Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Signature Sketches: When I started signing Mouse Guard books, I did a little mouse sketch next to my signature in each hardcover as a nice "thank you" to anyone who bought it and/or lugged it to a show for me to sign it. Now, with 3 hardcovers, an RPG, and the Fall B&W ed. I can't keep up with doing a doodle in every one. At a recent signing I saw the line backing up, and me rushing through the doodles (therefore making them a bit sloppier than I'd like). So I have a solution:

Annual print-stamps: I will hand carve a stamp each year and in lieu of the mouse doodle, I'll stamp your book. This will also mean that I can re-stamp it the following year with the new stamp if you like. While I wish I could do an individual doodle for everyone, I just can't anymore. So this stamp is a better quality image, that I still handmade and will stamp myself (and sign) in every hardcover you bring me. I plan to only do custom doodles on request in the oversized B&W limited books.

Stamp process: I started with a doodle in my sketchbook of a random mouse with a sword. I scanned the doodle, added the '2011' date, resized it to fit my stamp material, and them mirrored the entire image before I printed it out. The mirroring is so that when the image is stamped into your book, the date and design will be facing the right direction. I scribbled with a soft lead pencil over the back of the image so that I could transfer it to the stamp material.

The base material for the stamp is Speedball's Speedy-Carve. It's a linoleum substitute printmaking students can use that is easier to carve. It is also soft enough that you can use the carving like a stamp instead of a block print (where the paper must be applied to the block and then rubbed to get the final print.) Placing my design print-out over the material and retracing it, I got a graphite transfer on the Speedy-Carve. I then used a permanent marker to firm up the lines and make sure I didn't rub them off as I handled the material.

Just like I would carve a block print, I carefully carved into the Speedy-Carve with my woodcutting chisel. The idea is to cut away all the white space leaving only the areas you want to print. I covered another example of this printmaking process called 'relief printing' in a previous post. At this stage I also decided to add a series of lines to the background, something the eye would interpret as an optically mixed grey.

Using a stamping ink pad, I was able to make the print on paper by just using the Speedy-Carve block like a rubber stamp. The final 'prints' will all be a bit unique where the ink transfer wasn't perfect, but I tend to like those imperfections, as they will also make everyone's stamped books a bit more unique.

*UPDATE: I was unable to find an ink that would both dry fast enough and also not gum up the stamp in-between uses. So the quick signature doodles remain*

2011 Appearances

Phoenix Comic Con: May 26-29

Cherry Capital Con: June 25-26

San Diego Comic Con: July 20-24

Baltimore Comic Con: Aug. 20-21

New York Comic Con: Oct. 14-16


Denver Brubaker said...

A very unique, inventive, and cool solution, David!

Norby Ela said...

great idea, sir.

Gene Ha said...

Expect to get this idea stolen. A grateful comics arts world thanks you.

Jennifer B. said...

What an awesome idea, printmaking FTW!

Mayhem said...

Great idea David, looking forward to getting the Legends h/c stamped with this :)

Bo said...

Heck, I'd almost rather have a stamp in my B&W Limited Edition than a sketch (not that those are unwanted). Nice work on the carving.

Brandon said...

Great idea! Can't wait to get my book stamped at New York in October!

If anyones interested Ive started a twitter for Mouse Guard related news.
Find it here http://twitter.com/#!/MouseGuardNews

Id appreciate any suggestions or submissions too!

Unknown said...

Thought I could leave the hardcovers at home for Motor City, guess not. Great idea!

Anonymous said...

Dear David

I was wondering if you are planning a trip to Toronto for a book signing or convention?

- Luis

CraftyAndy said...

That is awesome. Do you intend on selling them afterward? Well either way see you at motor city comic con, I 'll be sure to get my books stamped.

Jake said...

I dig it. Do we know when the next b&w hardcover will ship? The date keeps moving.

Miggy said...

Yep, terrific idea. Particularly groovy with the how-it-was-made bit.

Faff said...

As far as I can tell Speedball's Speedy-carve is known as speedy stamp in the UK and is pretty easily available. For those who think this is a totally cool idea and want to use it for anything.

Michael said...

Something in that style would make a great book plate.

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