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A Journal Not Just of Sight but . . . : A Newport Beach company expands the concept of publishing with multimedia packages that combine quality volumes with audio tape, video and CD/ROM disks.

January 20, 1994|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Anthology: Peter Max," an upcoming title from an innovative new publishing house in Newport Beach, canvases the life and work of the renowned pop artist who soared to fame in the psychedelic '60s with his kaleidoscopic style and cosmic themes.

But the book is just for starters.

Accompanying the heavily illustrated, large-format book is a videotape chronicling the past 30 years of Max's career and an audio tape in which the artist shares his insights into the creative process and imagination.

But most fascinating of all is an interactive CD/ROM in which readers at their computer terminals can examine Max's work in both "virtual" and "real-time" formats.

The virtual journey transports the reader into a gallery with a choice of hallways, each reflecting a decade or theme in Max's work. Face a particular painting, and you can use your computer mouse to call up a "curator" who provides information about the work or the era in which it was painted. Or you can call up text on the subject. Or Max himself might appear on the screen and talk to you. You can also "morf"--or blend--one painting into another.

In the "real-time" format, you can watch the artist painting in his New York City studio and select different angles to view his work-in-progress. It's sort of a day in the life of Peter Max as he works on a variety of projects--from painting to sculpting to etching. You can even watch him standing in front of a window drinking a cup of tea.

*

Welcome to book publishing in the '90s--at least at Donovan Publishing, a company whose goal is to combine "the best of the past, present and future."

The Peter Max package is one of a number of multimedia book packages due out from the Newport Beach company in the coming months.

"What it does is it really expands the information you're reading in the book," said publisher Paul Sumner, co-founder and CEO. "I think all people have a feeling that it would really be neat to see what's happening when they're reading about anything. What the CD/ROM does is give you an opportunity to witness in motion things that are happening in the book."

Sumner, 47, who had a major marketing success in the sports trading card industry in the late '80s with his creation of the Upper Deck Co., co-founded Donovan Publishing with his sister, Win Fiandaca, in 1990.

"When we started out, there was nobody doing this, to our knowledge," said Fiandaca, 52, the company's president. "We've now seen a few of the mainstream publishers coming out with books that have (music) CDs or tapes with them. But to our knowledge no one is developing as complete a package as we are, and certainly not with a CD/ROM."

Donovan Publishing is launching its first book this month: Buddy Ebsen's autobiography, "The Other Side of Oz." It is one of the more traditionally published books--minus the multimedia addenda--on the drawing board at Donovan. At $24.95, it also is one of the more traditionally priced.

The publishing company's emphasis, however, is on creating limited-edition multimedia book packages.

The first, due in February, is "Animation: The Art of Friz Freleng." The leather-bound book, published in a 4,000-copy limited edition, chronicles the career of the five-time Oscar-winning animation pioneer--from his days at Warner Bros. (Bugs, Porky and company) in the '30s through the Pink Panther in the '60s.

The package includes an autographed book, a videotape featuring cartoon clips and interviews, an audio tape compilation of animation highlights of the artist directing music segments, an illustrated Animator's Workbook and three new sericels created by Freleng, who is 88.

The Freleng package, complete with collection case, will retail for $1,200.

The limited edition Peter Max package, due out later this year, will include a signed 12-by-12 serigraph, with the whole works retailing for a cool $2,500.

The book packages, not surprisingly, will be sold in selected art galleries.

Despite its multimedia approach to publishing, at Donovan, the book's the thing.

The leather-bound, "packaged" books are billed as being of heirloom quality. Even the Ebsen book was printed on a high-grade coated white paper with the highest grade binding, and it contains more than 125 photographs strategically placed throughout the narrative (as opposed to traditional eight- or 10-page photo section in the middle of a book).

In creating the company, Sumner said, they wanted to "make sure that we maintained the traditional value in book publishing while we're getting the reader--or participant--involved in the other media."

Sumner has a history of innovation.

A pioneer in the application of holographic technology--he was the first to produce a "white light projection hologram" while studying at Cal State Long Beach in the early '70s--Sumner created Upper Deck in 1987 after a career in sales and marketing for various Southern California printing companies.

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