Over the years we’ve covered a wide range of hard-to-find projects on PaperSpecs; celebrity invitations, super-expensive wines and spirit packages, you name it. But we’ve really had to venture into the Internet outback to hunt up images of this one. Stands to reason, I suppose: The boogeyman only reveals himself when you least expect it. In this case, the boogeyman is a real-life recreation of the pop-up book at the center of the 2014 Australian horror film “The Babadook.” In all, 6,200 copies were sold in a 50-day online campaign for about $60 each, with the first 5,000 autographed by “Babadook” writer/director Jennifer Kent.
Before you can appreciate this volume, it probably helps to have some idea what role it plays in the film. Cue trailer:
Pretty frightening, no?
Director Kent partnered with paper engineer Simon Arizpe and illustrator Alexander Juhasz to bring that accursed volume to life, publishing the book through Insight Editions.
“All the specifications of the book are the same in the limited edition copies as they were in the film version, such as the color, binding and trim size,” Simon tells PaperSpecs. “However, the film only shows a few pages from the book. In creating the limited edition we used those same pages but also designed several new pages to complete the story.”
“In regards to the paper there was no special finishing,” he adds. “When working on a pop-up book I like to use uncoated/unfinished paper because it lets the pieces stick together more strongly when glued. After the paper is printed the pieces are die cut then each spread is assembled.”
As you can imagine with a pop-up book based on a horror film, the challenges Simon faced putting this one together were…unusual. And a big trigger warning to those sensitive to animal violence, even in paper form (such as our editor, Aaron, come to think of it).
“The hardest spread in the book for me, engineering wise, was the spread with the woman and the dog,” Simon explains. “We wanted it to look like she was applying pressure to the dog without making it look forced or funny. (It’s a pretty gruesome spread – you might have to see it to know what I am talking about). We also wanted people to be able to pull the tail which breaks the dog’s neck (I told you it was gruesome.) It may seem small, but for me it was a big accomplishment to have the dog’s broken neck reset every time the viewer closes the page. That way the dog looks healthy for the next viewer who opens the page.”
(Hoo boy, someone get Aaron some smelling salts…) And for those curious to see what Simon’s talking about, you can glimpse that spread in the video below.
However demented this all sounds, it nevertheless required a herculean effort to pull off.
“I am based out of New York, Jen the director and Kristina the producer are in Australia, and Alex the illustrator is in Montreal,” Simon explains. “Because of this, we had to do a lot of late night/early morning Skype meetings to make sure we could find a time when everyone was awake. But we were all good sports about it, and for a while I always knew exactly what time it was in Sydney.
“For me what was really great about this project was that everyone involved was so passionate about working on it. Everyone wanted to make the best possible book we could. That doesn’t happen on every project. Also, it’s a horror pop-up book! When is the next time I am going to get the chance to make that?”
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