A Comic Book History of Printing

September 13, 2010

 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.

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