Shout-Out For Artists (and other angst)

In a moment, the shout-out for illustrators will be made clear but first let me explain. I captured the above picture with my cellphone while I was substitute teaching in an 8th grade technology class last week. I stared at it for eight hours. It was huge, probably 10’x10′ and was pretty much taunting me all day because subbing has to be one of the most boring yet at the same time most taxing jobs on the planet. Every day you’re in a new school or at the very least a new classroom at the same school with a whole new batch of kids and they always want to know if you’re from Jamaica and if it hurt to get the tattoos and if the tattoos are real and if the dreadlocks are real and if you are in a rockband and all of them profess a deep-seated hatred of reading–not a good indication that the future of books is anything close to assured. So I’m staring at that giant cockpit photo and even though I have a nearly parlyzing fear of flying, it was a taunting motherfucker of a picture, let me tell you. It symbolized everything I was thinking, how I just wanted to get the hell out of that room, out of that school, go home and write. I NEED to write. I need to get these things out of me otherwise they eat at me. It’s a madness of sorts, nee an addiction. But better than crack and less of a comedown at that.

So why, you ask, is such a stellar example of contemporary writing (tongue in cheek–don’t get all bent out of shape at my blatant hubris) working in such a mind-numbing job, why is he putting himself in these positions? The answer can be seen in the above photograph. See how there’s a truck (it’s not pink it’s (faded) purple!) parked in that idyllic yard? That’s my back yard. It’s the nicest plot of land I’ve ever in my entire life lived on. There’s close to an acre there with all kinds of trees and it’s all fenced in and has a firepit and a giant playset with treehouse for my two kids. I, like many of you I’m sure, want to give my kids a better life than I had. I want them to have stability and a fat fucking yard to play in. Not to spoil them or anything like that but to instill memories of how their childhood wasn’t too bad, maybe even pretty good. And of course, it costs money to maintain something like this magnificent yard. And I’m not talking about any fancy landscaping. I’m talking about paying the mortgage (also the first house, at 33 yrs. old, that I’ve ever owned). Every month like a visit from a Jehovah’s Witness another bill comes through and every month there’s a scramble to come up with the cash to make sure this yard stays my kids’ yard for another month. I have to be honest, I am very despondent over what has happened (or rather, NOT happened) with futureproof. Even after the Needle Award nomination and other great breaks I got with this book, not the least of which was so many of you who have shown great enthusiasm about the book, I never got a book deal or even a solid offer for representation from a reputable agent. That’s three years of work, 3 years of writing and pounding the pavement to get noticed in a glutted market–down the drain. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting on something somewhat big happening with this book. Now I feel like I’m back at square one and fighting a hell of a depression to keep moving forward. I’m not asking for pity, so don’t take this as such–we all have our own issues, I’m no different–but I want to make it clear that being a person who feels driven to create in a culture dominated by corporate interests and the bottom line (re: how much money can be made over all other considerations) is, to put it bluntly, a giant pain in the ass. Sometimes it feels like a curse. I’m pretty sure that it’s alot easier to be happy when you aren’t chasing dragons. But still, probably against my own best interests, I press on with this writing thing. Because there’s really no choice but to. It has to continue, if for no other reason than sanity’s sake.

The above picture was taken with my cellphone at a stoplight next to a chick-fil-a. It was nearly dark and this vintage Ford or Chrysler pulled up next to me with a surfboard on the rack. I live in Atlanta, at least a three hour drive from any beach, and many more hours than that from any beach that would offer any wave worth a surf. Point is, the surfboard was on top of that car for aesthetic reasons only. It was part of the mystique and badassness of the car. And it gave me an idea. Bear with me here on the tenuous connection here, because it is most definitely more along the lines of random association or whatever that’s called when somebody gives you a word and you tell them the first thing that pops into your head. Anyway, the surfboard gave me an idea.

As anyone knows who’s read futureproof, there are a few illustrations/pictures within its pages. But the surfboard made me realize that I should take that aesthetic to the next level with this as-yet-untitled ‘sequel’ to futureproof. (HERE’S THE ARTIST PART) One of the main goals I had for my book when I wrote it was that it would directly appeal to a younger demographic than that which is generally associated with the book-reading populace. There are so many other distractions, competing forms of media that offer more immediate gratification than sitting down and looking at page upon page of words words words. So here’s what I’d like to do. I’m sending a call out for TEN (10) artists who feel it within their capabilities to create a full-page panel a la any comic book you find out there these days, and adapt a section of my new, as yet untitled book, into illustration. Billy Jacobs, the artist who created the artwork for futureproof, is already a shoo-in for one of the ten slots. That means I need nine more up-and-comers. Do you have it in you? The rewards will be semi-great at the very least. You’ll be published in a book that will have at least a thousand readers. And since I think this book will be better than the last, I’m pretty sure we can get 11 or 1200 readers on this one should it too fail at getting picked up by a mainstream publisher. Here’s an example of the text if you haven’t read any of book 2 yet. If this is the kind of thing you think you could turn into panel art, drop me an email: nfrankdaniels@gmail.com, and we’ll go from there. The book is about a third of the way written (rough draft) and I anticipate publication by the end of 2007. So hit me up. And please, if you can’t do at least as good a job as this police sketch artist, then please refrain from wasting our time. I mean, obviously the newscaster didn’t do it….or did he?!?!?

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