The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 28, 2011

Meditation on Jobs: Mankato grad writes graphic novel on Zen influences of former Apple CEO

MANKATO — Though he only graduated from Mankato West in 2008, and from Northwestern University this year, Caleb Melby can now add “published author” to an already lengthy resume in journalism.

He delivered The Free Press as a youngster, started a radio show at KMSU in high school and edited the high school newspaper.

In college, he served as executive director of the school’s news web site and wrote editorials for the Chicago Tribune. In the spring of 2011, he worked as a reporter for The Times of Johannesburg, South Africa, and landed an internship with Forbes Media in the summer of 2011 — an opportunity he parlayed into a full-time job as a wealth reporter beginning next month.

But on Jan. 3, Melby’s latest journalistic venture will arrive in bookstores across the country.

While working as an intern at Forbes, Melby authored “The Zen of Steve Jobs,” a not-quite-factual “re-imagining” of the late Apple CEO’s experiences as an understudy to Kobun Chino Otogawa, a revered Buddhist priest.

“It’s been great,” said Melby, who is visiting home for the holidays before returning to his Brooklyn apartment in January. “It was this hybrid of journalism and creative writing that I’m not sure I’ll ever get to experience again.”

The opportunity to contribute to the swiftly growing Steve Jobs canon presented itself shortly after Melby began interning at Forbes.

Forbes editors had already been meeting with JESS3, a creative agency that specializes in “data visualization,” about a book on the brilliant, but mercurial, co-founder of Apple. Melby said he was assigned to begin the research and reporting for the book — which was focused on the oft-cited, but scantly researched, portion of Jobs’ life where he explored Buddhist teachings.

After spending nearly two months talking with Buddhist priests (and others) who knew of the relationship between Otogawa and Jobs, Melby started working on a manuscript. His editor liked what he saw and gave Melby the task of finishing the graphic novel in collaboration with illustrators from JESS3.

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