Why We Love What We Do: Francois Vigneault

By | on May 4, 2012 | 0 Comment

Francois Vigneault is editor at an innovative and maverick press, Scout Books / Good Ink, which is based in cool, counter-cultural and utterly green Portland, one of my favorite places. I have to thank Francois for bringing his press to my attention. His WWLWWD is below.

Why We Love What We Do – François Vigneault – Scout Books | Good Ink

Pinball Publishing | Scout Books headquarters in SE Portland, OR.

I’m delighted to be heading up Scout Book’s new Good Ink imprint, which is the literary and publishing side of Scout Books, a part of Pinball Publishing (lots of layers here!). I started here doing production, and now I focus solely on editorial work to grow our publishing side with Good Ink while still Scout Books continues to make our  great notebooks and custom projects.

Good Ink grew out of the Scout Book format, a pocket-sized, efficient, and all-around great format that was developed in 2009 to offer as a marketplace for custom notebooks and books. We’ve had a great response from the public, who loved the ability to easily create their own pocket notebooks and books. During the summer of 2011 we began discussing releasing more original content under the Scout Books banner, and the Good Ink imprint was born. The goal for us is to both publish work we are excited about and to inspire other creators to expand their ideas of what the Scout Book format can do.

Me with the press sheet for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” with art by Eleanor Davis

Our focus with Good Ink thus far has been on matching up classic short stories in the public domain with contemporary artists to create a unique, on-the-go reading experience. We started off with a ten-part series of American Shorts, since we pride ourselves on producing these books in the U.S.A. and love to highlight the best that America has to offer. With that in mind, we selected stories from over a century of work, from Washington Irving (“Rip Van Winkle”) to F. Scott Fitzgerald (“The Jelly-Bean”) with many stops in between. Most of these public domain stories had long been on my personal “favorites” list, such as the ultra-creepy mini-masterpiece “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; but in seeking out stories that would fit the small format of the Scout Book I was delighted to discover new tales like the hilarious “Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain that turned out to be lesser-known gems and have now made their way onto that ever-expanding list. Our newest releases are expanding the Great Shorts line, looking to the best classic short literature in a variety of genres and from all over the world. Our new releases for Spring 2012 include Fantastic Tales, which draws from the world’s fables, folktales, fairy tales, including works by Oscar Wilde and the Brother Grimm, and History of Mystery, a trio of immortal detective tales from Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and G. K. Chesterton.

Sketch and final illustration by Roman Muradov for “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe

With my background in comics (I’m a cartoonist myself and have long worked with creators in the field), I was able to tap into an amazing pool of talent to illustrate these books; and each artist really added something to each story, creating a sort of creative collaboration across the decades with each classic author. Some of the pairings just made sense, like matching the animal portraits of Ryan Berkeley with Aesop’s “Fables,” or having Roman Muradov’s elegant 19th century aesthetic grace the pages of the seminal mystery “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe. Others match-ups have had a delightful artistic friction between the prose and the illustrations, such as the combination of Jack London’s grim survival tale “To Build A Fire” with Michael C. Hsiung’s detailed and hilarious drawing style.

Pages from “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” with art by Eleanor Davis

Even more so than the chance to publish my favorite classic authors, the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented illustrators and cartoonists has been amazing fun. Each artist brings his or her own style and vision to the project, and the final book that emerges can make even a familiar text pop with energy that is unique to the Good Ink project. I just finished doing the layouts for the Fantastic Tales, and I’m particularly pleased with how “The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Stories” by the Brothers Grimm turned out. Eleanor Davis (The Secret Science Alliance) kept sending me more and more drawings, and the final book ended up with little illustrations on almost every page; Eleanor’s art adds a whole other layer to these classic tales, which is of course our goal with the whole Great Shorts project. I can’t wait to get started on our future titles!

In addition to our literary titles, we’ve got some big plans to expand our publishing arm into doing guides and other sorts of titles as well. First up is The Cocktail Hour, which is a series of spirit-specific pocket guides for the home or professional bartender, featuring dozens of recipes from some of the best bartenders, distillers, and cocktail-savvy folks out there. The first three titles will be the trio of Rum, Vodka, and Gin. Each volume is just jam-packed with recipes from cover to cover, including sub-recipes for infused liquors and homemade bitters; and just like the Great Shorts books, each volume of The Cocktail Hour is lovingly hand-illustrated (the artists for Rum, Vodka, and Gin are Tuesday Bassen, Anna Hurley, and Trevor Alixopulos, respectively).

And of course, a huge reason why I love what I do is the chance to work with such and amazing small team. Since everything we do at Scout Books is handled in-house, from the editorial work I do straight through to design and production of the books, everyone here at Scout Books gets the chance to understand and contribute to our continuing success in a really community-minded way, we really are like a family. And you’ve gotta love that. Below I’ve included a nice little video my colleague Andrea Raiger made showing some of our team at work on the production of “Rip Van Winkle,” which featured the art of our long-time friend Bwana Spoons.

Scout Books & Bwana Spoons: The Making of Rip Van Winkle from Scout Books on Vimeo.



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