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Ontario designer turns David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” into a digital kids’ book

Andrew Kolb’s digital prototype

David Bowie’s 1969 song Space Oddity isn’t the most likely source for a children’s book, given that its main character, Major Tom, ends up alone, stuck in space while floating in his tin can (also, some music fans believe it’s an ode to heroin). But when Andrew Kolb, a freelance illustrator and design instructor from Kitchener, Ontario, wanted to create a children’s storybook as a portfolio piece for his website, he gravitated toward the classic tune.

There are a lot of songs that have that clear visual flow from start to finish for me, but I really like the imagery of this song in particular, he says.

Kolb’s clean, vintage-inspired imagery has struck a chord with music and design fans, too. On Saturday he posted the prototype Space Oddity as a free, downloadable PDF on his website. By Tuesday, it had received more than 30,000 unique visitors, and had been covered on various high profile websites, including Slate, i09, and Wired, causing Kolb’s website to occasionally crash.

I usually get a slow, steady pace of hits, but this is like a monsoon, says Kolb, laughing.

The 28-page book concept “ the first kids’ title he’s worked on “ took Kolb three to four months to design in his spare time. I could have done half a dozen pages and put it up on my website to show people if they were interested,” he says, but I did the whole thing just on a whim thinking maybe one day this will catch on.

Kolb’s dream is to see Space Oddity turned into an actual print book, something his new fans are already asking for. But that, of course, will depend on Ziggy Stardust himself. Kolb hasn’t been able to get the book to the iconic rock star, yet. He says, By pure saturation of the Internet, hopefully we can reach him.