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Archive for April, 2012

Paperman is an animated short produced by Disney Feature Animation, I think.

I’ve heard a bit about it, and its blending of traditional and 3D, but I have not seen any art, but what’s on this poster. According to the article on Cartoon Brew it will premiere widely as a short attached to Wreck-It Ralph when it’s released in November. I do love that poster though…

More from Cartoon Brew here.

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I found this linked from Mark Evanier’s blog and it’ a fascinating look at the use of collage in the graphic arts, especially in the work of Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby’s Collages in Context is by Steven Brower. It’s a well illustrated look at the use of collage in the graphic arts.

It also points out that Richard Hamilton’s 1956 collage ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?’ included a Kirby cover from Young Romance.

Growing up I didn’t read comic books very often. I was aware of Jack Kirby, but I wasn’t into the superhero stuff so I didn’t pay special attention to most of that work. I have friends who are Kirby fanatics and I have learned to appreciate what he did. This article is interesting because it looks at some of the bigger issues of collage.

Image above. Delivery man. Mr. Shrimp Shops Online. Copyright 2000

I spent a lot of time working on a collage based animated show called The Mr Shrimp Show back in the late 1990′s. I still enjoy using collage elements in my illustrations but it’s always a fine-line between where they add interest and dynamism or make things a bit too disparate.

Still I find diving into collage projects to be incredibly refreshing and it really gets my brain working. I enjoy the unexpected juxtapositions and the oddly ‘official’ quality the final images yield.

Below, a collage from a poster for a L.A. theatre group I did a few years back.

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Stayed up way too late last night looking at other people’s great artwork online. I despise the internet’s ability to offer concrete evidence that there’s always someone much, much better than you. Maybe thousands of people.

The cat woke me up at about 4 a.m. meowing. I ran down to let him out the back door. Yes it was dark. And yes I did step right into a puddle of cat vomit. Cats! So funny. So vomity.

Not sure what to pack for my daughter’s lunch. The no peanut butter sandwhich rule at her school is destroying my life. I think I’ll just pack two cans of Red Bull. The preschool teachers would need tranquilizer guns.

My daughter didn’t want me to leave her classroom this morning when I dropped her off. Tears were shed. By her. By me. I must be a rotten person for leaving her there. Right?

Spent the morning hoping an interesting email would come in. Got so nervous I had to run to the bathroom when one finally did arrive from an editor. It contained some helpful notes – once I read it. But seeing the name in the inbox pop-up caused me to worry about what it might say for most of the morning thus avoiding reading it and getting more nervous about it. Vicious cycles! So funny. Soooo vicious.

Walked the dogs. They don’t walk-well-on-leash. It’s my fault. And it’s my back that pays the price. Having 75 pound dogs pull you in circles is funny to see. Not to experience. It wasn’t raining when I left. I should have known better…

When I rushed to pick up my daughter at the end of the school day, she gave me an angry look and asked that I “Be gone!”. She was having so much fun she didn’t want to leave. (And I don’t think she has been reading any classical literature. I think BE GONE is just a great way to say ‘I really don’t want to see you.’). Kids! So funny. So unfiltered…

In-between I worked on books. Edited an manuscript. Helped my mom with some computer issues after she called me to tell me that I shouldn’t send her any emails because her emails weren’t working. I avoided cooking dinner by sending the brilliant We Should Eat Out text message to my wife.

Now its time to draw some pictures. Or write a blog post.Or go to bed. And yes, I will put the cat out tonight. And no, he is not on fire. I hope.

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This week a favorite from the shelf. It’s never far from where I am working.

The Story of Everything, by Neal Layton. It’s a pop-up book that starts with the Big Bang. Really!

To me it represents the very best of picture books. It’s crazy-funny and the energy in the book is infectious. But infectious in a good way. Neal has drawn a lot of books. Of course Mammoth Academy is next on my Must Buy list. (You know Mammoths are my favorites critters)

Visit Neal Layton’s website.

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Yes, the title of this post has a question mark. I have posted a few times about how I developed and created Earthling!, my graphic novel due out in July from Chronicle Books (Order a copy now! Like the book on Facebook! Read the first chapter for FREE on the Chronicle Book website! Visit the official Earthling! website!…Ok. I’m done now…)

This post will examine the development of a single page, from rough to final, full color art. I am leaving out most of the technical gobblygook. Resolution, file formats ETC.

It all starts with the manuscript. The story developed while working with my friend Tim Rummel and notes from my editor at Chronicle Books. Once the script was given an ‘OK’, no easy feat in itself, I started in on rough art.

As I was the writer AND artist on this project I didn’t worry about breaking the script down to what illustration goes on each page. I hoped that I was doing a good job of doing that when I wrote it. I was picturing the book as I worked.

Below is the ‘final’ rough sketch. This ‘final rough’ is built from sketches that have been revised and scanned in to design the page. I drew most pages 2 or 3 times. I sketched the entire book out once before revising.

This is the black line art, or inked page. BTW this file is at 1200 dpi, at 100% of final printing size. So the art was approx. 6.5 x .8. I’ve added the details and refined the rough.

Below is the color only file. This was done by Ken Min after I sent him a 400 dpi file on the line art.

Below is the text file. This was put atop the final art files when the magic-printing-gnomes made it all work on paper. Most of the thanks for that goes to John Lind, who designed the book, and the good folks at Chronicle Books.

And below is the complete page. With crop marks.

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Mark Kennedy has an excellent post about using space in a drawing (he’s discussing storyboards) to create an attitude. How you design the composition of your scene can help define it for an audience as serious or funny, sad or happy.

It’s a great read and much of what he digs into works well when considering the composition of picture book pages as well. Why is one drawing ‘funnier’ than another? How do you design a scene (or a two page spread) to be as funny as it can? And what color palettes tip people off that something is supposed to be funny or not?

A lot of picture books go overboard using contrived and complicated angles in their drawings that don’t help tell the story. They often make things hard to visually understand and complicate the message of a given page.

He sums-up a similar point up the following way: “So flat visuals are great for setting a funny tone and visuals with depth are great for setting a dramatic tone.” And this point works not only in film but also on a page.

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It’s been a good week. I saw the sun three times. Really. But I’ve been busy inside so it doesn’t really mater if it’s raining or not.  I’ve been working on editing two manuscripts to get them into shape for showing to editors and drawing a revised dummy for an editor.

As I get older I become more suspect of the idea of ‘multitasking’. The most recent information on it is that we don’t actually have the ability to multitask. We can do things for short intervals. But we can’t really take on several things at once. It’s an illusion. The more you are trying to do, the less well you do them all.

I think my best work comes when I have the longest time to work on one particular thing. Not doing 20 things in one day. But I also find that if I spend a week drawing, trying to hit a deadline, I really enjoy the chance the next week to sit down and write all day. Even editing is a good break from that 50 or 60 hours spent drawing and painting.

But my work suffers when I jump between too many projects at once. I can see examples in projects where I was hoping between things. They are less refined and while they generally appear fine, I know they could be better.

Now excuse me while I pick up my daughter from school, take one of the dogs to the vet, figure out what’s for dinner, vacuum the stairs and get a load of wash in the dryer. Yup, it’s the glamorous life of a multitasking work-at-home illustrator.

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Another one of my favorite illustrators is Michael Paraskevas. You might be familiar with his Ferocious Beast books written by Betty Paraskevas. They were also turned into an animated show.

Another one of my favorite books he illustrated was The Kids From Room 402. I saw some of the original art from this book at a gallery in Los Angeles years ago. It really inspired me. The book is beautifully painted and a funny read, but it’s not so easy to find a copy. If you see one, grab it.

He has illustrated a new book written by Sarah Maizes. It’s due out in May. It’s called On My Way to the Bath. Looks like plenty of silly bath-time fun.

Sarah’s Maizes website.

And check out the The web home of Mr. Parasekevas. Comics, paintings, illustrations, sculpture, green monkeys and more!

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To continue a discussion from last week, there have been quite a few feature films based on picture books. At first this seems an odd combination. A picture book is constructed to be short, clean, almost zen like. These days picture books books longer than 900 words are rare.

Some picture books are high concept and speak a cinematic language. For instance, as was brought up in the discussion, Chris Van Allusburg books have been turned into live action feature films. Jumanji (Jumanji 2 which was not based on a book, but an extension of the film), The Polar Express and Zathura are big spectacle, Hollywood films. Am I forgetting one?

Visit Chris Van Allusburg’s site here.

And Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things are was another live action adaptation in the past few years.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an animated feature that differed greatly from the picture book by Judi and Ron Barrett. But they kept the million dollar idea, food falling from the sky.

Then you have The Dr. Seuss film library. The Lorax is the most recent animated adaptation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So I can’t make fun of it or tell you how wonderful it is. Each time they released a trailer it looked better to me. But they were making Seuss films way back in 1953. The 5,000 fingers of Dr. T is not based on a book (I don’t believe) but The good Dr. wrote the film himself. I’ve never made it through a whole screening. He was wise to stick with picture books.

For many, including myself, the best adaptation of Seuss is still the Chuck Jones directed, animated TV special from 1966. That Grinch is the one and only Grinch to me. I am too scared by the posters to watch the Jim Carey version.

Looking at even smaller scale origins for feature films you can find many films and TV shows/specials based on comic strips. The comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz has been turned into numerous films and of course the TV specials still air and draw huge ratings. They also adapted Li’l Abner into a film and a broadway play. The list of adapted comic strips is pretty long from Little Orphan Annie to Garfield.

Titles like Prince Valiant (film released in 1954) stayed in the public eye all the way from the golden age of comic strips to the 1970′s.

And the list of comic books turned into films or TV shows…well you can research that yourself! 

So feature films have looked for inspiration from picture books, comic strips, graphic novels and of course comic books for a long time. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see them continuing to do it. And these days having a title with some preexisting market awareness probably trumps a lot of original but unexposed ideas in Hollywood.

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I’m happy to report that everyone’s favorite bad-book has won the 2012 North Carolina Children’s Book Award! Kids get to vote and The Book That Eats People amassed 40,912 votes out of 118,499!

John Perry (the author) mentioned to me how proud he is that this book does so well when kids get to vote. And it certainly does. It loves kids. In fact, it loves anyone with chocolate chip cookie bits on their fingers!

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