Sunday, February 22, 2015

Unit 77 sketches

While I am working away on the art for last Icky Ricky book, I’ve been spending a good amount of time trying to figure out what to do next.  One of the things I’ve been interested in is something that is true sci-fi.  I’ve always loved science fiction, and have gone through phases where I’ve read a ton of it.  But as much as I love something like Star Wars, I’m really interested in “hard” sci-fi.  I don’t want to read about magic, and I don’t think I could tolerate another story where there is a “chosen one.”

I’ve been messing around with a character called "Unit 77" who is a clone.  He’s been created to do one certain job, but he thinks that there has to be more to life…

That’s the short version of it.  I’ve been sussing out other characters, and locations, and how the stories would move.  Right now, I’m thinking about it as a graphic novel series, or possibly illustrated chapter books.  I’m not sure.  It’s still pretty early in the idea stages.

As I have said in other posts, I do believe that when one has an idea, it is good to make it concrete, and to get it out there in some way.  It becomes real.  I also feel that if I post these conceptual stages on my blog, I really force my self to keep thinking about the idea.

Here are just a few “Unit 77” sketchbook pages.  Mad Max made his way into the last one, but I guess I lose some street cred because he’s driving on the wrong side.  I kept that sketch in there because it also shows a bit of my process.  I spend a good deal of time trying to remember what got me excited about drawing and story telling when I was young.  I haven’t lost any interest in these pursuits at all, its just that I like trying to get back to creative ground zero every now and then, and see if there’s something there that I have yet to explore.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Astronaut #19, and more

My "50 Astronauts" continues to roll along with no end in sight. It's really just a place for me to try out new things.  I'm really happy I found this guy who was lurking in one of my sketchbooks.

Below is a drawing of a kid named "Worm" that is the star of something I've been playing with forever.  Here he is, lost many years in the future, trying to explain Rock'n'Roll to a robot, and extolling the virtues of "The Modern Lovers."

Monday, February 2, 2015

Awards...and not winning...

Congrats to the mighty Dan Santat on his Caldecott Medal for "Beekle."

Days like today are hard for most writers and illustrators.  We are happy to see our friends win, but I'm sure that the thought of "Why didn't I win?" goes through everyone's mind.  For me, I know it's no longer a jealous, or angry thought, but more of a clinical, academic thought.

What does the winner do better than me?

What skills does he posses that I don't?

Is it the technique being rewarded, or the content of the image?

Are people impressed with the technical accomplishment of the drawings, or the emotional weight that an image can carry?

Why do some books affect readers more than others?

Is there a style that is currently popular?

Hopefully, one can learn from theses questions, as tough as some of the answers might be.  The other thing that has always made me feel less grumpy on a day like today is numbers.  Thousands of picture books were published this year.  Only a few will win awards.

The truth is, I haven't even released a picture book since 2010's "Furious George Goes Bananas." I wasn't even in the running. I have been working on a few ideas, but haven't been able to find the time to really flesh them out.  Between the Icky Ricky books, and the Fangbone! tv work,  and school visits, I'm plenty busy.

This is a cover sketch/idea for one of my new stories.  Excuse me while I go think...