Posted on by Jordan Hurder

We've turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for our Kim Deitch project, hopefully debuting later this year at the SPX festival in Maryland. Head over here to help make this project a reality! 

More Farber | Es Progress

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

We're really getting close now... here are some photos from this weekend's work session. More to come tomorrow! 

Click photos to scroll through the slideshow. 


Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Chance Press, in its current form, has hit a wall. The first problem is that, due to our mission of doing everything in-house and (where possible) by hand, we can’t offer artists the exposure that they need. Why would someone give us work for an edition of 50 copies, when they could Kickstart a book themselves and produce 2000, get them into bookstores, sell at cons, etc? It’s a wise business decision NOT to work with us. The second problem is that there is so much stuff we want to publish that we aren’t able to, since we just can’t produce at the level that would sustain multiple releases per year. We both work full-time at demanding jobs, and Chance Press is a money-losing labor of love that we do at night and on the weekends. My natural enthusiasm causes me to take on too many projects, which then stresses me out about how much work I have to do, which leads to procrastination, which leads to release dates getting pushed back. Our sporadic release schedule in turn lowers our profile, since people forget about us in the long stretches in between when we release books.

I’m incredibly proud of our fancy books, starting with Scribbles in a Sandstormthree years ago, continuing with Some are Young and Some are Free in 2011/12 (yes, we worked on this one for over a year), Furlqump, and soon,Neil Farber | Carol Es. However, if we continued to run Chance Press as we have in the past, I fear that it would run itself into the ground, which wouldn’t be any good for our collectors, the artists we’ve published, or our own well-being. 

In thinking about how to change the format of our press, I also started thinking about what we can add to the world of small press publishing. The way I see it, there are a lot of publishers who are artist-centric. They produce editions with high print runs in order to drive exposure for their artists, and they are often times run by artists. What I don’t see as much is publishers who are collector-centric. People tend to be cynical about editions catered to collectors - they’re needlessly expensive, they’re manufacturing rarity, etc. I disagree, mainly because I am a collector before anything else (publisher, book-maker, leprechaun, etc.), and I truly appreciate when publishers pull out all the stops to make books that are uncommonly beautiful. Building Stories, check. The hardcover edition of Big Questions, check. Everything released by Fulgencio Pimentel, check. I view these collectors editions as celebrations of art, of book art, and of people who keep artists rolling in dough (since artists are all rolling in dough) by spending their money on this stuff.

I make books that I want to own, period. 

That simple mission statement needs to drive what Chance Press does in the future. Rather than trying to figure out how to market better so we can become an artist-centric press and get into the game of providing exposure for new artists, or changing our business model so we can do runs of thousands of copies like Yam Books or Uncivilized, we’re going to think smaller, fancier, more expensive, etc. Anything else isn’t playing to our strengths as much as it is playing to my idea of what a successful publisher is. We’re going to come up short every time if we try to be Yam Books, because that isn’t what we’re good at. 

So, the announcement: Neil Farber | Carol Es will be the last art book published under the old pattern of releasing a book whenever we happen to be done with it. Going forward, Chance Press will consist of an annual book art project, released in the fall to coincide with the Fall/Winter convention season. Each book will be extremely limited, very expensive, and designed for obsessive collectors like me. 

The 2013 edition is already halfway done: Blast Furnace Funnies by Frank Santoro. If you’ve been following this blog for a little while, you’ve seen the scale we’re talking about - five large format copies, each one meticulously printed, assembled, and bound by hand in our El Cerrito apartment. Only three copies are left for sale at this point, so if you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor, I’d advise shooting us an email to express your interest. 

Although each book will be totally unique, the annual release will include a book about the production of the book that will stay in the same format year-to-year in order to add continuity. I’m already kicking around proposals for the 2014 project, and I’m certainly interested in hearing your ideas. Also, if you’re interested in being on the list to have first crack at these annual releases, just email us: books at chancepress dot com.

 (One note: this all applies to the side of Chance Press that publishes fancy art books. There's still the (somewhat dormant) side of the press that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays, and that side isn't going away. In fact, streamlining the art books via an annual release schedule will free us up to publish MORE little books. What it does mean, however, is that you will likely no longer see books like Furlqump, which were published in multiple editions of escalating complexity.)


Neil Farber | Carol Es - Progress!

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Well, this spring has been unexpectedly busy for non-book reasons, so our output has been expectedly slow. But! We're working! Here is a photo of the first fully-bound version of our Neil Farber | Carol Es book that will be available early next month. This copy is missing the cover plates, which are still being designed. Otherwise, this is how they will look.

Here are some deets: 
-Bound in a single 33" long sheet of Fabriano Murillo mould-made paper.
-Stab-bound by hand with waxed linen thread in two opposing sections.
-Sports a spiffy cover plate of an original image printed either letterpress or silkscreen (TBD) on jet-black Japanese Kozo handmade paper.
-Includes 16 new & unpublished ink and watercolor drawings by each artist plus an original title page plate. 15 drawings are digital prints on Hammermill 80lb cover stock, and one drawing plus the title plate are printed using archival pigment ink on Canson Mi-Tientes paper.

-Includes an archival pigment ink print on Cason Etching Rag of a collaborative drawing by both artists. This is a big deal (trust me).
-Signed by both artists (as is the collaborative print).

Limitation: 30 copies, 18 for sale.







(Click the images below to scroll through the gallery.) 

We're silly.

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

According to this book collecting blog, it is "silly" to designate a small number of limited edition copies out of an already small print run, and the writer kindly cites our book of poems by Joan Jobe Smith as an example. It's just something publishers do to generate extra money from their stupid collectors who actually care about crap like limited edition books. I've heard this before, and it never gets old, believe me. Thanks for your normative statements, blog writer. Let's not forget that the $10 we charged for the book pictured in the article just about paid for the fancy paper the book was bound in. We're really living large on the backs of our collectors, we are. Still, we've realized that we should stop being silly, and all further releases from Chance Press will be printed in large runs in economically priced editions, since we wouldn't want to defraud collectors by making our books "artificially scarce." 

Laser-cut Bookboard!

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

One of the perks of my new job is that I have access to a laser cutter that I can use to cut bookboard into precise shapes. For anyone unfamiliar with bookboard, it isn’t like cardboard, thick paper, or illustration board - it’s incredibly dense, made up of layers of different materials mashed together into a rigid board. Cutting even mid-weight bookboard by hand is nearly impossible, and the shape you see here would take hours and multiple x-acto blades and still not look nearly as good as this one. (In case you were curious, this board will make up the cover of the Carol Es | Neil Farber deluxe edition we’re working on.)

Photo on 12-13-12 at 9.49 PM.jpg

Frank Santoro Process Post #2

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Well, last night's experiment with different types of paper was a rousing success. The gray Rives BFK paper treated with digital ground approximates the look and feel of newsprint while still allowing crisper and more saturated colors. This is exactly what I was going for... plus, it means that I can use Rives BFK for this book, which is just about the most luxurious paper around. (Sure, there are fully handmade papers that are nicer, but no other mass-produced paper approximates BFK's soft face, uniformity, and workability.)


Here, you see the original newsprint comic in large format, with three tests on the right. The top is Rives BFK, the middle is Rives Heavyweight (which is actually lighter weight than BFK), and the bottom is Arches Aquarelle digital art paper. The Heavyweight paper is nice, but it is too cream/yellow colored, which oversaturates the colors. The Arches prints look great on their own, but next to the newsprint, it's clear that the white color is too vibrant for this project. While the BFK isn't exactly the same shade as the newsprint, the gray color cools off some of the eye-popping magenta tones, which will be especially important on the pages where this is the dominant color.


Here is the first full-size test print. I'll be printing the book on 13" x 19" sheets and then cutting them down to 11" x 17" since painting on digital ground can cause the edges to warp a little bit, which causes the print head to leave black trails around the edges. It didn't happen on the print above, but it's inevitable when working with these materials, so this way I'll be able to trim off the edges to clean up the prints before I glue them into the book. I'm so excited about the above print that I want to get Frank to sign it so I can frame it on its own. I'm not excited about individually treating  112 sheets with digital ground, but I know I won't be happy with the book otherwise. (Plus, this will be marginally cheaper than buying pre-treated paper, as long as you don't count the estimated  12-15 hours it will take as having any monetary value.)

Frank Santoro Process Post #1

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

For Blast Furnace Funnies, the printing is critical. The way the main edition is printed, and even the ephemerality of the surface (newsprint), is tied directly to the content of the comic, so I need to be very careful about how I choose to render the book in the deluxe edition. The artwork files Frank sent are flawless, so it would be very easy for me to pick up a bunch of packages of Canson Edition Etching Rag (my favorite digital art paper) and start running prints. The problem is that they would look too perfect. The point of this project isn't to fix anything wrong with the newsprint comic, but rather to commit it to a more permanent medium that celebrates the comic's awesomeness in the presentation.

So, here are the first six test prints I did. I'm running these as 4" x 6" mini-prints before I move to the full 11" x 17" size. You can't tell the difference in the pictures (except for the top left print with an "X" through it, since my printer was running out of magenta ink for that one), but rest assured, I have been examining them closely to find the best paper and ink profile for the job. There are so many things to consider here - for instance, the print on the bottom right is probably the closest to what I'm trying to achieve due to the creamy-colored paper that warms up and softens a lot of the colors in the artwork, but that paper has a unique honeycomb texture that looks altogether too uniform and orderly for the artwork. A slight watercolor paper texture is okay, as long as it appears random.


The problem here is that almost all digital art papers are some degree of white, since inkjet coating is always white. If i want to approximate the feeling of newsprint, I'm going to need to get more creative. One thing I have done in the past is incorporate digital ground, which is a thin white coating that prevents the ink from being absorbed into the paper. (If you try to print with pigment ink onto untreated paper, it will blot into the paper and look fuzzy and washed out.) Digital ground dries white, but if you don't apply multiple coats, you still get some of the paper showing through, so I picked up a couple types of paper that are darker than what I actually want, hoping that maybe the paper + the digital ground will be the right shade. I tried a couple tests on cream-colored Rives printmaking paper and gray Rives BFK paper, spreading the ink on with a foam silkscreen brayer, and we'll see how the pages turn out when they're done drying. It's almost impossible to get a uniform coating with digital ground, so some brush strokes will always be visible. That might be okay, though - the goal is to make sure the prints don't look too perfect, and some evidence of the handmade nature of this edition could complement the comic just like the newsprint does in the main edition. We'll see when I run the test prints tomorrow.


Scribbles in a Sandstorm - SOLD OUT!

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Well, tonight we sold our last copy of Scribbles in a Sandstorm, the artist book we published with Carol Es in 2010. This book meant so much to us for many reasons (not least of which is that it making it occupied over a year of my life), and I'm a little sad that all of our copies are gone. 

If you still want a copy of the book, there is one available online at Vamp & Tramp booksellers. Once that copy is gone, the only availability will be through resellers.