The other day, I had a chance to get a ride in an autonomous car for the first time. A couple of years ago, when I was in San Francisco, I saw a lot of cars with big machines on top of them on the streets of downtown late at night, and I asked my friend, "What are those ?” He told me that they were training cars for autonomous driving. Technology advancement is great and exciting, but on the other hand, the experience of making Chris Ware’s “Building Stories” puzzle and working with original molds created from scratch, I was able to reconfirm that analog technology and craftsmanship is something also very valuable that cannot be quantified.
Around Spring of 2020, we contacted Chris and asked him if he wanted to make a puzzle with us, and fortunately, he liked the idea.
When Chris asked, in his usual modest, polite, and uniquely apologetic way, if it would be possible to produce original shaped puzzle pieces for the project, we were not surprised as we had the same idea in mind. We immediately replied “Yes!” without even thinking about the cost. Thus, our undertaking had begun of making our own unique puzzle pieces from original molds.
I've been working with molds for more than 20 years in the art toy field, so I knew it would be very expensive, and honestly speaking, was a bit worried, but at the same time I was confident in our ability to make high quality molds and wanted to take the challenge. I was excited and was thinking to myself, “Now things are getting exciting!” When making choices regarding production, we had almost always chosen the difficult way, and almost never regretted it.
However, the hurdles were higher than I had expected, and things did not go smoothly for sure. However, Chris, who is now one of the leading artists in the U.S. and is so busy with projects that he doesn't even have time to sleep, sent us such a beautiful design, looking forward to the realization of this product, so we felt we had to respond sincerely to his creativity. In the end, we had spent more than half a year on this mold alone, fine-tuning it with the printing and mold factory, discussing different ideas. Molds for toys are difficult to make exactly the way you want, but puzzle molds were even more challenging. I won't get into all the details, but since this puzzle has a variety of cleverly hidden gimmicks, and in order to make them compatible, there were many parts that had to be aligned exactly. Also, when the puzzle image is printed on paper, glue is applied to the back of the paper and pasted on a thick backing board. During this process, the paper always shrinks. The shrinkage depended on the climate and the type of paper, so we test printed on various kinds of paper, collected data on the shrinkage, repeated the process, and made fine adjustments to the mold until we finally got satisfactory results.
This was impossible to achieve by relying on digital technology alone, no matter how advanced AI has become. In the end, the analog skills of the printers and the mold makers won out!
So now at this time, we are finally ready to release Chris Ware's "Building Stories" puzzle this Fall. It's a puzzle that took us a long time to produce, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it because it contains many surprises and tricks that only a genius such as Chris can present. Also, in this age where everything is digitalized, we are proud to offer a product with beautiful packaging that makes you feel happy and content by actually picking it up and touching it, or just placing in your room to observe and enjoy.
📗 Building Stories is a countless award winning 2012 graphic novel by American cartoonist Chris Ware. The unconventional work is made up of fourteen printed works—cloth-bound books, newspapers, magazines, broadsheets, and flip books—packaged in a boxed set. The work took a decade to complete, and was published by Pantheon Books. The intricate, multilayered stories pivot around an unnamed female protagonist living in Chicago with a missing lower leg. A fully-apportioned variety of reading material ready to address virtually any imaginable artistic or poetic taste, from the corrosive sarcasm of youth to the sickening earnestness of maturity. Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else, the book is sure to sympathize with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed.
🧩 Building Stories Jigsaw Puzzle ( We will begin to take pre-orders around end of July. )
A jigsaw puzzle of Building Stories by Chris Ware: a numerous awards and honors winning graphic novel masterpiece. The puzzle is an original "remixed" drawing of the work. The packaging box, in the form of a building, was originally drawn by the artist, and takes a pull out drawer style. Features, ORIGINAL UNIQUE PUZZLE PIECES made from original molds based on what Chris drew. A must have for Chris Ware and Building Stories' fans with surprises and newly added concepts. Puzzle 1000 (1125) pieces. Puzzle size 49cm x 60cm. US$50
🇯🇵 Also, if you live in Tokyo, we will have a sample of the puzzle on display at FALL in Nishiogikubo from July 7 to 11, so if you are in the area, please stop by!