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1. Gen Con Wrap Up

This time last week the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis was jammed full of 60,000+ gamers and I was happy to be among them.


I haven’t attended “The Best Four days of Gaming” in over a decade and was delighted to see how it had grown in numbers of attendees and game companies. Our family loves to play board games and I was delighted that there were so many to choose from. (We’ve been playing Rumble in the Dungeon every day since our return home).


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I created all sorts of new gaming goodies to feature at my booth along with copious amounts of REALMS.


I was thrilled to reunite with old fans an meet new ones, drawing and signing hundreds of books, prints and portfolios over the four days.



Below are some photo highlights from the DiTerlizzi booth:

FullSizeRender(1)That’s me and Jim Ludwig (owner of Dark Sword Miniatures) geeking out over Jessica Rich’s painted samples of the “DiTerlizzi Masterworks” mini line, scheduled for release this fall. I can’t wait to game with these little guys!

IMG_2623 Cosplayer Clare came dressed as the “Portrait of a Young Tiefling” complete with pet Displacer Beast! The tag on his collar revealed his name as “Thaco”. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

IMG_2658Speaking of cool stuffies, Angela purchased this Owlbear muppet for me from the folks at The Puppet Forge. It is two of my favorite things mashed together in one awesome ball of dyed fleece and fake fur.

IMG_6347 We had plenty of visitors at our booth, including this Drow Elf. I had no idea my books were popular in the Underdark.


This Shambling Mound (or is it Swamp Thing?) shuffled over to say hi to Ang. (There was no fire at our booth so he felt comfortable.)


While we are talking of monsters, this is Tim Beach. He was the Project Developer at TSR responsible for hiring me to work on the AD&D Monstrous Manual back in 1993. A book which certainly changed the course of my career as an illustrator.


…and here’s another person who changed my career. This is Peter Adkison, founder of Wizards of the Coast and publisher of the card game, Magic: the Gathering.


This is David LaForce, also known as “Diesel”. He’s helped run the Gen Con Art Show for years and is one of the original illustrators for Dungeons & Dragons. Here’s a favorite from the AD&D Dungeonmaster’s Guide:


Not all visitors were necessarily game designers. Here’s Holly Conrad (“Commander Holly”) getting her copy of The Planewalker’s Handbook signed while I flip over her Lady of Pain tattoo:


In fact, there were a few tattoos that were shared at our booth. Holly’s Lady of Pain brought out longtime fan, Ian’s:


…which inspired another fan to show off her AD&D sylph (from my rendition in the Monstrous Manual):


My favorite tat was displayed on another longtime DiTerlizzi fan, Randy, who has been rocking this Mr. Moon from Jimmy Zangwow since the book was published in 2000!


I was honored and humbled by the many visitors to our booth who came by to shake my hand and share thier stories. By far, my favorite visitors for Gen Con this year were these two guys:


The fella on the right is Rob, whom I have known since 2nd grade. He loaned me his AD&D Monster Manual back in 1982 to copy pictures from and we often hung out and painted minis while obsessing over all things D&D. The guy in the middle is Mike. He encouraged me back into gaming and to send samples to TSR back in 1992. I dedicated REALMS to both of them and was super-psyched to have them join me at Gen Con–for their first time!


Many thanks to the organizers of Gen Con for having me back and featuring me as Guest of Honor. It was an amazing moment for me, Angela and my friends. For those who traveled far to visit us, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those who could not attend, we are working on offering some of the overstock at an online store. I’ll post news of it once we sort it out. In the meantime, I’m off to another round of Rumble in the Dungeon.

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2. Gen Con is Next Week!

The Gen Con game fair begins next week and I am as excited as a halfling in a dragon’s hoard.

As mentioned earlier, I haven’t attended this gaming convention in over a decade. So I am thrilled to be returning as the Artist Guest of Honor where I will be exhibiting in a dedicated booth, presenting a slideshow and holding a drawing workshop. What has me bouncing like a beholder is celebrating the release of REALMS with fans who have supported me from the beginning of my career.


To celebrate we are giving away 50 signed “Borderlands Kobold” prints each day. One print per person, no purchase necessary.

REALMS limited

Along with the trade and limited “Critical Hit” edition of the book (shown above), I am offering special items that can only be purchased at Gen Con. Being a fan and collector of many artists myself, I created goodies I thought you’d want to own in your collection, such as:

PC Sheets

Player Character Record Sheets, which I have created before (and offer as a free download), however; these are a newly designed layout with new characters and a short backstory prompt for each persona. If that were not enough, all twenty of the characters featured in this pack will also be available as a miniature this fall from Dark Sword Miniatures.

DSM Banner

Speaking of miniatures, Dark Sword will showcase the DiTerlizzi Masterworks line at their booth and have a selection of minis for sale. You can find them at booth#1036.


I’ll have plenty of signed “Vintage” DiTerlizzi Prints of your favorite images from Planescape, Changeling and Magic the Gathering. All are digitally printed from new high-resolution scans on 11×14 natural white Bristol board.


For players of Magic the Gathering, I have three different 14×24 Magic Playmats featuring art from the years that I contributed to the game. The “Gen Con Edition” mat is limited to 50 and will only be available at my booth during the convention.

Bag of Holding

For you fellow old school D&D players, I’ve created a Bag of Holding. This lined 6×8 pouch keeps your lucky dice or cards safe from goblin pickpockets.


Portfolio 2

One of my favorite newly created items is a 1970’s, Frazetta-inspired 11×14 portfolio of 10 pen & ink Dungeon Drawings. This edition of 200 is printed on heavy Canson paper and is signed and numbered. It includes new artwork as well as art featured in REALMS.

We’ll also be offering a pack of DiTerlizzi Stickers and, yes, vintage Original Art from Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. Below is the full price list of my Gen Con pop-up shop (click image to enlarge):


Of course I will sign any books, games and cards that you bring from your collection.

I’ll see you in Indy!

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3. DiTerlizzi Masterworks Miniature Line

To say that this year has been this nerd’s dream-come-true would be an understatement. If a collection of my Dungeons & Dragons artwork wasn’t enough, I am totally geeking out right now as I announce a line of gaming miniatures–based on my designs–which will be available this fall.


Miniatures have been one of my favorite aspects of the role-playing game hobby. I remember middle school nights at a friend’s house listening to Thomas Dolby while I brushed globs of Testor’s model paint on tiny lead warriors, wizards and monsters.


When I came into gaming in the early 80’s, Grenadier Models was the producer of official Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. (For those who have no idea what I am talking about, miniature metal soldiers–representing your character, adventuring party and monsters that you encounter–are often used to aid in visualizing a scenario in the game.) Part of the fun is browsing the gaming aisle in a hobby shop to find just the right miniature to represent your player-character and then painting it in whatever colors you deem appropriate. The whole experience makes you feel like one of the gods toying with the fate of mortals in 1981’s Clash of the Titans.


Miniatures (minis) in games have been around for a long time, often as a key component in military and war games. Since D&D has its roots in those sorts of games it comes as no surprise that they would become a major aspect in the earliest versions of the game. As many may know, toys were often used before a miniature existed.


After I graduated from art school and began playing D&D again. I collected and painted miniatures (then made by Ral Partha Enterprises) for our ongoing campaign. The detailed, ofttimes exaggerated, sculpts inspired my art samples that I submitted to TSR.

Over the years that I contributed art to TSR’s various games, many of my designs were used as the basis for official D&D minis. From Dragon Mountain to Planescape, I loved seeing my two-dimensional drawings come to life in (lead-free) pewter. At the Gen Con game fair I would stop by Ral Partha’s booth to marvel at their latest miniature masterpieces and gush over the sculptors who had conjured them from putty.



In laying out REALMS: The RPG Art of Tony DiTerlizzi I photographed some of those old minis to be included in the book. I learned that the Planescape figures had become highly coveted by collectors as they were some of the last miniatures produced by Ral Partha before the company lost the D&D license from Wizards of the Coast (who had purchased TSR in the late 1990’s). Although I came close to producing my own line of miniatures back in 2001 with sculptor Geoff Valley (Anyone remember Smug?) my children’s book career took off and little metal figures became a part of my past.


…until Jim Ludwig, owner of Dark Sword Miniatures, contacted me last year. Jim heard that I loved minis and had been collecting the old Grenadier figures from my youth. He asked if I would license my art for a line of miniatures named after me. How could this 12 year-old say no?


We combed through my archives and plucked favorite drawings of player characters and monsters. Jim hired the best sculptors in the industry: Tom Meier (one of the founders of Ral Partha) and Dave Summers, who had sculpted many minis based on my art way-back-when. We used old favorite designs, like Harvey Masher “Kobold Killer”, and new designs drawn just for the collection.



The entire line of the “DiTerlizzi Masterworks” figures will be available this fall from gaming and hobby shops and through the Dark Sword Miniatures site. However, this week Jim is running a Kickstarter campaign and offering the entire collection at a significantly reduced cost. If you buy the core set at $100, the amount of figures you receive increases with each stretch goal he makes. Its a neat promotion to launch the collection.


Whether you’re a gamer, collector or hobbyist I hope you enjoy these minis as much as I do. And if this initial offering goes over well, I may just delve back into the planes for the second collection…


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4. (The Story of) The Story of Diva & Flea

I could tell you its been a crazy time in DiTerlizziland, but I think I’ve finally realized its always crazy time here.

I’ve come to lean on the convenience of social media for sharing Post-it notes and Polaroids of my news and information. I assume that is how most of us keep track of the things and people we like, myself included. That said, I will continue to maintain this blog, though in a sporadic meter. I have to seek out the small openings in my schedule where I can pause, take a breather and share what I’m up to.

I think I am actually busier now than during the peak-Spiderwick years. Many projects are percolating, which has me incredibly excited: Movies are slowly developing in the background, I’m creating a pop-up shop’s worth of merchandise for my upcoming return to Gen Con, and there is a constant stream of books being created (by Ang and me).


After finishing the WondLa trilogy (all of which are now in paperback), I needed a break from books that required both writing and illustrating. Fortune shined upon me: I was asked to write the picture book version of the original Star Wars films, curate my old gaming art for a published collection by Dark Horse Comics, and Mo Willems asked me to illustrate a chapter book he’d written during his year-long stay in Paris.

As an aside, just to keep it real, as I am listing the books in the previous sentence, I feel like I am writing a news report for another author/illustrator who is not me. I still see myself as a kid living in Florida who likes to draw and write bad poetry. You know, this guy:

Fifth grade

Mo was inspired by the building manager’s dog (Diva) and an alley cat (Flea) who frequented the apartment where his family lived. When we spoke, he told me that he envisioned my artwork paired with his words for The Story of Diva & Flea. I was beyond flattered and began sketching right away.

Early Sketch

After Mo returned to the states, we discussed books that felt similar to the book we were going to create. I shared my beloved copies Frog & Toad are Friends, Grasshopper on the Road and Little Bear–all of which are beautifully designed and use a limited three-color palette in the art. Of course the only way I could find the colors for the palette I needed was to pack up the family, hop on a plane, and visit the City of Lights.


As first-time visitors, we visited many landmarks in Paris (including the gargoyles of Notre Dame cathedral, seen above) but there are some moments that I’ll cherish. One was visiting Mo’s Parisian apartment and meeting the real Diva (seen here with her owner) and locating Flea.


At Mo’s suggestion we visited Sennelier art supply, opened in 1887 and renowned for their custom paints. It is said that Gaugin, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso frequented this shop. Gazing at the containers of old powdered pigments, I found the colors of France.


I returned from my trip invigorated and inspired. To see a glimpse of what an impact it had on me, I share with you the jacket art for Diva & Flea, done last fall primarily for the sales department and promotion of the book. This was created before I visited Paris:


…and this is the final cover, revised after my return:


Not only did I gain an understanding of the palette of the city, I gained understanding of the inspirations behind the characters as well. Though I changed Diva’s breed from Yorkshire Terrier to a West Highland Terrier–in order to create visual contrast between her and Flea–her personality, her essence, was in my art.


My usual shared advice for young artists is to find reference for whatever they are trying to create. For this book, the reference came in all sorts of ways: colors, architecture, character design, landmarks, etc. For me, this immersion helped me craft a genuine cohesive look to the book. I am grateful to Mo for inviting me along for this experience.

POSTER final art

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5. Summer Events

This weekend I hop aboard a Rebel Cruiser and zoom off to Anaheim, California for the STAR WARS: Celebration.


I’ll be speaking on a panel Saturday talking STAR WARS with some other great authors. Here are the details:

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM PT
“New Adaptations of the Star Wars Saga”
Hear how the classic Saga comes to life through adaptations by these bestselling children’s book authors: Tom Angleberger, Alexandra Bracken, Tony DiTerlizzi and Adam Gidwitz.

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM PT
Mysterious Galaxy, Booth #960
Signing for Tony DiTerlizzi of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight.

Of course you can bring additional books, cards and games which I will be happy to sign for you.

This event is the first of many that I will be attending this summer in continued support for my STAR WARS picture book as well as the release of REALMS: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi (due out in June). Listed below are my confirmed dates, with more to be added this fall.

May 2, 2015
“Why We Write Middle Grade”
Panel discussion with Jeanne Birdsall
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Amherst, MA

May 14, 2015
Inspired by: Tony DiTerlizzi
StarStruck Theater
Stuart, FL

May 27–29, 2015
Jacob Javits Convention Center
New York City, NY

June 20, 2015
REALMS Book Launch
Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main Street
Alhambra, CA

June 25–30, 2015
ALA Annual Conference
Moscone Center
San Francisco, CA

July 9–12, 2015
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA

July 30 – August 2, 2015
GEN CON Game Fair
“Artist Guest of Honor”
Indiana Convention Center
Indianapolis, IN

October 8–11, 2015
Jacob Javits Convention Center
New York City, NY

I hope you can make it to one of these events. I shall see you this summer!

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6. Gen Con Artist Guest of Honor

Its been over a decade since I attended the biggest gaming convention in the country, but this summer I am thrilled to be returning to one of my most favorite cons of all.

Gen Con was where I got my start as an illustrator. The first one I attended was back in 1993 and it totally blew my mind. Look at the size dice they use:


Throughout the 1990’s Angela and I attended the con every year to celebrate gaming, meet with fans, and have an all-around great time.


By 2003, I was mostly out of the gaming industry, so it was my swan song appearance. However, it was there that we launched a series of middle-grade books call The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black (seen left, below…and as a pinup model above my noggin).


With the upcoming release of REALMS, I had the perfect excuse to return. I was delighted and honored to hear that the organizers chose me to be the Artist Guest of Honor. So, I’ll be doing a couple of presentations on art as well as a drawing workshop! Of course, I’ll sign whatever you bring (just don’t bury me with 9 million Magic cards).


I’ll have more Gen Con news throughout the spring. Hopefully I shall see you in Indy!

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7. Rolling the Dice One More Time (Part I)

Its been some time since I’ve blogged, mostly because the fall and holidays had me busier than ever.

I traveled to many book festivals, book fairs and cons to promote my picture book retelling of the original Star Wars trilogy, The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. At every venue, I enjoyed bonding with my fellow Star Wars nerds. Like many, I am excited for the new film this year. I’ve only watched the trailer and avoided all possible articles/theories/leaks/spoilers in hopes of being surprised, entertained and thrilled once again.


In between touring I managed to work on some new drawings and paintings for the upcoming book, Realms: The Roleplaying Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi. Though this book collects many favorite images from my years as an artist for RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, Planescape and Magic: The Gathering, it also showcases unpublished work and new art.

I’ve sketched from the realm that started my career a number of times over the past years. Usually, these minor excursions are warm-up exercises in preparation for big illustration jobs, like illustrating an entire Spiderwick or WondLa book. For Realms, I was finally able to officially add some favorite monsters, wizards and damsels to my drawing schedule.

Below are some pen & ink illustrations I rendered over a two-week period while on vacation in Florida this past summer. I was resting after the Battle for WondLa tour and found drawing these D&D-inspired scenes quite relaxing. All 15 images were drawn from my imagination, with minimal photographic reference. Most of them started as a thumbnail doodle on the back cover of the bristol board pad that I drew them on.

Vacation sketches

All were sketched with a #2 Ticonderoga pencil and inked with a Pilot Precise V5 micro ball pen on Strathmore vellum bristol board. Here are some favorites that will be included in Realms:


“First Level”, Vacation Drawing No. 3


“Shadow Fiend”, Vacation Drawing No. 4


“Fantastic Fungus”, Vacation Drawing No. 5


“High Dexterity”, Vacation Drawing No. 9. I believe Eva Nine was still on my mind when I drew this elf facing off with a hill giant.

IMG_8787“Player Character of Questionable Alignment”, Vacation Drawing No. 10. I’ve since named this fellow Hans the Loner (after Han Solo).


“Eye of the Beholder”, Vacation Drawing No. 15.

Also, while on vacation. I sketched up several ideas for finished paintings that would make a nice finale to the book. But more on that next time…


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8. STAR WARS Reviews and Interviews

The celebration for last week’s release of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight continue with an interview, an essay and a review.

SWdotCom page

Here’s the link to my Star Wars dot com essay.

…and an interview over at Yahoo Movies.

…and lastly a review in the Wall Street Journal.


Many thanks to my fellow Jedi who came out to support me at the launch party at Odyssey Books as well as ‘Star Wars Reads Day’ at New York City’s Books of Wonder. Here’s some snaps (courtesy of my loverly wife, Angela):




Darth Vader ALWAYS gets his book.

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9. USA TODAY Interview

USA TODAY: October 2nd, 2014: ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is retold in new kids’ book


Tony DiTerlizzi’s 7-year-old daughter Sophia already is a huge Star Wars nerd, and he’s getting ready to spread the love to a whole new generation of fans.

The children’s picture book The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (out Tuesday) kicks off a new series of Star Wars books from Disney Publishing for the younger set. Older sci-fi geeks will love it, too, because it retells George Lucas’ original Star Wars movie trilogy using the artwork of conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie.

McQuarrie, an Oscar-winning illustrator who also worked on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the original Battlestar Galactica, was one of the first artists tapped by Lucas in the mid-1970s to begin visualizing what his Star Wars universe would look like.

“It’s such a great experience to look into that process of visualizing this world that we all know and love so much as it was being formed,” says DiTerlizzi, 45, the author, artist and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles series with Holly Black. He will appear at New York City’s Books of Wonder on Oct. 11 for the third annual Star Wars Reads Day, and DiTerlizzi also is on a Star Wars/Star Trek panel at New York Comic Con Oct. 12.

The writer talks with USA TODAY about working on the new book, McQuarrie’s influence and how today’s generation connects with Star Wars differently than his did.

…Read the complete interview, as well as watch an exclusive video, at USA TODAY.

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10. New York Comic Con, Star Wars Reads and Additional Fall Events

Next week is the release of STAR WARS: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. To celebrate, I’ll be doing events in my hometown, New York City, Boston, Austin and Miami.

Along with some familiar faces from “a galaxy far, far away”, I’ll be presenting and signing at my favorite hometown indie bookstore, The Odyssey Bookshop. Space is limited, so you’ll need to RSVP sooner than later. If you cannot make it the shop can take your order and ship a signed book to you.

From there, I’ll zoom down New York for NY Comic Con where the STAR WARS fun continues. As well, I am signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth and giving out a FREE promotional print for my upcoming book, REALMS: The Role Playing Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi. Here’s the New York Comic Con schedule:


Autographing: Promotional Print for “REALMS: The RPG Art of Tony DiTerlizzi”
Saturday 12PM – 12:50 PM, Dark Horse Booth

This image of a classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons kobold marks a return to my roots as an illustrator for the beloved roleplaying game. Along with collecting my artwork from Planescape, Changeling and Magic the Gathering, REALMS will also feature a series of new paintings of some of my favorite monsters and characters from the game that started it all. We’ll be giving out this 12×18″ print FREE at the Dark Horse Comics booth, so come on by!


Sunday 11AM – 11:45 AM ET, Room 1A18

Conflicts in galaxies far far away have entertained us since the dawn of science fiction, but it we owe it to Star Trek and Star Wars helped to bring science fiction to the forefront of pop culture. Tony DiTerlizzi (The Adventure of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight), Jack Campbell (The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword), Karen Bao (Dove Arising), Tony Abbott (Copernicus Legacy: The Serpent’s Curse), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14), Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam (Etherworld) discuss skiffy upbringings and these two influential classics. A formal autographing will take place immediately after the panel at Table 19 in the autographing area.


While in New York City, I’ll be participating in “Star Wars Reads Day” at Books of Wonder along with some other notable Jedi, including Tom Angleberger.

Saturday, October 11th, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Join us for this spectacular event in a galaxy far, far away…

TOM ANGLEBERGER Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Origami Yoda #6)
TONY DiTERLIZZI The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight
PABLO HIDALGO for Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero
MICHAEL KOGGE for Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels
MATTHEW REINHART for Star Wars: A Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy

Later in the month, I’ll be attending several book festivals, including:

Boston Book Festival
Saturday, October 25th, 12:30 – 1:00 PM ET

First Church of Boston Auditorium
66 Marlborough St.
Boston, MA 02116

* I will be pre-signing books at 11:30 AM prior to my presentation

Texas Book Festival
Sunday, October 26th, 2:45 – 3:30 PM CT

The Capitol, Extension Room E.2.028
1100 Congress Avenue, Between 11th and 12th Streets
Austin, TX 78701

*I shall be signing at the book signing tent immediately following my presentation.

Miami Book Fair
November 21-23rd

Angela and I will both be presenting and signing at this favorite Florida fair. Look for schedule and details soon.

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11. 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:


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


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.

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12. 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.


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.


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.


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


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:


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.


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).


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).


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.


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.


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.


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):


…or one of the puppets from Beetlejuice:


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?)


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:



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.


…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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13. Comic Con 2014 Schedule

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



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.


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!


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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14. 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!


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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15. 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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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



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



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!


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



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,



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



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




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


Keep dreaming, keep drawing.

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16. 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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17. 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.


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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18. 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.


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:


…and another, 10 years later, from 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.


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.


…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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

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19. The Adventures of Luke Skywalker

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


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.


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.


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)


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.


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


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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20. 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.


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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21. 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.


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 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


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


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22. 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.


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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23. 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.


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.


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24. 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.


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.


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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25. 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:


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


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.”



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.”


Debra Scherban can be reached at [email protected].

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