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Behind The Zipper Club – Crafting A Symbol

I realize I’ve been a little more lax on my posts this week, but I’ve been working very hard on research and straightening out information for all of the posts I’ll be throwing up in the coming week as I dive into the events surrounding my second cardiac surgery. The one that turned my life around and has kept me going ever since. Today, after a couple days of conversation with my Zipper Club collaborator, Brenda López, I wanted to share a little something cool we’ve been cooking up on the road to getting the book into everyone’s hands by October/November.

A comic called The Zipper Club has gotten me a fair share of confused looks and cock-eyed stares when I mentioned the fact that it was for kids. People hear a term like “Zipper Club” and apparently their minds go immediately to images of BDSM and squeezing into leather gimp suits. When I tell them the book is for kids, I’ve gotten a couple of audible gasps and menacing glares. With my sense of humor and some of the awful directions in which it leans, initially, I guess that’s a fair judgement for those who know me, (My previous blog entry’s illustration had a pretty horrible gag playing off of a classic Jim Steranko illustrated Incredible Hulk cover, fergodsakes) but some of the clearly judgmental reactions I’ve gotten on occasion have hit me like a punch in the gut.

So, in the interests of keeping the weirdo crowd AND the uptight crowd from getting in an uproar, I figured we would need a plain and simple little piece of iconography to go right there on the cover of our book that will sell people on the title and the good and wholesome messages that Brenda and I are trying our best to convey. The icon idea came to me a lot easier than the cover image did when Brenda and I were knocking our heads together, trying to come up with just the right thing.

It came to me one sleepless night while lying awake in bed. So, I drew it out in a way that only A Badly Drawn Boy could do and came up with this…

That’s the idea, plain and simple. I’ve seen a couple different motifs on the “Zipper Heart” in the last little while, but every one of them I’ve seen so far was the romantic, “Valentine” version of the heart, which is all well, good, and cute, but this book is about the human heart, the strongest muscle in the human body. The point that we want to put across with The Zipper Club is about finding strength, no matter how weak or inferior we feel. To me, that cutesy little of fluff image just didn’t seem to cut the mustard for what we sorely needed.

After finishing the piece, and in the interest of uniformity, and because Brenda is clearly the owner of the more skilled set of hands in our dynamic duo, I passed my design idea onto her, to get her take on it and this was her initial response, nailing it right on the first try.

And for good measure, she shot me a colored version as well…

The colors came out great as well, but we got to thinking that maybe it would look better in a more naturalistic set of tones with a bit more variety to the colors and shades. With that in mind, Brenda’s second attempt knocked it out of the park!

I’m so in love with what Brenda did here, that we’re looking into the idea of putting together Zipper Club related merchandise centered around the design. We’ll start small with t-shirts, but I’m thinking it would be pretty cool to come up with Zipper Heart shaped backpacks and purses and so forth. (That’ll be a ways away, unless some kind soul wants to hit the “Donate” button over there and give us a little cash injection. ) I’m even thinking very strongly about getting a slightly altered version tattooed under my left collarbone in the not-too-distant. (Sorry, mom.)

Hope you guys dig this little peek into our ongoing artistic process. Brenda and I are having an absolute blast bringing this book around the bend towards home plate. We hope everyone who has and will order a copy will enjoy it as much, and ultimately “get” what we’re trying to say with The Zipper Club. I’m already in the process of writing next year’s annual which will pay off a number of the things that we’re setting up in year one.

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