A few weeks ago I only knew of Ybor City as a reference in a Hold Steady song. Now I could probably do a decent job giving walking tours of the place. That's all thanks to local author Mark McGinty, who enlisted me to draw two maps for his upcoming Ybor City-based novel, The Cigar Maker. Mark blends fact and fiction to take an engaging look at the Ortiz family as they move from war-torn Cuba to newly founded Ybor. I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of the book, and in all honesty I couldn't put the thing down -- it runs at a fast clip, expertly blending pulp adventure with a thoughtful portrait of turn of the century Cuba and Florida. Keep an eye out for The Cigar Maker during Art-a-Whirl this spring, when Mark plans to release it to the public. In the meantime, you can read more about the novel (and even PREORDER it) at TheCigarMaker.net. And keep an eye out for the book's cover, which will be created by veteran cartoonist conspirator Lupi McGinty.
With the Winter Olympics gearing up tonight, golf is probably the last sport on people's minds. But take heart: the snow will eventually melt, and soon you'll be traveling all around the Minnesota and Western Wisconsin region, wondering which golf course to check out. That's where Bruce Stasch and his popular Hacker's Guide comes in. He's introducing a fat new addition to the Hacker's Guide series, and Zander and I designed the cover and the illustrations. Here are a few art samples, but check out the book for more. And consider PREORDERING a copy -- it's the perfect book to keep in your car along with your Hudson Map and the first Hacker's Guide.