Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fangbone! makes the cut!

Fangbone! is one of only nine comic books (graphic books) that the New York Public Library has chosen for its "Children's Books: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2012" list.  I'm really glad they see more than the booger jokes in it!

NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A real live Fangbone!

At a recent school visit, I was told that one of the students had come dressed as Fangbone! for Halloween! And here he is!  Awesome!  I think that my favorite part is the hair!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NJASL Conference

I will be appearing at the NJASL Conference tomorrow, November 30.  I will be talking about my school visits, selling books, and raffling off this original Fangbone! sketch.  See you at the shore!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Better than video games!

As I said in my last post, I usually don't make this stuff public, but this came in the other day and really touched me!  When people take the time to reach out and share their experiences with my books, it reminds me of why I do this, and keeps me going late at night.

"Good evening.  I am the parent of a child with high functioning autism who immerses himself exclusively in video games for entertainment.  Last night we had a long talk about other things we can do to fill his time and I suggested he read more.  Today, we went to the library.  He was unenthusiastic.  He has read all the graphic novels for his age and cognitive development level.   Then we discovered Fangbone.  He could not put it down!  What a shame the library has only the first book in the series (Something I intend to remedy right away).   This book was exactly what he needed!   It made his first day of limited tech time so enjoyable.    Thank you, thank you, thank you.   Keep writing!   You have a devoted fan club."

Monday, November 12, 2012

"I Really Like This Book!"

Every now and then I get a letter that really makes me happy.  This showed up just a few minutes ago, and it was a great way to end the day.

"I really didn't want this to be another "thanks for getting my kid to read" email, however, it is just that!!  I have searched for quite awhile to find a book to get my son to read.  He is in 5th grade and cognitively delayed and only reading at about a 4th grade level.  He got "Fangbone" at the Scholastic book fair and I figured it would be like the 203,904,738,994,001 books I have bought and be something he carried around but never really read.  Tonight, he not only actively read during his reading homework time, but kept stopping to say, "I really like this book!!"  He is now telling me how he needs more of these books for Christmas!!  I told him I would be more than happy to get them for him sooner than that.....however, he reminded me we don't get fun stuff this close to Christmas!!
Thanks Again!!
A very happy Mom!"

I'll sleep well tonight.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Icky Ricky ARC

A few days ago I a copy of my "Icky Ricky" ARC.  An ARC is an "Advance Reading Copy" and is essentially a test run of the book.  It's on cheaper paper, and there will usually be tweaks to the text and art before the final book off is sent to to be printed.  The ARC is also used so that marketing can get a sense of the book, and have something to show while selling it. Ricky is a much longer piece of writing than I have ever done.  Each page has art, along with a paragraph or two.  The book is 124 pages, and will be out in May of 2013.  Random House is publishing it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Summer Sketchbook

I was just putting away a sketchbook that I had finished up over the summer, and I had remembered a question that a student had asked me during a school visit.  He wanted to know what kinds of things I keep in my sketchbook, and I had told him that I keep quick drawings of real things...(Here's some chairs and umbrella at the local swim club.)

More involved drawings of real things...(He's our tote bag filled with things to use at the swim club.)

Drawings of imaginary things...(Some goofy monsters for a picture book I'm thinking about.)

Notes and little drawings about stories I am working on...(Some ghouls and text ideas for a zombie book I'm trying to figure out.)

And sometimes I simple just use the pages for writing...(Some dialog/text from another story that I am trying to work through.  Good luck reading that chicken scratch.)

Monday, September 24, 2012


I was looking at some of my stats and realized that I hadn’t been blogging nearly as much as I had last year.  In truth, I’ve been very busy with writing, drawing and visiting schools.  I thought I’d do one big post to talk about Fangbone.

Books #1 and #2 came out in January, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Book #1 tells the story of how Fangbone comes to our world, and makes friends with Bill, and how he deals with the day-to-day life of a third grader.  Fangbone is determined to build his own army, and at the same time, he is taught the ways of “Bean Ball” and helps his class out in a pinch. 

Book#2 is about a mysterious egg that arrives from Fangbone’s world with instruction for hatching.  Bill, Fangbone, and all of the other kids in their class join in to take care of the egg, in hopes that it’s a dragon.  The class is also preparing for an “Extinction Pageant,” and their entry, The Dodo Bird, doesn’t quite make the grade.

Book#3 came out in August, and features Bill having a curse put upon him.  The curse ensures his doom at the hands of a giant beast called “The Crusha.”  Fangbone and Bill are also preparing their entry in the school’s “Invention Convention,” and hatch a plan to trick the monster, and get a good grade on their invention at the same time.

I designed Fangbone! for boys, and especially boys who hate to read.  I knew I had done my job when I started getting letters like this… “Then this week he came home with Fangbone. Well, my son was so excited to read, and I was so interested we read it together. Thank you for getting my son to read a book. The librarian is new and I found out she is starting a graphic novel section.  I think she found and saved Fangbone for my son!”

Below are some reviews from around the web...

Currently, there are plans for more Fangbone!  but I can’t talk about them until contracts are signed.  So there will be more, but he just might be showing up in a different way.

I hope you take the time to read some of these reviews, and hopefully seek out a copy Fangbone! to read.  It’s available through all major chains, independent, and online stores!



"I would definitely invite Michael back to our school.  He was appealing to all grade levels K-5.  The way in which he kept students attention with interaction and participation, as well as his motivational presentations, was absolutely exhilarating!"

David Hamilton

Turnpike Elementary School
Troy, NY

Astronaut #14

While cleaning my studio I found this piece of marbled paper I made with some students during grad school.  I couldn't let it go to waste.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Last Kids on Earth

For a long time, I've wanted to do a book that would be about the last kids on earth.  It would be a sorta kinda like a cross between "The Road Warrior" and "Lord of the Flies."  But the kids would be clever, like "The Little Rascals," or even "The Magic School Bus" kids. And, it would have to be funny.  But that's where I keep hitting a wall.  How do I get rid of most of the people on earth, but still keep the laughs. It's not like I can just have some sort of vague apocalypse, and follow it with a rim shot just to keep people chuckling.

So right now, this "Last kids on Earth" thing is just a  notion.  Hopefully, the notion will  turn into an idea.  Then the idea will launch the story.  However, it is my firm belief that ideas have to catch you while you are working.  They won't come while sitting around, and they certainly won't come while sitting around trying to come up with an idea.

So, in the meantime, I draw.  I just get a sense of how this would look and feel.  I like some of these little warriors.  They look as if they could take on the world. And they may have to.  I don't know yet...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rock and Roll Mummies!

This is a spread from my next book "Icky Ricky," which comes out next year from Random House.  The boys have made themselves into toilet paper mummies, and then they start playing air guitar, which turns them into rock and roll mummies.  Of course.  The book goes back and forth between using word balloons, and traditional blocks of text.

Monday, August 13, 2012

D.C. Area Signing, August 18

On Saturday, August 18th, I will be signing books at Big Planet comics in Vienna, Virginia.  I'll be there from 11:00 to 1:00.

Later that day, from 3:00 to 5:00, I will be at another one of their stores in College Park, Maryland.

I'll be signing copies of Fangbone, and this original poster created just for the event.  Please tell anyone you know in the area who has kids who love to read!


For more information about Big Planet Comics, and directions to the store, please visit their site.  See you Saturday!---Mike

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fangbone #3, at a glance...

If you have ever wondered what an entire 128 page graphic novel looks like all laid out at once...here it is.  This as the artwork for Fangbone #3, except for the cover and title page.  Thanks to Mike Scowden for the great shot, and to the Leonia Recreation Center for letting us use the Teen Center room.  Fangbone #3 comes out on August 2.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Making a hot mess...

Right now, I'm working on the illustrations for my next series, “Icky Ricky” which comes out in 2013 from Random House.  For these books, I need lots of backgrounds that have sprays and drips and all kinds of messy looking bits of business.  I recruited my two sons, Declan and Gavin, who are good at making messes, to help me out with the process.  We used some traditional spray-paint, watered down acrylic, and even a bit of clean water to get things to drip.  We produced a pile of papers that I can scan and sample the best bits from. 

My favorite piece was created by laying down some rope on the paper, and my son Declan gently spray-painted over it, creating areas of different values and contrast.

Here’s one of the drawings from the book.  The background area uses parts of the rope painted paper.  The type for the word balloon will be added later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just for fun...

Sometimes I like to create work that doesn't have anything to do with my books. I don't want to have to worry about it selling, or whether or not it will be reviewed well. I just want to simply create without all of the other nonsense. I had a bunch of Benjamin Moore paint sample bottles siting around in my studio. I wanted to do something with them, but nothing had really clicked. Yesterday I found some old pieces of plywood, and I knew the paint samples would look nice on the wood. Right after the kids went to sleep, I started working, and this is what I ended up with. I'm pretty happy with it, and more importantly, I had fun doing it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Icky Ricky

While working on Fangbone, I've also been planning another series called "Icky Ricky." Random House will be publishing the books, and they are basically my answer to "Fancy Nancy," however, they are not parodies. This image is for the first book's cover. It's the first non-digitally colored piece I've done since 1997, and I'm really anxious about it. I wanted it to look loose, but not sloppy. I initially tried a photoshop colored version, but the whole "icky" thing didn't really come off too well. There's much more to the cover than this, and hopefully I can show that soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Astronaut #13

Wow. It's been over a year since I did my last astronaut. I hadn't planned this for the series, but it fits in well. This is a sketch of an idea that I have for a picture book. When I'm at this stage in developing a story, I like to do a quick piece of art to give me a concrete idea of what I am working on. I hope to do a "finish" of this soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A joke cut from Fangbone #3

One of the hardest things about writing a book like Fangbone is cutting gags that I love. This is one that was taken out at the very last minute because we needed to add some information that was important to the plot. And while I love this bit, I was worried that kids wouldn't know what a boil is, and the the whole joke would flop. Hopefully I can use this bit in the future.

The last few panels are blurry because they are still in the book and I don't want them spoiled.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bad Bill Bill

Sometimes when I have an idea for a story, I like to do a quick drawing of a character from the story so that I can make the image in my head more concrete. While this may look like a finished piece of art, it was only about 2 hours work so I consider it a sketch. I'm pretty happy with it, but it really is a first draft of an idea that can go much further. I also wanted to try a style that was much more bold and stripped down than I usually do. As far as specifics go, it was hand drawn with a brush pen, and color added in Photoshop.

The story is a western that features a bunch of fowl, and as I was drawing this bad guy a name for him came up..."Bad Bill Bill."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fangbone #1 in Scholastic Book Club

The April issue of the Scholastic Book Club flyer has Fangbone #1 in it. It's the "Lucky" edition, aimed at grades 2-3.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book #3 is done!

"Fangbone! The Birthday Party of Dread" is done! It will hit stores in August. This one's got some really odd stuff in it. I'm especially fond of the Bouncy Castle Monster! Just a note, the fonts in the above piece are not final.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Long Live Fangbone!

Here's a great review from the one and only Betsy Bird. She really gets Fangbone, and it always feels great when a reviewer sees your book the way you intended.

"Michael Rex has made a career of sorts out of spoofing classic children’s books of yore. As such, Goodnight Moon becomes Goodnight Goon, Runaway Bunny is Runaway Mummy and Curious George is the stellar Furious George Goes Bananas. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but parody ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Now Mr. Rex switches gears a little. You can go on spoofing picture books until the cows come home but why limit yourself? If you’re going to rework a classic go big or go home. Go for the gold. Take on a classic in the best sense of the term. You don’t need to have read Conan the Barbarian to enjoy Mr. Rex’s new graphic novel series Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian but knowing the books won’t hurt your appreciation either. Basically, if you’ve been waiting around for a series about third graders with swords and deadpan deliveries your prayers have been duly answered."

For the rest of the review visit School Library Journal/Fuse #8

Friday, February 10, 2012

I have a good job...

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a mother who said how much her son loved my book You Can Do Anything Daddy! He had found it in the library, but she wanted to get him his own copy. Sadly, it recently went out of print, and is no longer available. Anyway, I sent off a signed copy and today I received this photo. What a way to start the day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A monster review...

This review comes from a site called "Monsters and Critics" that reviews works that tend to have monsters in them. The site is well named.

From Monsters and Critics..."Eastwood Elementary has a new student, and he's nothing like the other kids in 3G. Fangbone is a barbarian warrior from another world! And he's been charged with the task of keeping a deadly weapon from Skullbania's vilest villain, Venomous Drool. Can Fangbone's new classmates team up to help him triumph over hound-snakes, lava-ferrets, and his first pop quiz?"

For the rest of the review, please visit Monsters and Critics

Friday, January 20, 2012

A review from a different perspective...

Here's another good review from a blog. This time, it comes from Gail Gauthier who is also an author. I like they way she clearly states what works for her, and why. I always appreciate when someone puts this much thought into a review. It's much more satisfying than a little blurb written by committee.

From Gail's blog, Original Content..."In Fangbone's barbarian world, he isn't taken seriously as a warrior because he's a child. He's enthusiastic but treated as a servant. He's ambitious, though, and plans to one day have his own army. When his leader is ordered by the clan master to send someone to another land to hide the big toe of Drool (what that's about is slowly revealed--no info dump at the beginning of the story), the older barbarians feel they are all too adept at fighting to leave the battle. So Fangbone volunteers to become the protector of the toe."

For the rest of the review, please visit Original Content

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another Blog Review

Here's another nice blog review, this time from BSCKIDS which covers all media aimed a teens and pre-teens. It's an interesting read, as I had no idea I had such big fans!

From BSC KIDS, "Hey wait, where is this package from? Hmm it is from someone’s home address, but it sure feels like a book. Return address – Michael Rex?? Oh come now, not Michael Rex New York Times Bestselling Author and favorite author of my children and wife? Why yes it is, and Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian has entered our house. So like I try to do I decided to let our 8-year-old son read the book first, but I was a close second finishing the book the day after he did."

For the rest of the review, please visit BSCKIDS

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fangbone Review

I'd like to thank Jen Robinson for the very positive and thoughtful review she posted a few days ago. I agree with her that the "lesson" element might be a bit clunky, and I wish that I had been able to make it blend more smoothly into the flow of the story.

But I also agree with her that it is "pure, boy-friendly fun."

From Jen Robinson's Book Page..."Fangbone: Third-Grade Barbarian launches an entertaining new graphic novel series for early elementary school kids. The premise is that Fangbone, a young boy from a primitive planet (where they happen to speak English), is sent via a wormhole of sorts to our world. Fangbone is tasked with laying low while protecting the all-important Big Toe of Drool. Told to blend in and not attract attention, Fangbone ends up in room 3G, a classroom full of misfits. But his enemies are not far behind... '

For the rest of the review, please visit Jen's extensive children's books site.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fangbone Book Trailer!

I want to thank my good friend Harry Costner (costnermedia@yahoo.com) for the music.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012! The Year of Fangbone!

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and at the same time I'd like to announce the publication of my two new graphic novels for elementary readers. "Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian!" and "Fangbone! The Egg of Misery!" will be available to purchase on Jan. 5th. You can find them at local bookstores, national chains, and your favorite online bookseller. You can also ask for them at your public library.

I've been working on this project for a while, and looks like I'll be spending another year or so completing books #3 (Fall 2012) and book #4 (2013). I'm really happy with these books and feel that they could really make some young readers very happy. I'll be posting a lot more about Fangbone this year.

Here's to a great 2012!