Sean Tejaratchi is an American graphic designer, art director and writer.
He is currently based in Los Angeles, but cut his teeth working on alt-weeklies in Portland, Oregon in the 90s.
Sean is known for creating the clip art zine Crap Hound, and was voted one of "The 25 Funniest People on Twitter" by Rolling Stone in 2012. He also is known for the blog LiarTownUSA that defined what a modern satirist is in the early 2000s.
As 2019 ended, I was in a pretty good spot emotionally, financially, and, of course, sexually. That summer I’d finished the enormous Crap Hound Big Book of Unhappiness and its accompanying overflow issue, More Unhappiness. I’d recently updated the Superstitions issue for another reprint. On my list of smaller projects, mostly long-neglected organizational tasks, every item had been crossed out with a tidy, triumphant line. When I strolled down the boulevard, It was clear that ordinary passersby sensed there was something special about me. Every face I passed wore the same look: “Goodness, look at that fellow. There’s a man who has it all!”
With my long-standing projects done and the decks finally swept of clutter set aside over the past few years, in January of 2020 I decided to start a brand-new issue of Crap Hound: Books & Bees. For a few happy, carefree weeks, I pored through newspaper archives, ads, library journals, and phone books, stockpiling as much raw material as possible.
Then February arrived, and as the coronavirus shitshow spread, every- thing slid into grinding, dysfunctional surrealism.
Looking back, maybe my overweening sense of accomplishment and prideful bearing played a role in this crisis. Maybe God saw me peacocking down the thoroughfare, a swing in my step, whistling a cheerful tune, and was jealous enough to create a new virus and wedge it deep in a bat. It’s possible all this was meant to teach me a lesson.
Well, what’s done is done, and there’s no point playing the blame game now. I only mention it to explain why Books & Bees began feeling increasingly frivolous. It occurred to me that something more useful could be made with a few months’ isolation at home.
In mid-March, my beloved publisher and distributor Buyolympia mass- emailed an update about their situation. They described what I was already reading from other small businesses—furloughed staff, reduced functions to save money, and a general scramble to survive in unprecedented conditions for an uncertain length of time.
A thousand questions raced through my mind. What could I do? Why could I help? Where is when I what? Who?
I “leapt” into “action.” During a passionate phone call with Buyolympia, I walked around my front yard raking leaves as we concluded getting a new issue to press would be the smart move. With regular life slowed to quarter-speed, I could work at home, sorting tiny pictures and designing pages without interruption.
That left the mystery of the topics. Coming up with engaging subject matter was easy. The trouble was that without a head start, the collection, refinement, and layout would take about six months. Official estimates of how long shutdowns would last were all over the place, but when they jumped, they only jumped longer. The faster a new issue could be assembled and sent to press, the better.
“There are documented cases of necessity becoming pregnant, giving birth, and then continuing to serve as a maternal figure to inventive concepts,” as the saying goes, and fortunately, just such a pregnancy was about to happen inside my own mind.