Friday, April 13, 2012

The Girl with the Pigeon Tattoo: Meet Cloudette

In case you didn't know, there's something in publishing called a "book trailer."  It's like a movie trailer, except for a book.  Genius, right?  Readers don't need them and booksellers actively hate them.  Still, when moving 5,000 copies constitutes a hit, it never hurts to try to reach outside your core demographic for new readers.

But Hollywood has been making trailers for ninety-nine years; publishing has only made the effort since 2005.  The result is that very, very few trailers make one say, "Wow, I really need to buy that book."  I've enjoyed three book trailers in my life: Carolyn Parkhurst's The Nobodies Album (see the trailer in which authors are funny; now buy the book), Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story (trailer here, rife with cameos; now buy the book), and Kristen Schaal & Rich Blomquist's The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex (trailer with actual comic actors who are also the authors; now buy the book).  Caroyln Parkhurst made me laugh out loud but the book came out two years ago and I haven't read it, Gary Shteyngart amused me but I already owned Super Sad True Love Story before I saw it, and I'll never read The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex - way to go, trailer-makers!

And remember, those links represent the cream of the crop.  If book trailers are movies, you just watched The Godfather, Casablanca, and Citizen Kane.  Except, you know, funny.  Most book trailers look like something your local high school AV club made for their final exam sophomore year.

All that having been said, I love this trailer:

It perfectly captures the mood of Tom Lichtenheld's whimsical, witty Cloudette.

Buy me.  I rock hard.  Well, softly.  I'm a cloud.

My first Lichtenheld experience was Shark vs. Train.  All the the little asides in the Cloudette video ("tee-hee!" "hi!")?  Lichtenheld peppers his illustrations with those.  Half the fun of reading his books is seeing Dylan giggle over those asides - particularly the trash talk in Shark vs. Train.  Finding them, reading them, and getting the joke; it's like watching a pinball machine light up.

Becky met Tom Lichtenheld at his hotel when he came to Miami.  I dropped her off and waited outside in the car so we wouldn't have to pay the $20 parking fee.  Becky emerged about half an hour later.  We're fairly sure the valets thought she was a call girl.  Or a drug dealer.

To capture Cloudette's rough look, Lichtenheld used pencil before tracing over it with Sharpie.

We don't worry about lead poisoning when art is at stake.
Especially cute art.
Somehow, Becky convinced tattoo artist Dicky Magoo to open Tattoos by Lou not only on his day off, but early so she could get back to work.  I don't think Becky has ever heard the word "no."  

Dicky used an extra-fine needle to create the outline and shading.  What looks deceptively simple holds a lot of detail.  Tom Lichtenheld looked very happy with the result.  

For a minute, Becky wanted Cloudette tattooed inside her wrist so she could see it better.  But as we all know, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the tattoo that started it all.  So imagine them chummily side-by-side on her arm.

Caterpillar fart?

Of course, one could argue that as she lays, Cloudette could be seen as en extra large chuff from Otis that got blown astray.  Nevertheless, we've had fun with Cloudette.  Like the time Dylan decided that Becky and I should have matching tattoos.  He whipped out a pen and went to town on my forearm.

Uncanny, no?


  1. Have you seen this trailer????

  2. Good stuff. She can do no wrong in my eyes, though. Would someone flying in blind be drawn in, or would they find it off-putting?

  3. Hm. Good question. Hard to say and it might just depend on the person's sense of humor. For me a lot of the funny comes from Will Wheaton. He tickles my funny bone.