When developing a fine press edition, there are countless details that have to work together towards the same goal. This, obviously, leads to a long and meticulous development, but it’s worth the wait.
I, myself, am an impatient man. I try not to be, but I am. I like things done fast and I like them done now. Life is short and all that jazz.
But over the course of the last few years I’m slowly learning to accept that sometimes things take time. Even more so if they are fine press books riddled with details and beset with complex production, which Dracula was, through and through.
You Really Can’t Have It All
Unfortunately, you can’t. If you focus on quality, you can’t expect things to go fast. Sure, you can work towards it being faster, but never fast. Add to that a very thorough development process and you soon realise you can only have one priority.
It used to be ‘pick two’…
Quality is the name of the game, everything else comes secondary. Or in the case of the gif above – good. So even though I was often asked ‘when is Dracula coming out?’, it pained me immensely to say each and every time – soon™. I don’t think anyone wanted it published more than me. But, alas, there could be no rush, it had to be GOOD.
A lot of time people asked us why Jekyll and Hyde weren’t limited editions. To be completely honest – it hasn’t crossed our minds. We were so focused on creating them, that the thought of limiting the run never even entered our brain space. But there is one major benefit of a limited edition. Yes, it’s rare, and yes, it’s ‘cool’, but it also allows you to create something truly amazing, without having to strip it down to accommodate the production process. Instead, it can remain as imagined, with no compromises.
That is how Transylvania Edition came to be. Our original idea was to make the book sensitive to light, just like Dracula was, so we made it reactive with the use of phosphorescent ink on covers and illustrations – it can glow in the dark. But, obviously, we didn’t stop there. We were just warming up.
The book is draped in a luxurious red fabric, with a velvety texture, so printing on it was… Interesting, to say the least. Then we added some design details all over the book (design Easter Eggs are here again!), but I won’t spoil them all here.
I will say that we used the similar idea for the slipcase like we did with Jekyll and Hyde. The slipcase was another matter all together, because we wanted something durable to protect the book, but also with a wood motif (because of the wooden boxes Dracula slept in) and the design that allows for the spine to remain exposed, so the title can glow from your shelf for a short time after you turn off the light.
Those are just main points, there are numerous other details, like page edges painted black, but in a way so the paint interact with the capillarity of the paper, making the paint flutter on the edge of each page differently, like some kind of darkness is seething into the book. You can read more about these details in our gallery.
All in all, a good project all around. Great, I’d even dare to say. But what if…
Enter Scholomance Edition
What if we didn’t stop there? More importantly, how could we create something even more special, without taking away from Transylvania Edition? These are the questions I asked myself once the details for Transylvania Edition were ironed out.
The first decision for Scholomance Edition was to make one final tribute to Dracula by the creatives who worked on this project. Action speaks louder than words, so the illustrator Vedran Klemens and I drew our own blood and wrote the title with it. Don’t worry, it was sealed after writing, so the blood isn’t in direct contact with the reader. It does have a bloodcurdling effect on people sometimes, but that was the point of the story, right? We just wanted to give it a little more ‘oomph’.
We didn’t stop there, however. Inspired by the fact that Dracula shipped 50 wooden boxes filled with Transylvanian soil to London, because he can only rest on the soil of his homeland, we made 50 wooden boxes for the book, engravings and all. But what’s the use of a wooden box if it doesn’t have Transylvanian soil for Dracula to rest on?
Thankfully, the kind people from Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania (also known as Dracula’s castle) really liked our idea and shipped us some soil from the castle grounds. This soil was sterilised and then placed in the bottom of the box, behind a small plexiglass window, so that even our Dracula can ‘rest’ on the soil of his homeland. We even signed a certificate of authenticity to vouch for the soil’s origin.
Producing something like these two edition is extremely difficult and demanding. Not only because you have to come up with new solutions to actually produce certain parts, but also because many elements of the books are handmade.
When all of that entered production, we had some time on our hands and an idea for bookmark came up. One that would thematically fit and also add to the whole experience. Countless hours and numerous tests later, we have something I’m really proud of because it is such a great fit.
Now we are finally churning the books out at a steady rate, but that also means that not all of the stock will be immediately available. Complex production and numerous handmade details demand that we obey the gods of quality first and foremost. However, we didn’t want to keep everyone waiting even more, so now it is time for Dracula to emerge.
And besides, now that it is out, we can get started on the next title…