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The Awful Alphabet

The Awful Alphabet

Adulting is hard. Nourish your inner (emo) child with this alphabet picture book for adults, which features A. A. Rubin's twisted verse and Sara McCall Ephron's surreal art.
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A is for A. A. Rubin, and also for The Awful Alphabet.  S is for Sara McCall Ephron. B is for the book we created.

Let’s face it, the last few years have been hard on all of us. What better way to deal with the existential stress of modern life than with a nostalgic plunge into your subconscious? The Awful Alphabet is a picture book for adults, which features A. A. Rubin's twisted verse and Sara McCall Ephron’s surreal art. In the tradition of Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies and Neil Gaiman’s Dangerous Alphabet, but also Go The F*ck to Sleep and All My Friends are Dead, The Awful Alphabet is the perfect complement to the ennui which envelops your heart. 

Adulting is hard. Nourish your inner (emo) child.


During my childcare leave, I used to make construction paper alphabet letter projects with my youngest son. We would cut out and glue shapes and letters. A is for Apple; B is for Butterfly, that type of thing. Most days, it was great. I love being a daddy, and I wouldn't trade that time for anything, but everybody has bad days. On one of those days, I vented about my frustration on Facebook. I posted one of our letter projects, and wrote that I wanted to "E is for Entropy" that day.

Sara, who, in addition to her illustration work was once my daughter's preschool teacher, commented that I should write an Edward Gorey-style alphabet book, with bad things representing each letter. I responded that I would write it if she would illustrate it.

The rest, as they say, is history...
The facebook post that started it all

Part of the conversation between Sara and me which led to our collaboration

This project was made the old fashioned way. Sara painted the art by hand, using watercolors--actual paint on real paper. Though this type of art is rare these days, I feel like it adds an authenticity, especially to a nostalgic project like this one.

Since all of the art was done by hand, I knew I wanted the project hand lettered as well. I love old-school hand lettering (I have two Todd Klein prints hanging in my writing area), and while it is not easy to find a hand letter these days, I found a great one in Mike Ponce. Mike's beautiful lettering complements Sara's incredible art perfectly, giving the whole project a unique and unified feel.

I tried write the words in a way that was reminiscent of books I remembered from my childhood. I paid specific attention to the meter and rhyme scheme, and had echoes of Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss in mind as I composed the verse.

Sara at work with her watercolors.
Meet the team behind The Awful Alphabet


Check out these sample pages from The Awful Alphabet






Thank you so much for helping us bring this project to life. Working on this book has been therapeutic and cathartic for us. As Sara mentioned in our initial planning conversation, it has been like both therapy and an exorcism. We hope it will be healing and fun for you, our readers and supporters, as well.

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