Summer Reading

This week, I'm excited to share two new book releases.

Samak the Ayyar is a wonderful, thousand-year-old Persian adventure saga that I've had the honor to adapt in its first English-language translation. It's the source material my Prince of Persia games (and movie) always wanted but never had. You can read about the project's origins (and download a free sample chapter) here.

You can order Samak on Amazon, or direct from Columbia University Press, via the store. If you order from the publisher, enter the code CUP20 for a 20% discount.

My other July book release is the third in a trilogy: Year 3 in France, 166 pages of my sketchbook journal from 2018-19, the third year after I moved to France from L.A. for a video game project. Like the first two volumes, it’s a small, high-quality print run from local publisher Tomoe.

I've signed a stack of books, so the first 30 people to order Year 3 from the online store will receive signed copies.

Year 2 has sold out its print run, but you can get signed copies of all three books at Chicago Gamespace, where my sketch art is on exhibit thru August 23. It's a unique space dedicated to video game culture and art, well worth a visit if you're in the Chicago area.

The Chicago show also includes a new print from Year 3: "Les Beatnik Modernes", in a signed and numbered limited edition of 10. It's a sketch I did in May 2019 at a café just up the street. I've missed sketching in cafés, and can't wait to rekindle the habit.

Rassouli in his studio, as we started our collaboration to translate and adapt Samak. (From my sketch journal Year 2 in France.)

Chicago Gamespace

I'm pleased to announce that Chicago Gamespace, the leading Midwest video game museum and art gallery, will host a solo exhibition of my sketch journal and art prints this summer. The exhibition will run from June 4 to August 22, 2021. Artwork will be available for sale in their gallery. Details are at chicagogamespace.com.

The show will include a new, yet-to-be-chosen print from my sketch journal. If there's a drawing in Year 1 or Year 2 that speaks to you especially and that you'd like to see as a print, please let me know. Just post a photo of the page on Twitter or Instagram, and tag @jmechner #sketchbook.

In the meantime, a big thank you to everyone who's purchased art prints online. Editions that have sold out won't be reprinted -- that's part of the deal to guarantee that signed/numbered prints won't lose their value.

If you're in the Chicago area between now and June, I encourage you to check out Gamespace's current exhibition: "Nom Nom: 40 Years of Pac-Man Design and History."

Episode 2, I mean 1

Thanks to all of you who've supported my sketching habit -- on social media, in person, or by purchasing art prints or a copy of Year 2 in France (sold out as of last week). The warm reception you gave that first release has encouraged me to release the prequel: Year 1 in France -- a year of my sketchbook journal starting in July 2016, when I arrived here from L.A.

And yes, it'll be a trilogy. I can say that now that Year 3 has safely wrapped.

As with the first book, this will be a small print run, designed and printed by Gami in Montpellier. Due to pandemic, a bookstore or café signing isn't in the cards this year, but I've signed 30 copies for the first 30 takers. If you'd like one signed, just include the secret code word ESPRESSO in your order (anywhere in the address field, or as your middle name); Gami will remove the extra word before shipping, so as not to confuse the post office. You can order books here.

A Book and Art Prints

When I was a kid, I spent as much time as I could drawing... until I got my first Apple II. Old interests got swept aside to make way for my new obsession: making games. Over the next three decades of writing, programming, and other activities, I almost forgot that drawing had once been a primary means of self-expression.

It came back to me in 2008. My artist friend (and collaborator on Templar) Alex Puvilland gave me a Moleskine notebook, black Pigma Micron pen, and no eraser. I started sketching people in the street, at cafés and airports, in live-model workshops. (And on the Prince of Persia movie set. There were camels!)

I found the tactile, no-undo, Zen aspect of pen on paper a soul-refreshing break from screen time. Other than showing my sketchbooks to friends and family, and an occasional snap-post on Instagram, I had no plans to take my hobby public. But over time, it became clear to me there was something about the drawings that others found of interest.

Today, after over a decade and 34 Moleskines filled, I'm happy to share with you a year of my no-longer-private sketch journal. It's a little book entitled Year 2 in France -- 164 pages drawn between August 2017 and August 2018, the second year after I moved to France from L.A. (There's some New York, London, and other locations too.) I hope it captures the atmosphere of that year, and of those places.

I've worked closely with Gami, a local fine-art printer here in Montpellier, on a small print run of the book. We've also done limited-edition, signed and numbered giclée prints of selected drawings. When an edition runs out, it won't be reprinted. Prints are available in the store.