Brief History of the Alphamals

The idea began when Drake Schaberg was but a wee-lad. Every classroom he entered had the same boring animal alphabet posters sticky-tacked to the wall. He wanted something more exciting—something creative. Having long been fascinated with animals, he knew exactly what needed to be done. So he planted a seed in his mind, where it germinated for nearly two decades.

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Original Alphamals

When his senior year of college came around, Drake loaded up with several graphic design courses. One of the projects in the syllabus required creating a printed book. Fortunately, the seed he'd planted those many years ago had begun to sprout. His goal was to make an animal ABC book but with a twist.

 

Early on, Drake was unsure whether his skills were up to the task at hand, but he knew he had to give it a shot. As an experiment, he began with the letter "A."

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Allieater 1.0

Alligator and Anteater

52 animals and 26 Alphamal characters later, Drake had much more than a proof of concept; his project had lit a spark that ignited his imagination.

 2010: A rendering of the original Alphamals | 9" by 7" | 56 pages | released 2010 | 1 copy | out of print

2010: A rendering of the original Alphamals | 9" by 7" | 56 pages | released 2010 | 1 copy | out of print

Alphamals: The Beginner's Guide

Throughout 2012, Drake completely reworked the Alphamals and began building the world they live in. Every page was thoughtfully designed to fit the theme of each character. He determined what kind of habitat each Alphamal would live in, what kinds of food they would eat, and developed a unique personality for all 26.

In February 2012, Drake launched a   Kickstarter   campaign in hopes of raising to raise enough funds to print 500 copies of his new Alphamals book. Thanks to many supportive friends and family, the campaign was a success! Drake quit his job as a door-to-door salesman and began working on the Alphamals full-time (although he did have to pick up a part-time manny job to pay rent).

 The original proposed look of the book posted on Kickstarter

The original proposed look of the book posted on Kickstarter

Almost immediately, Drake realized that the Alphamals' looks needed an upgrade. For the next two weeks he worked on nothing but re-illustrating all 26 characters. Some of their new designs came easy; others proved much more of a struggle. But by the time the 26th one came around, it came easy—Drake saved Allieater for last.

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Allieater 2.0

After five months of writing and illustrating, Drake sent his new book, Alphamals: The Beginner's Guide to the printers.

 A rendering of Alphamals: The Beginner's Guide | 8.5" by 11" | 72 pages | released 2012 | 500 copies | out of print

A rendering of Alphamals: The Beginner's Guide | 8.5" by 11" | 72 pages | released 2012 | 500 copies | out of print

Under the Overlook

After the release of The Beginner's Guide, Drake began building out the story of the Alphamals. Early in its development, it became clear to Drake that Allieater—the Alphamal who started it all—was the perfect Alphamal to anchor the first story. With this in mind, Drake began writing a chapter book.

In 2014, Drake finished a manuscript of a little over 32,000 words and sent it out to a select group of beta-reader families. The good news: everyone who read the manuscript loved it. The bad news: Drake didn't have the time to do his characters justice and ended up shelving the project for two years. However, not a day went by that his mind didn't travel to Alphamals World.

Knowing that he needed to reignite a creative fire to get the Alphamals going again, Drake launched a second, more ambitious Kickstarter campaign in June 2016. Its success allowed him to publish two books—The Beginner's Guide Second Edition and his chapter book, Under the Overlook. Upon reviewing the chapter book, Drake quickly realized that there was much, much more to the story than he'd included in the first manuscript. 

And so, he rewrote it.

Over the course of many, many months of dedicated work, Under the Overlook's word count swelled to over 67,000 words. But more importantly, the book now contains the story that Drake needed to tell to properly introduce the Alphamals to the world. 

In writing the chapter book, Drake came across dozens of new minor characters that inhabited the world of the Alphamals, which meant that he had to completely rework the Beginner's Guide.

 A rendering of Alphamals Under the Overlook | 5.5" by 8.5" | 328 pages | 67,000+ words | released 2017 | 1000 copies

A rendering of Alphamals Under the Overlook | 5.5" by 8.5" | 328 pages | 67,000+ words | released 2017 | 1000 copies

Alphamals: The Explorer's Guide

It was clear that this new edition of The Beginner's Guide was far more wide-ranging than originally intended. Not only are the Alphamals' pages more polished, but the new edition contains double the content. Among the additions is a new “Meatures” section that introduces additional creatures for kids of all ages to learn about. And whereas only 20 meatures were known of at the time Drake started working on the guide, by the time he'd finished, he'd discovered over 50 more!

Shortly before sending this book out to be printed, Drake decided that it was worthy of a new title, and named it Alphamals: The Explorer's Guide. This proves a most fitting title, because readers will certainly feel as though they are exploring the Alphamals' World with every new page.

 A rendering of Alphamals: The Explorer's Guide | 8.5" by 11" | 128 pages | released 2017 | 1000 copies

A rendering of Alphamals: The Explorer's Guide | 8.5" by 11" | 128 pages | released 2017 | 1000 copies