Emily Post and Miss Manners now have a new colleague in the world of etiquette advice, one with a particular undead slant.
Dan and Amelia Jacobs, a local couple, are nearing the end of their Kickstarter campaign for their children’s book, “A Brain Is for Eating.” The illustrated story reads as a manual for zombie children with guidelines for devouring human brains.
From NOLA to Rome
The Jacobses first met soon after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where Amelia was teaching at a charter school and Dan was pursuing a career in the film industry. Both are prolifically artistic and have their hands in multiple projects at once.
“A Brain Is for Eating” developed during a bicycle trek through Europe. Dan explained that they were in Rome at the time and doing the typical tourist visits to the ruins and catacombs of the ancient city.
Though neither Dan nor Amelia are horror buffs, the human brain has a funny way of unconsciously banking ideas and turning a mundane observation into a spark of unexpected inspiration. The sight of a child on the subway suddenly called to mind the concept of these small adults attacking larger-sized adults.
The randomness of his thought led the Jacobses to a nearby hill, where they sat down and wrote the entire 28 lines of “A Brain Is for Eating.”
“A brain is for eating. Yes, that’s what I said,” the book begins. “They come in all sizes and head in the ‘heads.’ The package is different, some big and some small.”
Amelia described the short book as more of a poem in the vein of “Everyone Poops,” the Japanese children’s book about the universal bodily function, the work of author and illustrator Edward Gorey.
“From the beginning, it goes on to describe elements of brain eating etiquette, things like how to help other children bag a fine catch-it’s an instructional etiquette manual,” she said.
“A Brain Is for Eating” is actually one of many finished and unfinished stories in a series the couple is working on about little monsters. These charming vignettes include a plasma-intolerant vampire and a werewolf with cousins in London, Paris and America who does not like to travel.
From Rome to Chattanooga
The Jacobses recently relocated to the Scenic City; Dan is a native. To move the book forward, the couple tapped an old, local schoolmate.
David Littlejohn and his company, Pale Dot Voyage, helped the authors conceive of how the nontraditional route of producing a book could work in their favor. Amelia explained that they wanted to reimagine the relationship between writer and publisher wherein they had more control over crucial decisions, such as the illustrator, to bring their words to visual life.
Pale Dot Voyage-a Chattanooga-based company-styles itself as a digital bakery dedicated to launching and branding businesses and developing mobile and social media applications. For the Jacobses, Littlejohn demonstrated a strategy for publishing the children’s book digitally and connected the authors to illustrator Scott Brundage.
The artist, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Scientific American and The Wall Street Journal, took to the subject with gusto, and as Dan explained, turned the story into a work of art. Brundage has already illustrated eight of the pages, including a scene of little zombies storming a school bus and another scene in which two zombies peer into a living room at a husband and wife.
“There’s a great art in balancing the macabre with the cute,” Dan said. “How do you make a zombie sympathetic and cute?”
Opting to forgo the traditional publishing route, the Jacobses and Pale Dot Voyage chose to seek funding through a Kickstarter campaign. The home page features the initial run of illustrations and the complete text of the book, as well as a message from Dan.
With the clock counting down to Sunday, “A Brain Is for Eating” has met 75 percent of its $10,000 goal.