Did you know that Santa Barbara was called La Laguna de Concepcion until 1782? That pygmy mammoths roamed the Channel Islands? And that the Mission only had one bell tower until 1831? Those are just a few of the tantalizing facts revealed in An Illustrated History of Santa Barbara & Ultimate Coloring Book, a new publication by John Roger Battistone and Michael Mould.
After a decade of fits and starts, IHSB came together with Battistone’s words and Mould’s illustrations. “Originally, it was going to be more basic Santa Barbara historical coloring book,” Battistone said, “but when I met with Michael Mould, graphic designer extraordinaire, we took the book to a new artistic and historical level. It became more of a history book, where the illustrations could also be colored with artist pencils … The final product has far exceeded my expectations.”
The seed of inspiration for IHSB was planted when Battistone, the son of Sambo’s cofounder Sam Battistone, was a student at Santa Barbara High School. “I started reading various history books about California, and especially ones about Santa Barbara County history,” he said. “My favorite author was Walker A. Tompkins, who wrote many historical books about Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Santa Ynez, and other county areas. Walker also had a local radio show that inspired my historical interest.”
After college, Battistone joined the U.S. Navy, spending two years in Japan before returning to Santa Barbara, where he opened the 100th Sambo’s restaurant in Goleta. He later started his own restaurant chain that included 30 eateries in seven western states. For the past 25 years, Battistone was CEO for his eponymous foundation, which provides affordable housing for area senior citizens.
When asked what he hopes people get from the book, he said: “I know that all the people of Santa Barbara County — and tourists — who read this historical book will enjoy its short history stories and will be able to get involved by coloring the illustrations. … As local historian Neal Graffy said on the Baron Ron Herron radio show, ‘Every Santa Barbara family should have one of these books on their coffee table.’”