Zack Rock’s Good Story

h1 November 14th, 2017 by jules


Author-illustrator Zack Rock visits 7-Imp again today to share preliminary images and art from his newest picture book, A Good Story (Creative Editions, August 2017). It’s the story of Assistant Bean Counter #1138, whose world is filled with numbers. “Numbers keep the world orderly and ordinary. You can always count on numbers!” At least this is the story that this accountant has been told all his piggy life. Things change when he ends up in a bookstore and discovers stories — and that some things that can’t be counted matter.

It’s a thoughtfully designed book — from the pages made to look like graph paper to the textured cover under the dust jacket — and Zack’s earth-toned paintings are detailed and textured. I always like to see what Zack is up to. Let’s get right to his images and commentary, and I thank him for sharing.


Behind-the-Scenes Images:


Zack: “The book developed from a private commission, requesting a painting of an animal and some books. I couldn’t help but wonder why that pig wandered
into that bookstore, and the story grew from there.”

(Click to enlarge)


Original thumbnails
(Click to enlarge)


Zack: “Like most of the illustrations, spread 10 went through several very different versions before I hit on the right composition.” [You can see the final spread 10 below.]
(Click each to enlarge)


Zack: “The original ending was cut, due to space constraints. Or maybe because my publisher didn’t want to influence any impressionable piglet readers
to do rooftop handstands. I dunno.”

(Click to enlarge)


Some Final Art:


Zack: “The setting of the book was inspired by Berlin, where I now live —
except Berlin’s Brutalist buildings aren’t usually shaped like giant numbers.”

(Click to enlarge title page spread)


“I never really felt like I fit in.”
Zack: “Since the book’s setting is a kind of dystopia, I turned to some of my favorite dystopians as the accountants. From left to right: Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and William Gibson. I wanted the world to represent only one viewpoint; otherwise, Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler would be in short sleeves as well.”

(Click to enlarge)


“We’re supposed to follow that old story without question,
ignoring anything out of the ordinary. …”

(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge spread)


“The books contained possibilities beyond counting. …”
(Click to enlarge spread, which is the tenth spread Zack references above)


“But the old story snarled at the idea. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“Now that’s a good story.”


(Click to enlarge cover)


* * * * * * *

A GOOD STORY. Text and illustrations copyright © 2017 by Zack Rock. Published by Creative Editions, Mankato, MN. All images reproduced by permission of Zack Rock.

2 comments to “Zack Rock’s Good Story”

  1. Saw that first image above — the back cover illustration? — over on Instagram and thought, jeez, how could I NOT want to see more?!? This looks like a fabulous title, both the story and the art (my gosh, the art…)!

  2. Numbers are awesome.
    Stories are awesome.
    Stories about numbers and stories about stories are awesome.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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