Original Fake

Be Epic stencil


This book came out in 2016, with G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House), and the intensely, immensely talented E. Eero Johnson (Erik T. Johnson) of Minneapolis (view his work here) provided the illustrations. We have have more fun working on this project than I’ve ever had working on a book.  The Putnam team was just as excited as we were, and the project has been an absolute joy.  This book is joy on paper.

Here we are at Teen Lit Con ’16, in between panels and book signings.  A fun day with book nerds young and old (just like us!).

Kirstin and Erik, Teen Lit Con, May 2016--happy people with a fun book!

Erik and Kirstin, rocking the words (and pictures)


A brief synopsis, just for the curious: Frankie Neumann hates his life, and understandably so.  He’s got a weird sister (Lou), even weirder parents (Bridget and Brett), and there’s no way he fits into a family full of people who are ARTISTIC and COOL and TALENTED (and extroverted–Frankie is definitely an introvert).  He’s just Frankie, the guy who makes pizza at Pizza Vendetta.  His job is to stay in the background.  Then Frank meets David and Rory, cousins and errand runners for the mysterious Uncle Epic (a legendary anonymous street artist in the Twin Cities) and Frank’s life suddenly gets way more cool, and there’s way more art and way more fun things to do.  He also makes a plan to get back at his sister for a lifetime of badness, and things go haywire quicker than you can say “street art kicks righteous ass.”

The ARC--but the cover is the same.

The ARC–but the cover is the same.


photo of Bansky street art


A brief example of street art, from 2013: here’s an original Banksy in San Francisco’s North Beach. I about freaked when I saw it, because Banksy is the model for Uncle Epic, and he’s *the* most famous street artist alive.  I never guessed I’d actually see one of his pieces!  The photo isn’t great because I couldn’t get close–as you can tell, it’s on top of a building.  The text reads “If all else fails, call an airstrike.”  Banksy is amazing because his stuff just . . . appears.  Nobody ever sees him, or if they do, nobody ever says anything.  He’s a bit of a god, and Uncle Epic is the same.  He’s also full of social commentary, which Epic tries to emulate, but Epic’s work definitely doesn’t have the punch that Banksy’s does. I’m not that smart!

logo for the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment of MNKirstin Cronn-Mills is a fiscal year 2013 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

THANK YOU, MINNESOTA STATE ARTS BOARD, and THANK YOU, VOTERS OF MINNESOTA.  Thank you for helping me complete one of the coolest projects that’s ever fallen out of my brain.  THANK YOU.




2 Responses to Original Fake

  1. Leslie Levy says:

    Did you remember that when My Antonia was first published it too was illustrated… and look how that turned out! A Pulitzer for Ms. Cather and almost 100 years in print! woo hoo…. who knows…. could be your turn! 🙂

    • kirstincm says:

      I did not remember this! I need to see that the next time I visit you and Willa on her prairie. <3 that book so much! <3 you! Thanks for the comment. : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *