Author Archives: Chris Callard

The books arrive!

Mr Coconut’s books are here. Finally made it through customs in Southampton and dumped unceremoniously in a big pallet outside the studio.

So now we have 1000 copies of the book stored away. Next job: to sort them all out and package them all up for all our Kickstarter backers and for those who have pre-ordered the book…

This is going to take us a couple of weeks – our expected date for delivery for anyone who pre-ordered the book is still December 13. If you’d like to you can of course come and receive your copy in person from us at our book launch stall at Brighton Open Market on the day of Saturday 13 December. If you can’t make that we will be sending out all the other rewards so that they arrives as soon after the 13 December as possible.

And in the meantime the two of us shall be visiting some shops to see if we can persuade anyone to stock it, as well as making the ebook version to be sold online.

And if anyone still wants to pre-order the book at the cheaper price, that will only be available until 12 December…

Next update: the book launch

Boring bureaucratic Mr Coconut update…

Delivery date of the book is here! Here’s all the books stored in the studio:

Except instead they are in a shed in Southampton. Customs is witholding them until they know that we are a legal entity as a publisher. Which we were not, until we realised this was something we needed to do 3 days ago…

We’re told if we apply to customs for an EORI number and we get it by Monday they will send out the books then.

So – books should be arriving Tuesday or Wednesday next week. They we can get them all nice and packaged up, ready for the book launch on 13 December and sending them out to all of you. Despite the delay – you’ll definitely have them for Christmas, we absolutely promise…

Mr Coconut book has gone to print…

So the last couple of weeks of the summer have been spent tweaking the last few bits and pieces of the book. I’m sure when anyone makes a book they get the finished article back and find loads of tiny bits wrong with it, that no one else would ever notice… but the problem is that we notice, and can’t bear the idea of finding lots of tiny mistakes.

Here’s us rebuilding one of the last-page scenes for the fourth time…

But we’ve finally happy with it… and today we sent it off to print! What we would have liked to show is a photo of us is packing all the artwork into a box and sending it off to be photographed. But instead we have a photo of us pressing a button to email the PDF files.

It takes nine weeks to print, so we should have finished books back at the end of November. So in the meantime we’ll be making the book plates, postcards, stitched illustrations, pants and everything else we need to make for the rewards for our Kickstarter backers.

Next update should be to let you know the date that it’s officially published – we’re hoping to have a launch in Brighton, so for any of you that live nearby can come and pick up your copy in person…

Studio visit #3

So last Friday we had the third of our studio visits from Kickstarter backers. This time from Chris’ parents, so naturally we roped them in to doing more than we usually asked of studio visitors.

We’re down to solving the last few problematic pages, one of which is the sky for one of the final spreads. Here’s Chris’ mum sewing multiple stars for our third attempt at a sky:

And here’s Chris’ dad building more of the cityscape. We weren’t just sitting back drinking tea, honest:

And then we made them both hold up the stars for ages whilst we photographed them (sorry Mum, rather obscured you out of this photo):

So thanks very much to my mum and dad for their help. With these pages just about complete we are almost there – the next couple of weeks will be spent tweaking. We’re hoping to get the files sent off to the printers a week earlier than planned, which means the book will hopefully be sent out to backers a week early.

[Next update should be: files off to the printers…]

Studio visit #2

A couple of weeks ago we had the second studio visit from one of our backers, Stuart, himself a toymaker. Stuart helped us remake one of the landscapes for the book, and also build the props for the last page of the book: a 3D coconut cityscape. But as we were discussing the best way to go about this Stuart suggested a more interesting way of building and lighting the city. So we, er, well we left him to it.

This is been the best part of making the book: as well as the increased amount of ideas we have had from collaborating together, many of the ideas have been prompted through conversations with other members of the studio and our studio visitors. It’s made us realise how much easier it is to generate ideas when you have people from whom you can immediately get a reaction, and to know almost immediately whether ideas are going to work or not.

And it makes the whole idea of sitting down and writing on your own seem a bit boring now…

Many thanks to Stuart for his help and ideas – you can see some of his own toys and artwork here.

[stage book is at now: all the blank pages are now illustrated… now time for tweaking.]

A short video of how we put one page’s illustration together…

So as a slightly different update on the progress of the book we thought we’d make a short video of how we put one of the pages of the Mr Coconut book together…

This is from a stage in the story where Mr C is out for a walk in the coconut countryside…

If you’re new to these updates you can see them all collected here: http://www.mrcoconut.co.uk/category/mr-coconut-blog/

A mistake with our mistakes

It was my intention to post a different kind of update on the book’s progress this week: rather than just posting photographs of the progress of prop-making and photography we wanted to put together a short video describing how we put together one of the pages – in other words a succession of mistakes, the trial and error involved in getting to the final result.It’s what I’ve always wanted to see of the work of other people, but isn’t often available – all the rubbish bits at the beginning when the picture isn’t working, through to the point where it starts to work and then it’s finished.

The problem being that, er, the page hasn’t quite reached the stage of being at a point where it was starting to work.

So I’m going to put that update off until next week. In the meantime here’s a montage of a happy accident that took place when we trying to find a way of photographing the sky: we lit the shot far too little from the front, and instead of a daytime sky ended up with a lovely looking nighttime sky.

Chris

Photography day #1

Today was a first day of photography for the many props that Catherine has been making in the last couple of weeks. From the storyboard plan of all the pages that we now have on the studio wall we have to work out what angle for each prop photograph – but it’s not really obvious that we’ve got it right until it’s put into Photoshop.

As I said in the last update, some of the pictures (and therefore some of the story) are influenced by the mechanics of the photography, or rather discovering that an idea that seemed fine in our heads doesn’t actually work. (Today we discovered the difficulty in making Mr C stand up properly in order to be photographed.)

Here’s a few of the pics from today:

And some of them being cut out and placed into Photoshop. (You’re not going to get to see much – we don’t want to give away the story).

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been in touch with just about all of the backers who selected our Self-publishers reward, and who are going to spend some time with us in the studio in June and July. We’ll be getting these backers to help us with some of the photography, which will probably mean some of their problem-solving ideas will end up in the book.

Also: we’ve had a couple of enquiries from people who missed out on backing the Kickstarter but still wanted to pre-order the book. So we’ve made a pre-order page on the website. (There’s a special lifetime discount rate for all backers, though obviously you won’t actually want any more copies yet when you still haven’t received the first one.)

thanks for your support

Chris & Catherine

Starting to properly make the book

Now that the Kickstarter is over and we’ve sat down for a couple of weeks, it’s struck us that we have to actually make a book. Not maybe making a book that might be published – we have to make it, get it printed, and post it out to all our backers.

So we’ve got started, and here’s where we’re up to. Catherine has more of the work to do at the moment as she makes the props – so it’s up to me to do these updates (and take photographs of her when she’s not looking).

Today we sketched out almost two thirds of the pages for the book. It was not at all clear to us when we began this just how much of the form of the illustrations would be decided in the actual making (in the same way that we did not know that the illustrations would be made from puppets and materials until we made the Kickstarter video). And where we thought we were simply illustrating a story, we’ve found an idea for a picture changes the story, which alters the story on another page, which provides an idea for another picture. So it’s a constant back and forth between the two.

For me the pleasure of doing this is all bound up in the making-it-up-as-you-go-along. I’m a big fan of US artist Austin Kleon (www.austinkleon.com) and his similar ideas of it being about the process, not the end result (see his blog thinkprocessnotproduct.com). (Although of course we will also be making a lovely end result for you all…)

We’ve also cleared a big space on the wall to pin up all the pages so we can add to them all the time:

And last week we bought Mr C his very own suitcase for storing all his props – an old 1960s German case found in a charity shop, still with its luggage label attached. When the book is out we want to take this around schools with Mr C, to perhaps run workshops to encourage children to make their own books in a similar way, photographing their own toys and stories…

Kickstarter is funded!

We didn’t think we were going to get there – but we have! Mr Coconut’s book has made it’s Kickstarter target with just 2 hours to go…

A massive thank you to everyone who backed the project, and to those whose generous pledges tipped us over the target at the end… a big thank you to Sally Rogers for her help at the 11th hour, and to Anna Watson for all her help with using the internet in a way that we didn’t know how… we didn’t realise quite how nailbiting it would be watching the page on the last day…

Now we can get on with the really fun bit of actually making the book, and dreaming up and making all of Mr Coconut’s props, so that we can have a finished book in November…

We’ll post regular updates here of the book’s progress all through the making process (though maybe not in quite as frenzied a manner as for raising the funding…)

But right now we’re going to have a bit of a lie down…