Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Top Ten (May 2010)

As always, in no particular order:

1. THE ENEMY. Serge Bloch is awesome. I'm not sure who this book is for. Poignantly written by Davide Cali. Perfectly illustrated by Bloch. It's the format of a picture book and it's published (American) by Schwartz + Wade (kid bookers, though they certainly do some interesting, edgy stuff--I'm a big fan). It's about two soldiers fighting each other in war (ultimately, it's peace). I think the word "kill" is used more than once. For kids? Pretty brutal, methinks, for young 'uns, but I'm really digging it. And anything Bloch's doing, I'm all over it.

2. MIKE AND IKE BUBBLE GUM. It's no secret--I like gum. I found this new gum. It's the best of two candy worlds. Classic bubb gum, with the flavors of original Mike and Ike chewy candies. Have you ever had those awesome "hot dog" gums? It's like that. But fruity flavor. Oh yes.

3. THE CARDTURNER. The best way to describe this new book by Louis Sachar is, simply put, ballsy. Sachar has taken a chance here and written a book for young readers that is heavily about a game of cards called bridge. I didn't know much about bridge before I read this (still don't), but what I knew is that old people like it. I believe this may be true, but can't say for sure. Anyhow, it's a ballsy book and it's got a cool core of characters, twisty plot, and a very weird, overly complicated game of cards (plus a very unique and clever way to get around the card stuff if it absolutely don't interest you).

4. MEMORIAL DAY PICNIC. For Memorial Day weekend, many of Julie's fam flew in from various corners of the country to pay homage to the late, great family matriarch, Sylvia Halpern. It was a wonderful weekend, as many of us now have varying ages of wee babes. And we see so little of each other. Very fun.

5. THIS TREME VID: As reported last month, Julie and I have been swept up by HBO's new drama, Treme. I simply cannot say enough good about this show. It's so freakin right. Sometimes it just chills you right to the bone. This is one of those moments. In New Orleans, even a funeral procession (2nd line) can be drop dead gorgeous. Here, it's beautifully shot. Beautifully edited. Just plain beautiful.

6. REBIRTH BRASS BAND (in the vid w/ TROMBONE SHORTY). TREME has inspired me to dig around for some New Orleans music. It helps that the show has lots of great music and easy leads to kick off from. Rebirth, for one, is a good place to start.

7. KALA. Better late than never? I just heard this not-so-new album from M.I.A. Like her first one, it's a crazy combo of hard-hitting politics and hard-hitting hip hop (dance?--forgive me, I'm old). Liking it.

8. DRUMS, GIRLS, & DANGEROUS PIE. It's so cool being married to a librarian. And Julie is amazing at finding the right book for the right person. In fact, she's gifted. I actually had heard of this book, by talented Jordan Sonnenblick, years ago, but never got close enough to it to read. All along, I thought it was just another book about a teenager who goes through the usual "stuff". Little did I know it is not.

9. OOH POO PAH DOO. One more TREME nod this month. One of those chilling moments is when an airport band performs this New Orleans classic. I wish I could find a vid snapshot someplace, but I could not. Here it is done up old school, by Jessie Hill. Great song.

10. WILSON. I am not a HUGE Daniel Clowes fan. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly a fan. He is an amazing cartoonist. But what separates me from huge and average fandom is the gut-wrenching bleakness of his stuff. Man can get you down. But I definitely enjoyed this book. I had many laugh-out-loud moments while reading. Pretty bleak. But pretty funny. I'm sick.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Art of Shipping Art

Yesterday, I finished up a batch of original art for my next picture book. I'm really pumped about this particular book. But that's not actually why I'm here today.

I'd like to share a part of the illustration process that's likely been neglected. Too boring? I guess. But I take it very seriously. It's the part of the process when the art is completely done, yes, but it still needs to make it to the publisher. Seeing as this illustrator lives nowhere near his publisher, the art has got to be shipped.

What to do? What sort of packaging is worthy enough to hold these precious pieces of paper I've lived, loved, and screamed at for the past several months?

Here's how I do it.

Exhibit A: The "original art". As you can see, my work is done on paper. And that, my friends, is why it's gotta be shipped. If I worked new-fangley and on the computer (think J. Otto Seibold), I could just zip it all out via email. But I don't roll that way.

Here's the whole book. I think for this particular one, there's about 45 or 50 originals in this pile. I need to divide this up so I can get it in a not so shuffley state.

So, first I separate the big pile into little piles by size. At the end here, I usually have a variety of paper sizes to accommodate for different size drawings--smaller stuff (spot illustrations), medium size (one pagers), and big ones (full spread drawings). Hmm. Looking at this picture, it sure looks rather insignificant. Hard to believe there's about a year's time laying there on the rug. Ah, well. Moving on...

Once the piles are stacked and jogged, I unroll a large roll of white butcher paper...

...and tightly wrap up each stack like little Christmas gifts (Hanukkah ones, for my Jewish family). Tightly wrapped because I do not want any papers sliding around, rubbing ink or color up on each other. That could get ugly.

Then, I'm off to find some large pieces of cardboard.

Luckily, with a 19 month young babe running around the house, we've had lots of recent purchases that came in large cardboard boxes. Large panels of cardboard I've hoarded for just these occasions. I cut down four identical oversized panels of cardboard and set them aside.

On one piece of board, I then slap strip after strip of white paper tape to each xmas gift, securing each into an unmovable position. I don't want anything sliding around in transit. Like I said, no papers sliding around rubbing ink or color together. And none of those xmas gifts should be sliding around either, getting knocked corners or bruises. I sometimes include a full set of the latest round of sketch revisions for the art director to refer to when laying out the book. I did that here. And I always include a letter with some (meddling?) notes to my A.D..

Next, I squeeze all four cardboard pieces together like a tasty sandwich--two boards on each side of the art, for extra-double protection. Then tape, and, tape, and tape some more. Re-re-reinforce.

All that's left is to slap the shipping label on the top of this hopefully-sturdy-enough, custom-made carton.

The package is dropped off at the shipping center by my house. A whole lotta faith. A little bit of prayer.

And there you have it. Tomorrow, I will be tracking the package to check for its delivery, followed by an email or two to my lovely editor, Liz, until I know the mailroom has brought it up for a final stop at her desk.

But now, for some much-needed studio clean-up time. What a dump.