When is "A" not for "APPLE" in a Children's ABCs Book? When AMMO Books asks Dave Parmley & Eric Ruffing while with 13THFLOOR to Author and Illustrate an idea they had to publish a ground-breaking "ALTERNATIVE ABCs" Book that re-defines the traditional ABCs Book. How about "F" is for "FLAMES," "H" is for "HOTROD" and "M" is for "MOHAWK?"
A Language That Is More Hip & Relevant
Eric and I wanted to create an ABCs book for parents like us. People who want to introduce their kids to cool art and kustom design. We also felt it was time to rethink the words featured in the traditional ABC and use language that is more hip and cool and relevant for our times.
"A" is for Alternative Vocabulary
We started out by making a long list of words for each letter of the alphabet that were obvious and familiar to the world of “Kustom Kulture”. We put the list up in our kitchens and scribbled in words suggested by our wives, our kids, clients and friends.
Global Issues That Made Alternative Come To Life
As the next step, along with AMMO, we isolated words that jumped out as being most relevant to a hip kid’s world – which included addressing the kind of global issues that made the idea of “Alternative” come to life. For example we all loved “R is for RAD or maybe ROCKSTAR” but we all felt that “REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE” was too important to leave out. With “EARTHDAY,” “PEACE,” “UNITY” and “VEGETARIAN” it was easy, since they are both hip and important in our lives.
26 Alternative Letterforms
Since 13THFLOOR was known for it's hand drawn Kustom type design, crafting the style of font for the alphabet letters and the artwork for each page was the next adventure: To keep a fun look throughout the book we created an alphabet that has an old carnival “vibe” merged with our own personal love of black-letter inspired serif treatments. We had to consider that we couldn't get too crazy with the treatment of the letterforms- after all- this IS an ABCs book- gotta be able to READ each letter!
Alternative Alphabet Soup
Seemed like a good opportunity to hide the names of our own kids, our own initials for our names and some other words or abbreviations in the Alphabet Soup art of the inside cover & back cover spreads. Can you find them?
A World For Each Word
As you turn each page we wanted your next letter of the alphabet to bring you into it’s own unique little world- reflecting the appropriate style for that letter's word. You can smell the "Tiki Torches" at the Lua for "T is for TIKI," “GRAFFITI” looks like hand tagged graffiti from a wall in an alley, “MOHAWK” looks like a punk show flyer, “HOTROD” is a nod to the Vintage Era of Kustom Kar stylings by our hero, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, etc…
Keeping It Real
It was really important to us that the graphics accurately capture the “subculture” behind each word. 13THFLOOR was known to always "keep the feel real," and this was no exception. For example, we love the page for “LOWRIDER." Thanks to street-cred styling and rendering, our car could genuinely roll “Low-N-Slow”. The classic “Deuce Coupe” was the Rod of choice for “HOTROD” and Eric and I both dig the “Rat Rod” style, so we went with a flat black body color and understated blue and purple flames. We hate it when we see books about surfing or skating that look like the designer has no clue to what that lifestyle is all about. We design from our experience and wanted the book to keep it real, which is why we worked with an actual graffiti artist for the “GRAFFITI” and the “KICKS” pages and an illustrator who is also a hardcore skater and surfer for the pages “QUARTER PIPE” & “DUDE”.

Skulls Are Always Cool
This book is like a jumpstart for little hipsters. Although it may not be for everyone, the book strikes a chord with modern parents. “Oh well, if you don’t get it it’s OK – there will always be a place for “A is for APPLE,” but, c’mon, you KNOW your cool kid would rather say, “S is for SKULL!."
Kool Reviewer Quotes
One of favorite comments from a blog review we read was, "If Gwen Stefani bought an ABCs book for her kids, this would be the one!"
"T" is for What?!?
We had completely finished all of the art for the page "T is for TATTOO" and then realized we HAD to have "T is for Tiki" in this book- absolutely positively no other way around it, friggin' duh, so we switched up with the letter "I is for INK" to salvage the "TATTOO" concept and so made this book and the world a better place.
Be The First On Your Block!
Now go out and BUY IT! If you don't have any kids, make some babies so you can read this to them! Actually- a fun read even if you don't have any kids...
Eric & I were super-stoked to have the opportunity to create an ABCs book that “talks the talk” and, if you “walk the walk,” we know you’ll be down with it too.