All images ©Neil Gaiman and Todd Klein, except where noted.
Above is the print in final form with both signatures, and most of the text once again blurred so those who order it can enjoy reading their own copy when it arrives. ADDED: Some time has now passed, many people have seen the completed print, and I’ve replaced that blurred copy with an unblurred one. After completing painting the white moon and candle flames on the first half of the print run I added my signature at lower right using a black Elegant Writer Extra Fine Point calligraphy marker, which has a wedge point, allowing for thick and thin line variations.
This gives a result similar to the real ink pen I used to letter Neil’s text, though the ink is grayer and the point not as consistent. Works fine for signatures, though. This is my “artist” signature, my regular one is quite different, and it actually has an origin. I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the 1960s and quickly became fascinated by the calligraphic alphabets he used to decorate the title pages of the hardcover edition, with the full alphabets shown in the appendices at the end of book three. I often used to copy them.
When THE ROAD GOES EVER ON, A SONG CYCLE, was published in 1967, with Tolkien’s poems set to music by Donald Swann, it contained more examples of his alphabet and calligraphy. An excerpt is above. I copied those, too. I can’t say I really understood everything he was doing, but I liked the letterforms and thick and thin lines. You can see already that one of them became the T in my artist signature, and other letters were similarly rounded.
What really clinched it for me was this actual Tolkien autograph acquired for me by a good friend (a story for another time). The man himself had a signature that used the same T, and it dawned on me that “Todd Klein” and “Tolkien” shared a lot of letters. Well, always steal from the best, I say. (No, wait, I stole that motto from someone…)
When the first half of the prints were signed by me I packed them up and shipped them to Neil, where he signed them in using a dark purple fountain pen ink called “Tanzanite”, probably after the mineral. Then he shipped them back to me. This is Neils “signing things” signature: scrawled but nicely stylized. There’s quite a lot of variety in the 500 copies I now have; variety of size and shape, but all clearly Neil’s signature. I imagine he probably signs other things somewhat differently. I do have one old example from a postcard he sent me around 1990:
More complete, more like his handwriting, which I think Neil would admit probably didn’t reward him with high marks in penmanship in school, but it gets the message across. I shouldn’t talk, my regular handwriting is pretty scrawly sometimes.
So, I’m almost finished painting the second half of the prints, and will repeat the above process with them. Once I’ve sent them off to Neil, I have other preparations to make. I have to order packing and shipping supplies. 1000 tabloid-size plastic sleeves, and 800 mailing tubes. Now, I’m planning to allow folks to buy either one or two copies of the print, so I probably won’t need that many sleeves or tubes, but better to have too many than not enough, as I found out the hard way with the first printing of “Alphabets of Desire.” The tubes take up a lot of space.
Here’s the 100 I have on hand at the moment, 50 in each box. Multiply that by eight. I’ll put some upstairs with these, and some down in my studio. When I have both sleeves and tubes, I’ll prepack 300 singles and 100 doubles to give me a good head start.
Another thing I have to prepare are the customs forms for those going outside the U.S. I do as much as I can ahead, leaving just the shipping date and contents to fill in. Oh, and if you look closely you’ll see my other signature. Those of you ordering from other countries will get one on your tube. I’ll ready a few hundred of these.
Once everything is complete I’ll be able to set a firm publication date and announce it here on my blog. Those of you signed up for my “first notified” mailing list will get the information first, with some additonal info not found here. Want to sign up? Click the JOIN MY MAILING LIST link on the sidebar. At the moment it’s looking like the on-sale date will be some time soon after June 15th.
Hope you enjoyed this exhaustive look at how Neil’s print was made. I’m putting links to all the parts below, in case you missed any. You read about my other prints on my SIGNED PRINTS page, and find ordering information there, or on my BUY STUFF page.