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I've had a hard time getting started on this one as I'm not in the habit of drawing beastly characters and I couldn't get the Disney version out of my mind. But after coming across this illustration by Edmund Dulac, I started to feel free to experiment. It's fun to be drawing a character that's so different from my usual fare and I'm excited to try a new way of working for the final illustration. I wonder what will happen.
Also, remember the bat boy photo that was in the tabloids years ago? I think I must have inadvertently been channeling that when I drew the sketch on the lower left. Creepy.
It’s finally time to resurrect my blog from its long hiatus! I’ve actually missed being on Walking In Public… digging up blog content has always kept me engaged with the publishing/art/design industries, and it motivates me to write and draw regularly. So, I’ll be back on the blog for a long while, with all-new features and updates on my journey to success in the children’s book world!
What have you missed while I’ve been away from the blog? Here are the best things that happened, circa 2011:
Annie’s Top 5 2011 Professional Developments
1. Illustrated and designed the Little Farmer app.
You may remember that I began a project working on a toddler game app, called Little Farmer, back in May. Well, after months of illustrating, designing and developing, we released it for sale in the iTunes store in October! It has been a really wonderful experience working with a talented developer, Anita Hirth, to create artwork that children can interact with, right there on any iPhone. There’s much more to say about the process of creating an app, and my future in the digital world… but those are subjects for bigger posts!
In the meantime, purchase the app here, or watch the video trailer, above!
2. Joined the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee.
I’ve been attending events for young adults in the publishing industry for awhile, so it was exciting to be asked to represent Penguin Young Readers (and designers everywhere) on the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee. This organization creates opportunities for those in the first 5 years of the children’s book industry to network, learn, and become more involved in their fields… so their mission is right up my alley! Since becoming a part of the team this summer, I’ve had a TON of fun making great friends with 20-somethings in different houses, through planning creative programming. I’m also having a blast designing fliers, making good use of my design time and talents.
If you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on the CBC and ECC’s fabulous social media enterprises – Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
Two years ago, at the big Hall H Disney presentation at the San Diego Comic Con – the year Miyazaki was there – John Lasseter presented a clip from the forthcoming Beauty and The Beast 3D conversion. I hadn’t heard about this project, but was strangely intrigued with the idea of 3D conversion of previously flat 2D cartoons. I always loved Disney’s Melody, and Paramount’s Boo Moon and Popeye The Ace of Space are two great examples of what a 3D cartoon can look like if done properly (I am not as impressed with Lantz’ Hypnotic Hick and Warners’ Lumberjack Rabbit). I even enjoyed the 3D aspects of the otherwise awful Starchaser: The Legend of Orin.
I was particularly enthused when Lasseter introduced the clip – but became less so as he discussed the process. Here’s how I recall his introduction, and what I was thinking during it…
Lasseter: “There were 3D cartoons done in the 1950s…”
My Thoughts: “Yes there were. And they looked great – like old Viewmaster slides come to life!”
Lasseter (in a negative way): “…but they were old fashioned and looked like Viewmaster slides…”
My Thoughts: “But… but… that was COOL!”
Lasseter: “Luckily, we figured out a new way to create 3D out of hand drawn cartoons…”
My thoughts: “But… but… it doesn’t need a “new way”. MELODY looked incredible…”
Lasseter: “Instead of flat art, we’ve figured out a way to round the edges…”
My thoughts: “That doesn’t sound good…”
Lasseter: “This isn’t your father’s 3D cartoon…”
My thoughts while watching the clip: “Oh. My. God.”
I don’t have problems watching 3D movies. I don’t get headaches, my eyes don’t tear… but watching this clip gave me a headache and hurt my eyes. Needless to say I was not surprised when the film didn’t open theatrically as originally planned.
Cut to 2011 – and this past week the 3D Beauty and The Beast opened at the El Capitan Theatre sans almost any publicity. I simply had to go see it over the weekend. I was also invited to a screening of the 3D Lion King at the Disney Studio yesterday. Here’s my assessment of how both fare in 3D form.
Beauty and The Beast – I’m not going to review the film itself, but suffice to say it was a pleasure to see it again on the big screen. The screenplay, direction, and vocal performances are even better than I remembered them. The animation was/is, of course, top notch. But there was something wrong here… the drawings of the characters, particularly in the first third of the film, looked awful. What did they do? Re-trace the animation to get the 3-D effect? There was a funky, scratchy-tracing “look” to the characters, particularly their outlines. It seemed to get better once we are in the enchanted castle – either that or I got used to it. The 3-D effect itself was pretty good. It was NOT the “rounded edge” version that Lasseter touted at Comic Con. In fact, unlike every live action or CG animated 3D film I’ve seen the past few years, the 3D “effect” didn’t wear off after the first ten minutes. It was quite a 3D Viewmaster version all throughout. Would I recommend seeing it on the big screen? No. The character designs of the townspeople and the overall “traced” look hurts the visuals. Somehow the 3D highlights these flaws… I went home a re-watched several scen
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i've been meaning to upload this sketch here for the last few days, but the time got away from me....
anyway, this is next up. and i shall be completing it in the next few nights because i have some customers waiting on some prints of her:)
here is a link to my etsy shop www.enchantedeasel.etsy.com where a print of snow white and ariel can be found...and purchased! hopefully if time allows, i will be able to get some more of these disney princesses done. but it'll have to wait til after the holidays.
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The funniest thing I’ve seen in weeks: this Thai CG knock-off of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – though it should be more aptly titled “Beauty and the Lion King“. For another laugh, check out this poster for their version of The Princess and the Frog.
Alexandra Flinn, AKA Alex Flinn, has a lot going on in her writing life. Her newest book, A KISS IN TIME, is getting great reviews, and her book BEASTLY is being made into a movie starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer and Mary Kate Olsen. How cool is that?
I recently read A KISS IN TIME and found that its fascinating premise nestled within the comforting framework of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale made for a read that kept me intrigued. The premise is: what would happen if Sleeping Beauty was kissed by her true love 300 years later, and that true love turned out to be a teenager from modern-day Florida? How would their two worlds collide? How would it end? After all, according to the fairy tale they’re supposed to marry and live happily ever after. But Jack’s still in high school and not about to be married yet. Now what?
How old were you when you first started seriously writing?
Depends what you mean by “seriously.” I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was five. I wrote plays for the kids in the neighborhood to perform when I was 9 or 10. I started writing a diary and trying to write my novel at 12. I wrote most of a manuscript for a novel (then lost it) at 19. I started writing with a real eye toward publication, researching the market, etc., at 29. My first book was accepted when I was 32.
What age child do you have in your head?
That is the age I picture myself reading my books.
How do you make up names for your characters?
I love names! It’s one of my favorite parts of writing.
Sometimes, the characters just tell me their names, which is what happened with Jack in A Kiss in Time. Other times, I think about it more. Like with Talia the Sleeping Beauty of A Kiss in Time, I found that Talia was one of the names given to Sleeping Beauty in old stories. She has a whole slew of middle names, which I got from a list of royal names and also, from other names for Sleeping Beauty (Aurora and Rose).
I often consider the meaning of the name. For example, Kyle (the Beast in Beastly) is named Kyle because it means “handsome,” and after he becomes a beast, he changes it to Adrian which means dark. The girl in the story is Linda, which means “pretty.” Kendra, the name of the witch in that story, means magical.
I consider impressions that names give me, and if I know anyone with that name. Charlie Good in my book, Breaking Point, was named Charlie because I knew someone who looked just like him in middle school, and his name was Charlie, and I knew a boy named Alex Good in high school. He used to say his name was spelled, “No E, just plain good,” which I thought was funny. I have a book called Baby Name Personality Survey, which tells me what impressions the name gives other people.
I had a really hard time naming my own kids, so it’s fun to get to name more people.
What’s the earliest childhood memory you can think back to? Does it appear in any of your writing?
I can remember REALLY far back, and I remember a lot. I remember standing in my crib, biting the sides, waiting for my mother to come in. But my first vivid memory was from when I was three years old. I remember my mother coming in and telling me we were going to meet the little boy and girl who had moved in next-door. I was wearing a white dress with red polka dots. We went over to their house and sat on their back step. The boy’s name was Peter, and the girl’s name was Wendy (No, I did not make this up after watching Peter Pan), and they were two and five respectively. I never used it in my writing, but I’ve used other stuff.
Do you wake up in the night with fantastic ideas for books?
Not in the night. I usually think up story ideas when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Like, once, I wrote a short story in my head while watching Piglet’s Big Movie with my kids.
Why write a take off on a fairy tale?
Initially, because part of the story wasn’t fleshed out enough for my liking. I wanted to know more about the Beast, or it bothered me that Sleeping Beauty just got plunked down in another century. Now, because kids don’t read fairy tales anymore. They watch the DVD, and if there is no DVD, if Disney hasn’t done it, it’s dead. You have no idea how many emails I get, asking who the bear in Beastly was supposed to be. He’s from Snow White and Rose Red, but none of them have heard of that story. I’m working on a novel now that is all fairy tales that haven’t been done by Disney. Some of them, even I hadn’t heard of until I started researching.
What is your favorite fairy tale?
Sleeping Beauty was my favorite as a child. Now, I sort of like adventure stories like The Brave Little Tailor, Lazy Jack, or The Golden Bird, where the hero has to surmount obstacles to gain the hand of the princess.
What do you have hidden in a dresser drawer? (We won’t tell, will we, everyone?)
Nothing. It’s not that I’m so organized (I’m not), or that I don’t have hiding places (I do). That’s just not one of them. And I’m not going to tell you my hiding places because my kids are old enough to go online.
What do your favorite jammies look like?
Grey short gown with an embroidered pink kitty-cat on it that says, “It’s all about me-ow.”
Who would you rather have a date with (given you weren’t married), Strider from THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Dr. Watson, Wolverine, or Simon Cowell? Why?
Simon. I was a music major in college, and I pretty much agree with everything he says (except when he ridicules the disabled, but I would try to cure him of that).
Have you ever been abducted by aliens? If so, what color were their jammies? And did they tell you the titles of any of their favorite books?
Well, if they abducted me, they must like my books, right? And they weren’t wearing jammies. In fact, they all looked exactly like Simon Cowell and were wearing black Tee-shirts and jeans.
Will you name a character in your next book after me?
Um, maybe. Do you want me to? How many other people have you asked to do this?
(Who knows, maybe we’ll have a spate of characters named Shutta soon.)
* Many of Alex Flinn’s books have made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults lists, as well as Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. They have also received such teen-selected honors as the International Reading Association Young Adult Choices list (Breathing Underwater, Nothing to Lose, and Fade to Black). Flinn’s books seem to appeal to teens who might otherwise prefer not to read, which is the charge of the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list. Her books have also been nominated for numerous state awards. Breathing Underwater won the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award in 2004. Beastly is nominated for the 2009 Lone Star State (Texas) Award. (Wikipedia entry: Alex Flinn.)
Imagine you are taking the whole family along for a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Once in the park and on Sunset Boulevard, the thrill-seekers in your party wanted to ride either the Rock N’ Roller Coaster or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, only to be dismayed that they have to sit through the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage at the Theater of the Stars. You know that they hate that show, thinking it was lame and uncool, but whether your little princess-fanatic nieces or daughters are with you, you think this is pure Disney bliss in its finery. Midway through the piped music-spiked production, after the thrill ride-loving family members have endured the strains of “Belle” and the infectious “Be Our Guest,” something goes horribly wrong as Belle and Adam, in his Beast form, duet in “Something There” - Adam’s pants sags as he roams across the stage and embarrassingly pulls it up as Belle sings the bridge of the Alan Menken song, and he keeps this up until the end of the number. You and your family, even your coaster-lovers who hate the show, laugh and find it so funny.
That predicted moment came true, thanks to a submitter on the famous FailBlog.org, notable and notorious for an obscene inflatable slide and that moment when Victoria Kirkorov scared her son, the Bulgarian-Russian pop stud-muffin Philipp Bedrovich, on stage during “1000 Years.” What is Adam thinking - is he obscenely paying tribute to the late, great Michael Jackson? Do the four theme parks at Walt Disney World enforce a dress code pertaining to sagging pants, a pet peeve most of us modesty-loving conservatives love to hate? I don’t know, but the Beast is trying to hide, er, his “beast” in the show. Besides, the show won’t be just as memorable if the Beast version of Adam uses a belt to keep his tattered blue trousers up. The wardrobe malfunction, milder than that of Janet Jackson’s over 5 years ago, must’ve been a way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman described the Disney’s Hollywood Studios show based on the 1991 film as a “tale as old as time,” but the incident that made it on FailBlog.org was - indeed - “something there that wasn’t there before.”