Monday, August 31, 2009

Thank you, San Francisco!

I don't typically like to blow my own horn, but I just read a super-cool review of TROUBLE GUM in the San Francisco Chronicle and wanted to share. Thanks a lot, Regan McMahon!

Maybe hard times inspire the imagination, but for whatever reason, the books that are leaping off the pile this month are wild and wacky.

First up is the irresistible Trouble Gum, by Matthew Cordell (Feiwel and Friends; 32 pages; 16.99; ages 2-6). Move over, Olivia, there's a new pig in town. His name is Ruben, and he, too, is headstrong. "You know the rules," his mom tells him after Grandma gives him some bubble gum. "Don't play with your gum. And don't blow big, sticky bubbles with your gum." Ruben does all three and makes a big mess, roping his little brother, Julius, into his crime spree.

The spare art is graphically dynamic, often featuring tiny pen-and-watercolor drawings of the pigs below a single line of type or a giant word like "THUMP" or "POP."

The other books featured are: Jeremy Draws a Monster, by Peter McCarty; Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex; The Marshmallow Incident, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett; and The Calamitous Adventures of Rodney and Wayne, Cosmic Repairboys: The Age Altertron, by author-illustrator Mark Dunn.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top Ten (August 2009)

1. ASTERIOS POLYP This new graphic novel from master cartoonist, David Mazzucchelli, had been on my radar for a while. I've been a fan of DM's for many years. In my college years, I was on my way out of being interested in the superhero comics. The ones I cared about, by then, were the ones with the great art. Among others, I was very much into comics by David Mazzuchelli--who did some amazing work on runs of Batman and Daredevil. But of course, ASTERIOS is his finest work to date. Written and drawn by DM, this is a very rich, dense story of a busted Architect (so rich, in fact, it goes over my head at times) and the art/design is just "off the chain". His characters each have a very different look (based on her/his personality). Each character even has her/his own style of word balloon and lettering. The color and design of the thing are crazy-sophisticated. The best G.N. of the year, I think. Super recommended. But I'm no reviewer. You'll be needing to read this highfalutin proper dissection over at The Comics Reporter.

2. 90 lb. ARCHES After a bit of solid research, I found a hot-pressed watercolor paper (this is what I use) that's just light enough that I can put it through my laser printer. Meaning, I can print art (from my computer) on a paper stiff enough to hold up to watercolor painting. Kinda changes what I've been limited to. Among other things, I can scan/edit my drawings in Photoshop, print to this Arches, then color over the print with the w.c.. Opens up some doors for me here.

3. "Indian" Pumpkin Seeds The packaging/branding is somewhat questionable, but these tasty seeds pack a big flavor punch. And by flavor, I mean salt.

4. GEORGE SPROTT We picked up Seth's new book at Comic-con. It's his latest and best (originally, SPROTT was serialized in the NY Times--this is the new, collected volume). Seth is the king of mood and atmosphere. And his humor is spot-on--always subtle, clever, well-placed. He is certainly one of the best cartoonists working today. This book is in-your-face large and, of course, beautifully designed. If you don't know Seth by now, then now is a great time.

5. TRUE BLOOD Julie and I don't have any extensive cable TV package ($). So if a show sounds good, and it's on cable, we usually have to wait til it's on DVD and rent. This is the case with TRUE BLOOD. We've just started watching Season 1. Julie's not as into it as I am, but I think it's kinda cool. It's a decent start. Curious enough. And I like the angle this vampire story takes--the whole synthetic-blood-bringing-the-vamps-out-into-mainstream-society thing. One down note though. HBO tends to go nuts with the "R-rated" material in it's original programming. Just cause it's on cable doesn't mean it's gotta go kid/candy store ridiculous. Just saying.

6. SPEEDBALL INK I've been a Higgins man for all these years. But, on a whim, I bought a bottle of Speedball. I think I'm won over. It's not worlds apart, in general, but the mouth on the bottle is nice and wide (good for dipping), and that's just enough to sell me.

7. FANTASTIC MR. FOX TRAILER For the most part, I am a fan of Wes Anderson. And I am a fan of Roald Dahl. Not a connoisseur of either. But this stop-motion Dahl/Anderson combo looks cool. It makes sense to me, the pair. But Julie (Dahl connoisseur) says this is one of R.D.'s least impressive moments. We'll see how it does in the longer format.

8. THE COMICS REPORTER I am not new to the Comics Reporter, but it always does the trick for me. Tom Spurgeon and company are my reliable go-to for what I need to know about all things comics and comics industry. It's a great source of info that covers the full spectrum of the biz. Big pubs and small pubs alike. Though I'm mostly a reader of the smaller pub stuff these days, I like to stay abreast of the whole situation.

9. PASCAL LEMAITRE Thanks again to Jules over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for introducing me to another great illustrator. I was blown away. And a pen and inker to boot. I love the great range of style in his drawings. Definitely one to keep up with.

10. ROMY'S TWO FRONT TEETH The kiddo went and sprouted her first two teeth. Bottom ones. Sharp as tacks too. I'm reminded of this whenever she gets a hankering to chomp down on a Daddy finger. But when you're as cute as her, it's worth the bite.

Friday, August 21, 2009

TROUBLE in BookPage

TROUBLE GUM is the featured children's book in the September issue of BookPage magazine. They have a monthly column, "Meet the Illustrator", that promotes the selected illustrator's upcoming title. Please take a moment. Meet me.

They do an awesome job with this column. Featured illustrators always draw the answers. A lot of fun. Thanks, BookPage!

(Click on image to zoom.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

TROUBLE GUM recognized by Society of Illustrators

What?! Yesterday, I got some crazy-good news from Feiwel and Friends pal and creative director, Rich Deas. Apparently, TROUBLE GUM was chosen to be a part of the 29th Annual Exhibition at the Society of Illustrators! This is major. And I had no idea it was coming. I guess the pubs submit all their books to all kinds of things all over. This one stuck. The news was a complete surprise and pretty much floored this old boy.

Congratulations are in order to my fellow Macmillan honorees, Maria van Lieshout (PEEP!), Taeeun Yoo (ONLY A WITCH CAN FLY), and Wendy Wahman (DON'T LICK THE DOG)!

Monday, August 10, 2009


We brought back many fun things from Comic-con. And one majorly unfun thing. A good, old-fashioned summertime cold. First Julie got it (presumably from one of the 125,000 snorting fans). Then, Romy. Now, it's me. I'm over the worst part, and basically, now I just sound like I've got peanuts stuffed in my nose. And an occasional "juicy" cough. But feeling much better, thanks.

It seems like it's been a while since I've put anything I'm working on, here on the blog. So to keep up with this, here is a sketch for a middle-grade novel I'm currently in sketch revisions with. It's written by Rachel Vail, for Feiwel and Friends.

This was a fun one to draw. A happening Passover Seder.

Second is a piece of final art from a middle-grade novel I recently wrapped by Julie Sternberg, for Abrams.

A sweet neighborhoody moment near the end of the book.

More to come. Some cool things are on the horizon!