Writer Bill Kelter and artist Wayne Shellabarger have brightened this election season with their new book, Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance (set for release in November). In a departure from Top Shelf’s typical publishing material, this non-fiction effort is described by the publishing house as follows:
“It’s a tired but true cliché that every American Vice President is just a heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the world … a job they’ve often never really interviewed for. Who are these people? We all know about the one who shot his hunting partner in the face, but how about the tavern owner who once married one of his slaves and then sold her at auction when she tried to leave him? Or the one whose President went to his death regretting that he hadn’t had his Vice President hanged? Or the one who was too frequently inebriated to serve out the whole of his term? Over more than 200 years, the American voters have sent a platoon of rogues, cowards, drunks, featherweights, doddering geriatrics, bigots, and atrocious spellers to Washington D.C. to sit one bullet, cerebral hemorrhage, or case of pneumonia away from the highest office in the land. VEEPS tells the sordid, head-scratching, perversely-entertaining stories of these men we’ve chosen to ride shotgun in the biggest rig in democracy, without ever seriously considering the possibility that they might have to take the wheel. [296-Page Illustrated Hardcover (Non-Fiction), 5 5/8″ x 8 1/2]”
I’m amazed at the efforts connected to the fun book. As Top Shelf co-publisher Brett Warnock wrote in a recent email: “. . . because this story is too big for a book, along with the upcoming release of Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance, Top Shelf Productions and Rufus Pictures are proud to announce a companion film to the book. Road To Insignificance tells the story of Veeps creators, Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger, and their search for a new narrative for themselves along the road to the election and inauguration of America’s 47th Vice President…I actually co-directed this film, and the experience was outstanding, and made me even excited more about the book.”
I recently exchanged emails with Kelter and Shellabarger in a pretty fun exchange of emails about the book and the film. Enjoy. (And yes, in case you were wondering, the name Sarah Palin does come up…) Also, please note I asked a question or two based on galleys of the book, which has since been revised. But the authors’ candor was so amazing and unfiltered (about the creative process and outside struggles) that I felt it was extremely insightful (and hopefully beneficial to others on several fronts).
Tim O’Shea: Both of you are established as long-term fans/supporters (how would you characterize yourselves) of vice presidents. How was it that you decided to tackle the appreciation of VPs in a book?
Bill Kelter: Ah yes, the genesis story. The Veeps Project originated from one very drunk morning at my apartment in the Corbett-Lair Hill neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in late 1999. It was two years after my girlfriend had moved out, and while she was there, she prodded me into nudging the landlord into letting us retile the bathroom floor. We replaced an old brown-and-white floral linoleum with alternating 10” x 10” tiles of white and British Racing Green. It looked fancy and modern, but aside from that, it did little for me.
Continue reading Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger on Veeps