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1. New Book: “REALMS: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi”

For my longtime fans of the work I did for AD&D, Planescape, Changeling and even Magic the Gathering, this press release is for you:

DARK HORSE AND KITCHEN SINK PRESENT: REALMS: THE ROLEPLAYING GAME ART OF TONY DITERLIZZI

Book Offers Never-Before-Published Collection of Game Art From the Caldecott Honor Recipient and New York Times Bestselling Author and Illustrator, Who Was Inspired to Become An Artist After Playing Dungeons & Dragons As A Kid

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MILWAUKIE, OR; August 14, 2014 – Dark Horse Comics and Kitchen Sink Books are thrilled to announce Realms: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi (June 3, 2015) the first comprehensive collection of game art by the award-winning New York Times bestselling author and illustrator.

Known for his distinctive style depicting fantastical creatures, horrific monsters, and courageous heroes, DiTerlizzi’s illustrations reshaped and defined the worlds of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Planescape, and Magic: The Gathering in the imaginations of legions of devoted roleplaying gamers during the 1990s, before he transitioned to children’s book creation.

Among his most renowned works are the chapter book series The Spiderwick Chronicles, a literary phenomenon which has sold millions of copies and has been translated into 30 languages. In 2008, Spiderwick was adapted into a successful feature film by Paramount and Nickelodeon Pictures. Tony also wrote and illustrated the WondLa trilogy, Ted, Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure and The Spider and the Fly – the picture book for which he received the Caldecott Honor, one of the most prestigious awards in children’s publishing.  DiTerlizzi currently has over 12 million books in print worldwide.

REALMS will be filled with hundreds of illustrations reproduced from the original art, unpublished sketches, and photographs from DiTerlizzi’s archives. In addition, DiTerlizzi will be creating a number of new paintings exclusively for this edition.

Along with commentary by the artist, Christopher Paolini (Eragon) provides the introduction while seminal figures in fantasy – such as  Guillermo del Toro, Brom, Jane Yolen, Holly Black, Zeb Cook, Jeff Easley, and Donato Giancola, among others – provide personal appreciations.

”There is no question that the work I did in gaming early in my career shaped me as an author and illustrator for children,” says DiTerlizzi.  “In RPGs, I was not just tasked with illustrating a character, but also the artifacts they use, the armor they wear, the places they inhabit and the monsters they vanquish. It was my introduction to worldbuilding and an experience I will forever cherish.”

“Dark Horse has been fortunate enough to work with some of history’s greatest artists” said Dark Horse president Mike Richardson. “I am excited to add Tony DiTerlizzi’s name to a list that includes the likes of Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, and Geof Darrow.”

“Tony was one of the most respected and well-known names in gaming when he made a risky decision to make the leap and pursue his lifelong dream of illustrating books for younger readers,” says Kitchen Sink Books co-founder and REALMS editor/designer John Lind.  “His unique artistic style and success in that genre is a tribute to his roots in gaming. For fans of his work, REALMS is a dream project and one that we’ve spoken about assembling for years. We’re thrilled to finally make this book become a reality—we hope fans will feel the same!”

Praise for REALMS: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi

“Tony’s work has a distinct flair, a love for monsters if you will.   His creatures have the charm of Henson or Rackham but they carry with them hints of their own ecosystem.  He stands alone as a creator of worlds and a weaver of tales.  May you treasure these art pieces as much as I do.”  - Guillermo del Toro  (Director of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim)

“Tony draws and paints some of the best dragons around, which is a lot harder than you might think. And I should know!”  – Christopher Paolini (Author of Eragon, from his introduction)

Realms: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi Full color hardcover, 9×12, 224 pages is available June 3, 2015.   Two special deluxe editions of  REALMS will also be offered in limited  quantities:  The “Double Damage” edition features an enclosed signed and numbered print of a new exclusive image produced for REALMS. The very limited “Critical Hit” edition will contain an original DiTerlizzi drawing bound into the book. More details on these exciting deluxe editions will be announced in the coming months.

2 Comments on New Book: “REALMS: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi”, last added: 8/15/2014
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2. Comic Con International Recap

I’ve attended San Diego’s Comic Con International off-and-on since the 1990′s and I’ve watched it grow to become the daddy of all geek conventions. Despite the long airplane flight, long lines and 200k+ crowd, it is a fun four-day ride.

SDCC

I’ve always felt that I am a bit of an odd puzzle piece as a participant in the programming for Comic Con. Compared to other massive conventions, like BookExpo, there are far fewer kid’s lit author/illustrators present–and many that do attend are either current bestsellers or their book is Soon to Become a Major Motion Picture. I suppose my books fall somewhere in this category and I am thankful for that.

LATimes

As Angela and I shuffled past the decorated booths, I was reminded that Comic Con is a grab-bag cross-section of pop culture in media. Film, television, nerdy apparel, toys, games and books were all featured prominently. About the only thing that wasn’t front and center were good ol’ comic books, which seem relegated to the outer fringes of the convention floor.

But, because there was such a mix, I bumped into all sorts of creative types: like fellow artists and writers, sculptors and film-makers.

Allen

Next to me are Vicki and Allen Williams, director Kirk Thatcher, and artist Travis Lewis sits front and center.

GeorgeRR

HBO’s ubiquitous Game of Thrones series dominated the con. Here, I met the book’s author (and the winner of the Game of Thrones) George R.R. Martin at the Weta booth (there’s Weta Workshop founder, Richard Taylor, right behind us). After stalk-chatting with George for several minutes, he had some of his characters remove me from the premises:

GoT1

But I was remembered by my old friend, artist Donato Giancola–who used my likeness as one of the Night’s Watch in the 2015 Game of Thrones calendar. Scratch that one off of my bucket list.

Donato

I participated on a couple of panels, including “Fairy Tale Remix” moderated by the award-winning author, Shannon Hale (who may, or may not, be part of a crime-fighting duo).

Shannon

The conversation on the influence of fairy tales in modern storytelling was lively and the audience’s questions were thought-provoking. (Lytherus.com has a nice, detailed write-up on the panel).

panel

Above are authors aplenty (from left to right): Katherine Harbour, Shannon Hale, Cornelia Funke, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Ben Tripp, T-Dog and John Peck.

postcards

Friday was “Star Wars Day” at the con (in DiTerlizziland, every day is “Star Wars Day”) and I presented the upcoming picture book The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (featuring illustrations by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie). Along with Exec. Editor of Disney Publishing, Michael Siglain, and Lucasfilm historian and author, Jonathan Rinzler, we talked of how this book came to be and offered up inside stories of the development of the first screenplay as well as Ralph’s place in Lucasfilm history as the visual genius who presented the first glimpses into a galaxy far, far away.

SW

I had a moment when Jonathan told me that he thought Ralph would have liked how this book turned out. That meant a lot to this ten-year old kid and I am still beaming from his comment.

The Star Wars fun continued when Ang and I reunited with film effects dungeon master, Phil Tippett, who was not only responsible for bringing to life childhood cinematic moments (like the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back or the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) but goblins, trolls and Hogsqueal in The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Phil

After my authorial duties were completed it was time to spend some hard earned royalty money. For many nerd collectors, Comic Con has become a one-stop-shop of the weird and rarefied. In fact, there were one-of-kind props from some of my favorite films, like Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future II. (price tag: $30k):

hoverboard

…or one of the puppets from Beetlejuice:

beetlejuide

If your a 70′s kid trapped in a man’s body (like me) then you’ll love these Kenner-styled Alien figures. Sure, they’re about 30 years too late, but you know what they say…(in 1979 no one can hear you scream…for Alien action figures?)

aliens

Speaking of toys, Sideshow toys melted my brain with a new line of incredibly detailed creeptastic ghouls and demons called “Court of the Dead”. If you were a fan of McFarlane Toys or Wayne Barlowe, you’re gonna love these. Take a look:

sideshow

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Lastly, I nabbed a few limited edition artist’s sketchbooks. By far, this is my favorite sort of thing to hunt down and purchase at the con. Fortunately, booksellers (like Stuart Ng Books) had many to choose from like this reproduction of Claire Wendling’s sketchbook.

claire

…and, yes, I dropped off a handful of signed The Battle for WondLa: Sketchbook III to Stuart who should have them for sale on his site very soon. I’ll share a link once they’re up. In the meantime, “Stay classy San Diego. I’ll see you next time.”

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3. Comic Con 2014 Schedule

For those attending next week’s Comic Con International in lovely San Diego, California, here is my schedule of events:

*** BE SURE TO STOP AT SIMON & SCHUSTER (booth 1128) TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF The Battle for WondLa LIMITED EDITION SKETCHBOOK!

wondla_3

Thursday, July 24th
10:00 am -10:30 am
Booth 1119
Book signingMysterious Galaxy Book Store presents Tony DiTerlizzi. Many of my titles will be available for purchase or bring your books and cards to be signed.

12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Room 32AB
Fairy Tale Remix — Toto, I’ve a feeling these aren’t your typical fairy tales… From cyborg Cinderellas to swashbuckling pirates, fairy tales are just full of possibilities for retelling and reimagining. A fantastic line up of authors will discuss how they take very well-known stories (such as Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, Tam Lin) and remix them for a new audience, and how they create their very own fairy tales! Moderated by Shannon Hale (Ever After High series), this panel featuring Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series), Katherine Harbour (Thorn Jack), John Peck (Charming Series), Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld Series), Tony DiTerlizzi (Search for WondLa), Ben Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman), and Danielle Page (Dorothy Must Die) will give insight to the fairy tales of old, and new!

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Autograph Area AA09
Group Signing: Fairy Tale Remix
*I’ll have the FREE WondLa III sketchbooks on hand for the signing after the panel discussion.

StarWarsDiTerlizziMcQuarrie

Friday, July 25th
3:00 pm-4:00 pm
Room 7AB
Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight — Ralph McQuarrie’s art for the original Star Wars trilogy is introduced to a new generation of young readers in Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Join New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi as he talks about the conceptualization of this project and the process, challenges, and privileges of writing to the works of a legend; along with Troy Alders (Art Director, Lucasfilm), J.W. Rinzler (Executive Editor, Lucasfilm), and Joanne Chan (Children’s Book Editor, Lucasfilm).

*We will have a promotional postcard wallet of amazing McQuarrie art that we will be giving out at the panel, so stop on by!

wondla3_2

PS –For those not attending this year’s comic con who wish to nab one of the limited edition The Battle for WondLa sketchbooks, fear not. Stuart Ng Books (on of my favorite places to spend my royalty checks) will be selling them after the convention.

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4. Decatur Book Festival

I am happy to announce that Ang and I will both be presenting and signing at this year’s Decatur Book Festival, near Atlanta, Georgia.

In fact, I designed this year’s Bookzilla poster for the event, which I will be happy to sign!

Decatur_Diterlizzi

Details for the festival are at the official site (including a list of other attending authors such as Jon Scieszka, Loren Long and Tom Angleberger).

If you can’t make this event, fear not, for I shall be adding select dates this fall as I travel to support the upcoming picture book, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Stay tuned.

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5. What a WondLaful Tour

The Battle for WondLa tour is over, and though I am exhausted from travel, I also feel honored, blessed and inspired.

IMG_8277

My tour began in Southern California where I visited the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with WondLa’s audiobook reader and award-winning actress, Teri Hatcher.

Teri

From LA, I traveled east visiting bookstores in Phoenix, Kansas City, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee and even in my town in Western Massachusetts. I spoke at numerous schools and connected with scores of readers. We chatted mostly about stories and some of our favorite books and characters.

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In a couple of stops, authors came to support me–like Adam Gidwitz (below, center) posing with Topher Bradfield (left) after my event at Austin’s premier indie shop, BookPeople.

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To be honest, travel wears me down and it is tough being away from home, my wife and daughter. But the families who took the time to come and see me speak validated why I do this and inspired me (especially when my public event fell on a school night). I don’t usually stop to ponder how many lives my books touch, so I was often overwhelmed with emotion by the turnouts at my events. I was moved by the kind words and wonderful gifts given to me after readers had waited in a long line to have their book signed.

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So, for today’s “Friday Fan Art”, I thought I’d share some of the amazing drawings, and other goodies, that were given to me while on the road. Check out Aeden (above), who delivered a whole mess of artwork from Spiderwick to WondLa.

Aedan1

Brittlesnick

Them there was Medelyn who brought me this lovely sketch of Eva Nine at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.

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Medelyn

At Little Shop of Stories, near Atlanta, recent art school grad, Katie, gave me this wonderful watercolor of Eva and Rovee.

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Katie

I love Austin and was blown away by the talent during my visit to BookPeople. This is a Bull Goblin, from The Spiderwick Chronicles, made from felt!

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In fact, Tomoko, one of the booksellers at BookPeople created this beautiful image from the climax of A Hero for WondLa.

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Tomoko

In Milwaukee, I was given “Christopher the Cupboard Pixie” from Janice who runs an Etsy shop called Sew Sweet Monsters. Christopher now watches over my books in the studio,

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Janice

Back in Mass, Rob and his son, Ben, are both artist. They gave me drawings of their favorite characters from the WondLa books.

Rob

Ben

These little tokens of appreciation will all be cherished. It is surreal and inspiring to see others celebrate my characters through their art.

Eva

Knocker

Parker

Thank you for coming out and making this tour so memorable for me. I hope to see you again, next time.

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Keep dreaming, keep drawing.

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6. STAR WARS Book Trailer

Lucasfilm has released a trailer for my upcoming picture book adaptation of the original trilogy, title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Take a look:

 

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7. Star Wars Interviews

Patrick Day of the Los Angeles Times interviewed me while on the road promoting The Battle for WondLa last week.

The interview focuses on the production of my upcoming picture book with Lucasfilm, STAR WARS: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. You can read more here.

ForceCast_Logo

As well, I spoke with the fellas at TheForce.net on their weekly podcast, ForceCast. We had a great in-depth discussion about the legacy of these beloved films and the impact they’ve had on the 1970-80′s generation of kids. You can listen to the complete podcast here.

Lastly, while on tour I sat down with Corey McPherrin on Good Day Chicago to chat about WondLa, imagination and Star Wars. Take a look:

 

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8. Unless

Last November the non-profit organization, Reading is Fundamental (RIF), asked if I would donate an original piece of artwork to be auctioned off at their spring “Cat in The Hat” gala held in Washington DC.

sketches

Since RIF’s mission is to provide books for impoverished children, their annual galas are themed around legendary icons of children’s literacy. You may recall my piece for last year’s “Where the Wild Things Are” gala celebrating the work of Maurice Sendak. The theme for this year was another hero of mine, Dr. Seuss.

For these auction requests, I could simply rummage through my flat files and send over a sketch or study. Instead, I’ve used it as an opportunity to create one-of-a-kind pieces that I would not normally take the time to do. Though this year’s theme was The Cat in the Hat, I had a favorite Dr. Seuss character that I have loved since grade school. To this day, I continue to cherish – and have been longing to paint – the Lorax. In fact, I’ve been sketching the feisty spirit who “speaks for the trees” for some time. Here’s a sketch from 1999:

Lorax_sketch_1999

…and another, 10 years later, from 2009.

Lorax_sketch_2009

…with my daughter’s copy of the book, I revisited the Lorax in February and tried to put my spin on him while retaining the squat seed-sprout shape of Seuss’ original. I wanted to capture the creature’s ancient wizened face with a hint of sadness in his eyes.

DiTerlizzi_Lorax_sketch

Once I had the sketch down, I enlarged it (using Photoshop) and prepared it for tracing onto a 16×24″ sheet of Strathmore plate Bristol board.

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…that’s when I noticed I had a li’l assistant in the studio watching every step that I did.

Lil helper

This was was a welcome relief as my daughter is still a bit young for the WondLa books (that I’ve been working on for the past 5 years). I was thrilled to see her genuinely interested in this project so I asked her to help me complete the finished painting. First, I taught her how to draw Truffula trees. We practiced on loose sheets of paper.

practice

Then I handed her my Pigma brush pen and had her draw and ink the trees.

Inked

I gave her a break and finished inking the Lorax and his stump. I was thrilled at my daughter’s childlike execution of the trees. It was a chaotic, energetic line that reminded me of why I love Seuss’ art. As I pondered how to paint the image, I thought back on the process I used for the large cut-out animals I created for our local gift shop’s holiday window a couple of years back. I dug out my acrylic paints and got to work.

supplies

painting

First I antiqued the entire image in “Unbleached Titanium”. This provided a nice base coat and it white-washed the pen line so it wasn’t as strong a contrast.

Base coat

Afterwards, I continued under-painting using diluted acrylic paints. I kept the tones cool so that the warm golds and oranges would become richer when added on top.

underpainting

Once I got that where I wanted, I was ready to add the local color. Once again, my assistant came to my aid. I had her paint the distinct bright base colors of the Truffula trees.

Painting1

Once her colors were down, I began to build upon them and integrate her strokes into mine for the final painting.

DiTerlizzi_Lorax_Final

Truth be told, there were moments where I was nervous as to what my 6 year-old might do to this piece during the stages that she helped on, but I realized I’ve totally botched up my own paintings before. Just as I’ve done in the past, I would either fix it or start over. Fortunately, I did not have to do either. She did a fantastic job.

artists

In the end, this collaboration couldn’t have turned out better. Not only did we create this image together, I was able to show my daughter that something she and I love doing – painting pictures – can be turned into something else. In this case, the sale of our painting will provide books to those who don’t have any. I wanted her to know that having a special skill set doesn’t have to be about serving yourself only, it can be about helping others as well.

Providing books to expand young minds is important to the next generation. Books cause us to question, find answers, be entertained and even inspire–just as I was inspired by the good doctor’s words long ago.

signatures

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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9. The Adventures of Luke Skywalker

Disney & Lucasfilm have released some exciting news that I have been dying to share…

StarWarsDiTerlizziMcQuarrie

Disney Publishing Worldwide announced today the upcoming global release of four new books based on the original Star Wars film trilogy. The classic Saga will come to life like never before through adaptations by bestselling children’s authors Tom Angleberger, Tony DiTerlizzi, Adam Gidwitz, and R.J. Palacio. Each of these celebrated authors will bring their contemporary, unique voice to the galaxy far, far away, bridging the multi-arc storyline in anticipation of the release of Star Wars Episode VII in December 2015.

The Star Wars Saga program will hit stores beginning in October of 2014, with THE ADVENTURES OF LUKE SKYWALKER, JEDI KNIGHT a picture book written by New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles), illustrated with concept art created by Ralph McQuarrie, for the original Star Wars films. This winning collaboration, combining the entire storyline of the original trilogy, is bound to delight dedicated Star Wars fans and enthrall readers new to the series.

Additional titles to follow include new retellings of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE by R.J. Palacio (Wonder), STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK by Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm) and STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI by Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda series), which will be illustrated by award-winning Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig.”

Knowing full well what a geek I am, the folks at Lucasfilm contacted me last fall to see if I would be interested in taking the late Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art to create a picture book retelling the original STAR WARS trilogy. Without hesitation, I agreed.

McQuarrie

How I pored over my Art of Star Wars when I was a young padawan artist. Within those pages my imagination exploded like a Death Star as I studied the blueprints of movie magic. And, of course, most of the drawings and paintings in the Art of Star Wars were by Ralph. I was familiar with many of his iconic images, but not prepared for the 200+ jpegs that soon arrived in my dropbox.

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I printed out small thumbnail-sized images and began sorting them in order of each film and scene. I laid the book out as if I were not only the author, but the artist as well. As I designed the flow of the book, I could see where the text would have to work harder to tell the story and where the art would do the job – just like the division of labor in a true picture book.

As a fan, I also tried to incorporate images that I had not seen in previously published books. I’m hoping the parents reading The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight will enjoy a nice blend of Ralph’s iconic imagery mixed with some fresh new art (I even figured out how to include his cover painting to Splinter of the Mind’s Eye)

Gidwitz

I am also incredibly excited for the other participating authors involved with the chapter book adaptations of the original films (like Adam Gidwitz here, hanging out with me and Yoda). Earlier this year, we met at Skywalker Ranch to discuss our projects and immerse ourselves in a galaxy far, far away. Ten year-old Tony had died and gone to heaven.

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(Left to right: Ten year-old T, Tom Angleberger, Luke Skywalker in disguise, R.J. Palacio and Adam Gidwitz)

DiTerlizziR2D2

There’s no question that the STAR WARS myth has impacted me as a storyteller. I am humbled and honored to be the author asked to retell George Lucas’ classic space-age story of good triumphing evil for the next generation.

May the force be with you.

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10. LA Times Festival of Books

Angela and I will be presenting and signing at the LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 12th, at the University of Southern California.

LATimesBanner2

The presentation schedule is here and we will both be signing throughout the day.  I am on a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. titled “Young Adult Fantasy: Worlds Beyond Imagination” along with Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Hawkins and Neal Shusterman. There will be a signing afterwards. Also, you can check in at the Simon & Schuster booth for my additional signing times.

Seeya there!

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11. David A. Trampier (1954-2014)

I am saddened to learn the news of the passing of 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons artist, David A. Trampier–or DAT as he was known to us old-school gamers.

DAT_Lizardman

Though I never met him, I’ve posted several times about the impact Trampier’s art had on my burgeoning artistic abilities way back in middle school. And I cherish my artifacts of his inspiration to this day.

TD lizardman

TD_Displacer

TD fire giant

Many know his graphic inkwork from the AD&D Monster Manual (1977) and the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (1979). His cover to the AD&D Player’s Handbook (1978) has become an icon from this era of role-playing. A quick image search of Trampier’s name will show you many fine examples of his work from these popular tomes. Being a collector of all things from childhood,  I also happen to own many of the early “pastel” adventure modules from the 1970′s, which also featured his woodcut-inspired illustration. Below are some of my favorite pieces that aren’t seen as often (click to enlarge):

DAT_FireGiant Fire Giant from 1978′s Dungeon Module G3 “Hall of the Fire Giant King”

DAT_ManticoreA manticore in his lair for 1977′s “Monster & Treasure Assortment”

DAT_HommletTramp’s cover to Dungeon Module T1 “The Village of Hommlet”, 1979

DAT_TombGargoyle from the AD&D classic, “Tomb of Horrors”. 1978

DAT_Bugbears

Thank you for your continued inspiration, Tramp. May your art continue to influence many imaginations for generations to come.

 

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12. The Battle for WondLa May 2014 Tour Dates

I’ve finally received my May tour dates to support the fantastic finale to the WondLa trilogy.

My presentation includes drawing and discussing how the WondLa books came to be. Attendees will receive the third limited edition WondLa sketchbook for free. And, of course, I will sign just about any book (or gaming materials) that you bring – though different stores have different signing policies, so its best to check with them beforehand.

tour_FlyerSM

As well, Angela and I will both be attending the LA Times Festival of Books in April at the USC campus. Though The Battle of WondLa will not be available for sale then, I will be signing all my previous titles. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

PS – I am hoping to add some additional dates for our local friends in Massachusetts, so stay tuned…

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13. Introducing a Remarkable Mouse

I had the honor to write the introduction for the Folio Society’s edition of E. B. White’s classic, Stuart Little, which has just been released.

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Here’s a snippet:

In the sagging top shelves of a hand-me-down bookcase in my childhood bedroom, several literary mice had made a nest. Alongside many beloved classics sat the maternal Mrs. Frisby, the reckless Ralph A. Mouse, and of course, there was the stalwart Stuart.

Stuart Little was a book of many firsts. For me, it was one of the first chapter books I read on my own. And, because of its short length, it was also my first introduction to E. B. White’s evergreen writing. Even today, his is the kind of prose that entices you to curl up in your favorite worn armchair on a rainy afternoon with book in hand. His stories speak the dialogue of a simpler bygone era. His characters talk like those from old beloved movies of my youth like Its A Wonderful Life and the Our Gang shorts. To this author, White’s words belie their simple construction and reveal a master wordsmith.

Aside from my personal nostalgia, Stuart Little is also a first for other, more prestigious reasons – for it was not only White’s first book created for young readers, but also Garth Williams’ debut as a grand picture-maker of children’s literature. Theirs is a bookmaking marriage that has endured, forged in the tradition of A.A. Milne and E. H. Shepard or even Lewis Carroll and Sir John Tenniel.

I was thrilled at the prospect of writing this, not only because I am a fan of White’s books, but because I have always felt an artistic connection with Garth Williams’ work. His scratchy ink lines, drawn from astute observations of nature, flow from my hand in a similar style. His art, like many that I have listed here before, inspired and formed me as an artist. I am proud to say that Angela and I have some of Garth’s originals hanging on the walls of our home. I pause and marvel at them almost every day.

You can check out more Folio Society editions and see details on their edition of Stuart Little at their site.

stuart2a

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14. Celebrate Goblin Week!

Last week was “Goblin Week”, where the mischievous monsters were celebrated by artists using all mediums and shared via Tumblr. Since I use an old-fashioned WordPress for my blog, I thought I’d share my goblin contribution here, along with some delightful dice-rolling downloads.

goblin_copic

This feisty fella was drawn from my imagination, using minor reference where needed. Like my other re-interpretations of Dungeons & Dragons monsters, I aimed at a exaggerated, playful line style to temper the grotesque figure and gruesome image. Inking was done with Copic Fine Nib Inking Pens on Strathmore Smooth Bristol.

goblin_ref

As I’ve listed before, I used Dover’s “Historic Costume in Pictures” as reference for the weapons and garb. I did some minor clean-up in Photoshop and set some classic text from the old AD&D Monster Manual around him…now I’ve only 100+ more drawings to go. (Click the thumbnail to download):

Goblin MM

…speaking of downloads, here’s a selection of some of my old AD&D player character sheets. Download’em, print’em and play’em!

Time to grab your twenty-sider!

 

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15. Sammy the Owl (Part II)

The creation of the logo for the Amherst public library was a feature article in our local paper, The Gazette.

For those interested (who are not local) here is the article:

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Fantasy illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi designs Amherst’s Jones Library’s new logo

By DEBRA SCHERBAN

Monday, January 20, 2014
(Published in print: Tuesday, January 21, 2014)

AMHERST — It took a bit of serendipity, but the Jones Library has replaced its nearly 100-year-old logo, a drawing of the building, with a sketch of an owl done by nationally known fantasy author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi.

“I’m so excited about it,” library director Sharon Sharry said. “Everybody is jazzed about the outcome.”

That enthusiam comes despite the fact that just a few months ago, following a yearlong search to find a modern symbol for the library, Sharry and Jones trustees had settled on one created through the website LogoArena.com. For a cost of $350 she had graphic artists from across the world competing to come up with a design that met the library’s specifications.

But that was quickly discarded after a visit from DiTerlizzi, co-creator of “The Spiderwick Chronicles” series, one October afternoon. DiTerlizzi, who lives in Amherst, went to the Jones to help with a different project — designing award statuettes for a newly established literary honor to be bestowed this spring. One of the recipients will be his friend, author Norton Juster of “The Phantom Tollbooth” fame. Juster had asked DiTerlizzi to assist with the statuettes.

“When Norton Juster beckons, you hop to,” DiTerlizzi said with a laugh during a telephone interview.

But the death blow DiTerlizzi delivered to the Jones’ chosen logo was unintentional.

He had arrived early for the meeting about the awards and as he and Sharry chatted, she showed him the logo. It was a fancy script J in a blue and green block.

DiTerlizzi cringed. “I said to her, well, the reason you guys like this is that it looks like another logo.”

Sharry was aghast. She had spend an intensive week going back and forth online with the LogoArena artists to make it just right. And that had been after months of reviewing and rejecting work of local artists.

“Just Google Holiday Inn Express,” she said in an interview last week. “Ours looked just like that and none of us had even thought of it, but as soon as he said it we thought, oh my God, that’s awful.”

DiTerlizzi said he tried to smooth it over. “It’s still a nice logo,” he recalled saying. “It’s a beautiful J.”

But sure enough, he said, it was now tainted. “It wasn’t my intention, but I’d rather be honest than not.”

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AN OWL EMERGES

The logo was meant to have a modern look to it, Sharry said, to help promote a fundraising campaign to keep the library up with the 21st century.

Jones staff and trustees are trying to “rebrand” the Jones and get the word out about its role in a way the community will respond to, she said. A building renovation campaign is down the road.

The trustees hired the Financial Development Agency of Amherst to help.

The literary awards, called the Sammys, which will also honor Nat Herold and Mark Wootton, owners of Amherst Books on Main Street, are part of that. The awards are named in honor of Jones benefactor Samuel Minot Jones, whose money established the library in 1919. The ceremony will be held at the Yiddish Book Center at Hampshire College in April.

After his bombshell observation, DiTerlizzi sat down with Sharry and two other committee members and, while they talked about the awards and what they mean to the library, he began sketching a statuette.

Sharry and the others envisioned an Academy Award, he said. “They wanted something that would look really cool when the recipient was holding it.” So, DiTerlizzi was seeking something figural, yet not male or female. An animal fit the bill, but DiTerlizzi said as he drew, he pictured his friend Juster.

“He has glasses that make his eyes look very big, a big round head. He’s owlish,” DiTerlizzi said.

But the artist didn’t want the hackneyed image of a great horned owl with glasses. He settled instead on barn owl, which would later become a barred owl, a species common to this area. He also wanted to spiff it up with a garment, though not a hat, which might tip it toward one gender of the other. So, he chose a scarf. “It makes it look New Englandy,” he said.

Finally, he decided, the creature should be standing on a stack of three books because, after all, books are a library’s foundation. Each one’s spine bears a word the library staff wants associated with the Jones: Learn, Discover, Connect.

“It all happens quite fast,” DiTerlizzi said of his creative process. “It has taken me longer to explain it than it did to come up with it.”

But as he was drawing, he said, he was thinking, “She’s going to hate this.” He was using images that didn’t necessarily say 21st century, as Sharry had wanted. “I wanted to break away from stereotypes,” Sharry said. “I was looking for something new.”

But DiTerlizzi liked what was shaping up on his pad. “I’m an old-timey guy. I love classic literature and illustration.”

When he finished, he was pleased — and so were Sharry and the others. “She really liked it. I got lucky,” he said.

In fact, one of the women at the table suggested the sketch become the new logo, instead of the fancy J.

“It was a no-brainer,” Sharry said. “It’s unique. It’s fun without being too cartoon-like. And it’s created by this amazing local artist who is a library user and a big supporter.”

Sharry said going through a lengthy logo search helped her realize what truly was the right image. “It’s all about timing,” she said.

DiTerlizzi was happy to hand the design over — for free. And he has created files for the Jones staff to use for letterhead, envelopes and T-shirts.

DiTerlizzi, who has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 2000, moved here from New York with his wife, Angela, 11 years ago. He has just put the finishing touches on the last book in a three-part science-fiction trilogy for middle-grade readers called “The Search for Wondla,” which he began in 2008. He has a 6-year old daughter, Sophia, and the family lives just down the street from the Munson Library, the Jones’ South Amherst branch.

He is pleased that his work has been chosen to represent the library, but he’s relieved it occurred by happenstance. Being asked to come up with a replacement for the library’s 100-year-old symbol would have made him nervous.

“That would have been intense,” he said. “I could have choked. I could have given them a blue J in a box, so maybe it’s better that it unfolded the way it did.”

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Debra Scherban can be reached at DScherban@gazettenet.com.

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16. Owlbears, Rust Monsters and Bulettes, Oh My!

Chances are it won’t just be children who will find wrapped toys under their Christmas tree this week. If you’re a big kid like me, then you accept the fact that you not only still play with toys, but realize that they can be an important part of your well-being.

While creating my children’s books, I often find myself in a state of reflection. I return to the emotions and priorities that I had when I was young so that I can get into the mindset of my protagonist. To aid in remembering those moments in my life I use artifacts from my past. Consequently. my studio has become cluttered with play-worn toys, tattered books and other dusty relics of my halcyon days of youth. This, in turn, has grown to a fascination of the packaging (type, design, palettes, etc) that went into these icons of yesteryear. For example, I recently tracked down original versions of beloved board games so that our family could play classics like Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land and Mouse Trap as they appeared when first released. The vintage colors and graphics of these games sent my mind a whirl with book design possibilities.

games

But mostly, I pretend with my toys and remember the adventures that we went on in my backyard and under my bed. Many of my toys are probably still buried in my mom’s backyard, which is why the internet has become my time machine for recovering lost treasure that I so fondly remember.

PrehistoricAnimalsS

About this time last year, I recalled a set of toy dinosaurs and monsters that I had played with so much that their toes and tails broke off. These poorly molded plastic beasties were purchased at our local Variety store in the early 1970′s. They came bagged under the label “Prehistoric Animals”.

HongKongAnimals1

HongKongAnimals3

Though they were odd – even silly-looking by monster standards – there was something endearing about them. Soon, they became the perfect creatures for my Micronauts to discover or my plastic cowboys to combat. Some years after our playtime adventures had concluded, these creatures reappeared in another adventure of mine by means of paper, pencil and twenty-sided dice.

HongKongAnimals2

You see, during that time that I was playing with these “Prehistoric Animals”, somebody else was playing with them too – a fellow named Gary Gygax. Gary was using them for a game he was developing called Dungeons & Dragons and his book, the Monster Manual, contained pen & ink renditions of these creatures within its pages.

MonsterManual

Tim Kask was a play-tester for D&D back in the 1970′s. He was hired by Gary and became the first editor of Dragon magazine. As Tim recalled back in 2007:

“There once was an unknown company in Hong Kong that made a bag of weird animal-things that were then sold in what once were called dime stores or variety stores for like $.99. I know of four other very early monsters based on them. Gary and I talked about how hard it was to find monster figures, and how one day he came upon this bag of weird beasts…He nearly ran home, eager as a kid to get home and open his baseball cards. Then he proceeded to invent the carrion crawler, umber hulk, rust monster and purple worm, all based on those silly plastic figures. The one that I chose was known in the Greyhawk campaign as “the bullet” (for it’s shape) but had only amorphous stats and abilities, not being developed. Gary told me to take it home, study it, and decide what it was and what it could do.”

Bulette

“The bullette (boo-lay), as it was first called, was the first monster I invented. Why is the more interesting part of the story. I had decided to add a feature to DRAGON that would mean a new monster every issue; problem was, I had to launch an issue early because an ad didn’t come in. I wrote it up very late at night; the nickname “landshark” was a reference to a character that the original Not Ready for Primetime Players had done on Saturday Night Live. I went to Dave Sutherland for an emergency drawing (drawings could be submitted to the printers after the copy was set) and he did a dandy job on almost no notice.”

If you don’t know the “Land shark” skit, click the video player below. Its a classic.

I love Tim’s story: Dime store toys in the hands of those with wondrous imaginations became something more – they became the geeky stuff of modern fantasy lore.

RustMonster

Because these toys were manufactured in Hong Kong (perhaps as Ultraman knock-offs) and sold here through various distributors, it can be a challenge to track down a full set. (Frankly, I don’t even know if I have a complete set!). Additionally, favorite monsters, like the Rust Monster and Bulette, were created in different sizes and colors.

Bulettes

RustMonsters

Tim does not initially list the Owlbear originating from this bag of monsters, though it was available in the set at some point (Tim later confirmed this through our correspondence). In my year of scouring the internet and watching eBay auctions I have only seen this yellow version.

Owlbear

…in fact, one sold recently at auction for quite a hefty price (and no, it was not purchased by me):

auction

Tim mentions the Umber Hulk also coming from this set. Some have speculated that this mandible-snapping dragon could be the inspiration, but given how closely the other monsters are drawn from their inspirations, I am not convinced.

UmberHulk

As far as I know, the remaining monsters never saw their day in the pages of a D&D accessory. Back in 1993, after I had the opportunity to illustrate many of the classic monsters for the AD&D Monstrous Manual (like the Owlbear, Rust Monster and Bulette), editor Tim Beach and I discussed writing up stats for some of the others…but I soon became busy with Planescape. Perhaps these fellas will claw their way into the imaginations of the next generation of game designers.

Lizardmen

Armadillons

DogLizard

HornedDragon

HuggyDragons

Rocs

Longing for these oldies? There are toy collector discussions that share pointers (sometimes these toys are dubbed “Chinasaurs” or “Patchisaurs”). Sadly, I was convinced that these li’l monsters were no longer being manufactured…that is until I came across this set of “Realistic Dinosaurs” at my local Rite-Aid earlier this year:

RealisticDinosaurs

(I am glad to see the manufacturer is upholding the same tongue-in-cheek description of these toys.) Take a closer look at what’s included in this set. Turns out no one can bury a Bulette – they’ll eventually dig their way out and resurface.

RealisticDinosaurs2

Happy holidays! I’m off on a new adventure with my old toys.

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17. Sammy the Owl

Last month I visited with Sharon Sharry, Library Director of our public library, the Jones Library. At the suggestion of author extraordinaire, Norton Juster, she’d asked if I could discuss a new award honoring the Pioneer Valley’s local literary luminaries.

The award was called “The Sammy” named after Samuel Jones, the library’s first benefactor and namesake. Since Norton would be receiving the inaugural award, he had a say in how it looked…so he said, “have Tony design it.”

Along with some of the committee members, Sharon and I chatted about what the award could look like. I soon realized it should not be gender, race or age specific. The children’s book illustrator in me thought the best solution would then be an anthropomorphic animal. The obvious choice was an owl.

Beside being one of my favorite birds, owls symbolize wisdom, perfect for a literary award. Plus there are several species of owls indigenous to the Pioneer Valley, just ask Heidi Stemple – daughter of Jane Yolen and star of Jane’s Caldecott medal book, Owl Moon. In fact, for Jane’s 70th birthday I painted her as an owl.

OwlJane

I remembered how I thought the scarf was a nice transition between the owl and the human.

sketchesL

In a couple of quick doodles we had the beginning of the design for the award and I was off and flying. Sharon then shared with me that the library had been looking for a new logo to replace the one they had been using for the past 100 years. (Yup, you read that right.) Sharon wanted something a little more playful, fresh and identifiable. So we decided that Sammy the Award Design should also be Sammy the Library Logo.

SammySketch

Since the owl-reading image can be cliché, I had to design carefully. Unlike Jane’s piece, I avoided glasses but kept the scarf (perfect for New England). Though the oft-used Great Horned Owls can be found here (I’ve been hearing them at night in the field behind our house), I went with the less iconic Barred Owl, also found in our area. Instead of a tree perch I went with books. Nowadays libraries offer a variety of media outlets for gathering information, but I had to return to the original foundation of their collection as the foundation for my owl.

Sammy_FINAL

I was honored and thrilled to donate my time to redesign the identity of our local library (I hope this one can last another 100 years). Libraries are the repository our collected wisdom and whimsy, librarians the keepers and caretakers of our story.

 

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18. A Ted-eriffic Friday Fan Art

Our friend, Stacy, and her son, Brody, just finished a school project involving 2 pumpkins, some pink paint, and my favorite picture book.

Brody had to do a book report on his favorite book, then decorate a pumpkin as the main character…and he picked Ted. Why? Because this kid has good taste.

Ted1

First of all, let’s just stop for a second and consider how awesome of book report idea this is. I am totally going to make a (metamorphosed) Gregor Samsa pumpkin this weekend.

Ted3

Second, are you seeing these crafting skills? It utilizes the holy trinity of craft supplies: googly eyes, felt and pompoms all in one shot. Its a shame Ted will look like an old man in about month once the pumpkins get all mushy. I’d bronze that pumpkin masterpiece and place it on my mantle.

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Stacy told me that Brody chose Ted as his book because he loves the imagination of that story – especially when Ted and the kid flood the house. I am expecting a diorama of that scene for next year’s book report.

Thank you, Stacy and Brody, for sending these pics over. I love them so much it hurts. (He better get an A)

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19. The Battle for WondLa: Third Draft Completed

71,000 words later, the final chapter of Eva Nine’s story is off to my editor at Simon & Schuster for final tweaks and copy-editing.3rd

We’ve filmed a few video shorts here in the studio that will be released this fall including the cover reveal, creating the art, and writing the trilogy. I’ll keep you posted as soon as they are online.

Now, time to start the sketches for the 50+ interior illustrations.

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20. Friday Fan Art for You Beetleheads

Throughout the year I am fortunate to receive letters, drawings, and the occasional package from fans around the world.  These notes contain questions, inspired art and ideas, and conversation all sparked by my work or common thread of interest in the fantastic, art, or books.  I love to read these letters and I am always so amazed to see the beautiful work that is produced. What fans do not always realize is that often times these letters and works are just as inspiring for me as my work is to them.  Sculptural artist, June Gallagher’s, gift provided a mischievous masterpiece of inspiration.

front

Last week I received a package from June – a New York-based artist that I had featured in a previous Friday Fan Art post showcasing her beautiful Thimbletack sculpture.  Inside this package I found another Spiderwick inspired work: an absolutely stunning, talking sculpture of Hogsqueal.

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Like Thimbletack, Hogsqueal is made from Premo Polymer Clay accented with mixed media material for the details.  The base of the sculpture is enforced with a aluminum wire mesh.  His overalls are made from an old sock (also used for her Thimbletack sculpt) and his coat has been created from a wool fabric (found on Etsy).  Both his whiskers and ear hair tufts are made from feathers.  June’s eye for details included shrinking crayon wrappers to fit the polymer clay crayons in Hoggy’s jacket!

crayons

Located on the back of a rock on the mossy platform you can find a small button tactfully hidden behind a screen door.  When the button is pressed you hear, “Hey Beetlehead, what are you staring at?  Never seen a hobgoblin before?”  The voice is a friend of June’s son and was recorded on a tiny device purchased online.  All in all, after finding the right fabrics and recording device, Hogsqueal took about 2 weeks to create.

Listen to Talking Hogsqueal

For the past year June has been on a mission to devote her time to being grateful.  This decision was made after a tragic event in June’s life caused her to focus on the wonderful and inspiring things around her.  I know how important art can be in moments like that and am honored that my work has been included June’s healing process (Hogsqueal is too).

head

You can find more of June’s work at her Etsy Shop called Oaknwich Lane Designs.

Never abandon imagination, June.  Keep Sculpting, Keep Dreaming.

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21. A Fantastic Field Guide Friday Fan Art

Patrik is a teenage artist from a small European country named Slovenia (located next to Italy, Austria, and Croatia) who has been inspired by The Spiderwick Chronicles.  He read the series about four years ago, in his native language Slovene, and became inspired to create his own fantastical project, which took him three years to complete!

This commitment is nothing new for the young artist.  In fact, Patrik discovered his passion for drawing when he was just five, and continued to exercise his talent through grade school.  Like me, he looks to many similar sources for inspiration.  “I love nature, and not just nature, but everything that is natural which has a feeling of pureness,” he explained in his email.  Of course, the natural world had a great influence on me when I was creating Spiderwick. I studied and drew from museum specimens and other forms found in the wild to guide me in creating a more detailed world of the fantastic.

Cover

Patrik, saw this connection and was so inspired by the information found in Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You that he decided to make his own rendition of the book.  Above you can see the cover of the piece surrounded by objects Mr. Spiderwick would have had close at hand – spectacles, a compass, an ink dip pen, magnifying glass, and (of course) his seeing stone.

Patrik2

Here are only some of the beautiful pages of Patrik’s homemade field guide.  Detailed renditions of goblins, ogres, sea maids, and many more familiar creatures fill the pages, providing documentation that Arthur Spiderwick would be proud to see.  Note that the information included in the drawings have been translated to Slovene.

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Patrik15
The Griffin centerfold is one of my favorites…

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…and, of course, instructions on how to use a seeing stone. Nice work, Patrik.  This field guide is splendid.

From Massachusetts to Slovenia:

Keep drawing, Keep dreaming.

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22. The Style of Scribner

Early in my career in children’s publishing, I filled in the gaps between my picture book projects by illustrating jacket art for paperback books. Most were reissues of older titles like the Bernie MaGruder series and the Magic Shop books. Though I channeled classic illustrators (like Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker) I was also inspired by another great illustrator, Joanne Scribner.

Around that time, I remember visiting a used bookshop in upstate New York with artist-pal, Scott Fischer. I was telling Scott of my ongoing jacket art assignments as we browsed through the old paperbacks. From a dusty, overloaded shelf, Scott pulled out a classic from Beverly Cleary – Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

Ramona

We both recognized this iconic cover from our elementary school days. As illustrators we could see the technical mastery in the simple composition. As the title suggests, you are meeting the precocious and endearing Ramona. But the exaggeration of her features (like the flyaway hair and that skinny neck) add a levity to the detailed realistic rendering.

From that day on, I began scooping up books with Scribner’s unmistakable imagery whenever I chanced upon them.

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Henry

As any librarian from the baby-boomer generation will tell you, Scribner was not the first to render covers for Cleary’s classics. The Henry Huggins books, Ramona books, and even Mouse & The Motorcycle were illustrated by the late Louis Darling.

MouseandMotorcycle

As much as I LOVE the original jacket to Mouse & The Motorcycle, it is not the version I grew up with. This is:

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Mouse2

It appears that Scribner was tasked with re-imaging these beloved titles for Dell’s imprint, Yearling Books for Young Readers, in the late 1970′s. This is an illustrator’s dream, to be sure, but to maintain a high-level of artistic quality that spans over many titles with many characters is quite a feat. Joanne’s talent prevailed and an entire generation was introduced to Cleary’s classic texts.

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Henry3

Ramona4

I’ve trimmed off some of the jacket design only so you can focus on her illustration more. I adore how every title is set in the Cooper font. I can’t think of any other typeface which perfectly reveals the time in which these books were designed.

Ramona1

In looking at her images now, I can see the influence of Rockwell (especially in the staging and acting of the models), but there is also an Art Nouveau quality to the line that is quite distinct. The colored pencil hatching brings to mind the work of Brian Selznick, who is also a fan. When I sent Brian these scans from my book collection, he responded with images from another favorite illustrator from that time – Richard Amsel.

amsel

Amsel’s ubiquitous art permeated album covers, magazine covers and movie posters in the 1970′s and early 80′s. He was master of his craft, able to render a perfect likeness while maintaining his distinct pencil-sketch style. I have no idea whether or not Amsel’s work influenced Scribner’s or if that style was just part of the artistic zeitgeist back then. Regardless, Scribner did for kid’s book covers what Amsel did for movie posters and magazines.

Ramona3

I couldn’t find an official site or page for Joanne Scribner anywhere (if anyone knows of one, please post it in the comments). I did come across an article from the Spokane Daily Chronicle in 1979 reporting her leave of New York and return to Washington, where she’d begun teaching illustration at a local community college. In the article she is quoted, “It is my job to make people want to buy that book. The cover is what grabs people when they walk into the book store.”

Joanne

Thirty-plus years later that philosophy still applies. And, as far as I am concerned, Joanne Scribner’s work still does just that.

Ellen

Ramona2

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23. The Search for a WondLaful Cover (IV)

The final stages of creating the artwork for The Battle for WondLa dust-jacket required me to set down my pencils, pens and paper and grab a mouse, Wacom stylus and keyboard.

As proud as I am of my inking capabilities, I never create the perfect ink drawing. Cleanup is required. Nowadays I correct errors in Photoshop, but way-back-when I would “white-out” the part I wanted to fix in white acrylic paint, then redraw over it. You can see this technique here in a piece from The Spiderwick Chronicles. Look closely at Byron’s wings.

Swick

Because India ink is so vibrant, it requires A LOT of white paint in order to mask the error and provide a decent background to re-ink upon. In the end, you are drawing on a bumpy surface of blobbed on paint. I am heartened when I learn that even the most accomplished ink-masters dealt with whiting out mistakes. Here’s a close-up of an original Garth Williams drawing from Charlotte’s Web.

garth

The yellowing of the paper has made his corrections more apparent. Charles Dana Gibson would meticulously patch in a new piece of board to fix his inking mishaps. Once the piece is photographed for reproduction the white-out (or the seams from the patch) would vanish and give the appearance of a perfect ink drawing in the final reproduction. With a home art studio housing new(ish) technology, I now scan my ink drawings and upload them directly into the art director’s ftp folder. This allows for digital cleanup and fixes with incredible freedom.

My first exercise that I run it through is the mirror flip. A common practice in art school, it simply requires looking at a reflection of your artwork. With the image in reverse, errors become more apparent. Let me show you:

This is a scan of the finished ink drawing from Chapter 6 of The Wyrm King from Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles. Can you see error in the drawing? I couldn’t while I was working on it, so I’ll give you a clue: It has to do with Nick, the boy in the lower left wearing the seaweed cap.

NickINK

Here is a close-up of Nick scanned for print (a 600 dots per inch [dpi] bitmap).

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Now I shall mirror-flip it in Photoshop. The error becomes more apparent in this reversed image – the axis of his eyes are off (among other facial features). A quick digital fix will show how subtle tweaks to line art can make a big difference.

Nick2

In Photoshop, not only can I erase dust, ink droplets and spatter, I can also alter the drawing itself. Here I am nudging the eye back up a bit and rotating it slightly.

NICKtransform

I can also erase any inconsistencies in the line work and redraw whatever needs to be done. Compare the original artwork (left) with the cleaned-up version (right). (Click to see a hi-res image)

NickCompareAnd here is the final printed image.

spread

Of course, this begs the question: Why not just ink the whole thing digitally? Because I like to have a physical piece of art when all is said and done. I want something that’s been held and made by human hands. And, despite these tweaks and cleanup, I want some of the ink blobs, smudges and errors created when by drawing by hand. That is part of the charm for me.

That in mind, I tend to err on the conservative end when cleaning up my ink drawings digitally. More often than not, the original drawing looks pretty close to the final printed image.

Chap1INK

Chap1COLOR

And here is the inked artwork of Eva for the cover to The Battle for WondLa. I got lucky on this one and it required little clean up (I fixed the pattern on the muzzle of the boomrod, removed strands of hair, and erased lines where her hand gripped the Omnipod). Now she is ready for color, but more on that next time…

Eva_Scan

 

6 Comments on The Search for a WondLaful Cover (IV), last added: 10/13/2013
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24. We Art Boston

A couple of weeks ago, the ubiquitous Jarrett J Krosoczka contacted me about a project he thought I should be involved in. It turns out he was right.

We Art Boston is a fundraising event for the Emergency and Trauma Fund and Boston Children’s Hospital (in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing). Over 50 fellow children’s book authors and illustrators have donated signed books and original artwork to be auctioned off. And 100% of the proceeds go to the hospital. One of the founders of the project, illustrator Joe McKendry, contacted me to participate and I donated a signed Spiderwick book and a rare limited edition print that was only given as a gift to family and friends back in 2006.

Imagine

Jarrett, however, had been working with Joe on a collaborative piece in which a gang of illustrators (I think that is the proper term for a group of them…or is it “herd”?) would each render a letter to spell out “We Art Boston”. Prints would be made and the one-of-a-kind original would be the highlight of the auction. Since I’d been traveling quite a bit, I would be last to participate and would be illustrating the letter “N”.

sketch

Angela helped me come up with the idea. When we visit Boston, we always try to stop at the Public Garden. I love the vista of feathery willow trees at the pond with swan boats serenely drifting by. Of course, this location is also the setting for two beloved children’s classics – Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings and E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. I added the steeple of nearby Arlington church as a landmark to make it distinctly Boston.

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Here it is on my drawing table while I was working away on it. I did fret a bit that I would be the one to spill ink on it after it hand successfully passed through so many hands. Thankfully it made it out of the studio unscathed.

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I was honored and delighted to be a part of this piece. As a parent and an ambassador for the Starlight Foundation, I am all for helping children’s hospitals.

PosterSMALL

Here is the list of fellow artists involved in the “We Art Boston” one-of-a-kind original:

“W” by Joe McKendry,

“E” by Kelly Murphy,

“A” by David Macaulay,

“R” by Brian Lies,

“E” by Adam Rex,

“B” by Barbara McClintock,

“O” by Matt Taveres,

“S” by Jarrett Krosoczka,

“T” by Eric Carle,

“O” by Grace Lin,

“N” by Yours Truly.

The auction starts on October 10th and runs through the 24th, so participate if you can. There are some great pieces up on the block and it all goes to a great cause.

5 Comments on We Art Boston, last added: 10/4/2013
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25. Entertainment Weekly Exclusive: “The Battle for WondLa” Cover Revealed

If you’ve been following this blog for the past couple of months, you know I have been sharing much of my process for the upcoming cover to the third and final book in the Wondla trilogy,  The Battle for WondLa.

WondLa3

Entertainment Weekly has finally revealed the cover to the finale to WondLa, due out in stores next May. As well, we’ve shot a little video to show a bit of my process in creating the cover. Let me know what you think.

 

 

3 Comments on Entertainment Weekly Exclusive: “The Battle for WondLa” Cover Revealed, last added: 11/5/2013
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