Say hello to Assorted Characters πŸ‘‹

By Eli Altman
November 15, 2022
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Filed under Naming

Assorted Characters is a limited edition 3 volume zine of names and other found text collected by the team at A Hundred Monkeys. It is available exclusively through No Picnic Press.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taking pictures of names and other language I find. This could be on a neighborhood walk or in a grocery store or traveling around the world. I was never really sure why I was taking the pictures. The names made me laugh or smile or raise my eyebrowsβ€”they got a reaction and I wanted to hold onto that feeling.

Alameda, CA, USA

If you’re a musician, it’s as much about listening as it is about playing. Maybe it’s even more about listening. Recently I was listening to an excellent interview Rick Rubin did with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante. Frusciante talks about how listening creates volumes and volumes of reference material–chord changes, melodies, arrangements, that he draws from when he’s making his own music. I think the same goes for naming. At A Hundred Monkeys we’ve probably named a couple thousand things over 30+ years. But during that time I’ve probably seen hundreds of thousands if not millions of names. It felt important to keep track of the stuff that got a reaction.

As we’ve grown the team at A Hundred Monkeys, we’ve encouraged people to catalog and share the names they come across. Once you turn on the part of your brain that’s looking for this stuff, it’s really hard to turn off. Every week people are sharing the names they find going about their lives.  


Photo: Patrick Keenan

So after years of collecting this stuff, we finally decided to do something with it.

assorted characters cover

While these are literally assorted characters, they’re also characters in that they have interesting personalities. We had so much stuff that we had to ruthlessly edit to get down to three volumes. Volume 1 has food and products. The second volume has promotional material, found text, and transportation. Volume 3 has signage and storefronts.

Assorted Characters was designed by Mark Pernice and Nick Sheeran. We worked with Mark on Go Name Yourself and he brought Nick on board for Assorted Characters. Printing was done by Regal in Hong Kong who has printed all of our books from the first edition of Don’t Call It That back in 2013. Big thanks to Mark, Nick, and Moon at Regal for making this possible.

One of my favorite things about Assorted Characters is the mix of professional and amateur work. Few things make me happier than seeing non-creative professionals who are good at naming. It’s a little like the raw appeal of artists who don’t have formal training. They will arrive at answers that trained professionals would never see. I also can’t look away from the car crash of trained professionals who get nine-and-a-half fingers tied behind their backs before attempting to come up with something that meets all the requirements. It’s fun to imagine the circumstances that lead to all of these names.

Assorted Characters features contributions from Nora Trice, Patrick Keenan, Liam Humble, Ben Weis, Rose Linke, Carolyn McDermott, myself, and our IRL/internet friends. The collection was edited by me and Rose. Our print run is limited to 500 and it is highly unlikely we will reprint so order it before people try to sell their used copies on Amazon marked up 600%.