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Viewing Blog: John Manders' Blog, Most Recent at Top
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Saving Western Civ through kids' book illustration
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1. Wild Things

Wild Things! is a new book coming out about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories of writing and illustrating picture books.

I contributed a story about Prancing, Dancing Lily—the cow who loved to dance—that didn’t make the cut for the book. However, you can read it on the book’s website here.


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2. Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival this weekend

I’ll be here drawing caricatures Thursday, Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday.

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3. Princess India


I lost India, my beloved studio-mate Saturday, June 7th. I’m only now able to write about her.  She was loved and maybe even a little spoiled. India was her mama’s baby but she spent the workday with me. Not only was she my work companion—as well as the official Studio 27B greeter—India made many cameo appearances in my books. I’ve compiled them here. There are probably more and I’ll add them as I find them.

Sleep well, my princess.

india.hike India's first cameo in Broccoli Dog by Lynne Berry (Ladybug Magazine September 2003). From Peter Spit a Seed at Sue by Jackie French Koller (Viking 2008). From Peter Spit a Seed at Sue by Jackie French Koller (Viking 2008). From Peter Spit a Seed at Sue by Jackie French Koller (Viking 2008). In the boat with her pal, Brandon. Two Bad Pilgrims by Kathryn Lasky (Viking 2009) Color by Vince Dorse. Two Bad Pilgrims by Kathryn Lasky (Viking 2009) Color by Vince Dorse. India in her winter jacket, helping to deliver presents. From The Year Without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley (Marshall Cavendish 2010). From The Really Awful Musicians (Clarion 2011) Snoozing in Studio 27B.


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4. A Funny Thing Happened on the Road to Damascus

Once again I had the honor of being substitute preacher at Second Presbyterian Church in Oil City. While we’ve been without a pastor we elders have stepped up and taken turns at the pulpit. Our new pastor, Rev. Greg Gillispie, will take over in July.

This time around my subject was the stoning of Saint Stephen and the introduction of that one-man paramilitary wing of the Sanhedrin, Saul—found in Acts 7:55-60.

afunnything.title stephen saul characterarc dorothy mcqueen heisenberg unhorsed paul

My talk centered around storytelling—particularly visual storytelling. Here you can see character designs for Stephen and Saul; an explanation of character arc used Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Lightning McQueen from Cars, and Walter White from Breaking Bad; Saul’s Road to Damascus moment; and Saint Paul who shaped the young Christian Church through his writings.

This was some of the best fun I’ve had speaking in front of a group. I am grateful for a supportive and forgiving congregation! Best wishes & welcome to Rev. Gillispie.

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5. A fun week at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School

Thank you for inviting me!

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6. The Picture of Oscar Wilde

Here is the third in a series of three images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—specifically for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast is stars from the recent and distant past. I showed you Sarah Bernhardt. and Jim Morrison. Here now is Oscar Wilde.

By the way, this painting and the two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this evening and continues through July 20th.

wilde.gesture.1 wilde.sk IMGP1995 IMGP1996 IMGP1997 IMGP1998 IMGP1999 IMGP2000 Oscar 400

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7. Jim Morrison

Here is the second in a series of three images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—specifically for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast is stars from the recent and distant past. Yesterday I showed you Sarah Bernhardt. Here is Jim Morrison—sketches and final painting. I can’t seem to find work-in-progress photos for this one. I must have forgotten to take them. You’ll notice that instead of thumbnail sketches I’ve done gesture sketches of these characters. I was trying to capture their attitude as well as likeness.

By the way, this painting and the two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this Friday evening.

morrison.gesture.1 morrison.gesture.2 morrison.gesture.3 morrison.sk Jim 400

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8. The Divine Sarah

This past January I had the pleasure of creating images for the Pittsburgh Public Theater‘s season brochure—this time for the world premiere of L’Hôtel, a new comedy by Ed Dixon. The cast of characters is 6 stars from the recent and distant past. Art Director Paul Schifino asked me to create stand-alone caricatures of 3 of them: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt. Here are sketches, painting-in-progress and the finished art of the Divine Sarah.

By the way, this painting and two others will be on display at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Alumni Show which opens this Friday evening.

bernhardt.gesture.1 bernhardt.gesture.3 bernhardt.gesture.2 bernhardt.sk IMGP1980 IMGP1981 IMGP1982 IMGP1983 IMGP1984 IMGP1985 IMGP1986 IMGP1987 IMGP1988 IMGP1989 IMGP1990 IMGP1991 IMGP1992 IMGP1993 IMGP1994 Sarah 400

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9. Some great ink!

Thank you, Claire Kirsch, for your fine reportage on my recent visit to Penns Manor Elementary and my collaboration with the students to create the horrible & dreadful Baby Pandasaurus Rex! Read all about it here.

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10. Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks

I received a note from a former student this morning, and thought I’d pass it along. Oksana and here friends want to publish picture books with both Ukrainian & English texts. The link explains the project.

Dear John, This is Oksana Lushchevska writing to you. I want to share some information and ask you to share it, if it is possible. This is a project, which I and my friends organized as a result of my taking International children’s literature course and all the issues and events that might be observed in minor literatures. I think this can be a good way of fostering awareness about Ukrainian children’s literature. Here is a link to “Becoming Global: Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks.” Please consider supporting and sharing it, again, if you can. Thank you!

Sincerely, Oksana

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11. Irish Jack the Cat

What a wonderful little video clip! If you’ve read Catherine Friend’s The Perfect Nest, you’ll enjoy watching this Perfect Nest in Ireland

babies.model jack.model

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12. Thanks, Penns Manor Elementary!


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13. New item at Etsy

For all you fans of antique medical curiosities here’s Doctor Lackzoom’s Patented Head Transplant Procedure, a little portrait I did based on an old photo. You can purchase it at my Etsy shop.

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14. Loud art poster

I don’t think I ever posted this—it’s a poster I designed for an exhibit of music-related art at the Graffiti Gallery here in the National Transit Building in early 2013. I was without a camera at the time and took these in-progress photos with my cell phone. I finally uploaded them to my computer. Enjoy!

IMAG0471 IMAG0472 IMAG0473 IMAG0474 paletteguitar Layout 1

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15. More grants for early reading programs

As I mentioned yesterday, Target offers grant money to schools and organizations who need help with an early reading program. An early reading program might entail hiring a children’s book author/illustrator to present to students (he said rather shamelessly).

Dollar General also has a grant program for early literacy/youth development—as does Barbara Bush, Verizon, Scripps-Howard, and Clorox.

Here is a round-up of foundations who offer grant money for summer reading programs. Here are awards & grants available from the International Reading Association.

If you would like a detailed description of my presentations to help you apply for these grants, be sure to give me a yell!

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16. Target offers grants for reading programs!

If you’re a school librarian looking to hire an author or illustrator to present to your students (hint, hint) Target is accepting applications for Early Childhood Reading Grants.

I’m busily putting together a world tour. I’ll be barnstorming across New York State and Pennsylvania—maybe winding up in Connecticut—September/October 2014.

I’ll be in the Pittsburgh area for Read Across America Week, March 2 – 6, 2015.

If I’m booked for 2 or more consecutive days in the same area, I’ll give those schools a discount on my speaking fee. If you’re interested e-mail Lisa at Bookings@johnmanders.com.

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17. Make your reservations now!

I am booking school visits in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area for Read Across America Week, March 2 – 6, 2015. Friday the 6th just got reserved this morning. If I can book the whole week, everybody gets me for 25% off the regular rate.

Contact Lisa— bookings@johnmanders.com

2 Comments on Make your reservations now!, last added: 3/13/2014
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18. A martini for Harriet


3/3/14: I wrote this a few years ago. My clunky writing style back then concealed rather than expressed my feelings. I’m not changing it, though. And no adult beverages today! I’m abstaining from absolutely everything til Easter.

Originally posted on John Manders' Blog:

I’m going to deviate from my standard practice of avoiding adult topics in this blog—usually I keep it kid-friendly.  Today, however, I mention the name of an adult beverage.

That’s because today is different.  The proprieties must be observed.  Today seven years ago my beautiful, clever, witty, passionate, fun, inspiring agent—Harriet Kasak—lost her battle with cancer.

She was the iconic urbane sophisticate, living and working in Manhattan, the capital of Western Civilization.  It was our practice whenever we met, once the business aspect of the meeting was finished, to have a martini.  I like mine with gin, extremely dry (only enough vermouth to coat the glass) and 3 olives–served cold enough to freeze your lips.  And so I’m enjoying one now as I write this post.

In the mid 1990’s, early in my illustration career, Harriet took my edgy, trying-too-hard-to-be-post-modern style and showed me how to make it accessible.  She taught me how to draw little girls, which was/is difficult for me (yes, she showed me by drawing them herself).  For one of my early titles—a history of eating utensils—she accompanied me to the Metropolitan Museum where I drew sketches of various species of forks, knives and spoons from ancient cultures.  She found joy in the business of promoting her artists.

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19. Stupid riddle…

giraffe.1This is one of those silly FaceBook fads at the moment. One of my friends had this message posted:

I lost the great giraffe challenge. I dare you to try it. The deal is I give you a riddle; you get it right, you keep your profile pic. You get it wrong, you change your profile pic to a giraffe for the next three days! Message me only the answers! Don’t give out the answer! Here is the riddle: 3am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open? Remember …MESSAGE ME only. If you get it right, I will post your name here, otherwise you change your picture. GIRAFFE IT UP!!!

So I answered, but incorrectly.  Here is the answer. Now my FaceBook profile is adorned for the next 3 days with this adorable little giraffe.

By the way, he could be yours—

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20. Bigfoot

Hey, Gang—if you are among those unhappy people who haven’t read Vince Dorse’ Untold Tales of Bigfoot, you can change that right away! Vince is up to page 66 already, but you can find the entire story in the archives.

Happy reading!

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21. 3D Henry

Look what I got in my inbox!

Mohamed from Egypt is learning 3d programs. He used my model sheet of Henry  (from Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies) to create this beautiful digital image. I love the textures of the different articles of clothing—the leather vest, the woolen shirt.


digital art created by Mohamed Eldemerdash

Thanks, Mohamed!

5 Comments on 3D Henry, last added: 12/13/2013
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22. Another shot at the pulpit

Last Sunday I had the honor of giving another sermon at Second Presbyterian Church in Oil City, Pa, while we’re between pastors. Like last time, I drew a bunch of cartoons to illustrate what I had to say. The scripture that week was Matthew 3:1-12, where John the Baptist shows up and tells the Pharisees that they’re a ‘brood of vipers’.

My sermon was titled ‘Paths & Gatekeepers’. I had a blast—many thanks to the congregation for putting up with my silliness!

title.proclam349 John the Baptist locust johnthebaptist348 locustsnhoney345 straightpath353 crookedpath354 Brood of vipers sects Pharisees: rigorous adherence to written Law of Moses Saducees: strict observance of Temple ritual bouncer metaphor362 rootandbranch361 flail356 winnowingfork357 babyjesus364

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23. 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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24. Here’s Charlie

Twenty-fourteen is a big year here in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It was 100 years ago, just a couple of doors up from my studio address, that Charlie Chaplin signed his first movie deal with Mack Sennett. Charlie was performing at the Lyric Theater with Fred Karno’s comedy troupe and met Sennett in between acts to sign the contract. Here’s a detailed account of Charlie’s early career.

I was approached by the Friends of the Library to create a stand-alone cut-out of Charlie. They wanted him big—8 feet tall. I went over to the library to see where Charlie would be installed and discovered that there is not very much floor space but there is ample height—the main floor’s ceiling is about 16 feet high. I scrapped the drawing I’d done of Charlie standing and drew Charlie suspended, using his cane as a hook. I think this pose fits his acrobatic style.

I enlarged my drawing onto pieces of foam board. The project is 3 ply, so that I could paint front & back without it warping. His arm has a center of plywood and his cane itself is 3 pieces of plywood laminated together, since it supports the whole piece.

He is painted with acrylic in black & white, of course!

hangingcharlie.front charliechaplin.sk hangingcharlie.front hangingcharlie.back IMGP1914 IMGP1915 IMGP1916 IMGP1917 IMGP1918 IMGP1919 IMGP1920 IMGP1921 IMGP1922 IMGP1923 IMGP1924 IMGP1925 IMGP1940 IMGP1941 IMGP1942 IMGP1943 IMGP1944 IMGP1945 IMGP1946 IMGP1947 IMGP1948 IMGP1949 IMGP1951 IMGP1952 IMGP1953 IMGP1954 IMGP1955 IMGP1956 IMGP1957 IMGP1958 IMGP1959 IMGP1960 IMGP1961 IMGP1964 IMGP1965 IMGP1966 IMGP1967 IMGP1968 IMGP1969 IMGP1970 IMGP1971 IMGP1972 IMGP1973 IMGP1974 IMGP1975 IMGP1976 IMGP1977 IMGP1978 IMGP1979 IMGP2001 IMGP2002 IMGP2003 IMGP2004 IMGP2005

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25. Lagoon in the Afternoon on ebay

I’m auctioning my thrift-store-painting-with-a-monster, Lagoon in the Afternoon, over at ebay. . Happy bidding!

Lagoon in the Afternoon

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