Archive for November, 2011

I’ve been blah-blah-blahing too much on this blog. This is supposed to be an illustration blog. So here’s an illustration.

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As I have mentioned before, more than a few times…I’ve been working on a graphic novel the past 30 years…OK. That’s not true. It only took 5 years. Maybe 7 since the first idea. Anyway, it comes out next June from Chronicle Books. It’s for ages 8 and up. I’ve been working on trading cards and book trailers to support the book when it comes out. My plan is to have 4 book trailers, releasing one every month or two until the book is released. Each trailer will take a different approach. The first one is looking great. A friend of mine has done the motion graphics and written original music for it. Now I just need to get the Earthing website updated to its new design. And THAT is the real topic of todays missive.

Creating the book is only step one of actually making a book. Creators used to be only tangentially involved in marketing a book. But these days authors and illustrators need to be knee deep. I don’t want it to be this way…I have fought it and feared it. Of the many things I MAY be, a salesmen is not one of them. I would love to just work on the material and not be concerned with marketing. But unless your name is Stephen King (and a few others out there…) it’s really up to you to support the work you do. I recently had lunch with a screenwriter friend and I was complaining about all the time I have to put into marketing my books. He pointed out that really, it’s an opportunity to market yourself and share your excitement with the project.  And in this day-and-age, with so many ‘channels’ of content, it makes sense to do whatever you can.

That didn’t make me any happier. But he’s right. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. I am excited to do the book trailers and trading cards and art prints, because I love the book. And as with so many ‘new things’ – a new book needs all the unconditional love and support you can give it.

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“It looks like software giant Microsoft is looking to get into the scripted TV business. I hear that the company has hired a headhunter to search for an experienced executive to serve as a head of scripted.”

This very exciting news from Deadline Hollywood. Nothing says drama better than a blue screen of death or an ‘invalid Boot.ini’ error. Can you think of anything that could go wrong with this plan? I mean, success in TV has always been driven by computer companies creating original content. Duh.

I imagine they will leverage their X-Box gaming platforms popularity and demographic. Maybe a show with teenagers talking about playing video games. Sort of like the comic strip Zits but featuring less jokes about the size of the kids feet.(I’m serious, the creator of that strip is obsessed with his kids feet size)

Maybe a CSI style procedural where a team of young, highly trained experts try and install Windows upgrades.

Or have an odd assortment of people wake up after a horrible computer crash and they try to find their way out from Windows Security Upgrades. It’s like The Prisoner meets Lost.

They could go the animated show route. We travel inside a new Windows computer to the amazing virtual world run by funny wizards who live in the memory buffers and try  and help the tiny bits and bites citizens who are enslaved by gigabite system upgrades.

And of course zombies are hot, and what’s better than legions of Zombie computers infected by a virus that sends your social security number, spending habits and favorite websites off to remote computers in– Redmond, Washington! The HORROR!

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“The young generation will, 30 years on, remember what it felt like to be scared of one of the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter stories.”
Sam Leith. Essay in The Guardian, 2009.

This article is from 2009, but it’s a good essay that reflects on material, meant for children, that is scary.  I talk about this issue a lot now that I have a child and that I tend to draw and write material that may be considered SCARY. I remember being scared, and enjoying it as a child. My father had black and white Super 8 clips from famous horror movies. That’s how I first saw Frankenstein and the Wolf Man and many other fear favorites. I clearly remember being scared, even covering my eyes (though I kept peeking through my fingers) on the Friday nights when he got the movie projector out and we watched those films. I was scared – and I liked it. It never scared me so much I didn’t want to come back and see more.

I think this interest in being scared is a personality trait. My daughter seems to share the fun of watching something scary and she seems to have a grip on the fact that it’s not real, so it can’t “REALLY scare you.”, as she says. She enjoys that balance of having a foot in both worlds. The excitement that naturally comes from letting your imagaintion go is balanced by the realization that it is, after all, just a flight of imagination. But I know other children who most deifnitely aren’t ready to watch ‘scary’ movies or read scary books.

But those things that scare you in books also teach you how to overcome that fear. In ‘real’ life you have to face things you fear. By facing fear vicarioulsy you learn that the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself. Everyone will have to confront fears in their life whether it’s the first day of school at a new school, speaking in front of your class or asking someone out for a first date. If you grow up understanding that vampires and monsters and orcs can be overcome it’s not unreasonable that you will face other fear based obstacles without shrinking. After all, most of the fears we carry with us are irrational and imaginary. A lot like a fear of Vampires. Because, as my daughter says – “Vampires aren’t really real. But Dinosaurs WERE really-real, but not anymore. But they are scary too.”

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“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.”

F.D.R’s First Inaugural Address. 1933.

78 Years ago.


Happy Thanksgiving.

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“Somehow, I think it’s different,” she said. “When you read a book, a proper kid’s book, it engages all the senses. It’s teaching them to turn the page properly. You get the smell of paper, the touch.”

A good piece from the New York Times looks at why many parents who like iPads and apps still like buying dead tree books for kids.

And I have to agree. I enjoy the additional dimensions that a book app can reveal. But they can quickly become distracting to a young reader and interfere with the core experience. They become games instead of a narrative journey.

My daughter has consistently gone back to dead tree books even when various kids book apps have been offered to her.

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A long standing tradition (well, long standing in Internet years) is that I post free gift tags each year to download and print. This year, they are a tad darker than usual. And if you like them and want to read a holiday story with plenty of snow and headlessness, grab a copy of my new, fully illustrated e-book, The Thing with No Head. It’s 4 bucks. It makes a great gift for a new iPad owner. The book can be downloaded directly into iBooks on the iPad. It also works on computer and other electronic reading devices.

I may post some more new tags before the Holidays, but this batch is decidedly on the macabre side and one of them is very inspired by Edward Gorey. So grab them if you want from my Free Gift Tag page on this blog. Happy Holidays!

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