Upcoming Flesk Books for 2019 and 2020

What’s going on at Flesk?

With my buddy James at our Flesk booth at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con last July.

With the summer winding-down I am turning my focus toward our latest batch of books. There are five titles that form our next wave of art collections. These will be released between this fall and into the spring of 2020. Each of these books has been in some stage of development from anywhere between 1 to 13 years. They include monograms on Frank Cho, Bruce Timm, Brad Kunkle, Edwin Austin Abbey, and Jeffrey Alan Love. Some of the details for each project is outlined here. I’m including Al Williamson and Mark Schultz as supporting guests as I share some behind the scenes stories.

Frank Cho artwork from his Zombie King comic.

The Art of Frank Cho

The first book that I will share the details about is a big Art of Frank Cho collection. Frank has brought up the idea of a large book for years. During a quiet period about a year ago I began to assemble this book. Over the course of a few weeks I worked with Frank to map out a book that spans his entire career that runs over 300 pages. During my visit to Maryland during the 2018 Baltimore Comic-Con I spent some extra time with Frank and scanned original art from his archives. Then, in February 2019 I visited Frank again when we fleshed out the book some more and I scanned a bunch of more material for the book. It was common to work on the book for 2-3 days, then to take a few months off before another window opened where we could align and do some more work on it together. I’m looking at the book now and realizing how close it is to being done. It’s amazing how a few days here and there over the course of a year or two can result in a book.

Since we haven’t looked at the book over the summer, we have two fresh pairs of eyes on it. We have tweaked one of the sections by cutting back on the Liberty Meadows section and inserting some of his latest works. At the moment Frank is working full time on his upcoming Fight Girls comic for AWA, his regular Harley Quinn covers for DC Comics, and the occasional comic cover for other publishers. This makes his time available to focus on this book limited. We are squeezing in an hour here and there to wrap it up. I never want to stress Frank out by being pushy, so we are working at his pace to get this done. The only thing that Frank has left to do is the cover and to provide the remaining captions. We’re in a good groove and hope to have it done very soon.

Frank Cho signing books at our Flesk warehouse earlier this year.

The way I work with every artist is different, yet the same factor of it being very personal is consistent. With Frank we do everything over the phone. We talk for anywhere between 1-3 hours at a time, usually chit-chatting about random things as we both work while keeping each other company. What I’ll do is send Frank a PDF of the book which he will look over, usually while he is drawing a Harley Quinn cover. Based on his feedback and our discussion I’ll tweak and adjust things as we talk about totally random things. I’ll send him a new PDF once I’ve made a series of fresh improvements. Frank gives it a look, we talk about it, then I tweak it some more. We go back and forth like this for hours. It’s easy, very organic, and we are always in sync with one another. It’s a pretty smooth and enjoyable process. When I work with Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni, it is very similar to this, with the exception that they are not working on comic covers at the same time. Frank is always backed up with so many projects, he usually has to continue working.  

With Frank, we usually work and talk late at night. Between 8:00pm to midnight my time, which is 11:00pm to 3:00am his time. We both work best with creative stuff at night—especially since we can focus uninterrupted. For me, the daytime is reserved for running the business and while being on daddy duty. Since we are the same age and in similar family situations, we can relate to one another easily.

Frank Cho’s Ballpoint Beauties was our biggest seller in 2019.

Working with Frank is a good experience. Since neither of us likes drama, and we like to keep things mellow and easy, it’s always worked out smoothly.

The details and release date for The Art of Frank Cho will be revealed soon. I like to have Frank’s books done, or nearly done, before we announce it. Since he is always slammed with work, I don’t want to make an announcement and then have the book delivered late. But, we are very close to being done!

Detail of artwork by Bruce Timm for his next book coming from Flesk.

Bruce Timm

At the same time I am working with Bruce Timm on his new book. This will be a collection of his three sold-out show Teasers, then Surrender My Sweet, and will also include a lot of new material. At 208 pages and 9 x 12 inches, there will be a paperback and a hardcover edition available. Bruce is another artist who is very easy to work with. We started on this collection last year. Like with Frank Cho, Bruce can get very busy with his day job. We tend to work a little at a time in-between other projects. Sometimes when he has the time, I may be fully engrossed in my Spectrum duties. Then, when I’m free, he may be tied-up in a new film. Eventually though, we align and get it done. By not setting a deadline it takes the pressure and stress off of us, while allowing for a book that we are proud of.

Bruce Timm artwork detail. This will be included in his next art book from Flesk.

Bruce and I work exclusively through email. Like with Cho, Schultz, and Gianni, he is easy and professional, with the process being very organic. The way we work typically goes like this. I’ll shoot him an email with a book idea that includes a full outline to get the brainstorming sessions started. Bruce replies after each of my paragraphs with notes and thoughts of his own. We go back and forth like this as the book begins to take form. This is a very enjoyable part of the process. I’ve written this before, but Bruce has been very impactful on me in terms of how I design a book. I’ve never worked with him at Warner Bros., or seen him in action there, but based upon my experience while working with him on his books, he is very good at bringing out the best in me, while allowing me to be creative and to try new things.

If you are wondering how I started working with Bruce, it was as simple as my meeting him at a Comic-Con in San Diego and giving him a 2-minute pitch. Since I didn’t know him, I forced myself to keep my book idea with him to just a few minutes. I knew he was a big name, and I was well aware of his stature in the industry and all that he has accomplished. I don’t get nervous or feel intimated when I meet people, so I didn’t practice, or prepare (since both rob me of feeling comfortable—I’m best when I don’t rehearse in advance), but I simply had a general idea of making a book on his personal “after-hours” art. I let him know that I wanted to make a “Bruce Timm” book and never mentioned any of his superhero or daytime work. A handful of follow-up emails over the next 6-8 months resulted in about 200 originals showing up at my house one day. Suffice it to say, I feel very fortunate that he continues to work with me.

Back to this new collection, it is about 95% complete. As soon as Bruce is wrapped up with his latest film we can wrap it up. I’ll make an announcement once we have a release date set.

Brad Kunkle

A third book that I am working on is with Brad Kunkle. Working on three books at a time serves a few purposes. The first is that it is practical. Many of the artists that I work with stay very busy. Between commercial assignments, private commissions, event appearances, exhibits—we all share passion for our dreams and work hard to achieve our vision. When Frank Cho has a Harley Quinn cover deadline or he is attending a show, I may jump over to the Bruce Timm book. Then when I am caught up on Bruce’s book, I’ll send him an email with some notes. Rather than wait for his reply, especially since it may be a week or two since he is involved in a new film, I jump over to Brad’s book. The three books keep me moving and I’m not sitting idle.

Another reason why three books is the magic number is because it keeps me creatively excited. Each book has a different tone; each one features different subject matter; and, each is handled differently. By jumping back and forth between the three, I feel that I can have continually fresh eyes. Rather than serving as a distraction or impeding my flow, the variations help with my flow. My goal is to have contrasting books with different designs so that there are no templates being used.

Getting back to Brad, I first met him in 2006 or 2007 (I have to check my notes to confirm the year) during my first trip to Pennsylvania to visit with Mark Schultz. Mark had invited me out to visit Al and Cori Williamson. Having the chance to see Al at his home was a special moment for me. I’m a huge fan of the EC comics line that came out in the 1950s. Al did a lot of artwork for the Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, and Weird Science-Fantasy titles. He collaborated with Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta at times, but it was Al’s work that excited me the most. (This all ties into Brad, I promise.)

After I arrived at Mark’s house, and after we visited with Al and Cori, Mark and I drove back to his house. The next day Mark asked me if he minded if a guest joined us for lunch. Sure, I didn’t mind. This guy pulls up the driveway and Mark introduces Brad Kunkle to me. It turns out that Brad is related to Mark’s wife, Denise. Brad, at the time, was in a band and was doing dog portrait paintings on the side. I recall that he was still deciding which direction to go in.

Brad pulled out a painting from his trunk. It was of a recent portrait that he did of his girlfriend at the time. It was stunning! I looked at his dog portraits online and was amazed at how he captured the personalities of the dogs. We even discussed possibly doing a dog calendar at the time. But, basically, from that fortuitous lunch during a time when I was starting to get my publishing career off the ground, and Brad was beginning to become a painter, we developed a friendship. Over the years we would meet up in various locations during our travels when our lives would intersect such as in Santa Barbara, New York City, and in various cities in Pennsylvania, but never in the same place twice. I was able to congratulate him as he had his first sold-out exhibit, followed by his second, and watched how his notoriety and fame grew, while he always remaining a humble and good guy. Each time we saw one another, we would discuss working together on a book project when the time was right. Well, 13 plus years later after our first meeting, we finally decided that the time is right.

At the moment we are working on his first art book collection. Our main emphasis is for the book to be an art object. There may be more discussion going into this book than any other project that I have worked on before. I want this to be something very special, and unlike anything we have published before. Like all of the books that we do, there is no rush on this. It will get done when it is done. But, I can guarantee that it will be beautiful.

Edwin Austin Abbey

A fourth book that is nearly done is an Edwin Austin Abbey pen-and-ink book that is reproduced from old magazines. I recently pulled it off a hard drive and dusted it off. I had done the majority of work on this book 10 years ago. It is in a similar format and style to the Franklin Booth and Joseph Clement Coll books that I did from 2002-2004. I had lost interest in the Abbey book when I was working with living artists and direct from original art full time. The chance to work with Al Williamson was more exciting! After looking over the Abbey book I realized that it was about 80% done and I liked it a bunch. I asked Kathy to finish cleaning up the remaining art that I hadn’t got to yet, and she put the final polish on the book. All that’s needed is for me to write an introduction or essay. I just need to find the time to write a brief piece to open the book. I’ll leave a detailed essay on Abbey to a future historian. Taking the time to research and write extended essays is not available to me at this stage in my life.

Jeffrey Alan Love signing his cover print for The Thousand Demon Tree.

Jeffrey Alan Love

A fifth book in development is a Jeffrey Alan Love sketchbook. Jeff ran this idea by me last year, which I liked and agreed to publish. The concept is simple in that Jeff would paint a piece in his sketchbook of whatever idea came to his mind that day. Once the sketchbook was full, he passed it along to me. Rather than scanning the pages I took it to my friend Greg Preston to get photographed. When scanning art, it projects a bright flat light against the art surface. This works fine in most cases, however I wanted to have more control over the lighting for this object, rather than treating it as a flat surface. There are textures and variations in the way Jeff applies his paint and I didn’t want these nuances to be lost in the scanning process. Jeff was the one who initially suggested that the sketchbook be photographed. My mind immediately began spinning with ideas and techniques for a unique approach to reproducing his sketchbook. With the photography done, I’ve been playing around with two very different approaches to the book and will make a final decision soon. There’s not too much work left to do on this book. I simply need the time to focus on it. My goal is to have it done in the next few months, then I’ll plan a release date.

With Greg Preston while photographing Jeffrey Alan Love’s latest sketchbook.

Making a Book

From left to right: Gary Gianni, J.A.W. Cooper, Kathy Chu, Bill Carman, and John Fleskes during the Planet Comicon at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live pavilion.

Publishers typically make new book announcements 10-12 months in advance, then work hard to hit their target dates. I prefer to work in a different way. I like to either finish or have a book 95% done before I advertise and offer a release date. This allows me to take my time and to let the book dictate its own schedule. I can pull this off since I am a small publisher. Once a publisher gets to a certain size and has a larger staff–mapping out schedules is imperative to making sure the business runs smoothly. I can work in both environments, however, lately I’ve been focusing on the book first, followed by advertising it once it is complete.

Tran Nguyen reviewing the book proofs for her upcoming book, Ambedo. As a small publisher, we can work very closely with the artists to make very personal books.

The high majority of the book work is done by me, although Kathy is quickly growing as a fine bookmaker and will be running her own projects as soon as we can find a new office manager to free up her time. Currently, Kathy runs the office and assists me throughout the week. Some books, like Spectrum, she plays a major role in and does most of the heavy work, and other books, like the Bruce Timm collection where she has a very small hand in. Then, there are other books where we work side-by-side like this new Frank Cho book. The new Tran Nguyen book Kathy did not see until I asked her to give it a final review before I sent it to the printer. We work very organically and fall into a smooth groove based on what is going on in the office and what book work needs to be done.

When we start a new book, I’ll take the first step which is to make something which I call a book map. I do a rough layout with no design in place. It looks as simple as art placed on pages just to get an idea of the flow and placement of how the tone and order of the book will look. Actually, before I do this, I visually scroll through the artwork quickly on the computer to take a mental snapshot and to memorize all of the imagery. I shuffle and organize the images in my head, then place them in the order that I want on the pages. Once this is done, I’ll send a PDF to the artist for them to look at for feedback. This avoids wasting time and effort by streamlining the book early, before the design stage begins. Either through email or over the phone we’ll go over the PDF together. Based on their comments and reactions I’ll tighten up the book further, shift pages and art around, and I may group things differently, until we have a solid book map to work with.

At this stage I’ll start inserting text, if any. Again, I’m not paying any attention to design. I’m simply dropping text on pages next to the art that it is associated with. Before the text is dropped into the book it is fully edited and finalized. I don’t write in the design program, or make changes to the text after it is inserted into the book. I want to be efficient and not waste time by repeating unnecessary steps. I’d rather spend time with my kid than do something a second time. Once the text and art for each page is finalized, then I’ll start designing the book. I’ll only design a handful of book spreads first, then send it to the artist for their feedback. That way we can nail the theme and design elements early, before applying it to the full book. After we settle on the design, I’ll go in and apply the master design to the full book. I’ll send PDFs regularly to the artist to give opportunities to make changes and to provide feedback in the early stages. The last thing I want to do is to make big radical changes after I’ve already applied the theme to the book. It’s about doing the heavy lifting early on, really paying attention to the early mapping and design foundation to make sure that the rest of the process is smooth and easy. I actually enjoy the heavy creative lifting in the beginning stages, then fall into cruise control for the middle stage. The final stage includes all double checks on the art and text to look for mistakes. Then I package it up and send it off to the printer.

Mark Schultz preliminary pages for Xenozoic.

That brings you up to date on our next five books. Lots more to come! I have a backlog of 10 more that I am pretty excited to move forward with after these. They include the next Arthur Adams, J.A.W. Cooper, Terry Dodson, Mark Schultz, William Stout, and Al Williamson titles—along with Spectrum 27.

Terry Dodson, in his studio.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art
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Text and photos copyright © 2019 John Fleskes. Videos © 2019 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2019 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Ambedo: The Art of Tran Nguyen Kickstarter Campaign is Live!

Hi, everyone,

I’m thrilled to announce that we have launched our Ambedo: The Art of Tran Nguyen Kickstarter campaign. This book is available as an affordable signed hardcover. In addition, limited and open edition signed prints are on hand, plus enamel pins and original art are also available.

Please visit the Kickstarter campaign page where you can enjoy the sample imagery and more details.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
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Text and photos copyright © 2019 John Fleskes. Videos © 2019 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2019 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Art of Gary Gianni for George R. R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms. Signed by Martin and Gianni! Now Available to Pre-Order.

Trade Hardcover edition cover.

A comprehensive visual overview of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series—plus A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Fire and Blood—through over 275 drawings and paintings by the award-winning illustrator Gary Gianni.

Art of Gary Gianni for George R. R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms
This new premium art book is now available for pre-order at www.fleskpublications.com.

Order the trade hardcover and the signed deluxe edition by clicking here.

This hardcover edition and signed deluxe edition are only available direct from Flesk.

Shipping in July 2019

Afterword by George R. R. Martin
Introduction by Cullen Murphy
Art by Gary Gianni
Designed and edited by Marcelo Anciano
The Hardcover edition is 304 pages
The Deluxe signed edition is 326 pages and includes a gatefold
9 x 12 inches
Over 125 pen-and-ink drawings
Over 100 pencil drawings
19 paintings, plus color studies
$49.95 — Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-64041-022-0
$200.00 – Deluxe edition signed by George R. R. Martin and Gary Gianni ISBN: 978-1-64041-023-7

About the Deluxe Signed Edition: The deluxe edition comes signed by author George R. R. Martin and artist Gary Gianni on a unique signature page that is highlighted with the reproduction of a pen-and-ink drawing by Gianni. This version is limited to only 500 copies in slipcase. It features a bonus 22-page section with a gatefold highlighting bonus artwork that is reserved specially for this edition. This premium hardcover book with slipcase is wrapped in an exquisite custom-ordered cloth. The front side of the book is treated to a color plate that reproduces a new oil painting by Gianni. This special edition is receiving the full Flesk treatment to serve as a treasured book for the sophisticated collector.

About the Art of Gary Gianni for George R. R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms

This book contains all of Gary Gianni’s artwork for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Over 300 pages of beautifully illustrated scenes from the five novels in the series—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons—are featured alongside passages from the books themselves. Also included are illustrations from the two prequels of the series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Fire and Blood. All together, the paintings and hundreds of drawings in pencil and pen-and-ink provide a unique view of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros as seen through the eyes of the award-winning illustrator. Describing Gianni’s artwork, George R. R. Martin says it’s “as if I am looking through a window into Westeros, that I am there with Tyrion and Daenerys, with Ned and Arya, with Dunk and Egg.”

All of Gary Gianni’s previously shown pencil sketches and paintings have been tightened up and polished for this collection, making them appear as new works. In addition, over 35 pencil drawings appear for the first time. The artist draws on his longtime experience in comics and illustration to offer a unique perspective into Martin’s universe.

The book also includes an introduction by Cullen Murphy, who discusses the art of illustration and adds context to the pictures by providing an overview of Gianni’s career. Notes from the artist reveal insight concerning his methods and the creative process of working with Martin, a relationship that has spanned five years to date.

About Gary Gianni:

Gary Gianni began as an illustrator for Chicago newspapers and as a courtroom artist for television. He has received the Eisner and Spectrum awards and has illustrated books by authors ranging from Melville and Stevenson to Robert E. Howard, Michael Chabon and Ray Bradbury. His comics include The Shadow with Michael Kaluta, Batman with Archie Goodwin, Tom Strong with Alan Moore and Indiana Jones. He is also known for his own mystery comic book The MonsterMen. Gianni teamed up with Mike Mignola to craft the graphic novel Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea, and he drew the syndicated newspaper comic strip Prince Valiant with Mark Schultz for eight years. Gianni has produced the paintings for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire calendar as well as illustrations for Martin’s novel A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. He continues to work with Martin to illustrate future collections.

About George R. R. Martin:

George R. R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally ever since. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid-’90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he’s allowed to leave, Martin returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.

About Cullen Murphy:

Cullen Murphy is the editor-at-large of The Atlantic. For twenty-five years he wrote the comic strip Prince Valiant, working with his father, the illustrator John Cullen Murphy. He is the author of Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe.

Pre-order now at www.fleskpublications.com.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Text and photos copyright © 2019 John Fleskes. Videos © 2019 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2019 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Ballpoint Beauties by Frank Cho Book Update!

Frank finished the last piece of art for the book on March 21st. Kathy and I then ran our series of final checks and delivered it to the printer on March 24th. The printer has already output the proofs and sent them to me. They should arrive any day now. The book will go on the press as soon as I review and approve the proofs.

The printer gave me a tentative shipping date of mid to late June for its arrival in our warehouse, depending on any customs or dock delays. This would start to put the book in your hands in early July since we will begin to ship immediately once they arrive. That’s a little later than I initially expected, (sorry for the delay!) but we hope you won’t be disappointed once the book arrives. I’ll update you all just as soon as I learn more.

I want to thank you all again for your patience and support. Frank truly outdid himself on this book. The final eight pieces of art that he completed over these last two months are stunning. We can’t wait to get this book into your hands.

Thanks again for your support!

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Text and photos copyright © 2019 John Fleskes. Videos © 2019 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2019 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Flesk 2009-2019. How A 10 Year Plan Paid Off

James Walker, Katherine Chu, and John Fleskes in the Flesk office while packing our latest exclusive book, Pastoral by J.A.W. Cooper.

Hi all,

In January 2009 I was facing a major challenge. The Stock Market Crash was devastating to individuals and businesses. It was, hands down, the worst time to go into publishing full time. (During 2002-2008 I had a full-time day job when I launched, built and ran Flesk.) While scores of people were losing their jobs and as I watched neighbors around me lose their homes, I was determinated to go full time into publishing. When people were scared to spend, scared that they might lose their jobs, scared to lose their retirement—I was sitting at home working on the Al Williamson Flash Gordon book while putting a 10-year plan in place. I then began to follow it without question. Grit, determination, stubbornness—call it what you will. It was hard. It almost didn’t work. I came very close to losing the business. But it all worked out in the end. Here’s some insight into how it happened.

I’ll start with some background information. I tend to keep book projects under wraps for months, or even years, before they are ready for the printer. This allows me the opportunity to work at my leisure without any outside influences dictating my schedule.

It’s common practice for publishers to announce books anywhere from 8-12 months in advance of its street date to help ascertain the publics interest. This allows the publisher to determine the initial print run of the book. It’s a tried and true formula that is a historically good model to follow. This is especially necessary when working with titles that depend mostly upon the book trade for a successful sell-through. It’s also imperative if you are a new publisher. By garnering its initial demand while promoting the book months in advance you can best set yourself up for success. Or, this can be an opportunity to cancel a book if the interest looks weak, such as if I determine that the buying climate has changed.

I have a different approach to making and releasing books than most. I set my style into place in 2009. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing things like I do, but I have been very deliberate about creating an alternate and unique method that has proven successful for us. In 2008 I was acutely aware that the demand for tangible books, and the way that they would be sold, would be greatly affected by the mass adoption of the internet. There was also the possibility that tablets could replace, or greatly reduce, tangible book sales as e-books became more accessible. In addition, it was obvious that Amazon was changing how people bought books. Brick and mortar stores were closing because of the economy coming to a halt, but also due to the ease and accessibility of online shopping.

Huge discounts on books through Amazon contributed to publishers going into scramble-mode. When stores closed, there were less outlets for people to find our books, which meant lower print runs in a market where profit margins were already small. Lower print runs increased the per unit costs and cut back on the return of investment making it harder to recoup money and put it into future books. Another factor that came into play was it became tough to sell our own books on our website and at art shows since you could get it on Amazon at a 35-40% discount with free shipping. Adding to this, if you look at the 2008-2009 time period, there was a mass influx of returns that publishers received due to unsold stock. This increased inventory fees beyond the loss of funds from overprinting. Stores would order certain quantities in advance that set our print run. By the time we printed and delivered, those stores could be out of business, or they couldn’t sell what they had initially projected 4-6 months prior. All of those unsold books came right back to us instead of receiving a payment. It was brutal for everyone.

Another major shift in the 2000s was the lost ability for people to see the book in person and flip through its pages. This was historically the way people used to buy books. Now, people buy books more sight-unseen. Their purchase is based upon online reviews and the faith the “X” publisher, author or artist is desirable and has a good reputation. Additionally, people outside of the hardcore collectors at shows are more apt to buy items for delivery. That was not as common when I started publishing in 2002.

I’ve always been one to like challenges, to never ever make excuses, and to see what kind of positives can come out of change. I was determined to figure out a new business model that would allow us to thrive.

Ultimately, in January 2009, I believed, by creating consistently high-quality art books that people would want to hold in their hands was necessary to beat e-books. Also, creating a direct line of specialty books that could only be bought through us was necessary to beat Amazon. And finally, we needed a website with a proper shopping cart where people could place their orders direct from us while having good service and a reliable shipping system in place. I stopped wholesaling certain new titles as we launched our line of event exclusives. It only took a couple of years for them to become very popular for us.

Overall, I was excited. I knew that there was a big potential to be successful as a small publisher by doing things in a new way. The internet allowed for self-promotion through social media. Instead of paying $2000 for a full-page advertisement in a magazine, or spending thousands of dollars exhibiting at an event such as Book Expo in New York, now we could reach people directly in a one-on-one fashion. I loved where things were going and how technology was bringing us together.

I remember walking around at Book Expo in New York in the mid-to-late 2000s and realizing that the conventional way of doing things at the time was short-lived. It seemed so old-fashioned to me. I benefited from having no experience in the industry since I was not stuck looking at how things typically ran. Since I was small and a new publisher I could quickly adapt, see where the future was headed, and go after it.

To summarize quickly, in 2009 I put into place a new plan that would beat Amazon and beat e-books, while increasing a direct interaction between our collectors and ourselves. As I look back on the last 10 years, our direct sales exceed our distributor sales and we have a core group that supports us directly. The best part is that young people did not tire of tangible books. I’m incredible grateful at how things turned out for us.

How about the next 10 years? I noticed a new big shift start to develop four years ago. I started to put something new in place and am ramping up to grow along with where I predict things are going. I’ve already put things into place where I feel we will be ahead and thriving in this new world that is coming. It’s as exciting as it was for me in 2009. I’ve set some major goals for myself and for the company so that in the next decade it can hit the milestones that I foresee. I look forward to writing about it in detail in 10 years from now! I’ve never been one to boast or talk about what I’m doing. I enjoy the work and prefer to be recognized for what I’ve accomplished rather than tooting my own horn. Plus, I feel that talking too much jinxes’ things. I’ll just say for now that good things are coming.

Now, let’s touch upon 2019. Typical me, I’m going to be vague here. Besides the Ballpoint Beauties book by Frank Cho and Ambedo by Tran Nguyen (spring 2019 releases), then Spectrum 26 (fall 2019 release) we have three other books that are almost done, and three additional books that are in the early stages of production that I will publish this year. I’ll most likely be announcing two to three of these new titles in late-January. I’m working with our usual artists, along with some new ones. The only thing that I can guarantee is that we will put all our passion into these titles and do our very best to make 2019 the best ever for Flesk books. My commitment to the individual artists and this community is my focus. I’ll let the other publishers chase after the latest pop culture craze. For me, it has always been and always will be about the people.

I remain enthusiastic and grateful to be in this position to make books for you all to enjoy.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing more goodness soon.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art
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Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

 

Happy Holidays!

Hi all,

The Flesk office is closed for three days. We’ll return on Thursday.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays.

I’ll try and take a lesson from Mocha here and take a little break, but knowing me I’ll fail miserably at it. I hope some of you are more successful than I will be!

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

New Gary Gianni Book Revealed Next Month!

Hi all,

The new Gary Gianni book will be revealed next month. This is one of my favorite ink pieces that will be included in the book, simply based upon Gary’s mastery of the ink line. It’s stunning!

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to work in three’s. We’re putting the final touches on this Gianni book, Frank Cho’s Ballpoint Beauties, and Ambedo by Tran Nguyen. Actually, there’s a fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh new book that are well into the production stages as well. But the first three that I mentioned are the primary focus at the moment.

A lot of big news will be shared early in the new year!

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Flesk Book Sale!

Hi all,

Heads up! The Flesk Book Sale is live!

Over the weekend I dug through the warehouse and pulled out overstock, titles that are out of print with only a case or two left, and dinged books to offer at huge discounts. There’s 12 books at only $10 each, then a bunch of book sets that run as low as $5 per book when you select the pack.

The sale ends on Friday, December 7th.

Follow the link to see what’s available!

https://www.fleskpublications.com/discounted-books

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Spectrum 25 and 26: Behind the Scenes

Hi, all,

Spectrum 25: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art is Here!

We received our copies of Spectrum 25 a few weeks back. We packed the complimentary artists copies and shipped them right away. We also mailed the pre-orders at the same time.

The arrival of this book culminates a year-long process from the initial Spectrum Call for Entries that begins each year in mid-October. The deadline for artists or their representatives to submit their art falls toward the end of January each year. For Spectrum 26 this will be on Thursday, January 24, 2009.

In no particular order, here’s some behind the scenes details about how the Spectrum process works.

We typically receive a flood of entries, phone calls, and online and email inquiries during the final week prior to the deadline. Because of this, we are usually working full time confirming all of the entries for everyone for up to a week after the deadline. Kathy and I developed a process that lets us double check every entry to make sure that their information, payment, and artwork all aligns. I’m also checking to make sure that the art is clear and appears large on the computer screen. If I feel that the resolution of the digital file is too low, then we’ll reach out to the artist to get an improved file. I want everyone to have the best chance to be seen by the jury.

I made one change for Spectrum 26. This was to eliminate the option of sending in hard copy prints through the mail for the judges to review. We introduced the option to submit online for Spectrum 21. I felt it was important to provide a 5-year transition period to allow those who may have preferred to send in their works as prints to familiarize themselves with the online process. By Spectrum 25 we had such a small amount of print entries that I felt it was time to phase out that option.

I wrote a history of Spectrum that you can read in Spectrum 25. Originally, I wrote a more typical Year in Review essay. I ended up abandoning the initial direction that I took after realizing that I would enjoy documenting the humble origins of Spectrum instead, especially considering that this was its 25th anniversary.

The Call for Entries poster for Spectrum 25 utilized the talents of Spectrum Grand Master Scott Gustafson. Scott is one of only two artists who have been featured in every volume of Spectrum. (The other is Brom.) For the 25th anniversary I wanted to celebrate this occasion by highlighting Scott’s art. I don’t always consult with Arnie and Cathy Fenner when making decisions regarding the jury and call for entries poster artists, but for this occasion I wanted to make sure that I got their recommendations. They agreed that an artist who painted traditionally and who has been popular during the full tenure of Spectrum’s history would be an excellent choice.

I oftentimes make the jury selection over the course of a few days during June of each year. This timing directly corresponds with when I turn Spectrum into the printer on July 1st of each year. In that way I can include the names on the last page of the book where I promote the next volume. The first thing that I do to determine the candidates is to page through the most recent volume of Spectrum. Since I don’t want the jury to be limited to those who submitted to or have been in Spectrum before, I’ll pour through Facebook and Instagram postings by various artists and see who else grabs my attention. I typically spend 15 minutes a day on these two social media platforms to stay in tune with the general tone and direction of the art world. I want Spectrum to capture the most current picture of the industry, so it’s important that I invite those who I feel will embrace the most current and relevant art forms for the book. Spectrum must always be looking forward and embracing change, while also being respectful to those who came before. I want everyone to feel welcome from a new art student to a legend who has been in the business for 40 years. I aim to find a jury who welcomes all sensibilities and forms no judgments or biases.

Spectrum is a big job. The first half of the year is primarily focused on Spectrum, while the second half of the year leans more toward my Flesk book-making duties. I work on both year-round, but during these seasons I can get pulled more in one direction more than the other. When I work on Spectrum my focus is on the community as a whole. When I work on Flesk books my focus is on the individual artists who I am working with. It’s a good balance. The contrast between the two working methods keeps things fresh for me. I don’t really care much schedules or making plans too far in advance. I feel that I lose my creativity and whatever I’m working on at the time loses its spontaneity and looks too rigid if being organized takes precedence. While this method works for me, it’s very hard to teach, and if I’m working with someone who likes to write things down and cross off steps on a list we usually don’t function too well together. I see it as freedom, for others it may drive them insane and possibly make them anxious worrying about how things will get done. I am always confidant that what we need to get done will be wrapped up by the time it needs to be.

After the Call for Entries deadline passes and we have finished confirming all the entries we begin to prepare the Flesk office for the judging event. We cover the traveling costs of the judges and put them up for the weekend in Santa Cruz, California. We start with a dinner on the Santa Cruz Wharf that overlooks the ocean the night before the judging event. This gives the jury a chance to relax after their day of travel and allows them with the opportunity to get to know one another better.

The day of judging is a long day. The jury looks over all the entries anonymously. They do not know how the others vote. A majority vote, three or more picks, guarantees inclusion into the book. Then afterward, the jury gathers as a team and decides upon the silver and gold nominations and recipients for each of the eight categories.

The Spectrum 26 Call for Entries poster was done by Tyler Jacobson. I saw one of his pieces in a previous Spectrum that I loved. It has a lot of energy to it with a high fantasy feel. I inquired with Tyler if he was willing to make the new poster and only pointed out the piece that I liked as an example of the tone that I was looking for. I don’t like to art direct the artists for the poster, and usually do not see a preliminary of finished piece until it is turned in. I select people who are professionals and trust them to do the job.

The poster was designed by our very own Kathy Chu. Like with Tyler, I only gave her very minimal feedback regarding the tone, then trusted her to select a font and to do whatever she wanted. When I trust someone, I don’t look over their shoulder. I also like the idea that not everything is designed by me, nor is limited by my thinking. I like to stay fresh and that can only be done by welcoming the creativity of others into the mix.

As Spectrum 25 reaches the hands of fans and people throughout the industry I get to look at the Spectrum 26 entries as they arrive. We have a fabulous group who will be joining us for the judging event. They include Kei Acedera, Wesley Burt, Bobby Chiu, Edward Kinsella III, and Colin and Kristine Poole.

The Spectrum 26 Awards ceremony, which will be held on Saturday evening, March 30. The gala will be held at the historic Folly Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, adjacent to the Kansas City Convention Center and will be open to all Planet Comicon and SFAL exhibitors, creators, guests and attendees. I hope you can join us!

Thanks for reading. Thank you to everyone who has supported Spectrum!

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Pastoral by J.A.W. Cooper Shipping Update! New Flesk Book

Pastoral by J.A.W. Cooper update!

I received word from the shipper that the books will arrive at the docks on December 5th. Depending on processing and customs we should have the books about a week later. We’ll start shipping the books as soon as they arrive.

Here’s the link to learn more or to place your pre-order:

https://www.fleskpublications.com/jaw-cooper

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text copyright © 2018 John Fleskes. Photos and videos © 2018 John Fleskes / Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2018 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.