Looking back on 2012 has a dizzying effect for me. Did I really do all of that just this year? It feels like several years worth of firsts and challenges. Best of all, I achieve two life goals. They’re the good kind of goals, though–the kind that are just the gateway to more goals!
I landed my first book with Penguin, and it was even a version of The Wizard of Oz, and I’m sure I’m not alone in how much that story affected me as a child. On the emerald-green coat-tails of that project, I was also tapped to illustrate the opening sequence of a very sweet little video game, ‘Kaia’s Quest’ for Fathom-I Entertainment in Canada. I even got to work on indie projects, a YA book cover and a charming retro picture book.
I find it very satisfying to have both experiences. Independent projects are flexible and can be infused with very personal passion–and my over-enthusiastic approach melds well with that.
With a big publisher, you have a whole team of experts to work with, and I am pretty much in love with the kid lit industry. My heroes have always been picture book writer and illustrators, and now book designers, art directors, and all their fellows gave joined the hallowed ranks.
In 2013 I will face the rest of my local SCBWI chapter as a PAL member, and I will work hard to make them proud!
I am almost finished with my first book for Penguin, and I have to say, I’m going to miss drawing these characters every day.
It was a dream project for me: a young reader’s edition of The Wizard of Oz! Spending time with Dorothy, Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, and the Wicked Witch was a treat, and re-reading the original text and this smartly abbreviated version for inspiration was like learning new things about old friends.
I know I’m not alone in my sentiments with regards to Mr. Baum’s immortal story, but it was very much an honor to work with this venerable content. My first Oz was the film I’m sure, but as a kid I really didn’t pay attention to human characters in live-action movies (couldn’t understand a word they said) and so the whole movie for me was the Tin Woodsman and the Wicked Witch melting–oh, and the Winkie Guards’ marching song! But my first book version was a copy with the original Wenslow illustrations, and of course they have stuck with me forever. That there may be some kids whose first Oz will be MY Oz is a huge responsibility. I hope I lived up to the legend!
More on this later, as well as pictures. Because we all know it didn’t happen if there aren’t pictures.
After a great time at a convention in San Jose, CA–where I revisited the greatest moments of my childhood by eating a falafel sandwich at the Falafel Drive In–I’m back in my office getting things done and it feels great! Here’s a new piece not yet up in the portfolio…I’m very into woodland themes right now (and I’m always into harp themes.)
Friends of mine run a small press called Crab Tank Ink (you can visit them here: http://www.crabtankink.com/tankadere/) that features comics and cute, snappy design. They’ve been giving emerging artists a shot at telling great stories in their Tankadere anthology. The name comes from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and reflects both the worldliness of the anthology (they recruit from around the world) but also the steampunk-friendly bent of the anthologies’ themes. My Bad Day Monsters appear in volume one and again in volume two, and I believe will run for the duration of the anthology—what a great group to work with!
Short comics are an interesting storytelling format. When I aim at a 4-8 page work, I inevitably think of it in terms of jokes. I want to escalate quickly to build up to a punchline, and exit as soon as the funny is over. When I was a kid, I used to write short, supposedly funny skits for puppet shows we’d put on at our big neighborhood Halloween parties. The Bad Day Monsters comics definitely hearken back to that creative outlet of yore, only when my new monsters are painful to watch, it is completely on purpose. As much cannot be said for squeaky-voiced sock puppet ghosts re-telling Chicken Little. Huh, maybe I shoudl revisit that concept…
Tankadere Volume Two is out now, and it is fantastic! So much growth on the part of the artists, and they welcomed a new production designer who had mad comicking skills as well. Check it out!
Looking forward to seeing so many of my peers and my idols at the children’s book conference this weekend. This year I’m absorbing as much as possible and hoping to get some good conversations in with my buds Suzanne and Katherine at Kid Lit Drink Night, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen–in a good way.
Best part: there’s a Half Price Books across the street, and I drove up in a huge van. All the books for me…
This has been a long time in coming, but now my work has a stylish place to live on the internet. Perfect timing since I have a plateful of projects and always want to heap more on! Mmm, heaps of projects. My favorite!
Here’s a little homage to great Japanese animation director Miyazaki I played with the other day. Definitely a big inspiration to myself and so many others, and his airy, idealized-realistic color schemes are a joy to live in for the duration of his films and long afterward.
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