As I’ve said before, I’m doing a book of baseball infographics based around the stuff I’ve done on my Flip Flop Fly Ball site. This will be my fourth book, and it’s interesting to me how the process each time has been a little different. The first book, Minipops (2004), was mainly using work that already existed. It was a moderately smooth process, and the only issue that came up with the publisher was the colour of the paper. They were in favour of white paper, I wanted off-white paper. I won that battle. Yay for me. I do wish someone had said something about the colour of the title on the cover, though. The yellow is too close to the green background and is difficult to see. That was corrected for the German edition, though.
The second book, Fun Fun Fun (2005), was for a smaller publisher. Two-thirds of that book was already done before it was re-formatted for publishing, and it didn’t really take much longer than a month to put together. No interference whatsoever from the publisher with that one. The only weird thing was that it was done before Minipops. The publication date kept getting put back and back until it was due to come out within a few weeks of Minipops coming out, so to avoid that, it was shelved for another seven or eight months.
Atlas, Schmatlas (2007), my third book took a good six months to write and illustrate. By far the longest I’d worked on any project. I’m still kind of amazed at how I did that so quickly. It was a fairly hardcore time of research and writing. Researching the history of countries is a fascinating thing to do. Trying to be funny about those countries, every day of the week, even when you’re in a bad mood, is hard work. And it can be quite depressing, especially when you’re researching African nations and all the shitty things we Europeans have done to them over the years. But I was quite methodical about it. I’d work continent by continent. If I couldn’t think of anything to write about a particular nation, I highlighted it on my Excel spreadsheet of all the countries, so I could return to it at a later date, and just ploughed on to the next country. I’m not sure why it happened like this, but if my memory of it is correct, Spain was the last country I wrote about. I must’ve found it tough to think of a joke about Spain, and looking at what I wrote, I still didn’t find a joke; the history of their nation is boiled down to an unfunny comment about Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise. Once the writing was done, I set about the 100 or so illustrations, which, after all the researchy stuff was fairly mindless stuff cos I knew what I wanted to draw, so I was just systematically going through it one by one.
I’ve been deep into working on Flip Flop Fly Ball for about a month now. I did some stuff over the winter, but I was doing it when I felt like it, rather than as my daily work. I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to be buried deep in one project. It’s a lot of fun, but also tends to make me a fairly uninteresting person. It’s more or less impossible to have a conversation with me without me mentioning something about stadium financing, some random player’s statistics, or the history of a minor league. Every day I wake up, open a browser and Excel and start making spreadsheet, roughing out the information. And considering it is often the butt of many a joke, Wikipedia is really really good. There are very few instances where information is wrong, and at most it’ll be stuff like saying a team’s name changed in 1952 instead of 1953. Wikipedia tends to be my first port of call for most things. Basic info there, then on to other resources like Baseball-Reference (my favourite web site bar none) to check things and get deeper info. When I stop working, usually around 11pm or midnight, I’ll either watch a baseball-related film (I watched Major League II last night) or read one of the four baseball books I’ve currently got on the go. Other elements of my life are suffering because of this, I think, but I’m really enjoying it. Oh, and I started a baseball-related Tumblr site, too, cos, y’know, I don’t spend enough time thinking about it. It’s basically a place where I dump nice old photos and stuff that I come across. It’s here: http://flipflopflyball.tumblr.com/
Anyway, I was researching the Pacific Coast League earlier this week, and came across this footage of the 1918 Oakland Oaks. It’s nice bit of film.