Top ten of my favorite things from last month (as always, in no particular order):
1. THE WALKMEN. Anyone who reads this blog regularly might know my keeping current with music has completely lapsed over recent years. I still listen to plenty of music, but I just can't be bothered to keep my ear to the ground anymore. Anyhow...I had heard bits of songs from this band here and there and thought they were cool. A while back, it was. Something made me remember so I took a closer look. Old suspicions confirmed. They are good.
2. SCOTT MAGOON. Was there ever a better name built for a children's book illustrator? OK... Dr. Seuss. Richard Scarry. I get it, there are others. But Magoon is up there too, right? And his art absolutely does that good name justice. Last month I got a look at his newish title, GRANNY GOMEZ AND JIGSAW. And this, folks, is top notch Magoon.
3. SEMPE COVERS THE NEW YORKER. Jean-Jacques Sempé, you can do no wrong.
4. THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN. Aaron Renier's new one--his debut with First Second. This is the most perfect, most exciting work of comics I have read all year. Amazing.
5. THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA. I first heard of this book on Chad Beckerman's (my uber-talented Abrams art director) blog. Then I saw it face out at my library. After a minute of hesitation, it got checked out by some other patron. Then whoever checked it out let it go way overdue. Then I finally got to read it. And... good it was. Very well done, Tom Angleberger. Well worth the wait.
6. HARPS AND ANGELS. I can never tell if I'm outing myself as uncool for saying, um, "I like Randy Newman". (Sorry, Randy. Yeah, you're not reading this.) I mean he does all that sappy-pappy stuff for Hollywood. But, best I can tell, that's not him. That's just his way of bringing home bacon. After listening to his albums (the good stuff) I knew then that ol' Randy has a seriously dark, twisted, brilliant mind. HARPS is no exception to this, seeing as he strikes, head-on, America and it's less-than-perfect current (current-ish... this album's from 2008, if you feel me) state of affairs. Oh, what fun could he have with today's political climate?
7. MY DAY WITH TOM. Now that I work from home, I've become quite the shut-in. Not quite Nicholson in The Shining. But it's time to not let that happen. So I've been on the lookout for fellow illustrators in my area. Chicago and it's suburbs. Last month, I elbowed my way into Tom Lichtenheld's home/studio and we had a great day of good, solid author/illo talk. He's a super nice, super talented fellow and he gave me crazy-good advice and guidance on my first big upcoming school visit. Thanks for putting up with me Tom!
8. DEATH COMES TO TOWN. The Kids in the Hall are back, and with a vengeance. With a twisted (as ever) new mini-series about Death dropping in on a small Canadian town called Shuckton. Fortunately we now have cable and we caught the U.S. run on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). Awesome.
9. FACEBOOK. Last month, I set up a "professional" profile on Facebook. (Which basically means, a place where I don't have to feel guilty plugging my new books, or new drawings, or good publishing news.) This sorta goes back to my #7 in this list. My present attempts to connect with other illustrators. Maybe if I lived in the NYC area, setting up an often pow-wow with a cool, friendly kid book illustrator would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Since I don't live in the NYC area, "friending" people who live in New York and all over has been my next best thing. And it's cool to see what other artists are doing day-to-day without always having to visit a hundred different blogs around the net. And much as I can tell, kid book makers are good people. And I'm happy I did this.
10. RENAISSANCE FAIRE. Just north of us is one of those merry and weird Renaissance Faires. You know the ones. Where people dress up like fairies and knights and wenches and what not. It can get a little awkward at times, but when you take an almost 2-year-old (in a tutu and a crown), it's a stroke o' genius. Last month, we went twice. Huzzah!