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Idiots’ Books

David Nickerson ’97 writes:

Two of my classmates have started a nifty business out of their barn.
Matthew Swanson writes and Robbi Behr illustrates books that they print themselves and mail out to subscribers (and a few books stores in the know). The website is here.

Most of the books are written in children’s book style, but intended for adults. That said, my personal favorite is “My Henderson Robot,” which would work well as a children’s book. Robbi has an on-line gallery of some of her illustrations.

Robbi and Matt also maintain a blog that details their travels and observations. I reckon the story is up your alley. Married Eph couple pursuing artistic endeavor and starting a business.

Amazing stuff. I just ordered the one year subscription plus My Henderson Robot option, following David’s suggestion. Is anyone else familiar with Robbi and Matt’s work? Reviews welcome. Note this Record article.

Chuck is a bully. You know this the second you glance at the cover of A Bully Named Chuck, written by Matthew Swanson ’97 and illustrated by Robbi Behr ’97. A few pages into the book, however, you realize that Chuck is a little more complicated than your average high school jerk.

Chuck lives in an absurd world full of giant brassieres and knife-wielding babies and existential crises. To make matters worse, he’s got entirely too many ladies (Layla, Olivia, Sue, Hogan, Julie, Ruth, Emilia, Nancy, June, Mrs. Barnsworth on his paper route, etc.) who want him to take them to the ever-looming prom … not to mention some disturbing thoughts on the fleeting nature of youth jumbled around in his head.

Chuck’s story is not typical. And neither, it turns out, is that of his creators. After years of working in nine to five for a strategic communications firm, Swanson and Behr moved into a renovated hayloft in Sept. 2006 to pursue writing and illustrating, longtime passions. They agreed on a goal (collaborate to produce an illustrated book each month) and a name (Idiots’ Books) for their new work, and plunged in.

Two months later, the pair shipped two hundred copies of a book titled Facial Features of French Explorers to family and friends. Since then they have created a new book each month and mailed the tomes to a growing list of regular subscribers. In addition, two independent bookstores near their Chestertown, Md. home are currently selling their books, and a local art gallery recently displayed a wall painting based on their book Man Joe Rises.

Some palpable recognition has accompanied their growing success. “We’ve had people stop us on the streets and ask ‘are you the idiots?'” Behr said, laughing.

More seriously, both expressed excitement at the fact that many of the new subscribers are “total strangers” rather than just family and friends trying to help them out.

There are no strangers at EphBlog, but we encourage our readers to help them out just the same. Say what you will about David Nickerson (and we miss him greatly here), but he has excellent taste.

For the record, although I am a fan of the married Eph plan, my lovely wife has always maintained that, if we ran a business together, she would be forced to kill me. You see, I have certain, uh, lack-of-focus issues. Glad to see that Matt is a better man than I!