onomatopoeia stories

How can you tell a story through sounds? How can you make it fun and engaging to tell? How do you allow a reader some freedom without losing him?

For the first onomatopoeia story, I thought it best to start with a recognisable fable, so that it would be short and fun to read once it was finished. LaFontaine’s fable La grenouille qui veux se faire aussi grosse que le boeuf seemed ideal, and I loosely translated it as The Frog who wanted to be as big as the Cow (“boeuf” translates to “ox” but I had personal reasons for going with “cow”.) I had no idea what the challenge that reading/understanding/telling a story through sounds could represent, and wanted to make sure it stayed engaging. If it became a struggle to interpret, then it would strip the fun out of making all the funny noises to tell the story.

I established the setting, the characters, then wrote the fable as a script of sounds. For the words to have maximum power, each had it’s own tailor-illustrated lettering that conveyed the action it represented. The “Kkkkkkrntch” as the frog chomped on a fly, or the “MmmmMMMMooOOOOOoeuhhhh” of the humongous cow and so on.

Since the final piece will be a kids’ book, or poster, I added illustrations of the frog and the cow as they went through their ordeal to spice up the visual impact.

I made a layout for the sketches and the text, and drew a final version of the lettering – in 5 panels – as the final piece would be letterpress printed. As for the format, I decided to go with an accordion book. This way  it was both a book and a poster once taken out of its jacket and unfolded.

Scanned and vectorised, with the images and text added, it was ready for plate-making! (Two of five panels here).

Plates made, paper ordered, letterpress oiled, covers ready. I am tremendously grateful for Joel and Liz at Dependable Letterpress for their support and feedback. The Vandercook press and Joel’s basement became my studio, and printing went well into the night(s) until…

The accordion book is now letterpress printed on beautiful mohawk paper, and bound into it’s jacket! To order a copy, please email me at maiabeyrouti(a)gmail.com or order it on my Etsy shop!

The book’s size is
12.7 x 21.6cm (5″ x 8.5″) closed
101.6 x 21.6cm 40″ x 8.5″ when unfolded into a poster

Selling price for this handmade edition (not including shipping) is 17 € / $23 / £15

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