Artwork for Agent


First, gaze, if you will, on my recent acquisition: Twisp and Catsby, the beloved surrealist characters from Penny Arcade. The PA guys made 500 of these cels, which sold at $80 a pop; they sold out in less than 12 hours. Let’s all have a hearty chuckle at the folks who are still wondering whether cartoonists can manage to support themselves online. Someone is already selling one on eBay; he’s set the minimum at $220. I imagine he’ll get it. I have no intention of selling mine, so, you know, don’t ask. I don’t buy art as an investment, I buy it because I like it.

Given my muchly enjoyment of Penny Arcade, you can yet only begin to imagine the sheer, unalloyed pleasure it gives me to note that Gabe (the artist half of the PA duo — trio if you count Robert the Business Guy, and why wouldn’t you) will be doing the artwork for the Agent to the Stars hardcover dust jacket. We tempted Gabe with promises of jewels and spices and the dusky secrets of the universe — and also kicked in cash and the promise that for his participation, 10% of the retail price of the book would be donated to Child’s Play, PA’s very wonderful charity which provides games and toys to kids in children’s hospitals all over the country. I am of course particularly pleased about being able to have my book kick in for that cause, and to have it help prime the pump when PA kicks off Child’s Play ’05 later in the year.

I was happy before that Agent was going to get a life outside this Web site; with a Gabe cover, however, this thing really is going to be something worth having. In addition to this being the first novel I wrote, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the first book cover art Gabe has done (aside from collections of PA’s own work and their comic book cover art). It’s as if Gutenberg himself has descended from on high, dispensing dark chocolate bon-bons with a filling of pure joy.

No, you can’t pre-order yet. Please to recall I am still in the first flush of excitement over Old Man’s War, and would like to focus on that for a while longer; I think everyone at Tor would like me to do the same. And as much as I would love to think that you all would rush out and buy two hardcover books from me in the same month, in the real world that would be taxing your good will, and your wallet. Also, there are various setting-up exercises we have to do before we can start taking pre-orders. So, patience. We’ll be cleared for pre-orders for Agent most likely in about six weeks.

I will note that this will indeed be a limited edition; we’re still looking at a 1,000-unit print run but if we get enough pre-orders, we’ll push the print run higher to accommodate the demand. Having said that, we’re looking at a hard cap of 2,000 copies, max (have some sympathy, please — I do have to sign all the copies). So if you really want your own copy, please do consider pre-ordering a few weeks from now.

To encourage pre-ordering when the time comes, I’ll put this out there now for y’all to mull over: If pre-orders push up the print run to 2,000 copies and we sell out the run before the end of 2005, I’ll kick in $500 of my own money from the book to Child’s Play, above and beyond the 10% from the retail price that we’re already kicking in. So go ahead and donate my money, too. I’ll be happy to cough it up.

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you all of this again when pre-orders open up. I just wanted to plant the seed for now.

No matter what, I’m wholly pleased that Gabe’s doing the art for Agent. The exuberance, in this case, is not insubstantial.

22 Comments on “Artwork for Agent”

  1. That’s awesome–both the print and the cover art plans. Any hints as to the style? The few times Gabe’s done more painterly things have been some of my Penny Arcade artistic favorites (Independent of strip favorites—the Yeti strip is still hilarious).

    So… what next? Tycho foreword? John Scalzi monogrammed absinthe spoon in the spine? Free eight ball of crack? ;-)

  2. I’m tired of being filled with hateful envy, so I’ll just slunk my shoulders in weary release, and send you hearty congrats. Oh, and I’d ask for a pre-release glance of the cover art, but I don’t expect you to hold out on us there.

  3. Kick ass man. Mike and Jerry (and Robert, who I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting as of yet) are a couple of the good guys.

    Can’t wait to see the sketches. I of course read the book, and Gebu San is PERFECT for this art. I just hope we get to see sketches etc… along the way.

    Oh,and that I’m not broke when pre-order time comes around. Brokeness sucks. No money for cool books.

  4. Please be saving me one of those super-deluxe editions. Is there any plans for a waiting list on those?

  5. As to what the artwork will look like: Still working on that — we’re *very* early in the whole thing. Basically, I’ve asked, Gabe’s agreed, and we go from there.

    As to pre-release glimpses of the artwork: That’s up to Gabe. I have no problems with him doing it if he wants.

    Super-deluxe editions: I pass along info about people being interested in Super-deluxe editions to Subterranean Press, but I don’t know what they’re doing in terms of a waiting list.

  6. You know, there is a part of me that REALLY dislikes the idea of becoming a groupie, and yet that is what seems to be happening.

    Pass the word on me asking about the deluxe thing as well. In for a penny, in for a pound.

  7. John,

    You can put my name on the list of people who want a super-deluxe edition…. I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I didn’t know if I’d buy a book only because Gabe did the cover art, but a Gabe cover on a Scalzi novel? But of course….

  8. You know, I was waffling on whether to buy “Agent” in a limited-edition (translated: not cheap) hardcover, but the Gabe cover sells it. Chalk up at least one sale to good taste in cover art.

    I’m just supremely pissed that I didn’t hear about their “Tea with the Moon” sale until after they were all already gone; I love that picture and use it as my desktop. I totally would have paid $80, but there’s no way in hell I’m paying ebay prices for it.

  9. How much crazy money are we going to be talking for one of the super-groovy limited edition, signed by the man himself books? I mean, I do have my crack habit…er…kid’s day care to pay for.

  10. The supergroovy limited edition — that’s the one that’s signed, leatherbound and in its own box, and cosseted by supermodels and wrestlers — will probably be around $150.

    The regular limited edition — which will be numbered and signed — will be somewhere in the area of $30.

  11. Spiffy. Say, does my memory fail me, or did you buy ads for _Agent_ on Penny Arcade way back when you were selling the e-book? I’m pretty sure that was you, and that it was the first time I’d heard your name. I seem to remember them plugging it in the news posting, too, which is not something they do for most of their advertisers. So they must have been liking this book for a while now.

  12. I did indeed buy an ad for Agent there a couple of years back, and it was money well spent, since I made my cash back and then some. Since then I’ve been trying to convince my publishers they really need to advertise with PA. I’m still trying to convince them even as we speak.

  13. Would your publishers be open to semi-random people (Whatever readers, etc.) contacting them to tell them how much it would benefit them to advertise on PA? Readers telling them in force that PA would give them superb exposure to an SF audience?

  14. Sweet! I heart the Gabe and the Tycho. (Along with various Tor-oids, Brom, Brian Froud, and David Mack, I also stalk THEM on my yearly pilgrimage to Comic-con. And they are always nice and say, of course, we remember you.)

    Good choice, man. And about the last person I would have thought of, at the same time.

    Child’s Play is one of my charities of choice.

  15. Oh…my…well, you know the rest. Not only am I piping up to throw my wallet in to the ring for one of the hardbacks (alas, not the leather bound, but the wallet wavers and the vegetarian bits get the TKO on that one), but once again I’ve got to tap up another good vein (getting few and far between now) to insert another IV of amazingly cool stuff you’ve gotten me hooked on. Namely Penny Arcade, with whom I was not familiar before today. Am in the process of skimming through the back ‘toons.

    Darn you, John. It’s another foul plot to keep me from getting my website redux up and running. Curses, foiled again.

  16. I’m in too, John – for the signed limited edition hardcover. And I’ll tell you that I stopped buying novels casually several years ago because I read too fast, and far too many of them weren’t worth the sticker price with regard to repeat readings. So now I’m a bit of a book collector/hoarder, and much more discerning with the books I purchase – and those I do I do so in hardback.

    OMW? During a freak snowstorm I was carrying it out to my car when I dropped it in a snowbank. So rest assured that mine won’t end up on eBay anytime in the foreseeable future – even after you’ve signed it.

  17. You rat bastard. I was thinking that it would be nice to have an Agent to Stars hardbound, but I wasn’t going to wheedle for it. Now, knowing that Gabe will be doing the cover art. I’m doomed. I bought the WoW strategy guide for the PA art, not for the Strats.

  18. I bought the WoW strategy guide without knowing that it had the PA strips inside….

    but I am an admitted dork. A lvl 24/21/17/6 tauren warrior/troll hunter/elven hunter/tauren hunter kind of dork.

  19. I was in alpha, so I didn’t need the strats. But I understand. Currently my main is 41 Orc Warlock and my alt is a 16 Troll Priest. Two’s all I can handle.
    Err… now returning to regularly scheduled Whatever.

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