MONSTER BOOKS FOR $4.00 (shipping included)


Good morning. How are you? I just wanted to alert you to something I just learned from my publisher: Amazon is selling a bunch of the Monster Books through their Marketplace storefronts for $0.01 each. The catch is that you pay $3.99 for shipping and handling, but that's still $4 per book. And these are new books, not used copies. They come with the Monster DVD and everything! I actually ordered a stack of 10 myself, and they arrived in great condition.

So, while I certainly won't object if you want to order the full price copies for $13.59, I want to make sure you know that they have a limited quantity of these $0.01 books on sale right now. Here's what to look for and click on:


If there are any birthday parties or family visits in your future... well, this could be a good gift item that doesn't break the bank.

OK. End of sales pitch. Commercialism aside, you know that 344 LOVES YOU


Good morning. Many you are very kind to send me photos of the book in the stores and on your shelves. I'm posting a few below, just because they please me so. But Cristina from Cancun sent this shot and I think it deserves to lead the pack for meta joy alone:


Thank you also to Sonya, Bill, Terry, and Sam for these great shots.


Fresh monster action is in the works, and the new season of Daily Monsters will start on April 1st, of course. Until then, please don't let the sporadic posts cause you to doubt that which is true: 344 LOVES YOU

GROUND CONTROL TO MONSTER TOM ....................... The Monster Book Launch Party

Good morning. How are you? I hope you had a fun weekend. I know a lot of you did, because I got to see you have it at the Launch Party for the Monster Book at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart.

Thank you so much to all of you who came to say Hello and get your photo taken with the monster. You can check out all the cool photo booth pictures in this special Flickr photoset. (If you took your own photos at the party, please post them to the Daily Monster Flickr Group, or send them to me and I'll do it for you.)


A great big thanks to Tim Moraitis for making the pictures happen, to Jona Frank for helping us get everything beautifully lit, to Elizabeth Thinnes for hooking me up with Steve Babcock at the Universal Studios Sign Shop, who made the monster, to Mac Barnett at 826LA who let us use the store for the event, and to Amy Orringer at 826LA, without whom the party would've been me alone in a room without food, light, chairs, music, or people! Thank you also to all the great volunteers at 826LA who helped set up and run the event, and to my friend Jen Stone who keeps stepping into the breach. You're all so very generous to help me, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I hope you had a good time, too!

It was so lovely to see all of you. A special shout-out goes to Mr. Terry Tolleson, one of the top story contributors in the book. Terry packed his family on a plane to came to the party from Austin, Texas to celebrate. That's dedication! I love that!

In the months to come I hope that I'll get to meet more of you as I go back on the road a bit. If you'd like to get your photo taken with the big monster, come see me at the F&W booth at Book Expo America from May 29th to June 1st at the L.A. Convention Center or at the Impact Books booth at Comic-Con on June 7th and 8th.

Of course, before that will come another full month of Daily Monsters starting on April 1st, and I'm sure we'll have some more fun between now and then, too, if for no other reason than 344 LOVES YOU


Good evening. I just picked up a special guest for Saturday's launch event. He comes to us courtesy of the good people at the Universal Studios Sign Shop, who took my call thanks to a kind referral from my friend Elizabeth. (Thank you!)

Because our special guest fought hard to fit in my car in the first place, that's where he shall remain until tomorrow, when I'll drive him to the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, where he'll wait to pose with you!


Here he is, standing tall, next to Steve Babcock, the brilliant man who built him.
Did I mention that he's got a magnetic face with your choice of mouths and eyes?
The monster that is. Steve's face, while entirely genial, is not customizable.
Unless you count a beard. I'm sure he could grow a beard. Or put on a fake nose.
Oh... you know what I mean... and you also know, don't you, that 344 LOVES YOU


Good evening. How are you? I'm preparing Monster 132 for you right now, but that's still got a few hours to go. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the first three advance reviews of the Monster Book with you.

First off, Whitney Matheson wrote a very kind and lovely review on her POP CANDY blog on the USA Today site a few days ago. You can check it out by clicking here.

The ever-excellent Alissa Walker (of UnBeige) and my brilliant friends at STEP Magazine gave the monsters a full-page shout-out in the current issue. You can click on the images to get a legible version.


The monsters also make an appearance in this month's issue of Los Angeles Magazine in a Buzz Cut review by the fabulous Robert Ito that features an implicit shout out to monster writers Brooke N., Sam B, and Rob C. Again, you can click on the images to get a legible version.


It's so exciting to see the monsters start seeping out into the wider world this way! I can't wait for you guys to get your hands on the book! I really hope I did you proud. Because you gotta know that 344 LOVES YOU


Good evening. I just got home from an appointment and guess what I found on my door step? An unannounced, swollen UPS box from my friends at HOW Books. I thought "No! It couldn't be!" But it was! And it is! The first copy of 100 Days of Monsters! Needless to say I dropped everything else and filmed it for you. Why? Because this is your book as much as it's mine, and besides 344 LOVES YOU


Good morning. How are you? How was your weekend?

Yesterday was my birthday and I decided to give myself a gift: I finished the book portion of the impending multimedia extravaganza that is 100 DAYS OF MONSTERS. I worked until 4.30am to adjust all the little details that were in need of adjustment, pressed print, and went to bed, exhausted but proud. When I woke up, I went through the stack of pages. I saw the monsters and they were good.

Here are a few pictures from today's season finale:


As you can see, the pages---original (front) and revised (back)---are held together by big, beautiful elephant clips. After I mentioned a shortage in the binder clip department a few days ago, longtime monster friend Sam Berkes sent a surprise care package. Thank you, Sam!


Of course, when I reviewed the printouts, I did see a few systemic kerning issues that needed further action. On top of that, a few problems had emerged overnight. As I flattened all the monster images I noticed that the scans were a little bit too soft for me. (I like my monsters crisp.) So I batch processed the files with a smart sharpen effect. This worked out great, except that the sharpening also beefed up the dust particles on some of the scans, making them quite visible in some instances. So today I got to clean the dust off of about 20 monsters. With a 6 pixel healing brush. Fun, fun, fun!

Did I mention the missing markers yet? The printer needs my files broken up into 20MB chunks that are then reassembled in an InDesign Book file. With guidance from Grace the Art Director this worked out swimmingly. Except for images of markers I have bleeding off the edges of some of the spreads. For some reason, InDesign decided that markers on the far left edge of the left page belonged on the far right edge of the following right page. I didn't notice this until late this afternoon---after I had deleted all the errand marker images that had popped up in the file. "Where are all these extra marker files coming from? Sheesh! Delete--delete--delete!" So I had to go back to the master file, retrieve the little buggers, and restore them to their proper place.

What have we learned from all this? Books are fractal. There are always more fiddly bits to tend to. For all the time I spent on this book already, I could easily spend as much again to make decisions about an even more intricate level of details. Every change you make opens up the possibility of having to make that change consistent throughout the book. (Kerning the dates differently comes to mind, for example.) In the end, it comes down to making a decision: Are the changes making the product perceptibly better? Or have you gone to grouping the angels on the head of a pin by wingspan?

Where did I draw the line? I don't know. Is it the perfect book? Of course not. But I think it's a fun book, and an honest, loving attempt to represent a living website on the printed page.

Don't let the griping about all the work fool you, either. This is what I do, and I love it. Life is messy, confusing, and doesn't always yield to our desires, no matter how hard we work to make it so. By contrast, design (even more so than illustration) is reliable. It's an entirely artificial construct that rewards concentrated effort. The more work you put in, the more beauty comes out. Where else do you get that kind of return on investment?

As it is, I've already signed on to design a new photo book for the brilliant Jona Frank. I'm cooking up two new skunk works books with a friend, and a third of my own. I'm still determined to put out the Upstairs Neighbors book somehow. And a new poster is forming in my head. (Help!) In the meantime, Kenn and Tim are still working on the DVD. And then there's the joy of color proofing. But it's all getting there. I wish I could show the whole thing to you now, but we'll both have to wait until the end of February.

As far as the page files, I packed them up and showed them the door at five minutes to midnight, paused on my porch to throw a handful of POP-ITS snappers to exorcise the nasty ghosts of my last year, and walked to the FedEx drop box at my local post office.

This part is done.

Now it's on to what's next.


A few things for your calendar:

Please save the date: The weekend of March 1st/2nd will be my 34.4th birthday. This is within days of the book's release, and a mere month and 6 days before the 10th anniversary of the 344 Empire. I think all of that calls for a party of some sort, don't you? We'll have to figure out a way to celebrate. Please stay tuned.

More immediately, the first Daily Monster-enabled Halloween is coming up. What should we do to mark the occasion? Let me know what you'd like to see. The request lines are open!

Lastly, November 19th marks the first anniversary of the Daily Monsters. We'll have to think of some fun things to celebrate that one, too. If you have any thoughts on that one, please let me know.


Right now, it's so very much time for bed. I hope you'll have a great day. And, man.. you gotta know that 344 LOVES YOU


Good morning. How are you? I hope you had a mellow weekend. (I realize that the word mellow has been appearing on this blog a lot lately, but it is my absolute top desire in life right now... so I wish it for you, as well.) I also know that I've been a very sporadic blogger of late. The Monster Book is getting very close to being ready for the printer (and it's already on Amazon, sort of.) After that, I'll write more often again, and we'll find some new things to do together. For now, I want to give you a little photographic glimpse into the book design process. Why? Because 344 LOVES YOU


Meet the Master Stack of Annotated Printouts. I received this from Amy The Editor, last Saturday. This, along with the list of design tweaks from Grace The Art Director, is my giant to-do list. You can see that it's already well thumbed after a week. The whole thing is arranged in four segments, because I didn't have a big enough elephant clip to make it one big brick. As it turns out, slimmer stacks are easier to navigate anyway, so that worked out well.


Between the sample pages and the first draft I somehow got all the A.M.s and P.M.s formatted wrong on every single page. (There are at least 4 on every page.) As it turns out, small caps are all the rage now, and nobody told me. I was able to switch them all out via InDesign's advanced Find/Replace command, but I couldn't quite figure out how to adjust the kerning automatically, too. So these are the little notes that help me keep the kerning consistent from page to page, as I slog through it manually. (Of course, these are just guides. Following a seven, I only track the P at 100 instead of 140. 140 would be just crazy following a 7.) Did I mention that all these bits run at 7 points?


On the left, you see the hopeful fortune cookie message that guides me right now. In the middle, you have the settings for the cast shadow on the time stamp tag on each spread. On the right (in a fetching red and black on orange combination) are the ten spreads I had to redesign for better legibility and that now require new hand-lettering. I had to redesign just shy of twenty spreads, but half of them worked with the existing lettering. (95% of all that is finished, scanned, and chopped into individual files as of earlier today, by the way.)


Finally, here's our old pal the Master Book Map again (with a Krylon-tastic postcard from and by Victoria peaking out from underneath.) All the red dotted pages are done. All the other pages still need some fine-tooth-comb attention in terns of kerning. All of the pages still need to be outfitted with the hand-lettering. So there's a lot left to do, but it'll work out. I have another week...

In the meantime, Kenn and Tim and Jen are still hard at work on the DVD. It'll be spiffy!

And just because all work and no play makes Stefan a dull boy, here are a few seconds of explicit hummingbird threesome action. There is no sound, so just hum to yourself as you watch. I suggest "Walking On Sunshine," or possibly "Walk On The Wildside." Or how about "Oh Yeah"? (Enjoy it here in the "Secret of My Success" version with Greek subtitles.)

I filmed the birds on my porch on Saturday. Please excuse the herky-jerky camera movements. These birds are complete junkies and they act the part. They usually dive bomb each other as they reenact WWII aerial battles. Or they get into nectar turf wars with the bees. So to have three of them sharing a relatively peaceful moment is rare. There was no time for me to grab the tripod. I tried to stabilize the motion in AfterEffects, but that'll only get you so far, especially when you don't really know what you're doing.

If you desire additional entertainment, my friend Jed just started a blog called Last Night on E.R. Yes, it's all E.R., all the time. But it's really not, of course. As he puts it, it's about the Big Show. Jed was the reason I went to work in Portland for 15 months 10 years ago, and his blog reminds me why that was the right call. Check it out.

That's all I have for you right now.
But there'll be more soon. There's always more!

See you on the other side!


Good morning! I hope all of you here in the U.S. had a lovely Labor Day Weekend. Everybody else: You're not alone. Yesterday was a full work day for me, too.

But it was a good one. Check it out: The design of the Monster Book is complete! The last few pages took a lot longer than I thought, but they're now full of fun little goodies and surprises for you. I had to make sure that the small type lovers and graph aficionados among you will have something to look forward to, after all. And who would ever want to buy a book without lavishly illustrated end papers?

A big, honking PDF is on its way to my editor, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for nips and tucks rather than wholesale edits. When I get my marked up pages in two weeks I still have to hand-letter the pull quotes on each page, but I'll do it gladly. Why? Oh, come on now... don't play coy with me. You know why! Because 344 LOVES YOU