Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pigs, pigs, pigs.

I've been meaning to post these since my reading at The Book Stall the other week. One thing I did, near the end of the presentation, was go on about how I love drawing and seeing other people draw because it's very much an extension of one's personality. Much like the way someone speaks, or laughs, or sneezes, or smells, dresses, walks, eats, etc. Everybody draws differently. Cause everybody's brain is different, hands are different and it all flows out just different. EVEN IF we draw the exact same thing. Different.

So I drew, step-by-step, a big drawing of TROUBLE GUM's main pig, Ruben. Kids and parents and grandparents and friends followed along. Unfortunately, a couple of my tiny guys got lost, but generally the experiment went well.

These were the only ones left laying around at the end. Everyone else took theirs home. And there are some real beauts here. Like I said, all very different. All very cool.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My babe gets a star!

As reported here earlier, Julie's newest YA novel, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER, just came out on Sept 29.

It's been picking up some great reviews (Kirkus, School Library Journal), but the best so far is this STARRED (the best of the best) review from Publisher's Weekly! So, so proud. Well-deserved, my sweet. Congratulations.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder Julie Halpern. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-38252-0

Sophomore Jessie Sloan is having a bad year. Her two closest friends are turning punk and boy-crazed; one of them even pursues Jessie's longtime crush. To make matters worse, Jessie's beloved older brother will soon be leaving for college. Jessie feels adrift and spends her time sewing skirts and listening to audiobooks. Halpern's (Get Well Soon) story picks up pace when class nerd Dottie introduces Jessie to Dungeons and Dragons, which Jessie (to her surprise) actually enjoys, leading her to a new group of friends as well as a heartfelt, if a little clich├ęd, crush on a cute boy with his own nerdish tendencies. Jessie is a thoughtful, sympathetic narrator (“How is it that someone becomes a dork?... What makes some people like punk music and Denny's and other people like costumes and Dungeons and Dragons?”), and her fresh voice will reveal to readers just how independent and exceptional she is (even when Jessie can't see it herself). The relationships and dialogue ring true; readers navigating the stratified social structures of high school will relish an ending that celebrates true friendship. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

TROUBLE GUM inaugurates

On Saturday, last, I had my first solo author event ever (Julie and I have done a team show in years past, but I've never held the spotlight alone). And this was the first TROUBLE GUM event so far--complete with a reading, some awkward banter, a little drawing. It was a great success! Thanks to Robert McDonald and everyone at The Book Stall in Winnetka! Thanks to everyone who showed up, smiled, supported, bought books! And special thanks to Julie, Romy, and Grandma Janice for moral support and advice. Looking forward to doing this again--polishing, revising, getting better, and crushing this fear of public speaking once and for all. Now here's some pics. Thanks to my lovely wife and assistant for making with the digital camera.

Check our man out. Pretending to be all cool just before the start.

My first ever read-aloud to an audience. Complete with "voices".

Getting my draw on.

I did a bit of show-and-tell with drawings from the Cordell archives. Here I am telling my infamous "cabbit" story. Mental note: tighten up the "cabbit" story.

Giving a step-by-step drawing lesson of TROUBLE GUM's star pig, Ruben.

From the front.

The kiddos and adults did a bang-up job in the drawing lesson.

Signed some books and cooled down afterward. Here I am signing a big sketch of Lord Vader for a fellow fan.

Thanks again, everybody! I had a blast. More to come.

Stepping on my soapbox a sec here: Support your local independent bookstore, people! Even if you're maybe paying a tad bit more (I certainly know it's hard times) than the big corps and chains, you walk out with a squeaky clean conscience! And you can't put a price on that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oct 17--See Matt Draw.

This Saturday, October 17 at 3pm, I'll be headlining an event at one of my all-time favorite indie bookshops, The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL.

By headlining, I mean, I'm the main event... er, the only event. I'm doing a reading of my newest pic book, TROUBLE GUM. Then, I'm showing some semi-embarrassing drawings from my past. Then I'm doing a little drawing demo. Then wrapping up with some audience participation drawing. I'm very excited about it. Admittedly, a little nervous. Public speaking is not my forte, as I'm sure I have mentioned here before. But to quote Eleanor Roosevelt:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

I have lived through this horror. Well, it's not "horror". Don't be silly.

Now that I've spilled all this, I hope, if you live in the area (or are willing to make the drive), that you will come and see me. I guarantee fun will be had by kiddo and adulto alike-o. See you there!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top Ten (September 2009)

I know it ain't September. So, yeah, I'm running late with this. But the blog is one of only a couple of things (work-related) where I don't have a deadline on my shoulder. So here I am, late, and loving it.

1. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. The return of LD! Catherine O'Hara (aka "Funkouser's Crazy Sister"). The Seinfeld "reunion". Leon.

2. CUL DE SAC and Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson is a pen/ink genius. Hands down. AND a nice guy to boot. Julie bought me some original art by RT for my birthday. Blew me away.

3. ANDROMEDA KLEIN The new YA novel by KING DORK author, Frank Portman. He's got a great "voice", Portman, and I'm enjoying the originality of his main character, Andromeda. He's really done his homework, it seems, on the tarot and occult.

4. STITCHES New graphic novel/memoir from illustrator David Small. His true story about how he had cancer as a pre-teen, why he got it, and a horribly dark mom/dad/son relationship. Amazing.

5. BORED TO DEATH New series on HBO from writer Jonathan Ames. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and the hilarious Ted Danson. Danson (yes, Sam from CHEERS) has really been surprising me with his comedic chops as of late. First, CURB. Now, BORED. Very cool, there, Ted. (p.s. Loads of great cameo appearances.)

6. FRESH AIR While I'm drawing, I've been putting on NPR's FRESH AIR. I love that Terry Gross. She just seems so interested. And she gets the best guests. Shows I've enjoyed lately are Nick Hornby, Rosanne Cash, Dan Fante, and (yes) Ted Danson.

7. ROMY CRAWLS Last week, Romy made a huge leap into mobility. She's crawling. At first it was cute. Then, it became quickly obvious that my job just got a lot harder. Proud of you my lil' girl!

8. ANTHONY BROWNE Julie turned me on to the excellent illo of pic book illustrator, Anthony Browne. He does a sweet Gorilla. We just bought his book, LITTLE BEAUTY. It is a real beaut.

9. REALLY ROSIE The CD. Music, Carole King. Lyric, the great Sendak. This is Romy's favorite music. She actually dances when that little rat-a-tat-tat drumline brings in the opening track.

10. QUENTIN BLAKE One of my Facebook friends found and shared this superb Quentin Blake video slideshow. Blake is too dang cool, man.