Hi, neighbour

The Cuban illustrator Ajubel lived for many years in Valencia in the same building as the publishing house Media Vaca. On the very same day he moved to another flat, his friend and neighbour, the editor Vicente Ferrer, finally commissioned him to produce a book: a version of Robinson Crusoe in images.

On Monday 27 February 2006, at 16:42, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour, I have just opened your messages. I really like the drawings! I think I prefer the first one, because it allows for a more immediate reading. The absence of an accompanying text somehow smoothes the transition from one image to another, using the continuity of movement, colour, etc., like in films. I think we talked about gradually adding colour until it completely explodes on the island. Have you given it any thought? Send me other samples if you want, and when you have more work done we could meet up. Best, Vicente

On Monday 27 February 2006, at 17:43, AJUBEL wrote:
Thank you, neighbour. Yes, you are right, the first one. The hardest thing has been finding the aesthetics. I think we are on the right track. This is the first one that has inspired me to transfer it to the computer. The colour is only to have a general idea, but yes, we will keep that idea, I will keep you posted as I go along and then we can meet up. A big hug and say hi to Begoña for me, Ajubel

On Tuesday 28 February 2006, at 17:54, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Last sketches received! The sea is incredible. The one with the boat is a simple page. Any particular reason? Hugs from Salamanca Island, Vicente

On Tuesday 28 February 2006, at 18:57, AJUBEL wrote:
Thank you so much, asere. The simple page acts as a comic strip, until the boat appears… To be continued, have a good time…

On Sunday 12 November 2006, at 12:09, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. My e-mail is working again after many issues. I tried to fax you the mock cover of the Robinson book, but no luck. You must have all been out at that moment. I will send you a sample now.
I would like for you to send me —when you have time— three or four double pages, as jpg in RGB. I am updating the website and I would like to include this information. Best, Vicente

On Sunday 12 November 2006, at 22:09, AJUBEL wrote:
Hello, friend! We have just arrived in Chelva, a bit tired, but I will happily and shortly send you what you requested. This is amazing because it is starting to set the pace for me. That is, it puts pressure on me, which is what I need, I am a son of suffering. Hugs for you both, we should meet up soon. Thanks again, Ajubel
I like the jacket, it still needs work, we can talk about it later.

On Friday 4 May 2007, at 22:13, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Dear neighbour and, nonetheless, artist. I have received your pdf and looked at it straight away. You have worked very hard and there are some beautiful findings!! Now we should meet up to talk a bit. We have had a meeting pending for a while. How is next week for you? Best! Vicente

On Friday 4 May 2007, at 22:25, AJUBEL wrote:
You are the artist! Ha! Let us meet up, I have other commitments, but they are spread out. These are the ones I am liking. I have drawn like a madman, I have discarded things like a madman, and I would like to work on the book like a madman. Shall we meet up then? Tell me when, I am at your disposal. Hugs for Begoña, and for you!

On Wednesday 9 May 2007, at 11:30, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I really liked what you showed me yesterday and I love the Robinson book!!
Now we need for you to be able to dedicate time to it adequately so it does not take you twenty-eight years to draw it. Send me your account details and I will transfer you 4,000 euros to get you started.
I am sending you a quick version of the title page, with the title-explanation that appeared in the original edition of 1719. Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 9 May 2007, at 11:39, AJUBEL wrote:
I was really encouraged by meeting you yesterday and what we talked about Robinson, so I have been chewing on things in my head since early this morning, I will send you the account details later, best again.

On Thursday 10 February 2007, at 12:16, AJUBEL wrote:
Yesterday I saw the island on google, it is incredible that I envisioned it the same way.

On Tuesday 15 May 2007, at 14:43, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I was finally able to go out today and transfer 4,000 euros to your La Caixa account. I hope they will be useful to you so you can focus more calmly on the drawings. Best, Vicente

On Tuesday 15 May 2007, at 15:36, AJUBEL wrote:
Thanks neighbour, best.

On Thursday 20 September 2007, at 20:18, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I have been quite busy recently, so I have not been able to write to you.
Do not touch the goats, they were great! About removing the rock, fine, but I like the goats. This weekend I will find some time to answer you properly. Begoña sent an e-mail from Havana. I think she was meeting Padura, who is nearby with some Canadians, either today or tomorrow. Best, Vicente

On Thursday 20 September 2007, at 22:59, AJUBEL wrote:
No worries, we’ll be here… Best, I am going to bed now.

On Friday 14 December 2007, at 23:01, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I called to congratulate you on the book. I was finally able to see it! I spoke to Talía. We were on the phone for a long time (still). If you tried to call back you will have found the line engaged. Speak tomorrow. Best, Vicente

On Saturday 15 December 2007, at 11:10, AJUBEL wrote:
I came home late last night. Talía has just passed on the message. Hugs.

On Saturday 15 December 2007, at 14:13, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Have a great time in Chelva!
We will be out all day on Monday. Speak Tuesday. Best, Vicente

On Sunday 16 December 2007, at 19:27, AJUBEL wrote:
Ok, perfect. Could you ask your printer what I have to do to convert everything to CMYK. I might need them to send me a profile for it. Best, Ajubel… Just got back from a great weekend!

On Wednesday 19 December 2007, at 22:57, MEDIA VACA wrote:
By the way, neighbour:
On a day like today, 19 December (1686), Robinson left the island. This is a special date. Good night! Vicente

On Friday 28 December 2007, at 11:36, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. We are back. Busy with sending out books, but taking a moment to reply; especially so as not to delay your work, now that you are on a roll.
I agree on changing the cover image. I think the last version might have caused formatting issues. But I would not draw a face, but a foot. The face can be mistaken for Don Quixote’s, for example. The foot is more significant. A foot about to create a footprint. I will send you a very quick sketch. It would be better to use colour. Perhaps white sand and a multicoloured foot.
Also, forget the typography.
Best, Vicente

On Friday 28 December 2007, at 12:45, AJUBEL wrote:
Subject: possible cover (forget the typography)
That is a better idea… I will send you the portraits. I should tell you, I left them as ovals because the rest was not working out since I could not control the details of the lines, so I left them clean like that. I hope with the calligraphy of both our names this can look great… Over…

On Sunday 30 December 2007, at 20:57, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. You are probably taking a few days rest (hopefully). In Chelva? However, as I was thinking about what you sent me the other day, I would rather write to you now even if you take a while to reply.
I think I like the image of the foot, it is also related to the inside of the jacket, which we said would be full of footprints. But perhaps a foot wearing those boots that Robinson made himself out of goat’s skin would be better. I mean, a heavy, civilised foot, surrounded by nothingness, or by light white sand (and a little crab?).
About the portrait: although they are both excellent, it occurred to me that the fact that you started both from the same model might make some people think that they are the same person, which in different moments could be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (Well, no doubt nobody will think that, but anyway…) I will send you another model for you to have a look at: that of the painter and engraver Hogarth. Hogarth was a compatriot and almost a contemporary of Defoe (37 years younger). Next to him are his pet and artist tools.
Another thing occurred to me, in case you are interested: Defoe’s curly hair, which looks like a rough sea, could have a ship on top, like the silhouette you drew in the shipwreck image. And on the other side, a drowning man stretching out his arms. As I thought it, I am telling you, but we do not want a falla either! And that is all for now.
Happy holidays and speak soon! Best, Vicente

On Tuesday 1 January 2008, at 20:39, AJUBEL wrote:
Relaxing yes, but a masochist will never be completely rested, will he? Here is an option I really like for the cover, no need to explain anything, your eyes and judgement will be enough, As for the portrait, give me one more day, what you tell me is not at all bad… How have your holidays been? All the best… We just returned from Chelva an hour ago. We had a great time with the girls and it was very, very quiet… byee, see you soon.

On Wednesday 2 January 2008, at 10:14, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Happy New Year, neighbours!
Today and tomorrow I will be as good as missing as I have to finish an article I must hand in without fail, so I will reply very quickly to the new cover.
I like the idea, but I am not sure that it will work as a cover to this book, Firstly, the image and the typography clash with each other. The footprint without text would work better. But then who would distinguish the book in a bookshop? Who would think it was for children? (These are questions I am asking myself. Actually, I would like to give it more thought before coming to a decision.) I think I would not have a cover with no colour: just because the book starts off in black and white does not mean that in this ‘promotional’ space of the book we have to forgo colour. Let us keep going, let me take this footprint for a walk.  Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 2 January 2008, at 17:25, AJUBEL wrote:
…well, it is the one I like best out of the ones we have considered. It is more conceptual and in colour (I agree with you about colour on the cover) it could have a good impact. From afar it is a footprint and from up close it is a kind of keyhole to look through, it is the generic footprint of ‘man’ on his path. Have you seen there is a snake, some birds, a snail? I was tempted to add a profile of Robinson but it would have given away the character and so I discarded the idea. A foot with footwear is only a period foot with period footwear, I thought, so I considered it needed to give another message. I do not know what a footprint means to children, but I think that a footprint like this can make you want to know whose it is, who it belongs to, and this is timeless, it is free from a time period, it can captivate the eye of children and adults alike. I will keep thinking, just wanted to comment on it. Anyway, speak soon!

On Wednesday 2 January 2008, at 17:25, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hello neighbour, just got in (drenched) and have to go out again. But I had an idea, tell me what you think: What if the footprint were an island surrounded by sea? Hmmm…
Best, Vicente

On Monday 27 February 2006, at 17:43, AJUBEL wrote:
That is it! You got it! Hahaha. The idea is that as well, of course… This is the idea!!!! We have it!

On Friday 4 January 2008, at 18:18, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am sending you a rough version of the flyleaves in coloured paper. I generally use two types of paper: one is similar to this one, and the other is a greyish green. Perhaps we could choose a different colour. Maybe even white. I think I prefer some irregularly scattered footprints for the cover of the jacket. Maybe in different sizes and not always complete. In short, footprints on a beach. This organised composition has something heraldic about it that throws me off. Best, Vicente

On Sunday 6 January 2008, at 19:22, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi neighbour. Let us get back to the island.
I think I would prefer the sea to have no texture, as the island is already so exuberant and full of strokes. But I have no idea how it should be. I also do not know where to put the title. I will know soon enough, but not yet. I am sending you an experiment to start testing things out. Best, Vicente

On Sunday 6 January 2008, at 20:26, AJUBEL wrote:
I like the detail of seeing it from above without waves, only layers. I am going to try it out… Over… and thank you

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 11:09, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. We have survived Epiphany Day and the day after, so now we can face anything. The cover already looks like a cover, and a poster, but I am not sure it is THE cover yet. The combination of green and blue seems strange to me. It has very little contrast.
I thought that perhaps the island-footprint has a very tight outline. Would it not be better to have some palm trees or birds sticking out from the edges? I also think we should start thinking about a front and back cover together. I will send you the cow logo that goes on the back. Maybe then the colours will all fall into place. By the way, I love that Daniel Defoe is now called Miguel.
Speak soon. Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 12:16, AJUBEL wrote:
At the time I was working last night he could have been called Pedro, hahaha, good one. What I like about it is the concept the footprint embodies, so I will keep working on it today. Something tells me this is the one, but we will see what happens. Send me that logo and everything else to see it more clearly. I will send you others throughout the day… Did the Three Kings bring you any presents?

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 16:22, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am having my coffee. I will be finished soon. But I had to open my mail and your cover came through. I completely agree. The white looks incredible. Perhaps the only thing I would change would be the wings of the flying chickens. At first glance they all look the same. If some had their wings spread wider and others more folded in, it could have a better effect. See you soon! Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 16:23, AJUBEL wrote:
Yes, the chickens would have to be touched up, it was only an example…

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 15:05, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. When I was sending you the other one, your detail came in. I am going to have lunch now. I will look at it later. Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 17:15, AJUBEL wrote:
Subject: What a cover!!!!… I have attached the detail
Good digestion?… Well, for my taste this is the one that most resembles the rest of the book, since we have used white in every page as a conceptual element, so I would be inclined to leave it as it is in the one I have attached. I like the idea and even more with the birds flying out the island-footprint, I think it is the best solution. I like the blue, but it is not within the general concept of the book, what do you think?

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 17:35, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Ah, that is what I thought.
I really like the island big and white.
I have tried the light outline of a blue sea with waves, but it does not look better. I have sent you the test. Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 18:15, AJUBEL wrote:
No, I had already tried that blue and did not like it either… I am sending you the other ones I had. In any case, la flaca said it is a bit twee… But maybe she is referring to me, hahahaha.

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 18:48, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. Completely agree: it is better without the blue. Kirstie is not mistaken. Better also with an outline defined by the vegetation and birds instead of a line. I am going to test out some fonts. Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 19:08, MEDIA VACA wrote:
I would like to see the images with just black footprints. Perhaps this dense and grey version is too much for a dust jacket cover. It seems more appropriate for the flyleaves (but they already have their jungle). Maybe the footprints could be smaller (and, therefore, with many more footprints), leaving more space between them. Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 20:10, AJUBEL wrote:
Got it, thank you… Going out now to play the lottery.

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 21:20, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I really like it!!
Only one silly detail: Would it not be better if all the birds were seagulls? I am saying this because of the two wild geese in the distance that look like flying champagne bottles (sorry, birds). A parrot? (Too obvious?) A monkey?
Best, Vicente

On Monday 7 January 2008, at 22:46, AJUBEL wrote:
They were bottles of cava… hahaha. I only wanted to offer a variety of fauna, but I will remove them…

On Tuesday 8 January 2008, at 17:55, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am getting more and more annoyed with the line ‘According to the work by Daniel Defoe’ on the cover. I am tempted to take it off. This way I think it would be very clear the author is Ajubel and the title Robinson Crusoe. Inside we already explain that the book is a version of Defoe’s original. Defoe and not Stevenson. What do you think? Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 9 January 2008, at 9:57, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, night owl
I went to bed at 2:30 and the postman forced me to get up at 9:00. My eyes are terrible. I am seeing black cannibals in red! (They look great! I really like them!) Yesterday I inserted Padura’s text and the portraits (in low resolution). The book will have 180 pages. Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 9 January 2008, at 11:02, AJUBEL wrote:
Subject: see you tomorrow neighbour (it is already tomorrow) it is 33 past, Christ’s hour
Take care of your eyes, let us keep going.

On Wednesday 9 January 2008, at 19:24, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, artist. I would not include a sea. And perhaps the background would be better white, and the sand yellow, so it connects better with the previous and following image. What do you think? Best, Vicente

On Thursday 10 January 2008, at 14:13, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I have not had time to carefully observe all the pirates. I will do it first thing this afternoon. I am sending you another cover. Instead of deleting text, this time I added some. I have been examining the books in my bookshelf to see how we could go about it. Best, Vicente

On Thursday 10 January 2008, at 15:52, AJUBEL wrote:
I like this one, I think it is visually even better. Best.

On Friday 11 January 2008, at 15:04, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am working on the double-page spread where the title of Padura’s article goes. I think I prefer it white rather than black. Black is too disruptive. All the previous and following pages in the book are very white. I thought of adorning the title with some palm trees (drawn by you, in the style of an old engraving) that would invade the left page, occupying as most space as possible on the open double page. Let me know what you think. Best, Vicente

On Friday 11 January 2008, at 16:16, AJUBEL wrote:
Yes, that could be an option. The three legs look like an easel. I imagine it is just a sketch…

On Friday 11 January 2008, at 18:46, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I have received the pdf. All the updates are great! (I have noticed you have removed an arm from the chubby man who is drowning.) There is an error in the image order of Friday’s dive; keep your eyes open when you number them.
I am sending you an alternative cover of Padura’s thing. And also the palm tree model. Speak soon. Best, Vicente

On Friday 11 January 2008, at 18:51, AJUBEL wrote:
Yes, there is an error, but I was tired of adjusting the pdf, it had taken me all day and there was always something, so I left it like that. In the originals, the numbering is right. I like the palm tree, why do not we use it?

On Friday 11 January 2008, at 22:41, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am sending you the proposal for the colophon page (the second-to-last). I have taken the opportunity to sneak in some information that could be interesting for readers. It is neither the final text nor the definite placement. I think it would look better with a parrot in flight. What do you think? Best, Vicente

On Saturday 12 January 2008, at 00:20, AJUBEL wrote:
This is very good information, it has a good touch of humour, I like it…
I will draw the parrot… ok

On Sunday 13 January 2008, at 12:38, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. I am sending you the first version of the dust jacket. Make your own colour composition, manipulate this image. Speak tomorrow. We will have to meet up so you can give me the disc —or discs— with the drawings.
I have arranged with the printer to send them some samples so they can do offset print tests. Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 16 January 2008, at 14:09, MEDIA VACA wrote:
Hi, neighbour. Here goes the last version of the colophon. See if you like it with the bird. I have chosen this one because it works well. Best, Vicente

On Wednesday 16 January 2008, at 16:06, AJUBEL wrote:
That one looks more like me than the portrait I drew of myself, but it is good

Fragment of the (e-mail) correspondence between Ajubel and Vicente Ferrer, published as an article in issue no. 165 of the magazine Educación y Biblioteca (May/June 2008). Illustration: unpublished drawing by Ajubel, not used in the book Robinson Crusoe.