Creating Glyphs for Debut Voices of Lookout Books chapbook


To celebrate all our authors reading together for the firs time, we’ve been working on a limited edition booklet to feature work from the four Lookout authors, called Debut Voices of Lookout Books. (Come see them, Friday 1:30PM and then to the book signing after at table A6/A7.) We wanted to design a unique glyph to represent a component of each author’s work and would be used on the covers and interiors of the chapbook.

We read the stories and poems and picked elements from each that spoke to us. Then we studied images of each element, and, using the pen tool in Photoshop, recreated their lines and curves, filling them in with the tone and emotion of the stories. Here is what we came up with.

John Rybicki’s When All the World is Old is a beautiful collection of poetry and a testament to his love for his late wife. The book’s cover looks up at a barren tree canopy, which conveys the action of reaching up and into the sky. For our glyph, we used a bare branch, a stoic and thin image. We think this captures the essence of Rybicki’s work, both a lamentation and celebration of life.

Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle features one essay “Hickey’s Havana,” an ode to Miller’s time with his grandfatherly neighbor, Mr. Hickey. The two bond at Mr. Hickey’s kitchen table, listening to the radio and drinking 7UP. Again, borrowing from the original book design, we chose Mr. Hickey’s tie to represent the essay. The tie is symbolic of Mr. Hickey and his presence in Miller’s life, acting as a refuge from a family of dysfunction.

Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision features “The Story,” which is ripe with scene, pacing and tension. Pearlman writes, “The new restaurant—Harry and Lucienne had suggested it—called itself the Hussar, and presented piroshki and goulash in a Gypsy atmosphere. The chef was rumored to be twenty-six years old. The hussar was taking a big chance on the chef, on the fiddler, on the location, and apparently on the help; one busboy had already dropped a pitcher of water.” Tension grows between the characters and also with the reader, who wonders if “the story” will be told. We decided the pitcher echoed this tension and captured the importance of the story.

Steve Almond’s God Bless America features “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched,” a story between a poker-enthused psychoanalyst, Oss, and a poker-addicted patient, Sharpe. “Oss sighed his silent sigh. ‘This isn’t a poker game, Gary. You don’t win by hiding your cards.’” The story already features poker card glyphs within the text. We liked the image, so we borrowed it for the larger design. The poker card becomes a symbol of the men’s compulsions and motivations and seemed like a resonant image.

—John McShea, Lookout Intern