Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Jabbergluck

Now that the dust surrounding the whirlwind of gaming that was KantCon 2011 has settled, I would like to tell you all about my part in making it a little more fun for those who participated.

First off, a little background. Last year was the first time I had been to KantCon (which was, at that time, only a year old). I had never attended a gaming convention before, and KantCon seemed an inexpensive and obtainable alternative to the bigger conventions out there (ComicCon, DragonCon, and GenCon to name a few). Despite its humble beginnings at a friend's house with no more than 30 participants, in only a year, Ethan Parker—the convention's founder—brought it much closer to 100 participants all crammed into half a meeting room at Johnson County's Regnier Center. Sufice it to say, when I arrived, I could tell this was going to be big.

KantCon was always ever just a way for old friends and other gaming enthusiasts (translation: new friends) to get together and do what we love, so the whole event was non-profit. All around me were people who volunteered their time, energy, and creativity to make the event something special, memorable, and unique. I saw the potential of it and wanted to do something, too. And so, I volunteered my services as a designer.

It took awhile for Ethan to get back to me about what he wanted Con to look like in 2011, but when he did I was gung ho! No idea was too far-fetched, and as you can see below, we ended up with a lot of stuff. The most needful thing was a proper logo, but I didn't want to just leave him with that to stamp on everything from iPod cases to dog shirts (although you can get those). No, I wanted to put my time, energy, and creativity into making everything I did for KantCon special, memorable, and unique, just like I had seen everyone else doing. You can see below what we ended up with.

The logo itself has its own story. At first, we toyed around with ideas for a mascot. Something steampunk? Something fantasy-ish? I entertained the idea of a noble gentleman with a clockwork arm named Lord Cogsworth, but Ethan leaped on one of my earlier ideas: the Jabbergluck.

The Jabbergluck first came to me some years ago when I was living in California. I was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, when my mind started to find pictures in the splattered plaster above me. Here was this image of a troll with long, pointy ears and an enormous, unhingeable jaw. I simply had to capture it (you can see my original sketch at right). I held on to the image and the name I picked for him for many years without doing much with the idea. Once, I incorporated him into a college illustration assignment where he played the part of the troll under the bridge in a rendition of The Billy Goats Gruff. (Look below to see Jabber sporting a red color scheme.) At last, when Ethan liked him so much as KantCon's mascot, I decided it was time I dusted him off and let him get out into the real world.

Jabber is a fearsome fellow! Somehow this troll's lower jaw ended up too big for his skull, and consequently it has a tendency to unhinge when he gets angry, excited, or (apparently) indifferent. This helps when he's trying to eat things that are far too big for his mouth, which could be anything, as he's cursed with a voracious hunger. He talks like a cockney brute, or maybe a mobster's meathead, we're not quite sure. But when he's not talking he just mumbles his thoughts to himself (hence the "jabber" in the name), which causes his oversized bottom lip to wobble up and down attractively. He's a nice guy if you get on his good side, but he can get terribly cross if you make him angry. Like any big softy, though, he get's scared sometimes, too. Oh yeah, and he evidently rides motorcycles. Who knew?

Now that KantCon's all over for the year, I just wanted to pay homage to what came out of the whole adventure by showing how far Ethan and I went with Mr. Jabber. It seems the reception was so good, Jabber's been asked to come back next year! (See more after the jump.)

Spilt Ink Brand Identity

The original Spilt Ink logo circa 2006
Back in my college days (Fall 2006), we did a project where we analyzed our strengths and what we loved to do pursuant to creating a business based on our interests. This business idea was more than just a financial and legal proposal, however; we had to brand it ourselves as well. The idea was to design everything, from the logo, to the packaging, to the signage outside, to the website. All of this excited me then, as it does now, for what you see around this block of text is the fruit of that: the Spilt Ink brand.

Of course, it was meant to be a creative writing supply store (parchment, quills, rubber stamps, leather journals and the like) but it was more than that. Spilt Ink was about inspiration. There was a buy/sell/trade aspect (antiques, mostly) and even a LOTO (leave-one-take-one) used book library. It was about avoiding the ball-point bland and handling objects that—like those who had used them before—had an unspoken story to tell. By feeding off of this unspoken narrative, new ideas would be born, incorporating the old ideas in such a way as to give them a new life.

Sadly, I lacked the capital to actually bring about this revolution in story-telling history, otherwise I would be peddling my slightly (and mysteriously) used writing supplies to you. (Care to buy the sharpened stick that Finneas Flannegan used to sign a contract with the devil? How about the quill passed around by the founding fathers when they signed the Declaration of Independence? The leather journal originally belonging to a Puritanical witch that was then exorcised of evil spirits and subsequently went blank?)

For your viewing and inspirational pleasure, I submit the following samples of the Spilt Ink brand (after the jump).