Madison Zine Fest

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Hello again! It feels great to be posting a second time in one week.

Monday saw the grand Internet unveiling of Actual Bird Song, a zine that has nothing to do with hairdos, famous or otherwise. In fact, it is all about creatures with feathers. I am very excited about that book and its accompanying CD, but don’t think that The Famous Hairdos of Popular Music project has been abandoned, forgotten, or neglected. Below are three sets of hairdo drawings collected at the Madison Zine Fest, which was held this past weekend in Madison, Wisconsin on a beautiful fall Saturday. I was there, manning a table, for most of the day. Thanks to the organizers and everyone who came out.


The above set of drawings was done by a quiet fellow whose name I wish I knew, who came to the festival all the way from Portland (Oregon, I presume) and sat at the table to my immediate right.


This second batch was done by Brad Gottschalk (, a cartoonist who sat to my left and the acquaintance of whom I am glad to have made. We discussed Aldo Leopold, coffee, architecture, and the runaway popularity of the name Ethan. The third set of drawings is by a festival-attendee who was kind enough to stop and make drawings for me.


Thanks to everyone who came to the Madison Zine Fest, checked out books, made a drawing, or said hello. And thanks again to Jason and family for the air mattress, coffee, and companionship.

Actual Bird Song

Monday, October 24, 2011

Actual Bird Song

The newest publication from Lemon o Books is the first to be totally unrelated to the ongoing Famous Hairdos of Popular Music project. I am incredibly proud of this one.

A "field guide and audio companion," Actual Bird Song is a short visual zine and a two track, 30 minute compact disc. I designed and produced the book, while Milwaukee musicians Lucky Bone and Slow Owls each contributed a track. These three parts were created in isolation but, I think, complement each other in interesting ways. Together they comprise an open-ended meditation on bird song and humanity’s relationship to the natural world. They are waiting for readers and listeners to join the conversation.

Below are some more images, a brief explanation, and information for obtaining a copy through the mail.

Actual Bird Song
Actual Bird Song
Actual Bird Song
Actual Bird Song
Actual Bird Song
Actual Bird Song

Writing here as the book designer, I can only explain my own motivations for the visual component of the project. Despite the title’s implication of scientific rigor and accuracy, Actual Bird Song is an exercise in pseudo-science-- book design and illustration as a vehicle for abstractly considering our relationship to nature as outside observers, our frequent inability to contain and grasp the wildness from which we have secluded ourselves and for which many simultaneously yearn. I tried to avoid using birds as a ready metaphor for human desires and ended up doing just that anyway. Taking the idea of a “field guide” literally, Actual Bird Song is an attempt to visually depict the sensation of standing in a field surrounded by the sounds of avian activity using the language of textbook illustration.

The books and CDs were produced in an edition of 100. The covers and endpapers are beautiful French Paper products, milled in the Midwest with hydroelectric power. The fore-edge corners are rounded to resemble the pocket field guides on my nightstand that never seem to make the trip to actual fields. The printing was done at Milwaukee’s own Clark Graphics, where their professionalism is matched only by their patience. Thanks to them and to Lucky Bone and Slow Owls for making this project real.
Anyone who wants a copy should mail $5.00 well-concealed cash to:
P.O. Box 11872
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Shipping costs are included in the price for anyone living in the contiguous United States. International friends should email for more information. Update: This title is sold out.

Three New Drawings or Back to Life, Back to Reality

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome back, everybody! Above is one of three new drawings submitted over the weekend to The Famous Hairdos of Popular Music project by a fine fellow named Zach. You can scroll down to see the other two (please do...I like them a lot). If you then scroll a little further down, you can ascertain by the date of the last post that almost two months have elapsed between those drawings and these. In that time the humid days of August have given way to a fleeting Indian Summer, and winter is surely on its way. Sorry, folks. But don't worry because there is exciting news on the horizon here at The Famous Hairdos HQ and Lemon o Books!

Before the end of October, this space will have news of a brand new zine for you to cherish. This publication will have nothing to do with hair, but it will be beautiful. I am very excited to share it with the world. The grand public unveiling will occur at the Madison Zine Fest on October 22nd, 2011. If you happen to be in Wisconsin's fair capitol that day, I highly recommend you attend this event. And then, on December 10th, before the full force of winter strikes the Midwest like a linebacker at the Ice Bowl, I'll be making an appearance at the Milwaukee Zine Fest with boxes of zines for sale and trade.

Check back here for more information about all these doings. I promise it won't be as quiet as it has been. Thanks for looking, and thanks again, Zach, for these great drawings! Best wishes, all.