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When Graphic Novelists Turn to Accessory Design

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I had lunch with Strand Books marketing director Christina Foxley earlier this week, and she told me how excited everyone in her office was because, earlier that day, they’d just received their first shipment of the new tote bags designed by Adrian Tomine, the acclaimed graphic novelist and New Yorker fiction issue cover artist. According to the catalog description on the website, the array of headshots represent “the many faces of Strand customers;” I’m curious to find out whether Tomine actually took inspiration at the bookstore. Can’t you just imagine him, say, tucked away behind the used book desk on the main floor, making quick sketches as customers walk by?

[UPDATE: "I am a regular customer at the Strand," Tomine emailed me over the weekend," and I am by nature a people watcher, but in the case of this project, the faces were mostly imagined by me while sitting in my studio... It's always a dicey thing trying to draw unsuspecting strangers in public, and I wouldn't have wanted to cause any commotion in one of my favorite New York book stores."]

Tomine is the second New York-based cartoonist to create a tote bag for the bookstore, following last year’s 80th anniversary commemorative bag from Art Spiegelman. No word yet on whether they’d ever be able to recruit Peter Bagge, but it would be awesome if they did. (Actual plans for future tote bag design, Foxley told me, include book covers drawn from a list of the store’s all-time most popular titles.)

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