The Small Press Spotlight has a cover reveal this week for Alex Schumacher’s debut middle-grade graphic novel The Effects of Pickled Herring. Schumacher provides the cover illustration while the cover design is by Elina Diaz, who also did the layout and design for the book. Colors are from Allan Ferguson.

Read the synopsis here:

The Effects of Pickled Herring is a coming-of-age graphic novel that offers a poignant reflection on growing up, sibling relationships, and the enduring bonds of family. The story follows 12-year-old Micah Gadsky and his spirited sister Alana as they prepare for their dual bar and bat mitzvah. They grapple with a family secret that unravels their understanding of faith and identity. The book is a vividly illustrated graphic novel for high school-age readers. It explores themes of self-worth, identity, and anti-Semitism, and portrays the effects of Alzheimer’s on a family unit; a unique narrative vividly brought to life. If you are looking for books about family dynamics, brother and sister relationships, books about growing up, or one’s introspection on faith, pick up a copy of The Effects of Pickled Herring!
Schumacher’s previous work includes projects with 215 Ink, Viper Comics, and briefly as a storyboard artist for DreamWorks TV. His The Unemployment Adventures of Aqualung was published in 2013 by Arcana Studios, and other notable works include the weekly webcomic Decades of (in)Experience in 2015 and the monthly online misadventures of Mr. Butterchips in 2016. A collection of the latter was released in July 2020 by SLG Publishing and relaunched as a webcomic in May 2021.
The creator stated:

While not a straight memoir, THE EFFECTS OF PICKLED HERRING is a love letter to my grandparents who are unfortunately no longer with us and my faith to which I’ve never felt more connected. The story loosely chronicles two of the more significantly formative experiences of my young life—one being the joint bar and bat mitzvah with my sister and the other being my grandmother’s eventual cognitive decline.  

That said, there are plenty of creative liberties taken considering I was producing a roman à clef (novel in which real people, places, or events appear with fictitious names or details) mash-up of sorts. Rest assured there’s plenty of fun and hilarity to be found throughout the book cushioning the more somber moments. After all, this is ultimately a tale of triumph, of resistance, of self-discovery, and of a family with quirks for days! 

To mangle a quote commonly attributed to Irish poet William Butler Yeats, “There are no unread books here, only friends you haven’t met yet.” My fondest hope is that any young reader who picks up THE EFFECTS OF PICKLED HERRING will be able to find a friend in Micah (or Alana!). 

Check out the cover below! 

The Effects of Pickled Herring