Another New Calligraphy miniaturizes the publishing model.
When we get Robyn Detterline on the phone, she’s busy cutting corners. Her words, not ours.
She’s putting together An Implausibility of Gnus by Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf, the third release from the young press she cofounded, Another New Calligraphy. She and her husband, Bill Ripley, began the project earlier this year with their first release, an EP from local band A Light Sleeper. In May, they released their first book, Kill Marguerite, a chapbook-length short story by local author Megan Milks. And Bengelsdorf’s Implausibility, released at the end of June, packages short-short stories as a series of cards kept in a box. So when Detterline, 28, says she’s cutting corners, she’s actually sitting down with scissors and rounding the corners of Bengelsdorf’s cards.
“There are tiny scraps of paper all over the floor,” she says, from her Oak Park apartment. “We just moved into this apartment and finally got everything together, and now we’re messing it all up again.”
So it goes for a press that focuses on keeping all of the work as in-house as possible. The two began Another New Calligraphy as a way to combine their lifelong interests. Detterline, a writer, had seen enough good writing in Chicago that she wanted to try her hand at publishing. Ripley, a graphic designer, says it had been a lifelong dream of his to begin a record label. But it’s the house’s attention to design that pulls the two disciplines together.
“With digitalization and people putting stories online, it’s become really important to me to have something physical,” says Ripley. “I just want to make something people want to keep, to honor the tradition of physical objects.”
A recent story on Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight wondered whether—given the city’s creation of a director of publishing-industry programs in the Cultural Affairs Department—Chicago could become the next outpost in the industry, if not a hub. Another New Calligraphy is an entirely different kind of enterprise, one that points at a new paradigm in publishing, a smaller-scale, more intimate production line, as opposed to the massive print runs still in fashion in New York. Each ANC edition is printed on Ripley’s color printer and handmade in the couple’s apartment. For Implausibility’s box of stories, Ripley crafted a slipcover to slide over a four-by-four cartridge used to store film reels. It’s the sort of thing that only works when your print runs clock in at something as small as 50—as it does for Implausibility. And that only works if you’re distributing largely to local stores on consignment—such as Quimby’s and Chicago Comics—and selling at shows.
“We really want this to create a community,” says Detterline. “We definitely want to stick with local artists, and we want to put on shows that will bring all of the artists together in one room.”
Both Detterline and Ripley—who, when we spoke with them, were busily trying to finish up Implausibility to have copies on hand for a late-June release party—admit it’s taken a lot more time and energy than they envisioned. The EP and the two books will likely be it for 2009, but Detterline says they’re open for submissions and solicitations.
“This is all definitely a challenge, both physically and time-wise,” says Ripley. “But it’s been fun. I see it as helping people out, sort of donating my art and time to help this little community of artists.”
Milks reads as part of Tuesday Funk on Tuesday 7.