Good morning. How are you? How was your weekend?

Yesterday was my birthday and I decided to give myself a gift: I finished the book portion of the impending multimedia extravaganza that is 100 DAYS OF MONSTERS. I worked until 4.30am to adjust all the little details that were in need of adjustment, pressed print, and went to bed, exhausted but proud. When I woke up, I went through the stack of pages. I saw the monsters and they were good.

Here are a few pictures from today’s season finale:


As you can see, the pages—original (front) and revised (back)—are held together by big, beautiful elephant clips. After I mentioned a shortage in the binder clip department a few days ago, longtime monster friend Sam Berkes sent a surprise care package. Thank you, Sam!


Of course, when I reviewed the printouts, I did see a few systemic kerning issues that needed further action. On top of that, a few problems had emerged overnight. As I flattened all the monster images I noticed that the scans were a little bit too soft for me. (I like my monsters crisp.) So I batch processed the files with a smart sharpen effect. This worked out great, except that the sharpening also beefed up the dust particles on some of the scans, making them quite visible in some instances. So today I got to clean the dust off of about 20 monsters. With a 6 pixel healing brush. Fun, fun, fun!

Did I mention the missing markers yet? The printer needs my files broken up into 20MB chunks that are then reassembled in an InDesign Book file. With guidance from Grace the Art Director this worked out swimmingly. Except for images of markers I have bleeding off the edges of some of the spreads. For some reason, InDesign decided that markers on the far left edge of the left page belonged on the far right edge of the following right page. I didn’t notice this until late this afternoon—after I had deleted all the errand marker images that had popped up in the file. “Where are all these extra marker files coming from? Sheesh! Delete–delete–delete!” So I had to go back to the master file, retrieve the little buggers, and restore them to their proper place.

What have we learned from all this? Books are fractal. There are always more fiddly bits to tend to. For all the time I spent on this book already, I could easily spend as much again to make decisions about an even more intricate level of details. Every change you make opens up the possibility of having to make that change consistent throughout the book. (Kerning the dates differently comes to mind, for example.) In the end, it comes down to making a decision: Are the changes making the product perceptibly better? Or have you gone to grouping the angels on the head of a pin by wingspan?

Where did I draw the line? I don’t know. Is it the perfect book? Of course not. But I think it’s a fun book, and an honest, loving attempt to represent a living website on the printed page.

Don’t let the griping about all the work fool you, either. This is what I do, and I love it. Life is messy, confusing, and doesn’t always yield to our desires, no matter how hard we work to make it so. By contrast, design (even more so than illustration) is reliable. It’s an entirely artificial construct that rewards concentrated effort. The more work you put in, the more beauty comes out. Where else do you get that kind of return on investment?

As it is, I’ve already signed on to design a new photo book for the brilliant Jona Frank. I’m cooking up two new skunk works books with a friend, and a third of my own. I’m still determined to put out the Upstairs Neighbors book somehow. And a new poster is forming in my head. (Help!) In the meantime, Kenn and Tim are still working on the DVD. And then there’s the joy of color proofing. But it’s all getting there. I wish I could show the whole thing to you now, but we’ll both have to wait until the end of February.

As far as the page files, I packed them up and showed them the door at five minutes to midnight, paused on my porch to throw a handful of POP-ITS snappers to exorcise the nasty ghosts of my last year, and walked to the FedEx drop box at my local post office.

This part is done.

Now it’s on to what’s next.


A few things for your calendar:

Please save the date: The weekend of March 1st/2nd will be my 34.4th birthday. This is within days of the book’s release, and a mere month and 6 days before the 10th anniversary of the 344 Empire. I think all of that calls for a party of some sort, don’t you? We’ll have to figure out a way to celebrate. Please stay tuned.

More immediately, the first Daily Monster-enabled Halloween is coming up. What should we do to mark the occasion? Let me know what you’d like to see. The request lines are open!

Lastly, November 19th marks the first anniversary of the Daily Monsters. We’ll have to think of some fun things to celebrate that one, too. If you have any thoughts on that one, please let me know.


Right now, it’s so very much time for bed. I hope you’ll have a great day. And, man.. you gotta know that 344 LOVES YOU


  • 9 October 2007 4:40 am

    Lieber Stefan,
    all the best, a lot of fun, a good work/fun work with some personal life in between balance and more is what I wish you for the next very attractive year of your life.
    About a year ago, when the Daily Monster started, I had to get up some minutes earlier than usual to get a glimpse of the monster before getting off to studies. Thank you so much! It was the best reason to get up early. Ever!

  • 9 October 2007 5:44 am

    Where to begin? HAPPY BIRTHDAY! a day late.
    The other place to get that creative reward is in quilting….*S*…and there is never the perfect quilt, either. But what a rush giving it a try.
    For Halloween, I really hope someone can come up with a monster costume for themselves or a child. If I had one handy around here (a child), I’d be working on that. Or if a monster were come to my door tricking…..(I can’t see them treating) what fun that would be!
    Lots of things to look forward too. Oh, and they make great colored binder clips now, you know? I have some smaller ones in four colors; got them somewhere online.

  • 9 October 2007 7:14 am

    Happy late birthday Stefan! I’m glad the elephant clips came of some use. Wow, so much to digest today, I think my head exploded a little. A 34.4th birthday/book release/344 anniversary party sounds amazing too. Hope I can make it somehow.

  • 9 October 2007 7:28 am

    Happy Birthday, Stefan! Wish I were out your way so I could drop in on your 34.4th!
    Looking forward to the book, absolutely.

  • 9 October 2007 2:17 pm

    Oh my gosh! Happy Birthday, Stefan (a day late).
    And congrats on getting your book done, whew.

  • 9 October 2007 8:42 pm

    Congratulations! What a glorious feeling. What a stupendous feat. SO looking forward to smelling the pages of my very own copy.

  • 12 October 2007 2:08 pm

    Sorry, got nothing more profound to type other than, happy belated birthday my friend. Much love

  • 19 October 2007 9:24 pm

    oooooh I’m just jumping back in after a long absentia –
    happy happy birthday to you!
    and that was really cool for SamB to send you a care package
    and I cannot believe (well yes I can) how busy you’ve been and how much you’ve done and you still sit down and write us all about it!
    thank you!
    happy birthday again 🙂

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