An illustrated short story!

Coming soon to a blog near you…well, this blog actually. But feel free to share it – the REAL story about Oregon and slugs. This is the teaser trailer. I’ll post the entire 11 page story when I figure out if I want to post it as one file or across two or three days.

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Posted in comic books, Comic Strips, Fantastical Tales of Occasional Oddness, Oregon, The Colonel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Reviews for Superhero Instruction Manual

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The reviews for the about-to-be-released picture book I illustrated called Superhero Instruction Manual (written by Kristy Dempsey) are starting to come out. And so far so good; as in good reviews. And no one has called out my illustrations as ruining the book which is the nightmare I always have. Where the review says “This is a great book, too bad about the illustrations, no?”

Thus are the deep, dark thoughts of a commercial artist…

Anyway, Kirkus gave it 6 thumbs up, which I don’t even understand…OK, they don’t do ‘thumbs-up’ reviews, but they liked it. Here’s the review from Kirkus:

When there are no radioactive spiders around to gift you with super skills, curl up with the Superhero Instruction Manual to learn what it takes to realize your inner superhero.

Told in a combination of comic-book frames, traditional picture-book spreads, and text boxes that contain directives from the titular manual, the book introduces readers to a young, white boy deeply absorbed in a “complete, unabridged” instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in “seven easy steps.” In the background, a friendly dog and an intrigued-yet-suspicious sister follow him throughout his journey to superherodom in hilarious counterpoint.

The instructions lead to miniadventures, such as the search for a supersecret hideout that shows him approaching the occupied doghouse and being banished from the predictable behind-the-couch sanctum before fetching up in the remodeled treehouse (complete with “No Sisters” sign). The tale turns as the sister takes to the role of hero with more ease than her discombobulated brother, who feels far from super after a world-saving–cum–world-ending high-speed chase through the park in pursuit of his villainous sidekick pet dog. She helps readers realize that heroics are not always about superpowers but the true human power of “always [being] there when it counts.

This funny, spirited exploration of superhero culture sans violence and with an added dose of familial love is a powerful addition to any bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)  – Kirkus

And Booklist Online gave it a great review, but one must be a member to view it or read it. I’m not even sure I’m supposed to be talking about it. Wait…there’s a knock at my door! Quick, I need to log off!

Anyway, Booklist liked it and here’s part of the review which I think is OK to post? I’m sure a lawyer will tell me shortly.

“…The goofy cartoonlike illustrations highlight our scrawny hero’s physical limitations, which are nicely juxtaposed to the manual’s enthusiastic expectations.Readers will enjoy watching the sister skulk around in the background, making her own transformation.Added visual touches include drawings reminiscent of traditional comic book art. This romp should inspire wannabe superheroes—while also making a case for little sisters.” — Kathleen McBroom
Well, that’s it for self promotion today. Cheers!
Posted in picture books, Superhero Instruction Manual | Leave a comment

Oh yeah…

For those new readers here on my blog who like things in a pen-and-ink-style you can check out and download two of my illustrated short books on the Apple iBooks Store (they cost $1.99). And if everything works out these two books will soon find themselves on other e-readers as well. I’m not 100% sure yet if this will happen; however, right now these books look awesome on an iPad, iPhone or Mac.

All ages friendly but of course all kids aren’t the same.

The Thing with No Head

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The Boy Who Was Swallowed by a Tiger

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Posted in ebooks, The Boy Who Was Swallowed By a Tiger, The Thing with No Head | 2 Comments

Inspired by the previous post?!

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After I posted those images from the old 8mm films, I remember I had some monster art I had done that was inspired by it. I dug into an old CD back-up and found this. This is a design I was working on a few years ago (like 13 years ago now) with a t-shirt company, but we never came to terms. I had about 2 dozen monster heads and wanted to do individual monsters and a collection like this. But the coloring and style of this – really inspired by those 8mm film canisters we had around as a kid.

I never fine tuned the art or text. But you know…looks like a fun project. Maybe I need some new t-shirts!

This would have been on a black t-shirt.

Posted in monsters, The Book That Eats People | 2 Comments

8mm

8mm

I still have the old 8mm film boxes from the movies dad used to show on Saturday nights. Black and white of course as most of the films were only black and white. He still has the 8mm films, but they are in plastic film containers. But I’m glad not all of these got tossed. I’m looking for my favorite, though I think it got thrown away years ago: Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man. The Wolf Man was by far my favorite monster when I was a kid. I mean, he scared me the most. I still remember my logic. I could outrun Frankenstein and use garlic or a crucifix to stop Dracula – but how do you stop the wolf man? I mean he’s fast, can jump and climb. Yeah, yeah a silver bullet, well you better be a good shot, you’ll only get ONE chance.

Posted in Film Making | 6 Comments

What Works and When

This is an older illustration, from like 4 years ago I think. I ran across it while digging through my digital archives (man oh man there’s a lot of pixels in there).

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I had written a short story and I was going to do a drawing  a day and have a simple graphic novel type thing. More an illustrated short story than a graphic novel. And honestly I think an illustrated short story format is more interesting than panel after panel most of the time. But that’s another discussion. BTW I never finished this project. The story is done but I never got back to the drawings.

Anyway so much works in this drawing for me (but I would rework the text to sit only in the white, but that’s a detail…I mean detail fixes are easy!). It’s lose, it’s evocative, it’s intriguing and you focus on the main characters while the background basically goes away or acts as a quiet atmospheric soundtrack. The illustration doesn’t overwhelm the story or characters, it exposes them. It’s not trying too hard, yet it’s dynamic.

And why-oh-why is it so tough to make this happen most of the time? I’ve been busy working on several projects and the ones I’m not on deadline with (the ones I’m doing for fun I guess you’d say) are all about this issue. Cutting away the crap and getting an illustration that works with a narrative. An illustration that’s not at war with the story or trying to subsume it. I fee like it’s easy to overwhelm with an illustration. I’m guilty of doing that. And it’s easy to overtake the story with a very active or bright illustration and sometimes that’s needed because the story might be weak. But finding that balance is where the fight is. Most of the time I lose. Sometimes, from seemingly out of nowhere I win. So tie game I guess.

Posted in illustration, Illustration Techniques, Illustrators, picture books, writing fiction | Leave a comment

Sometimes doing too much is a good thing.

Jumping between 4 projects right now. It’s actually been fun. One is a picture book that I am desperately trying to make work. It’s a new manuscript that I am putting in book dummy form to see how it works. It’s a weird book that involves different art styles and the character sometimes directly addresses the reader. I’m still not sure it works 100%. I wish I could say that the book just falls from my fingers onto  page, but the truth is it’s all bumps and dead ends and unexpected stops. But I feel pretty good about it right now.

When that’s not working I jump back to a new story for this blog that I will post soon. It’s about slugs. And it’s illustrated.

When I need a break from that I work on a new short story I am writing for Hollywood Dementia. This is pure prose for an adult audience and lets me exercise a different part of my brain.

And when I am at a good stopping point with the short story (they can take several weeks to finish) I have another graphic novel I am drawing and another one I am revising with my agents suggestions.

And starting tomorrow I will be painting final art on a new picture book for Candlewick based on a story I wrote.

The sunny skies here in Oregon have kept me in good spirits and the projects are all moving forward if but in tiny steps.

And writing blog posts. Oh yeah. That I haven’t been so good at lately.

Posted in writing fiction | 1 Comment