Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary

Night Crawlers on the Web


Project Statement

Digital media and information technology became the center of my intellectual and professional life in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Coming to the University of Virginia at that moment immersed me in the world of digital humanities. The vocabulary and ideas this universe provided stimulated imaginative as well as academic work. This book was conceived as a playful expression of the imaginative resonses provoked by conversations in which I found myself. It was meant to be playful, suggestive, funny, dark, critical, engaging, a little throw-off book done as an inside joke among the digerati.

Production Narrative

The most delightful part of producing this book was making the drawings. Another long season in terms of work, professional demands, upheaval, moving and home renovation, and finding the satisfaction of drawing was like recovering a long lost love. Sitting in the little front room, with barely room on the crowded table to put the papers, drawing with Bic retractable #2 pencils, the creatures came into being. This was a great treat. The rest was more familiar, but drawing had dropped out of my life for awhile, and this brought it back. The book was designed to be cheap to produce, a few hundred dollars worth of paper, plates, and Brad's time and energy.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: Agenda, small, light, contemporary in feel. A mix of fonts on the cover.

imagery: Graphite pencil drawings by the author.

graphical: Simple and straightforward presentation.

openings: Image and texts are balanced, with a number of full-page images, clean and spare.

turnings: From cover to end sheets, a dramatic plunge into the darkness of "night" in which the crawlers lurk. Then the busy title/copyright spread. And then the pattern of clean interior until, again, at the end, the night spread. By introducing that dark space, the interior takes on an even cleaner quality.

development: The story develops in this case, rather than the book as object or form.

Critical Discussion

The book is a gift book, small and sweet, meant to pique the interest of my new friends in Virginia. I made a dummy copy to give to Jerry McGann in January 2000, to take on the plane with him to London. I only knew him slightly at that time, and the others -- Daniel Pitti, Worthy Martin, John Unsworth, among the rest of the IATH and digital library folks. And I wanted to amuse them with an imaginative blip on their screens.

Detailed Analysis

The cover image is meant to reference 1950s popular pulp sci-fi imagery, thus the "cyberpulp" designation.

General Comments

A book that requires a sense of humor to appreciate.



Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


JAB Books

type: initiating


location: 110 Warren Lane, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22901

Granary Books

type: other

location: 307 Seventh Avenue, #1401, New York, NY 10001

note: Granary Book distributed this work for JAB Books.

Brad Freeman

type: other


note: Brad provided technical consulting assistance as well as printing.

Publication Information

publisher: JAB Books

production: 1999-00-00:2000-00-00
publication: 2000-00-00

publication history: Done as a give-away, for gifts, not really intended for sale.

Aesthetic Profile

artists' books (LCSH)

themes: Cyberpulp play with the metaphors and vocabulary of the digital world.

content form:
prose (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)
small press (local)
illustrated book (local)
conceptual (local)

inspiration: The actual inspiration from this came from a passing mention by Stuart Molthrop. He gave a talk at the University of Virginia and discussed the aggregate profiling effect of data mining. That image was the point of departure. So was a ridiculous performance by an artist who served as the basis of Eego.

related works: The Undead Blonde, unpublished cyberpulp manuscript, Emerging Sentience, and Simulant Portrait.

other influences: The community of digital humanities at the University of Virginia and various other artist and poet groups for whom such matters seemed highly charged at that late 1990s moment.

community: school University of Virginia [A. Schutte]

note: The small size of the book was meant to make it feel slightly fetishistic.

General Comments

This book belonged at Printed Matter and for some reason didn't get there. The distribution process got short-circuited. Maybe later.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: JAB Books

place: Charlottesville, VA

production: 1999-00-00:2000-00-00
publication: 2000-00-00

note: This edition was produed by Johanna Drucker in the late winter of 1999-2000. It was co-published by JAB Books and Granary Books in 2000 and distributed by Distributed Art Publishers (D.A.P.). [A. Schutte]


horizontal: 4.2 inches closed

vertical: 5.5 inches closed

depth: .15 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
offset (local)

binding: mashine sewn (local) The two small signatures are sewn, then the covers glued on.

bookBlock: paper unknown
endsheets: paper Same as book block.

ink (local)


format: codex (AAT)

cover: The cover is made of a thick, cardstock type paper. The front cover depicts a snakish creature with green rays coming out of its eyes and spotlighting a woman who appears to be fleeing in terror. The cover has the feel of a 1950s sci-fi horror movie poster. The back cover depicts a similar snakish creature staring out at the viewer with glowing green eyes. Besides the green accents, the entire cover it is black and white.

color: no There is a small amount of yellow-green on the front and back covers.


pagination: paginated 32 pages

numbered?: numbered

signed?: unsigned


Night Crawlers was written in the late winter of 1999-2000 in Charlottesville, inspired by my new friends and colleagues at the University of Virginia, to whom it is dedicated with much affection.

Related Documents

manuscript type: correspondence

location: artist's archive

note: I know Jerry McGann sent me an email about his response to this book.

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: The texts from which this book is composed definitely exist in the archive.

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive

note: Original drawings, mockups, even the plates and flats. At least one hand-made copy, one sewn from the initial printed sheets, other stages of production, all exist.