major book projects that are standing ahead in line, and those really should be completed first. As always, I think the solution is simply to write. Just get words written down and take things one step at a time and see how things go.

Again, patience is key. I have a number of art books to complete, including a third anthology volume, the portraits, the next volume of street photography that follows up The White Album, a book from the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit currently playing here in Chicago, and a photo album of baby’s first year. And I still really need to be making progress on that Ghibli book, and I’m telling myself if I could only write a couple pieces every week, I’d be making great progress.

Such is the life of an independent author and publisher. You have the freedom to crank out as much as you possibly can, and that’s a very liberating concept, but it’s a lot of hard work. We’ll see how things go.

Finally, here’s a short gallery of a couple laserdiscs from my collection. Note just how amazing the packaging and cover designs are, especially when compared to modern physical formats. One could almost have a lot of fun collecting laserdiscs just for the cover art.