Flesk August 2023 Update. Upcoming Books and Lessons Learned

A good friend of mine, Jim Reid, often provides me with sage life and business advice. One such Jim-ism–that I am paraphrasing here—is as follows: “Most people try to force things to happen when they would be better served to let things happen.”

I was spinning my wheels trying to force certain things to happen in 2021. I normally thrive when issues arise since I enjoy the creative process in overcoming them. But I was struggling with the reality of the supply chain issues that had driven up the costs of printing and shipping to unprecedented levels. As we entered 2022, I realized that I was not following one of Jim’s golden rules. I needed to ease back and abandon what I wanted to happen, and then to accept what was happening.

I aimed to reduce my anxiety and stress by focusing on what I enjoy doing most—making books. I was working from 10:00AM to past midnight each day all through that January and into early February 2022. We sent the Franklin Booth, Brad Kunkle, and Lupente books to the printer in February. Then Vicky and I focused on the Arthur Adams, and the Rachel & Terry Dodson titles. We were having fun again.

Between that February and the end of the year I did not send any books to the printer. I stopped making announcements for new books. I stopped putting pressure on myself to make 2022 a big and exciting year because it was our 20th anniversary. I realized that if I continued to send books to the printer–that if I tried to force things to happen–that it would hurt the business.

With the Booth, Kunkle, and Lupente books at the printer, and knowing we may not receive them for 8-10 months, I accepted that these would be the only books that I could release that year. This long wait affected my cash flow. I could only tie up a certain amount of money for a specific time frame. I knew what I had to do. And I was not looking forward to it.

I had a talk with Kathy Chu in early 2022. (Kathy, if you are not aware, worked here at Flesk starting in August 2015.) I showed her what money we had. I reviewed the current pricing for getting books made and that it was taking over 8 months for delivery (instead of the usual 3 months). I told her that I was unsure how long I could continue to pay her and highly recommended that she seek out a new job. We had plenty of projects going on. We had, and continue to have, so much goodwill from the community and our customers. We had everything going for us, except the ability to get our books printed and delivered.

Fortunately, I had savings, and the business carries no debt. I was able to pay Kathy until late-June 2022. After nearly 7 years of amazing work to help us succeed and grow, she was off looking for a new job. Kathy asked that I not say anything publicly at that time. She did not want anyone to feel sorry for her and Kathy is a private person. I wanted to respect her wishes. You’ll be glad to know that Kathy found a new job working for another publisher. She loves working in the industry and is doing well. I’m so happy for her.

As a brief segue regarding savings, I follow the advice from Jim Reid to always have $20,000 in a savings account to have available in case of an emergency. I treat this number as zero. Let’s say I have $23,000 in savings. I view my savings as being $3,000, not $23,000. Another Jim, James Bama, taught me the importance of not carrying debt. I believe in working and savings toward something, rather than borrowing and becoming weighed down by debt. Now, back to our main topic.

For the remainder of 2022, and the early part of 2023, Vicky and I kept the business running by selling our existing Flesk books. Plus, through warehouse finds, dinged book sales, and selling some personal stock. It worked. It worked because you all took care of us by buying books on our website. There was never a time when we were in trouble. Month after month we were OK. It felt rewarding to have the support of so many people.

Also, throughout 2022 and up until now, Vicky and I have focused on designing more books. We would finish a new title, set it aside, then start another one. We have completed over ten books that are ready for the printer. We have an additional 15 books in various stages of production. Four of these are almost done.

In the spring of 2023, we launched the Carbon 5 by Mark Schultz Kickstarter campaign. The success of this book served as a fresh starting point for us. Then, we launched the Arthur Adams Kickstarter campaign in May that exploded in popularity. (We still remain in shock at how many people pledged.) I still wake up in gratitude each day, especially when considering just how unpredictable the last few years were.

Currently, the printing and shipping costs have subsided back to realistic levels. Between the popularity of Arthur’s campaign and the production costs dropping, we are in an excellent position to start feeding the press again. It feels incredible to be able to start sharing what books we have ready, and to begin making announcements again. Letting things happen—thanks for the wisdom, Jim.

Here is the list that reveals the next six Flesk books that will be coming out between this fall and the spring of 2024.

The Art of Arthur Adams
Release date: October 2023
This has been well publicized. This book was in development for approximately 4 years. It shows examples of Arthur’s work from 1982-2023. Each piece is accompanied with commentary by Arthur. I’ve been following Arthur’s work ever since picking-up Longshot #1 when I was a kid. This is one of those dream projects that I thoroughly enjoyed working on.

We have another book by Arthur that is completely done, except for the new cover that he will work on when the time allows. Also, the Monekyman and O’Brien big collection is well mapped out. We are hunting down some missing elements and bugging Arthur to draw a few new pieces for the book. We will announce release dates and more details once we have these two totally wrapped up.

Gilt by J.A.W. Cooper
Release date: October 2023

Can you believe it has been since 2018 that we had a new book with Cooper (Pastoral)? And since 2020 since we released the Genesis collection? Cooper took 2 full years off from drawing any personal art. Now, Cooper is back! I’m very excited to share the details for this book. It’s unlike anything we have published before. The two tiger drawings are example of the edition that comes with an original drawings. We will begin to take orders and reveal all the details in late September.

Barren Lands by Brynn Metheney

Kickstarter launch date: October 10, 2023

It is always an honor for me to have an opportunity to publish a new artist for the first time. I have talked with Brynn at various events over the years. She’s such a great person and I love her art. As soon as I stepped down from Spectrum so that I could focus more on working with individual artists, Brynn was one of the first artists who I approached. Luckily for us, she had a few book ideas. Brynn was fun to work with and I’m so very excited to release this book soon. We are launching a Barren Lands Kickstarter event on October, 10, 2023!

The Art of Rachel and Terry Dodson

Kickstarter date: Early 2024—TBA

I’ve been very lucky to have had a friendship with Terry and Rachel for years. We’ve made trips together and visit each other when we can escape our work schedules. We share a passion for nature and the outdoors. They are lovely humans. Vicky and I had a blast making this book and spending time with them. I love being able to highlight friends. This book is done, and we’ll launch a Dodson Kickstarter campaign in early 2024.

The Complete Genesis Collection by J.A.W. Cooper

Release date: March 2024

This book was released in 2020 and sold out quickly. I suggested to Cooper that I wanted to keep it in print. We revisited the book and made some updates for the re-release next spring.

Pastoral by J.A.W. Cooper

Release date: March 2024

The original large format printing of this book was back in 2018. We reformatted the book to the handy 7.5 x 10” size, made some changes, and added some new pieces. This will be released at the same time as The Compete Genesis Collection next March.

We have more books that are done, but I am not ready to announce the release dates or details. I’ll give you a tease though. We have a two-volume set that relates to Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini. The new Jeffrey Alan Love graphic novel is almost ready. It’s in the final design stages. We have a new edition of Ambedo by Tran Nguyen and a new book of her studies. The big Comics three volume set by William Stout continues to be in development. Also, future books with Daniel Warren Johnson, Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni, Bruce Timm, Frank Cho, and more!

I’ll share more details about the future once we are ready. Once again, it’s you that makes these books happen. Thank you so much for allowing us to publish the works of these extraordinary artists.



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Text copyright © 2023 John Fleskes. Photos by Vicky Lien and John Fleskes and © 2023 . Videos © 2023 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2023 its respective artists. All rights reserved.