The Uncanny Covers…. a Spotlight Interview with Ian Chalgren

The Uncanny Covers…. a  Spotlight Interview with Ian Chalgren
Dec 23
Earlier in Spring of ’23, I began discussing a special comic book project with Ian Chalgren, an independent book designer from Wisconsin. Ian, a long time fan of comics, has been working full time as a corporate graphic designer for many years in the insurance industry. His goals were to produce an artist’s promotional book featuring covers of famous comic book designs that he would send out to influencers within the comic book industry to establish relationships and get book design work in the comics industry. As we reviewed files that came in for the project, it was clear that Ian had a blockbuster in the works with this book. His execution and attention to details of all sorts make this a top notch promotional book. In the world where most artists used to send postcards out to prospective comic book publishing executives, it’s much harder to ignore  (and discard) a high quality hardcover book arriving out of the blue. Knowing that this project was being 100% funded out of pocket by the artist also makes for a high level intensity not often found in regular commercial printing. We went into the job knowing that only the highest print quality would be acceptable with each page of each book being meticulously scrutinized by the recipient.
Book Specifications
Title: The Uncanny Covers
Size: 9 x 12″  portrait format
Extent: 208 pages text + End sheets + Printed, laminated hardcover
Text:  4 color throughout : 186 pages on 100 lb Accent text + 22 page section on 100 lb silk text
End Sheets: 4 color printed end sheets both sides on 100 lb Accent text
Cover: 4 color printed on 80 lb cover + matte film lamination over 0.098″ Binder’s boards
            (5 different cover designs)
Binding: PUR adhesive binding with black ribbon marker
Qty:
 Limited edition:
10 each of 5 cover designs for for total run of 50 books
Shortly after Ian picked up the books from Marathon, I started to see posts going viral on LinkedIN and Twitter. Ian gave us ample mentions and the project was well received by some comic book industry podcasters and fans. I could not be happier for Ian’s results.

We caught up with Ian this December to discuss the results and feedback he’s received since distributing this fine edition.
MP: Hi Ian, congratulations on all the positive feedback on The Uncanny Covers book. Can you give our audience just a short description on how long this project took you and how it evolved? 

IC: Thank you Martin. First though, thank you and the wonderful people at Marathon Press for your support and amazing production values. Every person who gets their hands on one of those books ALWAYS makes note of the superior construction/production. Thank you! But to answer your question… the book took a couple years from the initial idea to the final printed product. I originally had no intention of printing the book. My plan was to send out PDFs of the book only, but like you mentioned, a physical copy in the hands of editors/publishers would go much further than a PDF. The impetus for the project was the day I first saw an IDW Artist Edition. IDW produces these gigantic 12 x 17″ (sometimes 15 x 22!) books with original comic art. The moment I paged through that Artist Edition, I knew what the next step was in my career. I wanted to design THAT!

 

 

MP: You had mentioned the images from Heritage Auctions where you got these from. Because you are not selling the book, you avoid copyright issues. Can you discuss any details further about that process?

Did you need to do any special enhancements to the images? 

IC:Yes, the good folks at Heritage Auctions (ha.com) have an amazing library of high-resolution comic book art which is easy to grab with just a right click of the mouse. I was more than happy to credit Heritage Auctions in the thank you section of the book. Selling the book was never an option because all of the imagery is copyright Marvel. My motto is “Don’t sue me, hire me.” So far so good! And yes, I had to fuss a bit with each image in Photoshop. While the images were higher resolution than what you can typically find online, they were all just a teeny bit small for my 9×12 format. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for enlarging images a bit. Most turned out great but there are a few clunkers in the book.

 
MP: The book exemplifies the best of ideas in self promotion marketing. As a short run art book printer, I have always thought that more artists should do things like this. But having the book is only part of it. The distribution and followup is also the key. How did you develop the list of who would receive a copy? Was there any follow up plan?

IC: I had a short list of industry editors/publishers in mind. I also had a short list of some YouTube influencers. Some of these people I heard from right away. Some I’ve never heard from. I followed up via email with everyone. And, I kept a stash of 20 or so books at the ready so if an opportunity arose, I was able to mail one out. Besides the five I kept for myself (one copy of each cover), they are all gone now.

MP:Would you care to share some of the projects you’ve been involved with as a result of this book? 

Sure! Yeah, some projects came about from the distribution of my book. I’m currently working on a “CONAN Colossal Edition” book for Pan-Universal Galatic Worldwide, or PUGW. PUGW is run by John Nee who was the publisher at Marvel. This book is the same type of Artist Edition that IDW cranks out, which is the sort of book that led me down this path. CONAN is a character created by Ron E. Howard which Marvel Comics helped popularize in the ’60s and ’70s in comics. Some amazing artists have worked on the CONAN comics over the years and many of them are represented in this book. I’ve also received some book projects from Marvel, Dark Horse, Syzygy, and Abrams Publishing. Unfortunately, I had to sign non-disclosure agreements with all those folks, so I’m not able to chat about those projects. I will say that one of those projects focuses on one of the most popular characters in Marvel history, so that is pretty exciting.

 
MP: Thanks for filling us in on the book Ian!  Are there any plans to do further artist books like this? 

IC: Yes, I have some other personal books in mind. Not sure when I’ll get to them as I’m pretty busy, but I will get to them.

MP: Where can people contact you ? 

IC: Email me at ianchalgren@gmail.com, or you can find me on Instagram and LinkedIn.


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Martin Pugh

BOOK PUBLISHING MANAGER

martinp@marathonpress.net

(402)-371-5040  ext 289