If you ever wondered why I went nine months without updating the Secret Fun Spot, here's the reason... I'm thrilled to announce a new "visual history book" about the S.S. Adams Prank and Magic Company.. written, photographed, and designed by yours truly. It just finished printing in Korea and we're hoping to have it in hand by mid July.
For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar, S.S. Adams (a.k.a Adams) is the world's first and oldest mass-manufacturer of pranks and magic tricks. Adams is responsible for timeless classics like The Joy Buzzer, The Dribble Glass and The Snake Nut Can. They basically pioneered the American "joker's novelty" industry.
I've been doing design work for the Adams company for a couple of years now, and in early 2005 they approached me about creating a book in celebration of their 100th anniversary. This was literally a dream come true, as I'd been talking for years about putting together a book on pranks and magic.
The first thing I did was visit the Adams factory in Neptune, New Jersey and raided the place for artwork, discontinued stock, old photos, promotional stuff..everything I could find. I made discoveries like the original art(!) for the Money Maker and Mystic Smoke that you've seen a hundred million times in comic book ads. The experience was truly phenomenal.
The book consists of 200 full color, large-format pages of prankster's eye candy. I included items and artwork from every decade of the last century. Miraculously, Chris Ware of Jimmy Corrigan and Acme Novelty Library fame wrote the foreword. Just as you'd expect, it's as painful as it is hilarious.
Anyway, you can preview a half dozen pages, and even order it over at S.S. Adams website. Please spread the word if you know of anyone who might be interested. It's a relatively tiny print run, and we've got no real marketing budget, but it's a true labor of love and some of you are going to greatly enjoy it.
As if the experience wasn't already great enough, my design hero Chip Kidd gave me a blurb to die for...
"This book? This book is a JOKE. When I opened it, it played a trick on me: instead of a breezy light-hearted look at novelties, it buzzed in my head and revealed itself as the heartbreaking secret history of twentieth century America that it actually is. Oh, and it's gorgeous too. Tricked again."
-Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys, and Batman Collected