Let the Wild Rumpus Start

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It might not be obvious, but I am still working on new comix! Here’s a new full-page pin-up, not too far off from the period we’re covering in the reposted Tales.

“Let the Wild Rumpus Start” is, of course, named after a line from the classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I wanted to extend that into an homage, so the piece is laid out similarly to the cover of the book, with white bands across the top and bottom with lettering, and the art across the middle.

But to complete the effect, I needed the right lettering. Sendak (or the cover’s designer if it wasn’t him) didn’t just buy a font and type the title and credits. If you look closely, you can see that the letters vary: as an obvious example, the W in “Where” doesn’t match the W in “Wild”. That’s not to say that each letter is unique: there are only two different Es and the different Ts are mirror images of each other.

As far as I can tell, no one has made a digital font of this typeface (for reasons that will soon become clear). So I took a high-resolution scan of the cover and used the tried-and-true method of cut-and-paste to arrange the letters into the words I wanted. There were some choices I had to make, such as the decision to the use the serif-W from “Where” in my instance of “Wild”: because it’s a distinctive feature that would otherwise be missing, and (boldly) I think the sans-serif-W in the original is a design mistake.

There were also complications. The letters I had to work with came in two different sizes. Worse, the original text has no J or Q – letters fairly important to me. (Also no F, V, X, Z, numbers, or punctuation.) Those I had to construct, by cobbling together bits and pieces of the glyphs for other letters: the Q is an O overlaid with the right “foot” of an R, and the J is the curve of a U, capped on the left with the tail of an S and at the top with the serif from… I don’t remember which letter. I also invented an exclamation point. I used the pen tool as little as I could, to maintain the integrity of the design by using only original parts.

The illustration is a whole additional story (so to speak). It isn’t done in anything remotely resembling Sendak’s style… that would be a huge effort leading to a huge disappointment, I’m sure. But each of the guys in this pieces is based on a real live person I may or may not have had sex with individually. :) I’m tempted to do a series of sketches of each of those encounters – they aren’t all worthy of a full Tales – but that’s work I don’t have time for, so don’t hold your breath.