Chris Gonzales

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: the Illustrated Edition

As a big fan of all things Harry Potter, I was super excited to learn that the folks at Scholastic and Bloomsbury are releasing fully illustrated versions of all seven books over the next seven years. A few days ago they unveiled the cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: the Illustrated Edition (pictured above), and it looks fantastic.

The cover and the 110 full-color illustrations throughout this deluxe hardcover book have been done by artist Jim Kay, a few of which were previewed earlier this year and can be seen in all their glory here.

Harry Potter Illustrations

The illustrated edition of Sorcerer's Stone is slated for release on October 6, 2015. I know that's a long way off, but you can at least preorder the book now for $24 and have it at your door as soon as possible after its release. Easiest choice I've made yet today.

Review of the GORUCK GR Echo

The GORUCK GR Echo — by Álvaro Serrano

My buddy Álvaro Serrano has nailed it yet again with his review of the GORUCK GR Echo daypack this morning over at Tools & Toys.

[T]he Echo thrives in an urban environment. Its understated looks and slim profile make it easy to dart through crowded areas like subways, shopping malls and the like, while providing the assurance that your belongings are always safe.

However, don’t let its discreet appearance fool you into thinking this is an ordinary bag. The Echo shares much of its DNA with the rest of the GORUCK packs and like them, this bag can take whatever you throw at it, and then some.

As usual, the photos are gorgeous and worth clicking for alone. Check it out.

Street Photography in Madrid with the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Lens

Spring Photography in Madrid — Álvaro Serrano

Álvaro Serrano:

Madrid is an amazing city, full of life and color all year round, but it gets even better when the cold temperatures of winter subside and the glorious spring sunshine takes their place. As the days become longer, the heartbeat of this unique city begins to pick up the pace and when the first heat wave of the year hits the streets, its effects are immediately felt all the way across town, like a shockwave. [...]

With that scenario in mind, I definitely felt this was as good a time as any to take out my new Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens for the first time and have some fun documenting the arrival of spring to the Spanish capital.

Madrid is one of those cities that I've heard about in my life but never really had much exposure to, in photos or otherwise. I had no real sense of the place at all.

After reading Álvaro's article and seeing his beautiful photos of it, now it's a place I think I'd like to see in person someday.

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes — An Exhibition Catalogue

In the just-released book Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue, Jenny Robb (Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum curator) sits down to chat with legendary cartoonist Bill Watterson about his life, his influences, and generally everything that makes him tick. As Michael Cavna of The Washington Post says in his review of the book, there's not a lot in the Q&A that Watterson doesn't touch on.

While the extensive interview alone is worth the price of admission to a lifelong fan such as myself — the man doesn't do many of them, so this is a rare treat — the book also contains art from cartoons and cartoonists that Watterson identifies as influential, including Peanuts, Pogo, Krazy Kat, Doonesbury, Pat Oliphant, Jim Borgman, Flash Gordon, Bloom County, and Ralph Steadman.

The Washington Post was granted permission to publish an extended excerpt from the interview. Here, Watterson describes how he developed the comic strip's style over the years:

As Calvin and Hobbes went on, the writing pushed the drawings into greater complexity. One of the jokes I really like is that the fantasies are drawn more realistically than reality, since that says a lot about what’s going on in Calvin’s head. So that, and my interest in creating a lively sense of animation, forced me to push the flatter, more cartoony and loose designs I started with into a more three-dimensional conception of form and space. If I wanted to draw Calvin from some odd camera angle, I had to visualize him sort of sculpturally, so I could draw it. That’s when you discover that the zigzag shorthand for his hair doesn’t work in perspective very well. Or you find that his tiny little legs are hard to make run, because he hardly has knees. You invent solutions to these sorts of problems, and that gradually changes the appearance of the strip.

There is also an excerpt at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Libarary and Museum blog:

Jenny Robb: My husband and I are looking at houses, and whenever we see one with a woods, we call it a Calvin and Hobbes backyard.

Bill Watterson: To be honest, we didn’t tramp around the woods all that much. Because it was low and heading toward the river, it was somewhat marshy and brambly. You’d get stuck full of prickers of tangled in brush, wit your feet starting to sink into muck. We’d venture in occasionally, but it’s not like I was Christopher Robin.

But I loved having that much nature around us. It mitigated the suburban feel, which I imagine is why my parents chose the property. Having something a bit wild and mysterious and beautiful at the end of the yard was a memorable thing.

Now it’s a subdivision, of course. Looking at a cul-de-sac of McMansions doesn’t have the same impact on the imagination. We like to think their basements are wet.

Excuse me as I rush out to buy the book and read the rest.

The Portland Project

Jim Moran

Speaking of the new Field Notes edition, Jim Moran of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum gives a behind-the-scenes of how it all came together:

Evening runs and weekend sessions were needed to keep a daily average of 4000 impressions rolling off the press. Most of my collection of vinyl records were necessary to provide background music throughout. Beethoven, curiously, made the Heidelberg happiest. Every time the press locked up, it took a 3 person crew to work the flywheel free. [...] Each paper meant new settings on the press (repeatedly) and a complete re-working of every curse I was capable of uttering.

(Photo above taken from the source blog post and edited by yours truly. I hope they don't mind.)

Field Notes "Two Rivers" Edition

Field Notes "Two Rivers" Edition

“It's a hand-used book so it should be a hand-made product. That's kind of ideal.”
—Jim Moran (Director, Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum)

The Spring 2015 Field Notes Colors edition is finally here, and it's called "Two Rivers". My wallet and mind are ready.

This edition celebrates the history, Americana, and old-fashioned style of wood-type printing — particularly, the kind found on display at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Watch the trailer:

Using the museum's collection of vintage type and ornaments, the Field Notes crew hand-set several of their own designs, which were then printed in two random colors on one of four cover stocks over the course of eight months. Further variations were introduced thanks to the vagaries of wood type and letterpress printing.

All of this work added up to thousands of variations, meaning no two books are exactly the same. a small sampling of the variations can be seen in photos at the bottom of the store page. (My heart goes out to the Field Notes completionists out there.)

What's more, two bucks from the sale of every 3-pack goes directly to support the museum. If the edition sells out, that means a minimum donation of $50,000. But even more can be donated, if buyers choose to add an extra amount to their order. I hope you'll consider it.

Get a "Two Rivers" 3-pack for $10 at Field Notes.

Cast Iron Skillet Care and Recipes

Tools & Toys Cast Iron Guide

This morning over on Tools & Toys I published a guide to cooking with and maintaining a great cast iron skillet, plus some recommended accessories and recipes.

Not only do [cast iron skillets] perform awesomely in the kitchen (once they get hot, they stay hot), but with proper care and maintenance they can literally last generations. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be given a grandparent’s old cast iron skillet, relish this gift and take care of it. It will take care of you in return.

There are so many myths out there surrounding cast iron. I've done a lot of research on the subject over the years, trying to discern fact from fiction and experimenting on my own skillet to see what works. I wanted to write a guide covering the sort of information I wish I'd been given when I inherited my grandma's old skillet after she passed.

A truly in-depth, comprehensive guide would have been far too long for one article (probably more like book-length), but I think I managed to distill a good deal of information into this one-page resource. Think of it as "Cast Iron 101".

A Reflection on One Year of Daily Journaling

Josh Ginter has journaled every single day for an entire year. He explains his process, along with some insights he's learned along the way:

What matters is that [journaling] has changed my life. Recording, recognizing, and signifying important events in the past year has improved my memory and my realism. Pushing the tidal waves of thought and emotion through the nib and onto paper has created a metaphorical bottleneck — my recorded thoughts now have structure, my daily doings now have amplified importance.

In typical Newsprint fashion, there are plenty of lovely photos to ogle while you read.

Typography in Ten Minutes

Matthew Butterick, in his online book Butterick's Practical Typography:

This is a bold claim, but I stand behind it: If you learn and fol­low these five ty­pog­ra­phy rules, you will be a bet­ter ty­pog­ra­pher than 95% of pro­fes­sional writ­ers and 70% of pro­fes­sional de­sign­ers. (The rest of this book will raise you to the 99th per­centile in both categories.)

All it takes is ten min­utes—five min­utes to read these rules once, then five min­utes to read them again.

A short, concise ruleset that can make any website look more professional. So often I come across blogs that would be 10x more readable if they accounted for rules #3 and #4 alone.

If you end up reading through Mr. Butterick's typography guide in its entirety, consider paying him a few bucks (or more) in thanks. He did a wonderful job with it. (Tip: hyperlinks throughout the guide are indicated by prepended diamond symbols.)

The SIRUI T-025X Travel Tripod

Álvaro Serrano T&T Tripod Review

Álvaro Serrano wrote a review of the SIRUI T-025X travel tripod for Tools & Toys:

In a nutshell, the T-025X is one of the world’s most compact and lightweight full-size travel tripods, but what really sets it apart from the competition is its incredible balance of performance, features, portability and price. There may be some slightly lighter tripods out there, and tripods that can withstand more load. There are probably also taller tripods, and tripods that offer more stability. But you’d be hard pressed to find one that matches the T-025X in all those features at the same time, and even more hard-pressed to find another carbon-fiber tripod that can do all that at this price point.

You wouldn’t necessarily read the term tripod review and think “interesting read” or “gorgeous photography” but Álvaro nailed it on both counts.