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January 10, 2007

Book Notes - Molly Crabapple & John Leavitt ("Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book")

Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School is a unique experience:

In normal life classes, silent students sit in a silent room and draw a bored, oft-uninteresting model. In Dr. Sketchy's we've got bodacious burlesque queens as models. We've got ridiculous art contests (best incorporation of a woodland animal? Best imagined costume?), good music and flashy prizes. We've got a selection of posh beverages- alcoholic and not- available to buy. (from the school's FAQ)

Given the unique parameters of these art classes, Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book surprisingly lives up to its outlandish potential. Combining burlesque photography, art, paper dolls, interviews, and illustration, the book will impress artists, readers, and those who like looking at scantily clad burlesque dancers.

The official contents tally, which adds up to a refreshingly fun book for adults:

208 Pages
11 Paper Dolls
9 Colouring Book Pages
6 Interviews
1 Maze
3 Word Puzzles
1 Board Game
7 Good Ideas
4 Bad Ideas
2 ways to make Invisible Ink
9 drink recipes
1 Evil Curse. 2 cut-out pasties
68 new Molly Crabapple Illustrations
17 John Leavitt Cartoons
1 Fred Harper cartoon
4 playlists
1 false history
2 accurate histories
1 way to rule the world

In her own words, here is Molly Crabapple's Book Notes contribution for her book, Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book:

On Using Music to Urge Oneself on to Heights of Grandeur, by Molly Crabapple

Writing a book is insane. Writing an indie book is more so. And, to write a book with an indie press in two months, start to finish, while living off your savings and scratching out an income drawing porn for Playgirl... well, if you do that, dear reader, you might as well be gnawing on your straightjacket straps and declaring yourself Queen of Brazil.

But, that's just how Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book got written.

When embarking on the Howard-Hughes-like madness that is authorship, I found that music just urged me on. Two songs in particular steered my writerly ship on home.

1. Don't Rain on My Parade. Bobby Darin.

What is book publishing by psychotic optimism? Bobby Darrin's clench-jawed sunniness sums it up so nicely. Don't rain on my parade, Mister. Don't tell me that when my book comes out I won't be showered in lucre and fanned by Circassian slaves! Else I'll gut you,

2. Wig in a Box. Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack

I like burlesque. I love the glitter and warpaint and artifice. This little tribute to the power of transformative hairpieces leaves me teary-eyed every time.

So, fire up your Victrola, kids, and learn to use songs to tap into your deep-seated emotional issues. You may just get a book out of it.

In his own words, here is John Leavitt's Book Notes contribution for his book, Dr. Sketchy's Official Rainy Day Colouring Book:

Being, as I am, the DJ mix-master EXTRAORDINARE for Dr. Sketchy NYC events, music featured heavily into the creation of the book. Which is a long-winded way of saying I listened to a lot of Devo while writing. But nonetheless, music is an important part of a Dr. Sketchy's session. We even included 4 suggested playlists in the book lest aspiring Art Monkeys ruin their sessions with sour notes.

Since most of the book was written and/or worked on in 12-hour long death matches, the primary purpose my music was to keep me awake and full of vigor. If I couldn't jump up and dance to it, I didn't wanna hear it.

The Glove, Blue Sunshine: Yeah, the whole damn thing. It's just amazing. The warmest, most expansive, accessible, and rich analog 80s sound *ever*. It was on an endless loop through the bulk of all the tedious layout, editing, and design of the book. It still sounds revolutionary 23 years later. If "Like an Animal" doesn't make you feel like you're the best little bohemian ever, then you're simply not human.

Stiff Little Fingers, "Suspect Device": Back when I was in High School, I would pull long all-nighters fueled on pots of expresso. And because I was a teenager and becase I lived in New Jersey , I listened to a lot of angry. Loud, angry music. Once I moved away, the desire to pogo around my room and wail has waned. However, putting together a 208 page book in 2 months meant I had to pull the all-nighters again. Which meant I needed the insane, unhealthy focus and energy that only screaming 3-cord guitar and heavy drums can bring.

Bow Wow-Wow, "Aphrodisiac": This song is directly responsible for at least 20 pages. I had a stack of things to design and create one afternoon. Tired, fishtailed, and empty, I blasted "Aphrodisiac" and tore thorough the projects. If you're wondering why the design of the posters suddenly changes from Victorian Chic to New Wave album cover, blame Bow Wow-Wow's catchy baselines.

The Shangra-Lais, "Out In The Streets": It's got a good beat but you can't dance to it. Despite their slow tempo, the Shangra-Lais came on often. Has anyone noticed what a bizarre girl group they where? Minimal compositions, mature themes, and very un-pop-like songs. There is a direct line from "I can Never Go Home Anymore" and "Take a Walk On the Wild Side".

Blondie, "I'm On E": I'm a big early-Blondie fan ("Plastic Letters" anyone?) and the whole New-Wave NYC Hip vibe off this track is just the thing I needed to make me feel like the super-cool underground art star that TV told me I should be. Plus, you can put it on a loop and work for hours without noticing. It's like the world's hippest Muzak.

Dusty Springfield, "Dusty In Memphis": Only cause I can't imagine not hearing a Dusty Springfield track in a 2 month period. I've got HOURS of that chick.
The Rubettes, "Sugar Baby Love" C'mon, everyone now...Ahhhhhh...AhhhhhhhHhh....AHHHHHHHHHHH! Bop! Shuwaty! Bop! Shuwahty! Shuwaty! Shuwaty! Bop! Shuwaty! Shuwaty! do do do ..."

see also:

Molly Crabapple's website
John Leavitt's website
Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School
Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School blog

preview pages from the book
The L Magazine review

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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