Today I am excited to share our (over 100 contributors plus Jenny, Matt and I) newest book The Who, the What and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History. This book is a follow-up to The Where, the Why and the How, but instead of a focus on the unknown in science, this book brings to light some unknown heroes of history. There are 65 articles about neighbors, friends, lovers, siblings, and benefactors who supported famous figures and helped them achieve their success.
Everyone has someone who has been a major influence in their lives. Often, that someone is behind the scenes, and never got credit for their contribution. The anecdotes about these people are not only fascinating, but they also offer new insight into the lives of their famous historical counterparts.
We gathered a team of incredible writers (Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, Manuel Gonzalez and Joshua Wolf-Shenk to name a few) to help us collect these tales. Many of the writers found their own subjects according to their interests, others we asked to research a specific story we had found.
There is an essay about George Washington’s inventive dentist who secretly corresponded with the dentally-challenged president, crafting him various sets of false teeth out of materials like hippopotamus tusk. There’s a piece about the police officer who taught a 12-year old Muhammad Ali how to throw his first punch so he could fight the bullies who stole his bike. Another article features Captain Arthur Edward “Boy” Capel, Coco Chanel’s lover, whose whiskey decanter is said to have influenced the design of the Chanel No. 5 bottle.
After the authors wrote the essays, we passed them along to 65 illustrators, artists, designers and comic artists who made portraits of these unsung heroes. The only restriction we gave the artists (aside from the dimensions of the page) was to create a portrait of the helper. We encouraged them to add the famous counterpart and show their relationship in a scene, but each artist explored their topic in their own way. The result is an incredibly gorgeous collection of portraits in all kinds of mediums, from pencil to digital rendering, painting to collage. There’s even a portrait created on a loom.
Our hope is that this book will not only be an interesting read and a beautiful object, but also be a prompt for the reader to think about their own lives, and the helpers, friends, and accomplices who have influenced them. Or to treasure their role in being a sidekick for someone else.
You can pre-order this book now or buy it any of your favorite local bookstores after October 15th. We will be having a release party October 24th at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, so save the date. I’ll share more about the process of making the cover another time. Thanks for your continued support of our books!