I have been promising a Studio Ghibli book for nearly as long as I’ve had a Ghibli Blog. It was always my great ambition for this ongoing study of the works of Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, and it was a project that suffered through multiple bouts of fits and starts. I was actually working on the book almost four years ago when I was hit by the first major roadblock, at which time I decided to work on a couple other book projects instead, both of which eventually became Zen Arcade and Pop Life. I made several attempts since that time, always becoming stuck and frustrated.
Thankfully, in the past couple months, I have finally managed to make headway in my vast writing project. The idea for a Ghibli book was based on the blog posts, but I have since discovered that the blog is only a reference point, a first draft towards the final script. I found myself heavily revising and rewriting most of what I had done, and most importantly, I was able to cut out the majority of essays and articles. For any artist, the most important tool is not the pen or paintbrush, but the knife.
Now, at long last, I have a solid framework on what Conversations on Ghibli should be about, what topics should be covered, and where I should focus my energies. I know where the writing should go. All that’s left is to sit down and grind out chapters.
The page layouts are the second major challenge, and it’s the issue that has held me back more than anything. For the longest time, I had resigned myself to simply publishing a text-only book, or one with only a few art assets scattered here and there, knowing that such a book would never sell. Readers and animation fans want lots of photos and illustrations, and I wasn’t confident that I could do that, or afford to hire designers to put it all together.
And then a light clicked on inside my head: I already know how to do this. I don’t need to hire anyone to put a book together. I’ve been doing this for years, not only with the art & photography ebooks, but fanzines in my teens and twenties. For some reason, my brain couldn’t grok that a print book is just another form of magazine or fanzine. It’s the same principles: page sizes, margins, gutters, bleed, text fonts, yadda yadda.
Most importantly: I don’t need Adobe InDesign to put a book together. Everything can be created on the freeware program Scribus, which is an excellent little desktop publishing program with a surprising amount of support. I’ve been watching tutorial videos this past week as a refresher course and to boost my skills.
That brings us to Conversations on Ghibli, and these first pages that I assembled, an essay on the 1979 Anne of Green Gables and the first page of an essay on Marco/3000 Leagues in Search of Mother. The pages are 7″ x 10″ with one or two columns and a number of screenshots. There will be some minor revisions here and there, but I may be close to having a solid selection of master pages to use for the book.
The main concern for now is length. I don’t know how big the final book will be, but it will blast past 100k words with ease. I don’t want a book that’s 500 pages and I’m still unsold on the idea of multiple volumes (as the pre-Ghibli volumes likely won’t sell), so we’ll see how things go.
Two of my main reference points are Antes De Mi Vecino Miyazaki, the outstanding book written by our friends Alvaro Lopez Martin and Marta Garcia Villar for Spain’s Diablo Ediciones, and The House That Trane Built, an essential biography of the Impulse jazz label by Ashley Kahn. I also have various magazine nearby for ideas, but the book size and large amount of text will mostly dictate the interior design.
Anyway, that’s the update on my Ghibli book project. It’s not anywhere close to being completed, but it’s definitely in the «alpha» stage now. Once I have the page designs and master pages nailed down, I can then focus on the writing. In addition, I also have several other book projects in various stages of completion, including Galaxy Four: Modern Art, an art ebook of acrylic and watercolor paintings from 1998-2002, and Sega Genesis: 500 Greatest Videogames, a book that details the definitive ranking of games for the classic console as chosen by players, professionals and influencers. I’m also taking photos for my next photography book, which will be called The White Album.
Right now, my schedule is as follows: Galaxy Four, then Sega Genesis, then Ghibli. But I’ll be working on everything more or less simultaneously. Stay tuned.
Update 7:04pm: I swapped in revised photos, now with better formatting, drop caps and the like.
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