Almost five years ago I got an email from from one of my very first clients who, I’m happy to say, I still do a lot of work for even after all this time. He had some really exciting news – Subterranean Press was about to publish a special signed, limited edition of Neil Gaiman’s upcoming The Graveyard Book novel and he wanted a separate website dedicated to promoting it. It was exciting for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that Neil Gaiman is a popular author with a huge following, having written the seminal Sandman comic book series and a number of other award-winning novels; and Subterranean Press was going to be especially lavish in the production: special binding, Ann Muir marbled paper and the book designed by longtime Neil Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean who also contributed additional artwork not seen in any other version of the book.
I was pretty happy to be given the opportunity and I went to work immediately, designing and building what I consider to be one of my best projects:
I went into a few details about the design of the website on my blog, though it doesn’t really capture the amount of planning, sketching, experiments, and, most importantly, bad ideas that I had along the way.
The Graveyard Book ended up selling out long before publication and once the books were done, they turned out to be just as good as promised. It’s therefore not surprising that Subterranean Press, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean have teamed up again to work on what promises to be another special limited edition of Neil Gaiman’s work: Smoke and Mirrors. Though it’s seen it’s fair share of delays, significant work has been done recently and I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.
About the story
Apparently, Neil Gaiman first came up with the idea of a story similar to The Jungle Book, but having the child raised by ghosts instead, back in 1985, but didn’t think he had developed enough as an author to write it. He revisited it through the years, always returning to the same conclusion, but finally had a breakthrough in 2004 and worked on it intermittently, only completing it six months before publication in 2008.
The story is split into eight chapters, beginning with Bod at two years old and revisiting him every two years as he grows up and experiences adventures in and out of the graveyard. The start of each chapter in this edition is accompanied by some of Dave McKean’s distinctive inkbrush illustrations.
As with some of the best young adult novels, younger audiences will find much to enjoy in this book but will perhaps not spend overly long thinking too much about some of the themes that pop up throughout the novel. But for those of us who’ve had the pleasure and pain of being here a few years longer, we’ll find ourselves spending a bit more time reflecting on love, life and death long after we’ve turned the last page.
One of my favourite novels, and I’m happy to have it in such a fine edition.
Illustrator: Dave McKean
Paper: Mohawk Superfine, printed with two colours and duotone
Publish date: 2008
Limitation: 500 numbered, 26 handbound lettered w/ remarques, signed by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Size: 6″ x 9″
Binding: Iris cloth binding with Ann Muir marbled paper over boards
Pictures of The Graveyard Book
Though my PC copy is housed a plain, though functional, slipcase, the numbered edition was issued in a lovely cloth slipcase with gilt lettering, not pictured here.