The art for this book was special experience for me. I had always wanted to do a fireman book and I've also been dying to experiment with something new in my artwork, so when I got the call for this project I jumped at the chance.
The main idea I wanted to handle with this book was to make the artwork interact with the fire and water in the story with the idea being that the pages in the book were so close to the fire that it burned the pages and when the firemen came in with their hoses the water would make the ink in the artwork bleed off the paper. First off, I tried out this simple sample of drawing two firemen.......
I wanted to keep in mind that the burns and watermarks are supposed to supplement the artwork and not overwhelm the page and take center stage. In the book the burn marks gradually dissipate as the fire goes out until you are left with only water stains and smoke.
I don't normally go out for photo reference shoots, but in this case accuracy was pretty important and so I went out with my son on a field trip to the nearby fire station and I also gathered parent hours for the school. DOUBLE SCORE!
I usually work entirely in Photoshop but a good part of this project would require me going back to using traditional mediums to create textures
I applied watercolor onto paper to create the grainy haze you see in an ember filled sky. I also used it to handle smoke effects. I created many texture samples to get the right effect...
For the burn marks I actually burned pieces of paper in my basement and scanned in the edges....
The water marks were a little more difficult. I completed the artwork unaltered on my computer. I then printed out a copy of that artwork and then using an eyedropper and a cup of water I created puddles of water to make the color in the art print bleed and appear as if it had been damaged by water from the water hose. After that I scanned in the waterlogged image and incorporated it into the work and then added the burn treatments on top of that using Photoshop.
I was especially happy with the endpapers. This is the firefighters going to the fire.....
Here is the cover of the book....
Go find the book in stores now!
I'm in a great mood. I have several deadlines coming up in the next few weeks then after that it will be smooth sailing until the end of the year. I'll finally get to start writing my next graphic novel for Scholastic, I'll get started on my next picture book with Little, Brown, while illustrating a few other projects in the year. Meanwhile, this weekend will be the start of what will be many appearances in the upcoming Spring/Summer for the many books coming out this calendar year.
LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS
This weekend is the LA Times Festival of Books. This will be the second year it is held at the USC Campus (previously held on the much nicer UCLA Campus) and I will be signing some of my new book releases at several places....
SATURDAY APRIL 21st
11:00 AM DIESEL BOOKSTORE (Booth 975) - Sidekicks and others
1:00 PM ONCE UPON A TIME (Booth 774) - Sidekicks and others
3:00 PM LITTLE JUNEBUGS (Booth 559) - Bawk and Roll and others
4:00 PM MRS NELSONS TOY AND BOOK SHOP (Booth 747) - Dog In Charge and others
See you there!
Good news all around for the book titles I've worked on. OH NO! NOT AGAIN! Just received a starred review from Kirkus and DOG IN CHARGE also received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly. Abrams Books has really made a push to promote KEL GILLIGAN'S DAREDEVIL STUNT SHOW that they made it the cover of their Fall Catalog as seen here. FIRE! FUEGO! BRAVE BOMBEROS comes out next week and has also been getting great reviews. I'll be posting a video next week on my process on how I did the art for that book. BAWK AND ROLL has been getting great reviews all around and author, Tammi Sauer is on a mad tear throughout the country doing speaking engagements. Speaking of which....
Sterling just sent me a crazy stack of copies and I may possibly have to think up a contest or something to give these suckers away. Stay tuned. It might be something simple like, "Hey, tweet about it" or some junk. We'll see.
On a semi related note the NHL Playoffs are here and my beloved (8th seeded) Los Angeles Kings are one win away from eliminating the top seeded Vancouver Canucks from the playoffs. The captain of the LA Kings, Dustin Brown has been on a scoring rampage putting in four goals in the first three games of the series and also layed out a out a nice highlight reel body check on Henrik Sedin. ANYWAY, Mr. Dustin Brown is also a contributor to the Guy's Read anthology edited by Jon Sciezcquiza .... Scieszka?... Is there supposed to be a 7 in there somewhere? Anyway, this is a little detail from the illustration for his story contribution. (For all you hockey fans out there, yes, I will be changing the other players number to 33) Go Kings Go!....
Speaking of playoffs and such, my graphic novel, SIDEKICKS, contiinues to get good news. As you know it has been nominated for a Children's Choice Book Award but I have just recently discovered that it has also made the Bank Street Children's Book List, the Kansas Reading Circle and is a nominee for the James Patterson Kiddo Award. These accolades all however pale in comparison to it winning the March Madness tourny at a little Ohio school....
As a treat for the wonderful honor I'll be giving that class (led by teacher, Tony Keefer) A free Skype school visit in the next few weeks.
OK, that's it. See you all next week, and hopfully this weekend!
I was in wine country this weekend and I realized that I don't blog enough. I'm horrible and I'm sorry. So I decided to change things. I decided to download an app so that I can blog on my phone. Now I can blog from anywhere. This is a picture from wine country in Sonoma, California. It's a beautiful wine vineyard just down the street from my in laws house. It's the same location where they filmed the movie, A Walk in the Clouds, starring Keanu Reeves.
I am an FBI agent!!!!
The other week I received a fan letter from a sweet kid named Daniel Wiles from Forest Dale, VT. It reads as so.....
I get fan mail from time to time but this one happened to have come at a particular time when I felt inspired by his letter to do some video making of my own. As a salute to the hand made art form I made a short "sweded" adaptation of the book. For those of you who don't know, the term "sweding" comes from the Michel Gondry movie Be Kind Rewind. In the film, the character Jerry, played by Jack Black, accidentally erases the videotapes at Mos Def's rental store, and the pair remake all the movies themselves. These versions become popular with customers, who are told they take longer to arrive and cost more because they come from Sweden. Hence, the films are referred to as 'sweded'. It's a very charming movie to say the least. Here is the trailer...
Over the years the movie movie inspired many folks to do do their own sweded movies and by simply doing a search on youtube for "sweded" you will find a countless number of sweded features. Here is a sweded version of Back to the Future...
The intent of these interpretations is to feel campy and so, needless to say, I had a fun time making this movie. I may just have to make ALL my future book trailers this way. It took about a day to film and now I also have nifty Sidekick puppets to toss around at book signings. Enjoy the film and don't forget to vote for Sidekicks for the Children's Choice Book Awards by clicking HERE.
This is a huge next few weeks for me and I'm going to tell you why....
SIDEKICKS has been nominated for a Children's Choice Book Award
This is what I need you to do.
1. Chick on this link here > CHILDREN'S CHOICE BOOK AWARDS
2. Vote for Sidekicks
In other news SIDEKICKS related I want you to read my most favorite blog post in my recent memory... THE BRACKET BUSTER
I'll post again soon, hopefully, to tell you why I posted that image of the Sidekick puppets up above.
In the mean time. I hate to run but work calls.
Have a great week folks.
So I spoke at SCBWI NY a few weeks back and in my intensive presentation I told everyone that I blogged once a week, which is good advice to those of you starting out. Then, of course, I go on and break my own rule and I'm already behind in my posts. (Forgive me for last week)
In any case, I have to admit that I've been busy to the point of stressing out, but I need to post and so I'm just going to shotgun out some things that have been happening in my life these past few weeks and you can continue to pick and choose what you care to hear.
*Starting this week I will notify those librarians who will be getting books from my pile of books and I will send an invoice soon.
*Our family just adopted a dog! He's a Border Collie mixed with something else. We're still deciding what to name him. The shelter we got him at has called him Smudgy Pudgy (or Smudgy) which seems to fit, but we're not completely sold on it. I want to name him McLovin. My wife is strongly against it. I will entertain the idea of your dog name suggestions in my comments sectoin of this post.
*I've done some artwork for an upcoming art gallery show at the Nucleus Gallery. The theme is Dr. Seuss. Here' are my three contributions (I may possibly do Thing 2 if I have time)
* I took my kids to see the Fresh Beat Band live in concert yesterday. I think it was the first concert I've been to since seeing Tenacious D back in 2003? I will admit, I had a great time.
* I had to design the type for the French cover of Sidekicks. For years I wondered how a foreign publisher did this. Well, now I know.
* I'm still trying to figure out the appeal of Pinterest.
See you all next week
My son turned six last Thursday. I was attending the SCBWI Conference in NY to speak and this was going to be the first time ever that I would miss his birthday due to business. He was sad that I wasn't going to be around for his birthday, but optimisically, we decided to turn the trip a little adventure. He gave me a little toy skeleton finger puppet and said, "Take my friend with you and show him around New York."
I took his little toy and did just that...
(TEEN BOAT shirt courtesy of author/illustrator: Dave Roman)
Happy 6th Birthday, Son.
So as you know, this year will be a busy year for me in terms of book releases. I must confess that towards the end of the year I got a little sick and tired of drawing in "my style" and this year I've been pushing publishers to let me do slightly different work for this year. I find that as an artist it's good to try and continue to grow and experiment, otherwise you can get bored and the work you do can end up feeling stale and uninspired. This is not to say that the work I've done is stale and uninspired, but there can be a case where the work you do feels more like "work" than it does "fun" (If you catch my drift) I, of course, keep up my sketchbook and I have been trying to break away from my computer a little more. Here are a few samples of what I've been working on which may hopefully make it into a published book someday.