Friday, August 22, 2008

Reality Distortion Field

A quick follow-up here to the last post, just to show that I do read the articles that I recommend, and heed their lessons, too.

Lightship out of water

Earlier this summer I was riding in a car in New England when in my peripheral vision, lo, there appeared a big red truck that had on its door a familiar silhouette and this word:


Also a R.I. phone number and something about marine services and repairs and so on. The main point, though, was: Red Truck + Lightship. Out came the camera I had closest to hand. The truck was moving, the car was moving, so I never got the shot framed as I would have liked. (As you can see, I barely got it framed at all.) But I did learn two things. First, that truck drivers look at you suspiciously when you point an iPhone at them. (Maybe he was thinking I should upgrade to the 3G?) Second, that the camera on the iPhone, under certain circumstances, produces distortions which, in this case, at least, reminded me of the distortion in that great Henri Lartigue photograph of a racecar. Turns out that illustrator Brian Biggs has written an article that provides very cool information on the how and why of this, and incentive to go out and take a lot of pictures, too.

Also if you’ve never watched Biggs’ movie Stop Metric Madness, with music by One Ring Zero, then, ah, I’d say watch it now. It will make you like the Internet again.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Seconda stella!

I’m playing catch-up here today with good news from last week of a second starred review for The Hinky-Pink, this one in Publishers Weekly. Says the review: “Like the text, the art hits just the right tone of tongue-in-cheek earnestness....” (You can find the whole review here. It’s the second review from the top.) Thanks, PW!

I also wanted to put up a little bit about process in this post. Part of the fun of The Hinky-Pink is how full of incident and action the story is. It’s an illustration challenge, though, when a scene contains more drawing-worthy moments than can fit easily on a page. For one especially busy passage, we (editor, designer, and I) played with the idea of using comic panels to squeeze in as much action as possible, as shown in this sketch. That didn’t feel exactly right, though. It did, however, put us on the path to a happier solution, which was to keep the idea of the panels, but to frame them with an Italian Renaissance altarpiece. (You can see how that drawing turned out here.) That device not only allowed for showing multiple moments from the book, it also reinforced the story’s themes and setting. Also, it gave us all a chance to dust off the part of our brains where we keep our art history lessons and to relearn the word predella, and that was gratifying.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

See also

Every now and then the online procrastination yields up something of actual interest. This week, it was the recently revamped website of the great Quentin Blake. (Pause here to bend the knee.) It’s too good not to mention. Especially if you’re in the drawing business yourself, you’ll enjoy the postings about process filed under Illustrators, including two videos that show Blake at work. Terrific stuff. And those sideburns!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Hinky-Pink is Independent

Some recent good news for The Hinky-Pink: the book will appear on the forthcoming Fall 2008 Kid’s Indie Next List, “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers.” This list is voted on by (God bless’em) independent booksellers across the country, and it’s great to be on it. Thanks, booksellers! The full list should go up (I think) mid-August, and you will be able (I think) to find it here.

(EDIT: No, not there. Here. Then click on “For Ages 4 to 8.” Ecco!)

And anyone wanting a look at drawings from The Hinky-Pink can now see a few images up in the Portfolio section of the web site, here.