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Unlock The Orb of Chatham and witness its mystery ...

You MUST hold 'The Orb of Chatham' in your hands to FULLY access these features.

LEARN more about 'The Chatham Five' witnesses
READ news accounts of 'The Orb of Chatham' mystery
LISTEN to audio interviews recalling the events of 1935
SEE amateur video of Orb sightings
WITNESS postcards and photos that offer clues about the Orb
BLOG with other 'Orb of Chatham' readers
STUDY a map showing where the Orb may hide in Chatham's waters

To BUY the book, please click here

Email your friends about 'The Orb Of Chatham' web site! Just Click Here


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Home I Sneak Peek I The Chatham Five I Buy The Book I FAQs I Unlock The Orb Code I About The Author I The Art I Behind The Scenes I Press & Media I Book Signings & Events I Contact I Links I About Chatham I Blog I The Orb Store I About Chatham I Walking Tour I Help

"A strange noir mystery that is truly baffling, yet curiously entertaining."
-- Tim Wood, The Cape Cod Chronicle
'Middle-of-the-night black, moonlight white and cold gray have never been so eerily orchestrated as they are in Staake's superb drawings for his chilling tale, 'The Orb of Chatham'. Your eyes will feast and your skin will crawl."
-- Michael Keegan, The Washington Post
"A taut tale of ghostly suspense -- a clever mystery with a solid mythology."
-- CapeCodToday.com

Email your friends about 'The Orb Of Chatham' web site! Just Click Here


The Art Of The Orb


People have called Bob Staake's art for 'The Orb Of Chatham' many things:

Stunning, dreamy, evocative, moody, mysterious -- even haunting.

Learn how this award-winning book illustrator created the surreal images for 'The Orb Of Chatham', and find out how you can acquire limited edition giclee prints of select scenes.

Demystifying The Art

When Bob Staake sits down at the drawing board, he rarely picks up a paint brush.

The Chatham, Massachusetts- based illustrator, known for his split-personality art -- sometimes cartoonish, occasionally elegant, but always unexpected --uses nothing more than a mouse, a keyboard and his imagination to "draw" his pictures on a flat computer screen.

So visually diverse is Staake's work that it may be reproduced one day in MAD magazine, the next in The Washington Post, a day later can be seen on a Hallmark Card or even on the Cartoon Network. A look at his client list and the question should be 'who hasn't this guy created art for?'


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+ Take A Sneak Peek At 'The Orb Of Chatham' NOW

+ Unlock The Orb Code (To do so, you must hold the book in your hands to solve the clues found in the artwork)

+ Buy The Book

+ Email your friends about 'The Orb Of Chatham' web site! Just Click Here

Written and illustrated by Bob Staake, 'The Orb Of Chatham' is unlike any other of his more than 35 books.

A hauntingly eery tale that meanders through this mysterious New England town, 'The Orb Of Chatham' fascinates and mesmerizes readers both young and old. Take a peek at the book

But while Staake is the author and/or illustrator of over 36 books (mostly picture books for children), writing and illustrating 'The Orb Of Chatham' presented its own set of challenges -- though it only took this artist known for his hyper-fast work ethic to create the entire book in a mere nine days in November 2004.

"I'm always working on about 15 projects at once", points out Staake, "and I have a horrible attention span. Once I have an idea that I beleive needs to be carried through, I have to work fast and get it done -- mistakes and all -- otherwise it'll sit in a filing cabinet and get moldy."

But 'The Orb of Chatham' is only the second book that Staake completely finished before taking it to a publisher, forsaking the traditional approach of writing the story, showing sketches for the book, including a couple samples of final art -- and then hoping for a contract and advance to complete it for a publisher.

"Finishing a book without a contract", says Staake, "is a little like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. You just hope you hit a really leafy tree at that critical moment."

Staake's strategy worked, however -- and he found the leafy tree. Unconvinced that 'The Orb of Chatham' was suited to one of his big mainstream publishers -- from Random House to Simon and Schuster -- his hunch was that the book was more suited for a small or regional press. Researching houses with decidedly New England-oriented titles, Staake was impressed with the work of Commonwealth Editions, a publisher that had a surprise hit with a little book called 'Cottage For Sale'. He showed 'The Orb of Chatham' to Commonwealth, and they immediately made an offer to publish it -- and on a speedy timetable.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about 'The Orb of Chatham' -- from cover to cover -- is the fact that the art is created in black and white, rather than in Staake's traditionally vibrant picture book palette. "I love color", says Staake from his Chatham home, "but there was never a question in my mind that black and white alone should be used to illustrate the 'Orb'."

Indeed, the art evokes a haunting aura -- and almost makes the reader feel as if they have stumbled into a dream, watching in solitude as the seven foot Orb-like entity meanders through the quaint seaside village of Chatham, Massachusetts.

"I really wanted to create an aesthetic", says Staake, "that pulls an adult or child reader into those squares and makes them feel as if they are alone with the Orb -- that they're quiety observing it as it rolls along, unaware that it is being watched."

"It was also essential that the visual style I used was somehow in sync with the Depression-era period in which the story takes place", Staake noted. "For that reason I considered it essential to create the art in black and white and in an aesthetic highly influenced by the American Regionalist movement of the 1930s, particularly the meticulous paintings of Grant Wood. Other children's book illustrators have been highly influenced by Wood, though few give him the credit he so duely deserves."

Yet Staake's art for the book is 100% digital, the visual manifestations of his mental images -- and an Apple computer with Photoshop (for technophiles, the artist still prefers to use Photoshop 3.0 -- and rarely works in "layers").

"Most digital illustrators that I know", says Staake, " use an art pad and stylus to 'draw' on their computer screen, but I don't. All I use is a mouse and keyboard to drag, pull, tweak, create and click the design that I'm after. It's a little like trying to draw with a bar of soap."

An accomplished illustrator, designer and artist who worked for years by soaking his fingertips in paint and india ink, Staake firmly believe that the computer is but a tool -- one that must be weilded expertly to achieve the desired results.

"I think of the computer sort of like a power drill", the illustrator points out. "I can drill a screw into a piece of wood using a normal screwdriver, but by using a power drill, one can work more effectively. I use the exact same skills as a digital artist -- form, design, composition, technique, style, etc -- as I do as a traditional artist."

Yet there are limitations in what Staake can do with his digital illustrations.

"I originally saw 'The Orb of Chatham' as a small book -- probably no larger than 6" x 6"", he points our. "It was only in my discussions with Commonwealth Editions that we decided to make the book larger. In the world of Photoshop, it's almost always better to work larger and then reproduce the work smaller -- rather than vice versa -- but we had to 'size' the smaller art up. That said, I'm very pleased with how the art was able to be reproduced larger than intended in 'Orb'."

Even more revealing is the fact that the illustrations for 'The Orb of Chatham' were almost all entirely created by Staake with no photographic reference -- and from his memory.

"I'm one of those fortunate people", says Staake, "who has a weird photographic memory. If I see something once, I can recreate it in my head -- and then compose an image of it on paper. For the scenes in 'Orb', I would create them from memory, and if I wasn't quite sure about something, I might take a walk at night to check out if I captured the scene correctly. For example, I was able to create an accurate illustration of the First United Methodist Church, but checked it out on a winter evening to make sure that I had captured the lighting correctly. To my surprise, the dramatic spot lighting I recalled hitting the tower at night in the summer wasn't there in the winter -- so I had to dig into my mental image of that light effect. In the end, any inaccuracies in my mental image of the scene only add to the 'organic' nature of the illustration. I like to make my imperfect memories 'work' for me -- even though I might have been able to convince the church to turn on the lights for me so I could draw a quick sketch."

Of the fifteen illustrations in the book, Staake insists he has no single favorite image.

"I like different images for different reasons", he says, "but because it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months for a book to finally be published, when I first see it in print, I almost always shudder -- because there are always about a hundred things I would like to change. Maybe that will happen in a sequel book to 'The Orb Of Chatham'.

But as elegant and evocative as the monotone illustrations are in 'The Orb Of Chatham', they go much, much deeper -- and contain a secret code of sorts.

"To literally unlock the Orb and enter into its secrets, mystery and enigmatic sub-text", says Staake, "a reader must have fo to OrbOfChatham.com, hold the book in their hands, and then solve a series of clues and riddles that hidden in the artwork itself. You simply cannot solve the code without the artwork in front of your eyes." (Note: If you have the book in hand and wish to unlock the orb, please click here).

Creating a synergy between book and website is something that Staake found fascinating -- and was a way to develop significant buzz for the book even before it was released.

"I certainly can see myself doing more books this way", says Staake, "because a web site can not only pick up where a books' story leaves off, but it can continue down new sub-plots and truly expand on its concepts and ideas."

But is 'The Orb of Chatham' real?

"I absolutely believe in the story", says Staake, "but I'm more interested in how readers perceive it. To me, 'The Orb Of Chatham' is one of those truly democratic stories that empowers the reader -- and makes them a critical part of the experience. Without a reader becoming engaged, a book simply wilts."


-- Steve Jacobs


'The Art Of The Orb Of Chatham' was first exhibited at the Munson Gallery in Chatham, Massachusetts. Selected illustrations from the book, reproduced as giclees and pencil signed and titled by Bob Staake, were displayed June 19 - July 2, 2005 to coincide with the release of the book. If you are interested in purchasing one of these unique pieces of artwork, please visit this page





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The Book Is Only The Beginning Of The Orb Of Chatham Story:

Of the five who reported witnessing 'The Orb Of Chatham' in 1935, why would Margaret Snow be the last to file her report with the authorities, while her husband, Walter, was the first? Additional Information on 'The Chatham Five' can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Why are so many orb shapes found in Chatham? The mysterious forms are commonly seen decorating gardens, placed in northeast corners of barns, and even used as book ends. Once people have read 'The Orb of Chatham', they report noticing even more Orb shapes within the quaint village. Additional photos of Orbs can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter What explains that orbs are often found near ship wrecks, particularly those occuring on nights with full moons? Unless you look closely at some of these mysterious photographs, you may not even notice the orbs that almost seem to hide from view. Additional shipwreck photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter

Given the relative shallowness of Chatham's waters, why did divers feel it necessary in 1976 to use a titanium diving suit like this to search the ocean floor of Stage Harbor when lobster traps were discovered being mysteriously "crushed" by something? Additional photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Why would this novelty song about 'The Orb Of Chatham' have been recorded in 1936 -- but banned from being played on the town's only radio station? Additional product photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Is there a reason why orb sightings in the Chatham skies increase during the winter months -- even though the town's population drops considerably? And why do so many townspeople insist that 'The Orb of Chatham' events of 1935 never took place? Additional Sighting Photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter


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The Orb Of Chatham and OrbOfChatham.com is Copyright 2005 by Bob Staake - All Rights Reserved. The book was originally published by Commonwealth Editions. The text, images and content on this web site cannot be used without the expressed, written consent of the author. For licensing inquiries, please click here. Any similarity to charcacters living or dead is strictly coincidental Flash animation and music sequence by Ryan Staake -- Melonsoft.

























, the reports were made upon daylight, though local authorities dismissed them a hoax.

Still, the witnesses' independent accounts were virtually identical; the orb appeared to be made of blackened metal, perhaps six feet tall, and traveled in absolute silence by rolling (though one witness reported spotting the orb "hovering" in the air above a local church).

Two months later, all five witnesses vanished -- on the same October evening -- never to be seen again.

Whether 'The Orb Of Chatham' is truth or fiction remains a mystery to this day.