No art there yet…

I just saw this listing for Giant Pants on Amazon, a picture book to be released in October of 2017. No art there yet, but I know a great deal about this book. I wrote the first draft almost 10 years ago!

pants2

Here is a little, bitty, tiny teaser of a book I can’t wait to see in actual book form.

More about it soon enough!

 

 

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Distractions

I rearranged the studio and I’m ready to work again.

Sounds silly but sometimes you just have to change things up where you work. And as I work from home I spend a LOT of time in this one room.

studio

Still too many books…

I’m also starting on a new picture book and was originally loathe to spend a day or two dealing with the mess that inevitably comes from making one ‘small change’ to your studio. Suddenly you have electrical cables that do not want to cooperate with your new plans, back-up hard drives that still don’t have an ‘out of the way’ place to call home and of course the issue of easy access to my traditional drawing tools and the computer and Wacom tablet.

It’s mostly done now and I have also purged more books and weird stuff that I hold onto for no good reason. Comic Con badges from 2004? Really? I’m part pack rat. Or to put it less nicely I must have a tad of hoarder in me. But I got rid of a lot of things and will be dropping even more books off to the local elementary school and the local take-a-book lending library outside the Safeway.

Of course the studio cleansing ALSO gave me an excuse not to do the work I need to do. It was a distraction, that perhaps I needed. Now I’ve got no excuse not to get back to work. No more dilly-dallying.

Posted in Dilly Dally Daisy, illustration, picture books, writing fiction | Leave a comment

It’s not the weather, it’s the Barbarians

I’m going to stop writing about the weather. I mean really, isn’t there anything else I’d like to write about? Anything? Nothing!? Oh yeah, there is a certain something that occupies a lot of my mind right now, but I will not utter that whose name must not be spoken.

So as this is a politics free zone until some point in the far future. Back to flagrant self promotion!

A new book that I illustrated awaits- gathering its strength just over the horizon. You can hear the rumbling, the screams, the gnashing of teeth, the beating of drums.

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Great Now We’ve Got Barbarians comes out in February and if I haven’t talked about this enough, I will soon make-up for that.

Written by Jason Carter Eaton, I’m very proud of how this book turned out.

Jason also had a Barbarian friend put together a book trailer which you can see here – well, see by clicking this link. OR watching the embedded video below.

It was a really fun book to draw so I thought I’d post some of the early art below.

Picture books tend to change a lot as I work on them (I think that’s my fault) and I’m never quite sure what I will discover in the process.

This is an early pencil sketch. I start out very rough with my … roughs.

barbar_10

The characters aren’t designed yet – what I am looking at are the narrative beats and trying to make sure that the pages aren’t all medium shots or all close-ups. That every page isn’t so packed with details and backgrounds that the book becomes exhausting to look at and that the Story in clearly communicated by the visuals.

That single page rough sketch eventually became this double page speed in the final book.

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Until tomorrow, keep an eye out for Barbarians and keep that house clean!

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Letters from the Oregon Arctic

8 days and counting since last I saw the green of grass. It’s like Minnesota took a family vacation to the West Coast and won’t leave.

Actually how many days has this actual winter grounded Portland metro?

How much school has been cancelled? There’s been so many school days cancelled that last night my daughter wanted to go back to school!

I think we are on the 8th day this winter of school being cancelled due to weather and honestly many of the roads around here are still as bad as they were last Wednesday.

I did get a good bit of drawing done over the past week. But the weather slows everything down and creates new tasks and problems, so I think it was a wash. Today I need to get some samples out and then start back up on a graphic novel that I made very little progress on last year. But this year will be different!

There’s a lot of talk about snow days for kids being replaced with work-at-home days, using tablets and computers, teachers can still teach. That’s a cool use of technology so that the school calendar isn’t totally goofed up, but I have to say, I’m not sure I like a kid NEVER having a snow day. There’s something very important about them (maybe not 8 of them in one winter but…)

Technology has an uneasy way of turning every second into a work second. Jobs that follow us home and in the car and in the bathroom via our phones.

I don’t think we are alive to solely work around the clock making profit (like the underwear gnomes) or attending to ‘responsibilities’. I think a day off is more important in ones life than we realize  – until it’s too late.

 

Check out my new website: www.markfeaering.com!

Posted in Oregon, picture books, writing fiction | 6 Comments

Being dishonest with words.

I’ve had an odd career. I’m talking about it like it’s over, but who knows what will happen next. Maybe I’ll be Mayor some day. Anyway, I worked on game shows for many years, usually designing interactive online versions of TV classics like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, Family Feud – the list goes on and on. That lead to doing some work with “Reality Shows”.

Many of the most successful Reality Show formats originate from Europe where lots of small countries with small populations had to create shows on tiny budgets. This lead to pretty much a video camera at the car wash solution and developed into what we all know and hate as Reality Shows.

At the time I couldn’t figure out why I disliked them so much. Why did their dishonesty upset me so much more than any other part of creating a TV show, putting on a play or making a movie? My dislike of them was one reason I changed careers after 7 years of being a ‘game show’ person.

It has to do with how they present themselves and the twisting of language.

They are no more ‘Reality’ than BattleStar Galactica but for most people the style was convincing. The cheap production meant authenticity. The ridiculous behavior seemed honest and familiar. The lack of familiar actors implied Truth.

Reality Shows take advantage of style to present themselves as somehow more authentic, even though they are developed, shot, edited, directed and paced just as classic narrative drama and comedy. But by using a seemingly ‘cheap’ style and using modern on-the-go video equipment they make us think they are somehow more truthful, more honest, more grounded in Reality. Style over substance in a BIG way.

Why is this important now? Because I think we have reached a zenith in media where people no longer know what to believe. I am not blaming Reality Shows for the state of the country, perhaps they are a symptom. An excellent example of how easy we can be fooled.

Now I more clearly understand why I found them so off-putting, They are dishonest in a way that a typical sit-com or police procedural will never be. They are dishonest in execution and by design create an illusion of reality that seems convincing enough to garner their name. The word Reality has been dealt a disservice that we may not recover from for many years.

Posted in game shows, Working Digitally | 6 Comments

I’m going to write a book today.

“I’m going to write a book today.” I said to myself, Then sat down and …

I tried that once. When I was first attempting to break into picture books, I remember a day in Pasadena where I cleared my schedule and sat at my desk to write a picture book. Time get to work! I was still working a ‘real’ job and I tried to bring that sensibility to this job.

I mean, everyday I got up, drove to work, sat at my desk, had meetings worked on projects. It’s just a matter of writing a book instead of designing an online game or reviewing animated scripts…right?

I didn’t write a book that day or on many other days. What I found is that writing a book means you are always working on a book. It rarely just starts one day because I want it to and never finishes when I expect it to. While you DO have to do your writing every day, whether or not a flicker of  good book appears seems unfortunately random.

I find my inspiration is small things, odd little realizations. Truths that make me uncomfortable and ideas and characters that make me laugh. I do not find inspiration by telling myself to write a book when I sit down.

Now I tell myself, “I will sit down today and NOT write a book.” And if some tidbit of an idea develops that day, I am grateful.

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

Check out my new website: www.markfeaering.com!

Posted in kids books, picture books, writing fiction | 1 Comment

It’s THAT post…

Oh, oh. It’s THAT post.

Earth is an amazing place even without humans. But humans – they are amazing in their own ways too. Human imagination and the technology that comes from it changes everything. From stone tools to ethernet humans create new worlds around our world  (of course not always for the better but that’s a topic for another day).

So here we are changing again. The issues are complicated and contradictory. For example: along with living longer than any human generations in history comes the cost, the literal cost. of doing this. And looking to past methods for dealing with health care can’t directly inform our policies for the future because everything about medical care is different than it was even 25 years ago. Never before have humans had the ability to intervene in so many medical situations for the  better – as long as the money is there to pay for the medical knowledge and pharmaceuticals. How does society adjust to this new reality? By ignoring it and pretending it’s still 1946? Have a cigarette and your throat will feel better…

A few other examples: online shopping will eventually mean that service sector employment will diminish. Self driving vehicles will eventually mean job loss at a massive scale for one of the most reliable catch-all industries – trucking.

Buying books online, buying ebooks, NOT buying books but binge watching Netflix. It all changes.

And it’s often scary. And confusing. Especially as we age. Things were just so much BETTER when we were young, right?

No, that’s not true but those bygone days represent something more important than BETTER. They represent times we felt we were in control because, and here’s the contradiction, because they are in the past! We are comfortable with what we have already experienced. We make sense of things in the past because we have already experienced and ‘mastered’ them. We can look back and see the outcome of events that at the time were scary. And we can say, “It worked out.”

We can’t do that about the future and especially when the future is speeding at us at a million miles an hour via technological change unprecedented in human history.

But the future is where we belong. Not the past. Look forward, work to move forward. The past is – past. Maybe 120AD WAS the greatest time ever (to be a Roman, maybe…) but it is over.

Don’t be afraid and don’t look back except to learn from our mistakes. Do not look back in hopes of replicating some imaginary world of ‘better’ because it never was. It is an illusion. The ‘better’ waits for us only if we choose to move forward.

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