Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sketch pad: Nat'l Horse Show w/ PICTURES

Looking for a beautiful setting to sketch horses?

The first weekend in September is the date for the Annual Portuguese Bend National Horse Show. This is a charity horse show, with three days of English riding events. The show takes place in 2 arenas, with an adjacent warm-up ring. Every dollar you spend at this horse show benefits Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

You can get close to all three rings and sketch horses.

The location is Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates, CA (on Hawthorne Blvd, about 5 miles from our showroom). There is natural shade at the park, a playground for the pre-school set and real restrooms (not porta-potties) at 2 locations. For this event, food booths are set up under a large tent. There's even a bar area for adults with flat screen TVs. This park is near the ocean and the Palos Verdes cliffs.... so it's not hot and dusty like most horse venues (you should still bring your hat and sunscreen! I also recommend close-toed shoes).

Since this horse show benefits the children's hospital, there is "country fair" atmosphere, with lots of games and craft booths for kids (even pony rides and a petting zoo). Bring the family for the fun.... and when you're done sketching you can join in too!

There is a public parking lot at Ernie Howlett Park, but it is closed off for this event to make room for rows and rows of horse stalls! Free parking is available across the street on a large, grassy open field. The terrain is pretty bumpy! Shuttle bus service (via large, yellow school buses) will take you to the show grounds. Even though many attractions don't open until 10AM... plan to arrive before 9AM for the closest parking (and shortest shuttle bus ride). You will not be able to walk to your car from the show grounds... you will need to take everything you need with you. You will only be able to return to you car via the shuttle buses. People take all sorts of horse equipment, strollers and even dogs (on leashes) on the buses.

Here's a link with the event schedule, hours, etc. There is a nominal admission charge for this event.
Hope to see you there!

Guest artist Pierre Alary

On his first trip to France in 2005, Stuart discovered the work of Pierre Alary, and has been importing Pierre's books ever since. Pierre's "Belladone" series has been one of our most popular titles. In 2006 and 2007, Pierre was our guest at Comic Con San Diego, graciously signing copies of his books for our patrons and visiting with his many fans. We have published 2 sketchbooks with Pierre. In addition to being a talented artist, he is a wonderful friend. Seeing him is always one of the highlights of our annual trip to Angouleme. We hope Pierre will be signing again at our booth for Comic Con in 2009! Meanwhile, we are looking forward to the arrival of his new book, "Sinbad".

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Daily Brew 8/25 highlights - Eric Goldberg w/PICS

Here are the Eric Goldberg highlights from from his visit to our showroom on 8/23....

..... You couldn't hope for a more charming, funny, experienced, knowledgeable and generous guest (than Eric Goldberg) !!! Holding the signing at the showroom was a much more cozy and cordial setting than Comic Con. We had a steady stream of attendees, and everyone who had a book signed had a chance to chat with Eric. I could write an entire post just on the subjects Eric covered... but for now, here are some highlights:

Eric suggests reading his book in sequence. The book is over 25 years in the making! Over the years, Eric has given a series of lectures and seminars. Drawing on that experience (pardon the pun), he wrote the book specifically to be read in the order it's written to derive the most benefit from the instructions he explains in the text.

Questions from our attending patrons ranged from projects Eric had worked on in the past (often with the person who was asking the question), to mini history lessons on animation, to a amazing pantomimed explanation on how to observe, analyze and learn from different animation gags in classic cartoons.

The icing on the cake with Eric is that he is one of the most animated speakers you'll ever encounter. He has an infectious passion for great animation of the past... and for the legacy left us by great silent film comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. It became very clear from listening to Eric that any animation fan... student or pro... should have a working knowledge of the great silent film comedies!

Eric's answers to questions, and his stories, are imbued with his own impressions of the personalities and techniques involved. Eric's too busy working now.... but at some point in the future he really should be giving seminars and lectures, as he is not only a master artist, but a true teaching master as well. Listening to Eric was a good reminder just how relevant past classic animation and silent films are to modern artists! Eric talked at length and with great passion and detail about how the comic effect of a certain character's walk in "One Froggie Evening" was achieved.

Not only has Eric studied classic animation... he also knew so many of the great Disney and WB artists... so his stories bring icons like Chuck Jones and Ollie Johnson to life and into the conversation.

Eric shared all this and more with the patrons who stopped by.... and Eric "got inspired" as well. While browsing our stock, Eric discovered the work of Carlos Nine! Nine is one of those "inspiration artists," (like Claire Wendling) that the marquee players in our industry know about and look to for their cutting edge style. Eric found the Nine book "HOMMAGE A L'ARRIERE-COUR " and was so excited by the drawing style, which he described as "Heinrich Kley on Acid". It was really amazing to watch and hear the reaction of a master artist to another modern master that he hadn't been familiar with prior to this visit with Stuart.

And of course, Stuart was able to broaden this experience for Eric by sharing his own personal knowledge of Nine and the many books Nine has produced. Moments like that made this signing one of the best "Stuart Ng Books experience" events yet.

So for everyone who was able to attend the signing.... they got the live experience and a signed or inscribed book to take home. Plus Eric kindly drew in each book as well! For those of you who pre-ordered a signed book... your copy will also contain a drawing!!

For those of you who are just discovering SNB and the blog...... not to worry.... after over 2 hours of meet and greet and Q and A at our showroom... Eric stayed after and signed all our stock with a drawing!!! Whew!

And Eric did all that work on only a glass of ice water! The least we could do was take him to dinner at one of our Torrance attractions: Back Home in Lahina on Carson Blvd. The restaurant has live music on Saturday nights, and in the Kaamaina tradition patrons at the restaurant and friends of the band will get up and dance impromptu hulas. The music was unusually LOUD that night, but there was a larger than usual crowd of dancers. If any of you get a chance to chat with Eric in the coming months... be sure to ask him how he liked the Hula show!

Friday, August 22, 2008

SDCC 2008 - Pics from Eric Goldberg's signing

Here are some pictures from Eric Goldberg's signing at our booth at Comic Con 2008. Special thanks to the lovely Darcy, who helps us and our artist guests with all our signings, and to Tina Price and Rik Maki, our booth neighbors at Digital or Not, for hosting our signings this year!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

daily brew 8/21 (highlights)

Here are highlights from 8/21

In the coffee pot for Thursday 8/21: Lion coffee Supreme Roast Special Blend Medium (something different tomorrow).

FRESH SCOOP FROM THE BREW: Our back-order item TRAVIS CHAREST SPACEGIRL vol 1 arrived 8/19!!!! Details in Stuart's email update sent 8/20 to the email list :)

Update on re-stock: There Will Be Books... Our showroom will be open Saturday 8/23 from noon - 4PM. Eric Goldberg will be signing from 2PM - 4PM. While our re-stock order of his books still isn't here yet (SNAFU as usual :), we have a "back-up" supply of books due to arrive Friday. (cut to: the ticking clock under my chair, did that thing just get louder?) Stay tuned...

Peggy has a week off starting Monday, so starting today you'll see a wave of new pics and details on the New Arrivals page. The usual pattern is for new books to show up on the "New Arrivals" page first. Then they are moved to their appropriate area (import; artist sketchbook etc). So if you see something on "new arrivals" one day, and it's gone the next day, that doesn't mean we're sold out.... just look for it in the section.

Check out the following sketchbooks (brought to us at the showroom by the artists themselves:) Justin Sweet "Droar 2". Cynthia Ignacio and Mindy Lee's collaborative project "Rock God Opera". John & Shelley Loter "Good Girl/Bad Girl" book and their new comic "Supa-rilllas." Regarding the new book from Justin Ridge, "Flavor 1:0": it's a two-fer book you flip over; one half of the book is Justin; the other half is Hey-Jung Kim. What a deal! Our copies are signed by BOTH artists.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Your Science Lesson for today: Pizza and the USPS?

You shouldn't need a degree in rocket science to calculate the odds of a book surviving a trip in the US mail, but maybe ....when you consider some of the choices OTHERS make when shipping books. What are they thinking???? Here at SNB we do not ship in "padded envelopes" or used pizza boxes (yes, that's a USED frozen pizza box that was used to ship a book to us via USPS Media Mail, INSURED!!)

Oh, the things we see behind the scenes....these are just a few examples of the heartbreak of poor packing. We get shipments like this on a weekly basis.
We know how it feels to have a valuable book ruined by careless shipping. We would never do this to you!

We hand pack your books and ship in sturdy containers. We protect all four corners and sides of your books. We put your books in the center of the box, and pad with appropriate material to prevent shifting during handling. Our shipping is labor intensive and motivated by love.
Just for the record, USPS stands for US Postal Service.. not U-Ship Pizza Surplus.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

daily brew 8/18 (highlights)

Here are highlights from Monday's Daily Brew...

In the coffee pot Sunday night for company: we finished off the good stuff (Candie's Big Island 100% Kona... mahalo to Len in Hawaii!).

Update on re-stock: ............Welcome to our wonderful world of waiting.... I have learned to be very zen about re-stock, mostly because there is nothing we can do about order fulfillment issues. I used to think it was just the French books, because there are SO MANY hoops to jump through to get them here. Now I've learned the domestic orders as just as vulnerable to SNAFU status. (you do know what SNAFU means, right?) We order books, building all sorts of lead time etc, and no matter what we do, they get here when they get here, usually right before some deadline (just to add some drama to our day).


We packed up about 10 more boxes over the weekend, and I printed out shipping labels, but when I went to USPS to schedule a Monday pickup, that portion of their website was shut down. I usually make a Monday run to the main post office, so today I'll just have a full cart or two of boxes (as you know if you're one of my fab four readers, all media mail orders paid by credit card or check can't be shipped via on line label and pick-up, and they get a little car ride with me to the Post Office).


Saturday open hours on 8/16: we had lots of visitors and some fun discussions.

I don't want these updates to sound like a Romper Room roll call, but I also want you to know what topics were covered while the showroom was open and who was part of the conversation..... so here goes.....

We had a long chat with a patron named Dave who is in gaming. We talked a lot about the back and forth influence between movies and games these days... and the quest in gaming for photo realism and the pros and cons of that.

Later, we had a nice visit with Frederik Du Chau. Since Frederik is originally from Belgium and speaks and reads French and English it's always good to get his take on the French imports. He's a Bodart fan. He picked up a copy of Green Manor and other items.

How about my plan to get Stuart to take Sunday off. Yeah, "bonne chance"... didn't happen.

What did happen was that I took the day off... unlike Stuart, I have hobbies outside of books. There are a couple of volunteer opportunities I help with during the year, and the summer puppy show is one of my favorites. A club I belong to hosts a puppy show, with a companion parade for rescue dogs. We also helped my friend Pamela, who judged the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) testing. CGC is a program started a few years ago by AKC to promote responsible dog ownership and basic good manners for dogs at home and in public. All dogs, pure or mixed breed, can participate. Here's a link for info on CGC:
We had over 12 dogs get tested, and nearly everyone passed!

But the real fun on Sunday started when I got back to the showroom in the afternoon. Stuart had opened up special and we had a nice visit with a long-time patron Tom de Rosier.

One of my favorite memories with Tom goes back several years to a Pasadena Book Fair. Tom stopped by our booth to tell us that his friend was a big fan of our catalog. As I mentioned, this was years ago when Stuart used to do a printed catalog. Tom's friend? That was Alex Toth. It was too cool to learn that Toth was a regular and thorough reader of Stuart's catalog!!

On Sunday's visit with Tom, we had a fun discussion about a film from a few years back, The Last Samurai.... and that movie's theme of what happens when you and your skills & values seem to outlive your job and purpose.

For the freelance artist wandering the industry in search of a gig with meaning, the theme resonates, don't you think?..... Or there's the comedy pitch meeting version: "Samurai 2D Animator" (or maybe the concept just needs more action: "Kung Fu 2D Animator"..... "I know your drawing style").

Sorry, I digress....

More posts and pictures coming soon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

More horse reference, scale models up to 1:1, UPDATED 6.15 and 8.19 with more photos)

The beauty of horses inspires art....
However, they are also one of the most challenging animals to draw. (reference chart below by noted equestrian artist Sam Savitt"
If you want to draw horses, go get a broomstick.
Don't just look at it. Wrap your hand around the broomstick. Get a feel for it. That broomstick's the same diameter as a horse's cannon bone: a major leg bone of a big animal. Bones as slender as broomsticks, with just a thin veneer of muscle, blood and horsehair, support 1,000 pounds of horseflesh.
When racehorses accelerate to 45 mph, they gallop full throttle on broomsticks.
What's the most common mistake made in drawing horses? Making the legs too thick.

Most of us don't see horses every day. I'm not an artist, but I strongly believe that one of the reasons horses are so difficult to draw is that we all have a primal sense of what horses should look like. It's hard to get all the little details right, but we all know when it looks wrong. The horse-human bond goes back to cave paintings. Even today, artists are still drawn to horses, and often asked to draw horses for various assignments.

If you want to draw horses, study horse behavior. For the animated film "Spirit", the horses were given eyebrows to make their faces more expressive. Since real horses lack eyebrows, they express themselves with their ears and their body language.

Horses are large, but they are prey animals. They are always poised for fight or flight. That's one reason they rarely stand with their weight evenly distributed on all four legs, ears pricked foreword. Horses drawn in this type of pose will always read unnaturally to the viewer. The natural position for a horse in repose is to have one hoof slightly raised, resting on the tip, and one or both ears turned to the side, scanning for sounds. The key is, even at rest, to suggest that the horse is only seconds away from motion. Also, horses can't see directly in front of themselves. Their eyes are too far apart for that. And their nostrils are sensitive and expressive, flaring out when they are frightened or at full gallop.

Even urban areas have places to observe horses. Riding stables usually offer group lessons that can be observed from a viewing area. Horse shows include Western riding events from team penning to barrel racing; English show jumping; and Dressage, the horse version of ballet. Dressage is based on the movements that war horses were taught in ancient times, and are great reference for historical battle scenes. Understanding the different riding disciplines, and how skilled riders are centered riders using cues from their bodies and not just tack and artificial aids to direct their mounts, will all add authenticity to your drawings. Horses walk, trot, canter, gallop and pace. They rear up; they roll on their backs to scratch fly bites; they fight; they nuzzle; they even swim.... understanding horse anatomy in action will improve your rendering of all animals.

And you can even get your own authentic, scale replica horse, in a variety of colors and breeds.

This model horse is a classic Breyer model of an arabian stallion.
Model horses are very popular. There are websites devoted to the hobby, which ranges from collecting all the horses produced by a given company, to "customizing" the models (changing their poses, adding tiny saddles and bridles, and other details) and entering them in model horse shows, where the models complete "live" or via photos where the model is displayed in an environment constructed to scale.

Here are some customized model horses:

Okay, maybe I know a little bit too much about all this... but the point is, and... wait for it, it's coming...

A good model horse will cost you about $30, but it's a terrific resource for your studio. Breyer is a great website to start. They've been around forever. They started the whole "model horse show" craze. They produce models in a range of authentic scales, if you're into that sort of thing. And these days, they even list the names of the artists who sculpt their horses. You can buy Breyer horses online or at stores like Toys R Us and JC Penny. Here's the link to the product line at the Breyer website...

And if you always wanted your own real horse, but live in a loft or apartment with only a small balcony, how about a fiberglass horse, (or cow, or whatever) custom painted at 1:1 scale....

In the meantime, start with that broomstick. And keep drawing!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SNB Booth at SDCC 2008

Here's a hint at what it takes to bring you 50 feet of books at SDCC.... it takes these special members of our SNB family to make it possible..... Brandon, Long, Paul, John, Mary, Katrina, Peggy, Don, Joel, Mark, Steve, Eric C, Hawaiian Dave, our interns John & Eric..... these are are people who help us bring you the books, build the booth, and tear it down at the end of the show. Their backs and arms load the truck and move the books from boxes to the shelves and display areas. Thanks also to our many friends who help us staff the booth during show hours. Stuart designs the entire layout of the booth on the computer and to scale on grid paper. It's all about the love folks...... and doing our part to improve world peace through a mutual appreciation of imported and exported sketchbooks!

SDCC 2008 more pics

Here are views of the booth, draped prior to open hours, and with final prep just before the attendees arrive... This year we added a bag check. This allowed our visitors to unburden themselves from sacks and backpacks and enhanced the browsing experience inside the booth. We did have to close the booth briefly from time to time (we had 25 clothespins to check bags, and once they were all used, we'd rope off the entry until we got some clothespins back as patrons finished shopping). Entry is allowed anytime for visitors who don't have bags to check. Our patrons appreciated being able to really view the books on display without being pummeled by backpacks and those notorious "give-away" bags (large enough to stow small pets or my beloved Christian Siriano) that are ubiquitous at the Con these days.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SDCC 2007 Guest Artists

signing at our booth in 2007....

Jakob Jensen

Ashley Wood

left Romain Hugault (Pin-Up Wings), right Renaud Dillies (Betty Blue), center our amazing Darcy N. who speaks fluent French!

Ruben Procopio (with fan Eric Goldberg :)

SDCC 2006 Guest Artists

Here are pics of some of our guest artists from 2006... Enrico Casarosa, Frank Espinosa, Blue Sky artists sigining Out of Picture, Ronnie del Carmen....

Friday, August 8, 2008

get inspired: visit "Tugley Woods" Disney history

At our showroom, or our booth at conventions, artists gather to look at the books and start talking with each other and Stuart about the images, the artists, and what inspires them. You can't help it.... just by being there, you become part of this terrific exchange of information.

I hope to share these educational opportunities with you here on the blog via these posts titled "Get Inspired."

As a longtime book collector, one of the things I miss about the pre-internet days (the list is long, don't get me started), is the learning that went along with building your library. It's not just about acquiring titles you already know about. It's easy to point, click and find a title these days, but as a collector and artist, you really miss out if you don't understand the history behind the artists and images that attract you. With the subject of all things Disney, there's a wealth of resources, and lots to learn too!

Here's a treat for Disney fans...

I've just learned about a terrific blog from Jim Fanning, a writer and Disney historian (thanks to the Loters for this tip :)

here's the link:

Here's info from Jim's introduction:

"You’ve wandered into the topsy-turvy world of Tulgey Wood, the blog of writer and historian Jim Fanning. Tulgey Wood celebrates artistry and creativity (and sometimes just plain madness): movies, animation, TV, books, comics—and of course Disney, lots and lots of true-blue, through-and-through Disney, including Sketches Magazine and the Walt Disney Collectors Society. Tulgey Wood is so fun, fascinating and full of frolicsome photos and facts, it’s scary. So wander through the wonder of it all, and enjoy. "

On Jim's blog right now, terrific info on one of my favorite artists, Mary Blair. Jim's blog also has an amazing list of recommended blogs and websites.

So go get inspired (but come back here soon :)

sam savitt info from Daily Brew 8/13

Here's that saved info from 8/13:

"I watched the Olympic equestrian events on TV last night and was reminded of one of my all-time favorite artists (and a writer too!), Sam Savitt (1917-2000). There's a link to the Sam Savitt website at the start of my blog. We all know horses are the most difficult animals to draw, and Sam was a master, especially of horses in action! I wanted to tell you all about this great poster of his work, that has all kinds of info on horse anatomy, colors & markings, and a terrific series of sequential drawings of the different horse gaits. I'm trying to see if this poster is still available for purchase. Sam's "Draw Horses with Sam Savitt" book is available for sale via the Sam Savitt Estate on Ebay ( -BOOK_W0QQitemZ140237630254QQihZ004QQcategoryZ378QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262 If I'm able to get more info on the horse chart (i hope :), I'll post it here on the blog.

UPDATE: Just heard from Bette Savitt (this web thing is really something, isn't it...) and here's the great news, there are many Sam Savitt posters available online at Half Halt Press (from their home page go to "black horse press: the sam savitt charts"). The Horse Chart is full color, $16.95. Here's the link:

And I learned about something else... "Draw Horses with Sam Savitt By Sam Savitt in chart form, the whole process of drawing horses can be seen at once. He also shows his overlay method of working, and how this can be used to correct mistakes. $11.95 Printed in two colors."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stewardship: Rio Bravo and your crew at SNB

If you don't love movies, skip the movie night posts. If you're a film fan, get ready to enjoy the popcorn...

It seems that all the movies I love have foreshadowed my association with Stuart Ng Books. If you've seen these movies too, they can be your guide to the backstory here as well...

As many of you know, Stuart and I met at film school. He was the smartest one in a group of smart guys who got all the answers right on the tests in the technical classes. I was the slightly witty, mostly chubby girl that sat with the group. These friendships forged at film school are still with us today... the whole point of film school I think. Anyway, the guys I hung out with (including Stuart) could never understand how I got better grades on my student films than they did. Actually, they found it pretty galling. Technically, of course, their films were much better. My films were a mess (they are unwatchable now, trust me).... it was the quirkiness to them that got noticed. If they sparkled at all, it was because of the odd things like giant carrots, not the perfection. And basically that's the dynamic between me and Stuart. He's pretty gosh darn perfect and I'm so... not. If I had the time and talent to write funny personal essays like Annie Lamott's, the title of my collection would be: "If only I was as strong as my coffee"

Like most things, there's a movie that illustrates how we got here from there...

Case in point... Rio Bravo.

Now if, God forbid, you don't know this movie, stop right now and watch it.

A quick recap: this classic Warner Bros western from 1959 has everything going for it. John Wayne personifying the great American Sheriff, hiding his heart of gold behind an aura of gravitas. There's the trade mark banter and whipsnap directing from Howard Hawks. A supporting cast of Dean Martin (don't underestimate him, he's terrific in this), earnest Ricky Nelson, and trusty Walter Brennan as the crusty, dusty sidekick. Of course, every Howard Hawks pic has a gal in the mix who means trouble. In Rio Bravo, it's Angie Dickinson wearing fishnets and running from a wanted poster that has her description on it.

If you know Rio Bravo, you know your cast of characters here at SNB. Well, sort of....

Stuart's the stalwart Sheriff (Stuart's badge is his smile; and he carries art books instead of a rifle). He's got a job to do, and he's the only man in town who can do it. Sure, he'd be content to do it all himself... but the whole point of his character arc in this story is that he has to learn he CAN'T do it alone. Especially as the job gets bigger and bigger (and bigger and bigger and starts involving stuff in French) and could KILL HIM (working till 3 AM most nights...).

Help arrives in the form of Colorado.... the super skilled, super effective, super sidekick gunslinger with the sterling character. That's our Peggy (her nickname around here is "thank god for Peggy"). She's our long-time friend and a former co-worker of Stuart's from back in their days at the USC Cinema Library. Peggy's also a cinema grad. Her arrival last year saved me from a nervous breakdown.

The trio of comic relief characters are reflections of the Sheriff: Dude, the broken down gunslinger seeking redemption; Stumpy, the realist who is always complaining ("what would you do if I wasn't here to throw that dyneemite for yah?") and Feathers, the romantic dream the big guy can't resist even though he doesn't really have the time and she's probably more trouble than she's worth ("I'm just tryin' to help someone who doesn't want any help"). Since we only have 3 people on staff at SNB, I get to play all these comedy roles, often on the same day (but I don't wear costumes. Insert Edna Mode voice here: "No tights.").

When you contact us at we are the people who handle all the details of your inquiry. I just thought you'd like to know who you're dealing with :)

If you love movies like I do.... and surely you must if you've read all this... why not take another look at the movies that have shaped your life and see where it leads you.

Coming soon to our next movie night here at Behind the Scenes at SNB: 101 Black Labrador Retrievers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Stewardship - The Hogwarts Headmasters

At our Comic Con booth, several patrons asked: "where are all the Little Golden Books?" Those items and other gems in the areas of children's books and illustration that were near us last year are from the stellar offerings of our good friends Cliff and Barb Erickson of To and Again Books. Cliff and Barb have often exhibited near us at Comic Con and the Pasadena Book Fair, but moved to Maine, so they missed Comic Con this year (they were at Pasadena this last June).

Cliff and Barb are our contemporaries in age and in many interests, but when it comes to skill, experience, and just plain magic as book dealers and collectors, they are our Hogwarts Headmasters. And let's not forget Barb's legendary Christmas parties, with all the decorations and home-made delights! Wistful sigh... those lucky Moose in Maine!!!

If you are looking for the very best source on the planet for rare and out of print children's books, let me share this secret with you:

Cliff and Barb don't have an open shop or a website. Their location is a version of platform 9 and 3/4, but I have their permission to share it with you here. They are in the League of our League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Ladies, and then some! And hopefully they will be back to Comic Con again with us soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Stewardship - League of extraordinary gentlemen and ladies vol 1

As I mentioned in the post "hand-selling books in the internet age", we were mentored in bookselling by a coterie of friends who continue to be our colleagues.

There are many book sellers who are part of this group, but we are particularly grateful for these 5 gentlemen and 3 ladies:

Bud Plant (, formerly,
Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr./JVJ Publishing, also "Illustrators" page:
Scott Emerson,
Don Cannon,
Robin Greer http://www.robingreer/.com
Anne Hutchison,
Margaret Mannatt
and Koren Emerson.

These extraordinary friends helped Stuart and I build our own personal libraries when we were their customers. They welcomed us into their ranks when we transitioned from book collectors to dealers over a decade ago.

They answered our questions on all phases of the business, steered patrons to us, introduced us to colleagues, and shared their vast knowledge in all areas of the trade. And they still do today.

I appreciate their friendship and support. If you haven't already discovered these incredible resources, I encourage you to visit their websites and booths at shows.

Stewardship - League of extraordinary gentlemen vol 2, the artists

Just when you think there aren't that many real gentlemen left in the world, you get reminded of the goodness of people. Actually, I get that reminder a lot, as our patrons are extraordinarily kind, supportive, honest and helpful. We couldn't be here for over 10 years now without a great community around us.

One of the best perks of my association with Stuart Ng Books is that I get to meet so many of our artist patrons. I'd like to acknowledge this league of extraordinary gentlemen who often visit us at conventions and are so kind to me and all our support staff at shows.

One of the first artists to befriend us was William Stout. The first piece of original art Stuart and I ever purchased was a collaborative effort between us to obtain an original of Bill's. We saw it at a museum show and loved it. Stuart happened to talk with Bill about it at a later time, and Bill first mentioned to us that favorite phrase of ours: "I take installments." After years on the road with a travelling exhibit, our Bill Stout painting came home and is with us today. Being part of that journey has been inspiring and fun. Stuart and Bill share an appreciation for the British artist Harry Rountree. When we launched Stuart Ng Books, Bill was an early promoter of Stuart in the book, art and convention communities.

It's a privilege working with Stuart at our booth at conventions in the last few years, and getting a chance to visit with the likes of a Michael Chabon, Peter de Seve, Matt Groening, John Cassaday, Mark Schultz, Mark Ryden, Lindsay MacGowan and many others. I am especially grateful to Mike Mignola for writing his amazing and generous foreward for our publication of Claire Wendling's Desk.

It has also been a pleasure to promote the wave of self-published sketchbooks by the community of artists at Pixar. Stuart's long association with Ronnie del Carmen, Enrico Cassarosa, and Bill Presing has been an example to us that artists at this level are still seeking inspiration and trying new ventures. Many other Pixar artists are regular patrons. It is really something to be part of the discussions between Stuart and these patrons, and see the exchange of information about art and artists. Even at the level of success of a Pixar, artists still want to find to a well of inspiration to draw from (no pun intended) and keep moving forward. The fact they come to us humbles me.

Hosting signings at our booth allows the interaction between our patrons and the many guest artists who have joined us at Comic Con over the years. From our first guest artist Peter de Seve, to our first French guest Pierre Alary, to this year's signings with Eric Goldberg, Ricardo Delgado, and Ben Balisteri, we continue to see a growing recognition of the level of work these artists produce by an audience that is also expanding.

We were recently honored to be part of the debut of the long-awaited animation how-to book by Eric Goldberg. Both Eric and Susan have been long time patrons of Staurt Ng Books. I was deeply touched by Eric's kind mention of us in his list of acknowledgements at the preface of the book. Seeing Eric's success with his book is another example of the intangible rewards we get to be a small part of. Stuart's lifelong passion to promote animation art has helped him be the common link between different resources for projects like this.

All these artists who have befriended and supported Stiart are the leading talents in their field. They are also still looking to learn.... from each other and from the artists that came before them. It's so refreshing to share in this spirit. Their charming manners and an unassuming style that help me feel comfortable while helping them . We are lucky to be in such gracious company.

get inspired: visit "blackwing diaries"

"Get inspired:" is a series of posts where I'll try to share some of the synergy that happens at the Stuart Ng Books showroom. During open hours, we never know who is going to show up. Lots of times, artists run into colleagues at our showroom, and the next thing you know there's a conversation about all things inspiring. It's an example of the sort of serendipity that used to happen at the old brick and mortar bookstores and is hard to replicate on the web, but we'll see how this goes.

I'm fairly new to blogging, but I'm a big fan of Jenny Lerew's "Blackwing Diaries" Not only is Jenny a great artist, she's a historian of all things animation, including the legends surrounding the Blackwing pencil! Link is

I first discovered Jenny's blog back in 2006. That was the year Chris Sanders first appeared at Comic Con. His sketchbook was in great demand and of course there was the usual scramble for it after the con. Chris had provided us copies to sell after the con, so they would be readily available to his fans worldwide. We had many orders off our website, but a big wave of orders came to us with the message that they learned about the sketchbook and us from a post on Blackwing Diaries. I appreciated the fact that the referral was a "win,win" for everyone, as I really do feel our mission is to try our best to make that connection between fans, artists, and collectors. It's fun to be in the "wish fulfillment" business, and help get sketchbooks and books into the hands of people who can't make it to conventions. Jenny did us, Chris, and fans and professionals a great favor by mentioning us in her blog and letting people know that the book was available from us at a set retail price.

please comment on our cozy alley at comic con

We had a new booth design at Comic Con this year (described in one visitor's blog as "the cozy alley of Stuart Ng Books"). Please share your feedback on the changes.
Last year, everyone was pummeled by backpacks and oversized bags while trying to look at the books. Our goal with the new bag check-in and layout was to improve your browsing experience inside the space. By limiting the access when the booth got crowded, we were trying to keep the interior booth area comfortable and keep the cashiers from getting too backed up. We have some ideas for next year on how to improve the traffic flow and simplify the bag check. Several patrons asked if we had the same size booth as last year. The answer is, yes, we had the same 5 booth set up. However, this year we went vertical with the wire grid. This allowed us to display artwork and a raised shelf of books. Also, with the grid, we were able to eliminate one of the rows of tables, which made the interior aisle of the booth wider. Finally, Tina Price and Rik Maki at Digital or Not were kind enough to host our guest artist signings at their end-cap booth, so we didn't have to re-arrange our set-up for each signing like in years past. Stuart kills himself designing these layouts... with to scale diagrams and doing a dress rehearsal set-up of the booth in our office so he can take pictures on how to lay out all the sketchbooks on the tables. We tear down all the shelves, tables and other fixtures from our office and re-build them in the booth, which is one of the reasons we're behind on emails this week, as we are restoring the office and trying to resume regular operations ASAP.

Friday, August 1, 2008

POV shot: some favorite links, cool designs

There will be more of this sort of post, but here are some links I'd like to share. I hope you enjoy them too, and end up finding something you weren't looking for... (I'm not really a cat person, but I love these designs and this artist) (good friends, good folks, super cool stuff!!... check out their incredible kids menu and activity book for the Fish House restaurants) (just out of art school. I hate young people) (Brianne is an accomplished artist & character designer. She has great tips for young artists on her website and is very supportive of her young fans ... now that's cool). (Alina... a long time favorite of mine. I call her "baby Claire" for all the best reasons) (Mike knows that everyone can draw, and you just have to keep drawing. He is one of the most inspiring people I know, and not just because he drew a great picture of Frasier for me )

POV shot: ashcans and albums

As I've mentioned in prior posts, the opinions expressed here are my own, not Stuart's. From time to time, I'll post "POV shots".... my commentary on certain elements of our business or the industry in general. And I'd like to hear your opinions too.

Here's my POV on artist sketchbooks, ashcans and albums:

We were among the first booksellers to carry the self-published artist sketchbooks. You can find more about that on the "sketchbook" page on our website.

If you are thinking of doing a sketchbook, you can find a page of Stuart's tips on that on our website as well.

From my POV, the early ashcan books, humble productions, usually done at a kinkos or on a home printer, and chock full of little doodles and other personal sketches are gems! I love seeing a more personal side to the artists work. The format also works well for shipping... most can be dropped into a flat rate mailer with cardboard reinforcement, so filling orders is quick and easy.

You can go more high end and still retain these benefits from the ashcan format. Just look at the Chris Sanders vol 2 sketchbook, and the ashcan size books produced by Adam Hughes. Those books do really well for us for obvious reasons... but the format and price point helps too!

Albums are the french import comics. This format is an oversize hardcover that's very slick and impressive. With the success of the ashcan books, some artists started moving to a "album" type format for their sketchbook. The first breakout book in this category was the Jose Lopez "Mariachi Samurai"... a killer sketchbook in any format due to content, but a trailblazer in this new style as it was an impressive book for the $25 price point. Around the same time, artist Alberto Ruiz launched the Brand Studio books, which use the album style format and are the same $25 price point.

Personally, I much prefer the ashcan books over the album style.

For real "studio" use, not collecting, the ashcan style just works better. The ashcan books are an easy price point at $10 - $15 dollars. They don't feel so "precious", so you can toss them in a backpack or portfolio and carry around for reference. And they are easy to ship all over the world for a flat rate.

And on the retail end, if we're selling the book or you want to sell it yourself, a $10 - $15 dollar book will ALWAYS sell more copies than higher price point item.

The album style books are beautiful. They look great on a shelf.... but if you aren't careful with the layout, images can get lost in the binding in the center. With the album style books, it's harder to buy a big stack of them... for price issues, as well as lugging around a con, or shipping. A fistful of ashcans can be wrapped in a grocery bag.

While we are known for pristine copies of books that appeal to collectors, I am personally a fan of what we call "studio copies"... the lower priced, more beat-up item that can really be thumbed through and used. For various reasons, we couldn't make a living selling just studio copies of items, but I think the ashcan books are a good compromise.

I know I'm an anchor in a motor boat world, but let's keep the ashcans around for awhile.