A Comic Book History of Printing

 When I started doing this blog, I assumed that I’d be talking about the work of other people – that legion of writers and artists who have been cranking out Government publications since the dawn of the Republic. Now here I am, almost six months later, getting ready to write about a publication that I scripted myself – a comic book, no less!

Squeaks Discovers Type: How Print Has Expanded Our Universe is the first comic book that GPO has ever created in toto, from the initial concept and design through its publication a couple of weeks ago. Why a comic book? Because we think that the story of printing, which is really the story of the profound impact of printing on the dissemination of information worldwide, needs to be better understood, especially in the context of a digital age. Although our comic book is aimed at kids, its message is for everybody.

When I was asked to develop a script for a comic book, my first thought was “Okay, I’ve never done this before – how do I come up with a concept?” Fortunately, I have two sons who always preferred playing video games to doing their homework – what an inspiration! An unwanted homework assignment, a new video game, a dream, and a journey through space and time – I had nailed down a concept, which for me was the toughest part of my job.

Once I sketched out the plot and wrote some initial dialogue, I turned the project over to my colleague Nick Crawford, GPO Creative Services Visual Information Specialist and amazingly talented artist. I explained the concept to Nick and suggested some kind of cute animal video game hero. He came up with Squeaks the Space Pirate and – let’s face it –  Squeaks is one cute mouse!

After lots of hard work on Nick’s part, I went through his layout and crafted additional dialogue around the gorgeous images he’d drawn, then conferred with him to iron out the glitches. For my part, it was an unprecedented collaboration with an artist, and one that went amazingly well – who said writers and artists can’t get along?! For more about how we developed the comic book, check out this video.

The result, Squeaks Discovers Type, is, I hope, a fun read that conveys some good information and sets printing in its proper place in history for kids of all ages. You can see more of the artwork here.

18 Responses to A Comic Book History of Printing

  1. شات الشله says:

    I share some of @bmossop’s concerns. I look forward to some two way communication on this blog

    Like

  2. شات الشله says:

    hello…
    Sounds like the little guy may become a huge hit in the not-too-distant future. You and Nick are sure to discover the treasure with this cute “Space Pirate”.

    It would be good to see a cartoon out of this as well.

    Like

  3. Don says:

    haha that looks awesome

    Like

  4. […] Squeaks: A Comic Book History of Printing […]

    Like

  5. balustrady says:

    Awesome Post: http://govbooktalk.gpo.gov/2010/09/13/a-comic-book-history-of-printing/. You do a very good job. Thanks again. balustrady

    Like

  6. henryjames230 says:

    G’Day! Govbooktalk,
    Thanks for the info, I have been printing t shirts with art constructed by myself and a few other individuals. I fairly recently started a new sequence of print hints working with textures and photos to build small abstract collages. I was curious about if I were to use art in art heritage texts and comic guides and many others. would violate any type of intellectual home law or a little something like that. I’ve don’t had any legitimate reason to be worried about something like this so the most detailed and readily available resource the superior.
    Good Job!
    H J

    Like

  7. RG says:

    Pretty interesting. I’ll have to show this to the kids. Anything is good that exposes them to different stuff, and the printed word is interesting to me, at least.

    Like

  8. Rob Lopresti says:

    Squeaks just arrived in our university library and is now on display on the New Government Documents shelf of our Interdisciplinary Children’s Literature collection.

    The text reminded me of one of my favorite books, When They Severed Earth From Sky by Barber and Barber. They point out, like Squeak, that preliterate society was limited to only what people could remember. they go on to argue that mythology was an attempt to make important information memorable. “Don’t go near that mountain because a god lives under it and spits fire…”

    Like

    • govbooktalk says:

      Thanks for the spotlight. I’m not familiar with When They Severed Earth From Sky, so I’ll have to find out more. It’s interesting to reflect on something that is in many ways so familiar, like printing. I “knew” a lot of what’s in Squeaks, but it made me tie things together in my head while I was working on the storyline. Maybe it will make me more comfortable with the digital reading experience (ebooks) if I remember that the format can and does change over time, but the message still gets through to the reader — which is what it’s all about.

      Like

  9. Aimee Jones says:

    Sounds like the little guy may become a huge hit in the not-too-distant future. You and Nick are sure to discover the treasure with this cute “Space Pirate”.

    It would be good to see a cartoon out of this as well.

    Like

  10. K. Much says:

    How do I get a copy of Squeaks?

    Like

  11. Susan James says:

    Great work guys! I’ll add the link to my “Kids Page” on my website.

    Like

  12. kevin creighton says:

    I used to run a small gagrage print shop from jr-college, AB Dick 360 offset press.. Just so much of our history throughout the years can be attributed to the printed word and the folks who crank out the print everyday

    Like

  13. Kevin P. Feeley says:

    My dear Ladies & Gentlemen,
    I have observed this concern and am of the present belief that initiating a ‘comic book’ avatar environment for the purpose of enlightening those site visitor(s) whom are left – brain disadvantaged, juxaposed to being disabled; if done in moderation, should prove to be ‘good’; I have some CAD experience myself and have observed the proliferation of graphic arts works throughout society, concurrent to citizens’ need for ‘show & tell’ presentations.
    I do not need the expounded stimulus in order to conjure, e.g., extrapolate a concept; but I do see where there are some, who do need the added stimulii.
    POSTED: Monday, 13 SEP 2010, 15:36:43– UTC [kpf]

    Like

  14. Kevin P. Feeley says:

    My dear Ladies & Gentlemen,
    I have observed this concern and am of the present belief that initiating a ‘comic book’ avatar environment for the purpose of enlightening those site visitor(s) whom are left – brain disadvantaged, juxaposed to being disabled; if done in moderation, should prove to be ‘good'; I have some CAD experience myself and have observed the proliferation of graphic arts works throughout society, concurrent to citizens’ need for ‘show & tell’ presentations.
    I do not need the expounded stimulus in order to conjure, e.g., extrapolate a concept; but I do see where there are some, who do need the and stimulii.
    POSTED: Monday, 13 SEP 2010, 15:34:29Z – UTC [kpf]

    Like

  15. Ruth dolan says:

    Are you serious? Please tell me that my tax dollars are not being spent on this. With all the issues in this country why is anyone putting any time or effort in to a project like this?

    Shame on you!

    Like

  16. Rudy Garcia says:

    I think you will be a hit with the young kids with, “squeaks” as your Ambassador. I took graphic arts 4 yrs high school. I almost failed first year though, I wanted wood shop and it was full.I failed 3 quarters and refused to crack open the book I was given.I finally was given an ultimatum, read a few chapters and make my own personal business card. I hand set the type from a california job case, and I was fascinated for life !! To learn about why and how a book was manufactured,started me reading more end result I finished that entire book that, I would not open …. in a a few days . lol Keep up the good work.

    Rudolfo Garcia
    Tilden Tech, class of 1982
    Chicago Illinois, 60609
    Founder /owner
    Graffiti Blasters (R)
    http://www.graffitiblasters.net
    773 ) 927-6500 off.
    773) 847-1003 fax

    Like

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