Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
My first introduction to Kipling’s Rikki-tikki-tavi was through the Chuck Jones animated film. Although it was made before my time, a home-recorded VHS from a network rerun was in my childhood home. Even at an early age, I knew there was something serious and cared for in the art direction and style, especially when compared to the standard Saturday morning cartoons of the day. When my oldest child fell in love with the cartoon last year, printing an edition of the original story seemed like an easy choice for the press. It was not until reaching out to the Chuck Jones estate that the project took on an unusual direction for a fine press edition. The estate did a fantastic job archiving early sketches that Chuck made for the movie, and as I looked through them, I was drawn to a series focused specifically on the evolution of the titular character and his movements. This is the series that made it into the book, printed from photopolymer plates made from high resolution scans of the sketches. The artwork focuses on Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, while the books design elements are meant to evoke the stories king cobra villains, Nag and Nagaina. The black leather binding is meant to represent their skin, and the design of the colophon their hood. Their famous hood markings are also watermarked in the paper.
In a career spanning over 70 years, American animator-director Charles Martin Jones (1912-2002), more famously known as, Chuck Jones, forged a legacy during the Golden Age of Animation, creating some of the most acclaimed and brilliantly designed cartoons and films during his lifetime. He made more than 300 animated films, winning three Oscars as director and in 1996 an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Among the many awards and recognitions, one of those most valued was the honorary life membership of the Directors Guild of America. Jones's animation mastery was unparalleled. His character creations, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, have possibly inspired more laughter across the globe over six generations than any other film maker..
The Prototype Press is operated by Mark Sarigianis and is based in Southern Maryland, at Tranquility. It was originally founded by David Johnston in 2011 as Sharp Teeth Press in San Fransisco, California. Mark and David rebranded as The Prototype Press in 2014 in Oakland, California, shortly before David tragically passed away in 2015. By producing fine press books, the press aims at fulfilling its primary mission of preserving the traditions of typecasting, letterpress printing and hand bookbinding.
The Prototype Press publication of Rikki-tikki-tavi is printed in an edition of 28 copies. The typeface used for the text is handset Italian Old Style, designed by Frederic Goudy, which has a storybook quality suitable for Kipling. The gold-foiled typeface in various sizes is Libra, designed by Sjoerd Henrik de Roos, which was chosen to reference the use of an Uncial typeface in the movie. The pages were printed damp on custom handmade cotton paper from The Saint-Armand paper mill. It is half-bound in black goat leather. A copy of the 1975 animated film by Chuck Jones is included on a USB drive and is housed in the slipcase. It is 11x15in in size. Cast, printed & bound by the press.