This week I got a special international courier delivery - from Tundra Books (Random House). I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people there a while back, now my first chapter book is coming out this fall!
|Nora curled up with the advance copy|
The story of Audrey (Cow)
is a bit Babe
meets Animal Farm
meets Mission Impossible
, all from the point of view of the characters. I got to do the cover and a bunch of black and white interior drawings. I'll have to show you some up close when I get more time, I'm kind of happy with them.
This is my entry for the Tomie de paola Award contest. This year we were to develop a character through a series of panels to show character development. Mine is more of a storyline, I guess. It was fun creating it though.
Good luck to the ten finalists who are moving on to the next round. Especially our Houston illustrator, Cheryl Pilgrim. Loved her entry… so clever!
I like anniversaries, especially when they concern my illustrations! So here's another fond memory - this year is the 30th anniversary of the publication of Elsie Locke's A Canoe in the Mist.
|Cover of the 1st edition|
|The Waka Wairua. Title Page vignette |
This was my third commissioned book contract, after Jeremy Strong's Fatbag
(A & C Black) and Roger Collinson's Get Lavinia Goodbody!
(Andersen Press), both first released in 1983. Like them, it was a commission for black and white text drawings to a novel. Unlike those titles however, both of which were fun, humorous books requiring comic drawings, this new commission was a dramatised narrative of real events during the catastrophic 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera
in New Zealand.
|McCrae's Rotomahana Hotel in Te Wairoa. |
Canoe in the Mist
|Lillian meets Mattie|
follows the story of two girls during the eruption. Lillian Perham lives in the village of Te Wairoa
with her widowed mother, where western tourists flock to view the famous pink and white terraces
, natural stairs of silica pools on Lake Rotomahana. Set in a volcanic wonderland often described as the 8th wonder of the world, Lillian only has chance to see the terraces herself when she befriends Mattie, the daughter of visiting English tourists. But the day they set off for Rotomahana the waters of the lake are mysteriously lifted by a tidal wave, the tohunga sage of the local maori village propheses disaster, and a mysterious ghostly apparition of a canoe, waka wairua, is seen on the lake.
That night the volcano violently erupts, followed soon after by fissures underneath the lake that destroy the terraces and
|The Terraces (unused version). This 1/2 page drawing was re-drawn as a full page illustration for the final book (artwork now lost)|
turn Lake Rotomahana into an explosion of steam and mud, burying the Maori villages of Moura and Te Ariki, killing 153 people. Caught in a deluge of debris and mud, the girls, parents and villagers struggle to escape a world that has been torn apart.
|The first eruption|
The commission came at the very end of 1983 from Jonathan Cape publishers, at that time based in Bedford Square, long before they were absorbed by Random House, I think it was simply a case of showing my work in their office at the right time. It was a fortuitous commission, coming soon after I'd moved to London, I threw myself into sketches straight away.
|Character studies for Lillian, Mattie and Sophia (unused)|
|Visit to Hinemihi, the Maori meeting hall|
This was of course, long before the internet, so finding accurate reference material was going to be a struggle. Despite the book being a historical topic my editor was unable to provide visual references, I knew very little about New Zealand in the 1880's, and despite my suggestion Jonathan Cape wasn't about to fly me out there to do some ground research! However my local library in Crouch End
was a tremendous help, especially on information on Maori culture. The publisher also passed on my queries to the author in New Zealand, who after a short while very kindly sent me a package of photos and cuttings outlining the region today and before the earthquake.
|Tuhoto, the village sage|
What I didn't realise until much later on however, was just how deeply embedded in the background of the book the author was. Elsie Locke (1912-2001)
, writer, feminist, historian and peace campaigner, is today recognised as one of the most important figures of New Zealand culture of the last century. Although she passed away in 2001, the Elsie Locke Memorial Trust
continues to promote her life, work and writings, and sponsors an annual competition for young writers in New Zealand.
I was a young struggling illustrator in London, for me New Zealand seemed a very remote and exotic place at the time, and yet the correspondence I exchanged with Elsie not only brought the region to life visually, it helped greatly to spark my imagination.
|Before the eruption guests discuss the unusual signs|
The drawings were largely crafted at my humble abode in London - this was just before I joined a studio so I was working on the kitchen table in a shared house. One morning in a curious parallel to the book's plot I almost lost everything. I walked into the kitchen and found it awash with water - one of my house mates had run a bath upstairs then completely forgot about it - the bath overflowed, water poured through the ceiling into the kitchen beneath, the table was drenched, my drawings were soaked. This in itself wasn't quite as much of a disaster as it sounds - indian ink is waterproof after all, but my flatmate had compounded the problem by pinning each wet drawing to the washing line with rusty old clothes pegs, which made horrible indelible brown marks and ripped the sodden paper.
|The hotel ablaze|
So, many of the drawings were re-drawn from scratch, some of them several times, with time running out I finished the book in the much safer and more comfortable environment of my parent's house in Norwich. But eventually all was done, the artwork was delivered.
|Rescuing a surviving horse from the mud|
This book was a major watershed for me (excuse the pun!). With the painful experience of my own little disaster in the kitchen flood I was desperate to find somewhere else to work, so straight after completing the artwork for A Canoe in the Mist
I joined with my old friend, designer Andy Royston and co-founded Facade Art Studios in Crouch End, right next to the library that had been so helpful in my research.
|Sophia addresses the survivors. This was the finished version intended for the book, but a mix-up led the designer to use an inferior preparatory version instead! |
Looking back at the drawings now they're clearly an early work with some rough edges, also there were a couple of slips by the designer too - one drawing was reproduced back-to-front, in the case of another an inferior first version was printed instead of the intended drawing. Were I to illustrate the book again now I'd handle some drawings differently, and I certainly would not have given the art director more than one version of each drawing! But these were learning times, I was just beginning to find my feet as an illustrator, and to this day I'm proud of my involvement with the book, and the writer. A Canoe in the Mist
was re-issued by Collins
in their Modern Classics series in 2005, though, due to constraints of the series, sadly without any illustrations.
|The families struggle through a deluge of mud|
Interestingly, though the Pink and White Terraces were thought to be utterly destroyed and the area left largely uninhabitable, in 2011 parts of the Pink Terraces were re-discovered
still in existence, hidden under thick layers of mud.
|The final illustration - escape through a devastated landscape|
And there lies a strange parallel - I assumed my old drawings for the book had also been lost long ago, but recently was amazed to discover them in my dad's loft, including some sketches and alternative versions that never made it into the final book. So for those who don't know A Canoe in the Mist
, or may only have read the unillustrated Collins Classic edition, here they are!
By Mark Alan Stamaty
Published 1973 by Dial Press, reprinted 2003 by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
At first glance, the answer to this book’s title is pretty clear. Because, everybody.But do you know this book? When I mention it to someone, I either hear about their favorite jelly donut (the one with strawberry), or they lose their sprinkles over the magnificence of this screwy tale.
The simplicity of the setup:
Sam lived with his family in a nice house.
He had a big yard and lots of friends.
But he wanted donuts, not just a few but hundreds and thousands and millions — more donuts than his mother and father could ever buy him.
Finally one day he hopped on his tricycle and rode away to a big city to look for donuts.
The scattered spectacle of the scene, a commotion in black and white. On those initial pages alone:
A bird in swim trunks
A roof-mowing man
A chimney blowing ribbons
A man in the window reading a newspaper with the headline, Person Opens Picture Book Tries to Read the Fineprint
And a cinematic, get-ready-for-your-close-up page turn. (Be sure to look closely in the blades of grass.)There’s almost a calm in the chaos. It’s regular and rhythmic and pandemonium and patterned all at once. Perfect for a story that’s a little bit bonkers and a whole lot of comfort.
So. Then what?The relative calm of Sam’s neighborhood yields to an even madder and mayhem-ier sight.
Then Mr. Bikferd and his wagon of donuts shows up.
And a Sad Old Woman. And Pretzel Annie.
Sam continues to collect donuts. Stocks and piles of donuts.A wagon breaks. A repairman helps. A love story. Abandonment.
(A fried orange vendor. A bathing zebra. Rollerskates. A Sad Old Woman.)
Who needs donuts when you’ve got love?When Sam rides home, the words that began his story are on the sidewalk. I get the shivers about that.
The starts of stories are carved in concrete.
P.S. – These pictures remind me a little of what I’m seeing for Steve Light’s new book, Have You Seen My Dragon? Check out this review where Betsy Bird notices the same, and this post at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, because it’s always a treat. I also think of the hours I’d spend as a kid studying each square centimeter of The Ultimate Alphabet. Like Waldo, but weirder.
Tagged: black and white
, mark allen stamaty
, who needs donuts?
|guess which one belongs with me ...|
If you know me, you are aware of the fact that I'm not much of a dancer. I think I missed that window, and now it's definitely too late...
But I've been doing my research, and I have a few dance illustrations in the works, just for fun.
I hope you are having some fun too, spring is coming!
It's been a while since my last post! In fact you may notice I've not blogged since the New Year, blimey, what's been going on?
Well the short answer is "work!". I usually write blog posts in two languages to go on separate English and Japanese language blogs, which can take up a chunk of time, so I took a tactical decision to stand back from blogging while I tackled more urgent matters. Other social media? Well, yes, to a point, but I've tried to keep my online activities short, sweet and quick. As some people read this blog from feeds on Facebook and Twitter I thought it would be quicker to just post occasional updates directly to those platforms, but it's not quite the same is it. Blogs are more personal, more of a journal, more themed. Earlier this year I posted daily sketches on Twitter and Facebook until work issues obliged me to stop that too - however sketches will return shortly!
Things have been very hectic. At the moment I'm working on a picture book for Holiday House in the US. It's my second collaboration with author Marion Dane Bauer, after the spooky Halloween Forest
. Though not a follow-up to that title at all, our new book has a somewhat complimentary rhythm.
Without giving too much away at this stage, I'll just say the book follows the journey of a bear, a child and various other animals through a late winter night, because, as the bear explains, "It is time..."
Time for what you ask? aha....
The title is Crinkle, Crackle, CRACK!
Right now I'm painting the spreads, here are some scans of the pen work before colouring.
My daughter has been looking forward to this day for a long time. Although I do believe it has more to do with her appreciation of pie than her love for math; her teacher promised to bake a pie for the student who memorizes the highest number of digits in PI. (more than 90 at last count!)
So here is my contribution:
I've been meaning to practice my hand lettering skills...
A lot of things are in the works around here, even if this space is rather quiet.
This is a rough sketch for an assignment I'm very excited about. I get to do the cover and interior black and whites for a rather intriguing chapter book - I'll tell you more when it comes out.
HoHoDooDa ~ My schedule says “No No No! My pencil says “yes, yes, yes! Persistant pencil….
Maybe a few in between packages, boxes and bags.
She didn’t hear the click clack of the lock, nor did she hear the munching of the last piece of Mama Camain’s pie as Papa hungrily gobbled it up.
And there you have it! Thirty days of SkADaMo and thirty days of Picture book ideas with PiBoldMo
This has been a very worthwhile experience to participate in. I now have 30 ideas, some good, some not so much, but none the less they are mine to work on and grow into full fledged stories!
And so they arrived at the fay do do, over to Maman Caiman’s house. Each bringing with them, something to share. They ate till their bellies were full and they make the veiller. So much fun!
But Maman was worried, she hadn’t heard from Papa since last he left on his trip to N’awlins.
“Merci pour m’svoir aide! We’re so happy you came! She said at their guest prepared to leave.
“Merci to you, Maman Caiman!” I hope you’ve saved some pie for Papa!