Showing posts with label children's book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children's book. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Rachelle Holloway

by Mike Rhode

DC Zinefest 2018 recently had a successful day out at Art Enables on Rhode Island Ave. I met at least six cartoonists who were new to me, and said hi to at least three I already know. (My photos are here). Rachelle Holloway, an illustrator and cartoonist, is the first to answer our usual questions.
What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I am currently a freelance illustrator for Mascot Books. I work on children's books and draw my own webcomic, A Little Dragon Trouble, on the side. When it comes to my own personal work, I love drawing fantasy and artwork with a Scandinavian feel to it.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Most of my work is done using the computer. But I also enjoy using traditional pen and ink. Sometimes I get tired staring at the computer screen, so drawing traditionally can be relaxing. I love painting with gouache and watercolor, and I also enjoy cut paper art.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the West Coast, mainly in San Diego, California and Washington State. That's where I call home.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

In 2014, I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.F.A in Animation. I mainly focused on 2D animation, but my primary focus and interest was Concept Art and Visual Development. I took one Sequential Art class while I was in college, but when it comes to comics, I am mostly self taught.

Who are your influences?

I have so many influences that I can't list them all. I find inspiration from everywhere and everyone! Here is a small list of people who influence my work: John Howe; John Bauer; Lorelay Bove; Brittney Lee

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

If I were granted a do-over, I may have studied Illustration or Graphic Design. I don't regret studying animation, in fact, it has helped me with the creative work I’m currently doing. But on the East Coast, I have discovered a lot of skills people are looking for in the creative industry are Typography, Web and Graphic design. But that hasn’t stopped me from pursuing that education. I just finished a Web Design class at Northern Virginia Community College, and am learning new skills to better myself as a creative professional.

What work are you best-known for?

I feel I am not really best-known for anything in particular yet. My Zine, My Dog is More Paranoid Than I Am, is my most popular comic. I'm also known for having a lot of Scandinavian/Viking artwork, which gets people’s attention.

What work are you most proud of?

I am personally most proud of my webcomic, A Little Dragon Trouble. For my Senior Film In college, I wasn't able to fully do what I wanted to do. So a few years later, I developed A Little Dragon Trouble. My webcomic has also helped me in so many other ways. It has helped me gain an audience. The visual development of the comic was recognized on Behance and featured on Small Press Expo's tumblr blog. It is because of this comic I am where I am today.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I would like to self publish my own picture book. After illustrating a kids book for an author, I was inspired to create a short story myself. I would love to have the time to illustrate and self-publish it. I also have many comic and story ideas written down, and would like to make them a reality.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

When I'm having writer’s block, I write down situations or events I don't want happening in my story. Sometimes it ends up being a good idea anyway. Another approach is don't think, just write! Even if you know it's bad. You can always go back and change it later.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I definitely see myself continuing being an illustrator and getting more requests from authors. But, I hope one day to be employed in the animation industry. But in the meantime, freelance illustration is what's keeping me going!

What local cons do you attend besides DC Zinefest? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I just started tabling for the first time in 2017. DC Zinefest was the first event I tabled at. I also tabled at Richmond Zinefest last year. I would love to attend larger cons such as Small Press Expo, but I want to have more work under my belt before I do that. It is a goal I am striving for.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I'm originally from the West Coast, so finding things to love about DC was a challenge when I first arrived. In 2016, I found out that DC has an amazingly open and welcoming sequential art culture. Everyone's work is so Indie and original, I love it! They are willing to express themselves and everyone supports each other. It's because of that culture I felt comfortable enough to start displaying my own work. DC has helped me grow as an artist, even though the artist culture is small. But that's what makes it so great!

How about a favorite local restaurant?

There's this wonderful place called the JINYA Ramen Bar in Fairfax, VA. I like to go there to celebrate the completion of large projects.

Do you have a website or blog? 

"A traditional ink trading card I sold at last years Richmond Zinefest."

Monday, February 13, 2017

New children's book from Cuddles and Rage (updated)

ComicsDC co-author has reminded me that HE interviewed Liz and Jimmy Reed (aka Cuddles and Rage)  before their new children's book came out.

Sweet Competition

About the Book

Liz and Jimmy Reed, the creators of the "Cuddles and Rage" webcomic, have whipped up a truly delectable picture book debut featuring the antics of competitive twin cherries who will do anything to outsweet…er, outsmart one another!
For this pair of twin cherries, everything is a competition. If Girl Cherry can swing higher, Boy Cherry will boast that he can swing lower. If one is smarter, then the other is cooler. So when they enter a contest to build the best dessert ever, they immediately pit themselves against each other. But when you're attached at the stem, there's only so much you can do on your own. Things could be easy as pie—so to speak—if they put aside their differences and join forces. Will Boy Cherry and Girl Cherry cream the competition by working together…or will one try to be the cherry on top?
With loveable characters and laugh-out-loud situations, Sweet Competition is the perfect addition to any child's bookshelf. After all, there's always room for dessert!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Children's comics received this winter

Here's some recent comics that we've received that aren't really for our audience, so we won't try to do an actual review. Several of these are reprints from England and won't be familiar to US audiences yet.  (Screen grabs, links and blurbs from Amazon but we don't take any money from them. Buy from your local store if you'd prefer)

by Neill Cameron
Scholastic Graphix
Want to have awesome ideas, every time? Feel like turning your ideas into amazing stories? And ever wish you could make your creations come alive with incredible artwork?

If any of these things sounded cool to you, then How to Make Awesome Comics is the perfect book to help you on your way to comics/cartooning genius. Let Professor Panels and Art Monkey take you through every step you'll need to be on your way!

From the very basics (coming up with your stories and characters, learning how to draw) to more advanced levels (making art and text work together well, what makes a good villain, creating your own books from paper), How to Make Awesome Comics is a comprehensive and can't-put-down guide for every burgeoning artist, all from the mind of accomplished comic book-maker Neill Cameron.

Evil Emperor Penguin: Book 1 (The Phoenix Presents)

by Laura Ellen Anderson

Scholastic Graphix

Far away in the icy wastes of Antarctica lives a warm and cuddly, kind-hearted penguin who only wants to do good in the world . . . NOT! This is no ordinary penguin. This is . . . EVIL EMPEROR PENGUIN! And he wants to take over the world!

Of course, every evil ruler needs a sidekick and a minion, and Evil Emperor Penguin is no different. That's why he has Number 8, a very polite and thoughtful octopus who knits, and Eugene, the incredibly cuddly abominable snowman who loves hugs.

Join this fearsome team of Evil as they try to take over the world--and obviously, destroy it--but get waylaid by evil cats, rogue farts, killer plants, and visiting sisters.

by Jamie Smart
Scholastic Graphix

Welcome back to the woods! It's a peaceful home, really, but wait . . .


It's Monkey in a hovercraft that fires lasers! And is that a kitten cannon and a Hamster Mobile too?

Join Bunny, Monkey, Skunky, Pig, and all the rest of the lovable and crazy characters from the first book, as science and nature fight again. There's all the same irreverent humor, bold and appealing art, and non-stop action, but this time with robotic worms, Trojan mooses, and lemony doomsday devices, of course.

It's the continuing battle between good and evil . . .

It's . . . Bunny vs. Monkey: Book Two!

by James Burks 
Scholastic Graphix

 It's been a long, crazy trip around the world. Now the duo is back in their beloved forest, and Bird wants to throw a party! But Squirrel isn't in the mood to celebrate. His house needs a good cleaning, the river has been dammed up by a pesky beaver, and the forest animals are jittery about a growing menace. Will the dam dry out the forest? Will the mysterious new danger ruin the party? Will Bird finally convince Squirrel to let go and just have a good time? Find out in their hilarious new adventure!

by Dav Pilkey
Scholastic Graphix

New from the creator of Captain Underpants, it's Dog Man, the #1 New York Times bestselling, crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!

George and Harold have created a new hero who digs into deception, claws after crooks, and rolls over robbers. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion are injured on the job, a life-saving surgery changes the course of history, and Dog Man is born. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound has a real nose for justice. But can he resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?

Dog Man Unleashed (Dog Man #2)

by Dav Pilkey 
Scholastic Graphix

 Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, is still learning a few tricks of the trade. Petey the cat is out of the bag, and his criminal curiosity is taking the city by storm. Something fishy is going on! Can Dog Man unleash justice on this ruffian in time to save the city, or will Petey get away with the purr-fect crime?

by Matt Groening

It’s a unanimous decision! These pulse-pounding stories and more featuring Matt Groening’s beloved first family of fun, the Simpsons, will have you rolling with the punchlines!
Go the distance with the Simpson family as they join everybody’s favorite moonraking megalomaniac, Hank Scorpio. for a globetrotting adventure that will not only take you around the world but into orbit around the Earth. And when the lovelorn losers of Springfield feel like throwing in the towel on romance, they pick themselves up off the mat and get an adrenaline rush by living life to the extreme! And as if Homer wasn’t already a glutton for punishment, watch him discover his killer instinct as he goes toe to toe with C. Montgomery Burns!

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives are not as sinister as they often they seem. One day June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June tries desperately to avenge her brother’s death. And the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the lengths their country will go to in order to keep its secrets.

After escaping from the Republic's stronghold, Day and June are on the run in Vegas when the country learns that their Elector Primo has died and his son has stepped in to take his place. They meet up with the rebel stronghold of the Patriots—a large organization straddling the line between the Republic and its warring neighbor, the Colonies—and learn about an assassination plot against the Elector. Using threats and blackmail to get what he wants, the Patriots' leader, Razor, convinces June to let herself be captured by Republic soldiers so she can win over the Elector and feed him a decoy assassination plan. But when June realizes that the new Elector is nothing like his father, she must work with Day to try to stop the Patriots' plot before Razor can fulfill his own devastating plans. The second book in the best-selling Legend trilogy comes to life in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

J. Robert Deans explains why he is Kickstarting a cow-in-space childrens book

by Mike Rhode
J. Robert Deans may be most familiar to the local community as a comic book store manager, but he's been working on a webcomic, and now has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a cartoony children's book about a cow in space. In the middle of that fundraising, he took the time to answer my usual questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Around the time my daughter was born, I started working in a comic shop in Springfield, the former NOVA Comics. After that closed, I worked for Game On Comics in Vienna. I’ve had a web comic for almost three years now, a weekly single-panel gag comic called “Crass Fed Comics,” which is mostly jokes and puns in cartoon form. I occasionally post other random pieces of art as well, larger pieces, longer comics, or stuff that doesn’t fit the theme. Last year I added a new comic, the monthly (soon to be bi-monthly) comic strip “The Adventures of Surf and Turf,” which features a cow and penguin hanging out on a farm…with puns. Lots of puns. Last year after being laid off from Game On, I had an idea based on a silly doodle I had done some time earlier, and that quickly became a picture book for kids, which has exploded into half a dozen book ideas, and “Crass Fed Kids” was born. The first book, Moo Thousand and Pun, is now being Kickstarted. Subsequent books may be as well, depending on the success of the first, which features a cow in space.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
I do have a tablet with the Manga Studio program on it. I use that to make corrections and add colors to art when necessary. (Moo Thousand was done this way, with letters also added digitally.) Most of the Crass Fed cartoons are black and white line art, but when I color I use technology. For the most part, I use pen and ink. I like drawing digitally, and I keep experimenting…but nothing can replace a pencil and a sheet of Bristol board.
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
I was born in the early 1970s, in South Carolina. Luckily, I escaped.
Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
When I was moving to go to college after a few years of working full time, my best friend tried to hook me up on a blind date with her friend. That Christmas, said friend sent me a card with her picture in it. A couple of weeks later we went on that date, and haven’t looked back. After I graduated I moved up here to the Springfield area to be with her. She’s a native to the area.
What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
None. And, to be honest, it shows. I have been drawing and doodling all my life, but I never took any formal classes. The past few years have been filled with several family tragedies, and drawing was an outlet to keep myself distracted. My position as a comics retailer afforded me many friends in the industry that have been very generous with their time and advice, and I have taken advantage of that.
Who are your influences?
Oy. A ton. It may not show up in my work at all, but artists like Will Eisner, Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr, Frank Robbins, Alex Toth, Paul Reinman, Martin Nodell, Carmine Infantino, Charles Schulz, they were all over the books I read as a child. And many more, to be sure.
Creators that could be considered contemporary to me would include Dave Stevens, Stan Sakai, Chris Samnee, Gabriel Hardman, Dave McDonald, Paul Smith, Frank Cho, Evan Shaner, Roger Langridge, Howard Chaykin, Kevin Maguire, George Perez…too many to really count. The late Mike Parobeck and Mike Wieringo remain favorites. And that doesn’t even include the writers.
The biggest outside influence on my work today is Stephan Pastis, the creator of “Pearls Before Swine,” who I am pretty sure is my spirit animal.
I have also amassed a wonderful core of friends who help me almost daily with their encouragement, advice, and talent, and make my life that much more enjoyable: Jamie Cosley, Tara O’Connor, Matt Wieringo, Drew Moss, Bob Frantz, Eryk Donovan, Hoyt Silva, Erica Schultz, and Steve Conley.
Clearly, my wife and daughter (who at times is a collaborator) are my biggest influences. I really just do what I do for them. The fact that others have enjoyed the result is gravy, and something I am always thankful for. I also have to acknowledge Francesco Francavilla and his wife Lisa, who was the final push for me to start Crass Fed, with an almost literal kick to the tuckus and a “go do it, ya dummy!”
If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
Start younger. A lot younger. I’m at an age when arthritis and vision problems set in (and they are). Plus, I would have started taking classes to improve my craft that much earlier.
What work are you best-known for?
Probably my penguin avatar. I drew it while I was in high school, and when I go to shows, once I tell folks I’m “that penguin guy,” they recognize me. Next would probably be the cows, which I draw for my daughter. Her favorite toy is a stuffed cow she has had since birth, and that cow is the star of Moo Thousand.
What work are you most proud of?
There are a couple of individual cartoons from Crass Fed or Surf and Turf that I am proud of, but the biggest thing is the book. One friend, when I asked him to read a draft after the art had been finished, said that everyone says they write, but few actually finish a book. He said no matter what the reaction, I should take pride in my producing a complete work…and I do. I like how it turned out, people I don’t know have enjoyed it, and have asked for more. That’s… a nice feeling.
What would you like to do or work on in the future?
I would like to try my hand at writing a traditional cape and cowl comic. That would be a challenge, to be sure. I see what writers go through to keep readers captivated month in, month out, and it’s daunting and admirable. For some reason, I would like to try that.
Barring that, I have ideas for several other books in the Crass Fed Kids line, and hopefully this first one will be successful enough to allow me to make more.
What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
This may fall in to the category of “TMI,” but I jump in the shower. Every time I’ve had an idea that has really worked, like Moo Thousand, that lightbulb has gone off while I’m in the shower. After that, I put on another pot of coffee and get to work.
What do you think will be the future of your field?
Honestly, once we get past all of this histrionic crap about new female and minority creators and have real representation and equality at the creative level, comics will blossom. Folks still have a bizarre preconception about comics and comic shops, and the only thing that will get us past that is diversity. Speaking as a former retailer, every new comic book movie does nothing to boost comic sales. In almost ten years of selling comics in which there were some 20 comic-book-based blockbusters, I can count on one hand the number of new readers that came in to the shop because they saw one of those movies.
What really got people into the shop where they may not have thought of comics before were books like March by John Lewis. Or Bone by Jeff Smith. Or Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Books that feature lead characters that aren’t white dudes in tights. While there isn’t anything wrong with white dudes in tights, there are so many more worlds to explore that we need to open up the gates to everyone who has a story to tell… and let them tell them. Encourage them. Inspire them. Get them started with a pencil and a dream and support to let them tell their story. When we can really do that with everyone, the future will be as rich and as amazing as we can dream it to be.
What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

We regularly attend Heroes in Charlotte, Baltimore Comic Con, and SPX. We also went to AwesomeCon last year. If all goes well with the Kickstarter, this year will be our first exhibiting, starting with AwesomeCon. We will also have tables at Heroes, and are in the queue for a table at SPX. Baltimore is up in the air this year (because of a family scheduling conflict).

I have written about attending conventions for my blog, because they are such different animals for exhibitors than attendees. The cost of attending a show can be pretty big, especially if the show isn’t local. Admission, hotels, meals, travel, all of that adds up before you even buy your first piece of art or your first book. When you exhibit, that costs goes up exponentially with table fees, travel and shipping all of the materials needed to exhibit…it’s an expensive undertaking just in hopes that a few folks stop at your table and check out your work. It’s exhausting, and most creators hope they can just break even. It’s a little easier for artists because they can always sell commissions, but writers have to be able to sell their story, which is a lot harder in a convention setting where the visual side of the medium is king.

The advice I give everyone about attending is go to have fun. Even I have attended a show (Heroes, the first time), just to meet a particular creator (Kelly Sue DeConnick). In addition to that, use the time to explore other creators you don’t know. Browse the artist alley. Check out folks sharing tables. Their budget is small, and their hopes large. A simple $5 purchase at their tables could be just the encouragement they need to keep creating. Who knows… a comic bought on a whim at a table could mean you were one of the first people to discover the next big thing in comics. I call it “Try 5” and have written more about the idea on my blog at

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I met my wife here. The food’s pretty good too.

Least favorite?

The commuting. Always, the commuting.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

I actually let my wife handle that. Being the native, she is much better at figuring out logistics and such when those visits are needed. Aside from the Library of Congress where my wife works, Air and Space is usually the big hit, though. And Natural History. Old books, space, and dinosaurs rule, I suppose.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I used to manage a restaurant, nothing at all fancy, and my wife is finishing up her first cookbook, so we tend to cook most of the time. But, if friends are in town it’s hard to top any of Jose Andres’ options. Jaleo is probably the favorite. Or one of a small handful of good Pho places. Hard to go wrong with Pho, or my favorite, Bibimbap.

Do you have a website or blog?

Indeed. My home site, which has been running since ’97, is – from there you can get to my blog (, or any of my webcomics (all hosted at, plus a few other sites like my wife’s recipe blog, or other art, such as my daughter’s art ( I am also on twitter (@jrobertdeans). I don’t have a public page for Facebook, but when I remember to, comics are also cross-posted on the Crass Fed Comic page on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ben Hatke's new children's book Julia's House for Lost Creatures

On his blog, Ben Hatke notes the arrival of author copies of his new book:
One of the coolest things about writing and drawing books is the part where a box of shiny new author copies shows up at your door. And yesterday was the day that copies of Julia's House for Lost Creatures arrived here at House Hatke.
I know I've said it before, but I'm really happy with how this book turned out.
The official release date (September 2nd) is still over a month off, but I'm going to give away two copies now, along with a bit of original art!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Matt Davies at Politics and Prose pictures


Editorial cartoonist Matt Davies was at Politics and Prose, July 27, 2013 for his new children's book Ben Rides On. Here's some more pictures of him in action.

The book is short, but enjoyable. Davies did a nice chalk talk with children from the audience 'helping' him draw. He kindly let me keep his crow drawing. The Library of Congress (in the person of Sara Duke) got the caricature of his teacher.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Meet a Local Children's Book Creator: K. Michael Crawford

K. Michael Crawford is another illustrator who regularly sets up at the Capicons show in Tysons Corner / Dunn Loring. She answered my usual questions last fall.

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

K. Michael Crawford: I create first-of-their-kind Adventure Drawing Books to get kids to use their imaginations in hopes of creating future comic book artists. In the Bazel Lark Series, “The Mystery of Journey Crowne” and “The Island of Zadu,” the reader/artist has to answer clues to know what to draw on the page. The reader/artist decides what the answer will be for half the clues in the book, which gets them to make choices. This is a five-book series and I need to create the remaining three books. It takes me 2 years to create one book to make sure all the clues work and to complete all the drawing work so that everything comes together. I will be starting the next book soon.

With “Batty Malgoony’s Mystic Carnivale” Drawing Book, the reader/artist has to draw in all the carnivale characters. This book gets kids to use their imagination and make choices of what they want the characters to look like on each page.

In “Professor Horton Hogwash’s Museum of Ridiculous” Book, the reader/artist has to draw in all the Museum collection for each themed room or not, because, after all, it is the Museum of Ridiculous. A long as the child is using their imagination they can draw in anything driving the alien spaceships. They can even have dinosaurs driving the ships. I think there is a story there somewhere. Past meets the future. There are also true interesting facts on each page, but be warned, some of them are gross. Not for the faint hearted.
How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I still do all my art by hand. I pull out the paintbrush, load it with paint and slap it all over the paper, which sometimes it lands on me. I have a good day creating when I look down and see that I am covered in paint from head to toe. I also throw in the kitchen sink when I do my art, so to speak. To get the look I want, I start with the watercolor painting layers of it. Then I add color pencil for texture and definition. After that, I throw in some acrylic and pastels for special effects.

In some of my paintings, I have even used sea salt, plastic wrap and tissue paper to create some cool effects in my art.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in Pennsylvania in a time when we where taught how to use our imaginations. My parents thought I might have trouble spelling the state name, so they moved us to Maryland when I was three with the cows and the chickens. Not much cows and chickens left any more, but we do have lots of deer, groundhogs, squirrels, birds and raccoons that stop by my place to tell good tail or I should say tale.

We had no computer games, video games or microwave ovens when I grew up, (Oh, the horror of it all!) so if you wanted to make a concoction, you had to build it from scratch or the ground up. You had to think up an idea, let it brew, run around the house finding the parts and throw in some elbow grease to get the job done. Some of the creations scared my mother so out in the trash they went. That also explained the funny looks we got from the garbage collectors on trash day. We had to create our own entertainment and we did that by using our imaginations. We didn’t wait to be entertained, we made our own.

Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved from Los Angeles to D.C. for a new adventure. I live my life by adventures. I have lived in a number of different places and look forward to living in a few more. There are just too many good places to live in the world. I also wouldn’t mind trying out a few planets in other universes as well. I am just waiting for them to build that spaceship that will get me there at the speed of light. It would be very cool If they found a “Stargate” on this planet so that we could travel to other worlds.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

The funny thing is that I graduated from the University of Maryland in Advertising Design, but my college paper was on writing and illustrating children’s books. I only lasted 8 years in Advertising Design and then I switched to Children’s Book illustration and I have been on quite a fairy tale journey since I switched. Four years ago, I noticed that kids weren’t using their imagination so that’s when I created my drawing books. I realized and experienced that if kids don’t use their imaginations they have trouble making good choices and I want them to pick a good nursing home for me.

What makes all this so funny is that I needed that training as a graphic designer, so that I could start my own publishing company, years later, to publish my drawing books. That early career taught how to promoted and market my books and as well as give me the knowledge of printing and publishing them. You always get what you need in life if you just allow yourself to be open-minded about what comes down the road. Sometimes I get things and I scratch my head wondering why I got this at this time, and sure enough some time later or another I will need what I got. It can happen in a few weeks or even take years to see that I got what I needed.

Who are your influences?

I take in everything and then discard the stuff that doesn’t work for my art. I never know when I will get a great idea for my work from some of the things I see and experience.

I always make sure that I have lots of adventures and experiences in my life and all of that goes into my art. It makes my art have layers to it. You can always look at my art and know where I have been lately or what things have had a great influence on me.

Once a famous artist told me that to order to create 3-D art (art with lots of depth to it) you must live a 3-D life, which means fill your life with lots of experiences. The more experiences you have the better your art will be.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I have done or experienced in my career and life has lead me to something else great and to a very magical life. Has it all been a wonderful fairy tale? Very much so, yes! For everyone knows, you can’t have good without the evil and visa versa. So just when it looks like the villain will win, happily ever after comes along.

What work are you best-known for?

I have always wanted to put something good into the world, make it a little more colorful, silly, ridiculous, quirky, whimsical, waggish, absurd then when I found it. So far so good with my drawing books. I do want to be best known for doing that and I am working towards that goal. I am not the type of artist who measures where they are at any given time. I just keep moving forward to see what I can do. People will walk towards my booth at comic cons with a stern look on their faces and as soon as they see my art a big smile pops up on their face. That makes me happy.

What work are you most proud of?

I am proud that I can still laugh at my work when I do something totally outrageous and other people get it. I am proud that I have the mind of a five year old and never plan to grow up, so that I can keep creating magical art and books.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I believe that creating these drawing books has opened the door to what I can create in the future. I have only begun to see what I can create. (Cue the mad scientist laugh in the background. “It’s alive.”) I try to push myself to get new perspectives all the time to see what I can come up with in my art and books. They say we only use 10% of our brain, but I plan to use 110% if I can figure out how to do it. No telling what I can create if given the chance. The brain weighs 3.5 pounds, the skull another 3.5 pounds and I am going to put it to work. No dead weight on my shoulders.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I play and act silly. I create art that I throw away, because it doesn’t make sense. I also build something that has nothing to do with what I am working on at the time. For example, I got this idea last winter for a musical instrument and the idea drove me crazy until I started building it. I am still working on it and will be for a while because the idea is very complicated with moving parts and such. This musical contraption gives me a new perspective on creating. No idea what I will do with it when I am done, but it will make a great conversation piece.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

My crystal ball won’t tell me the answer to that, but I keep producing my books and art because I think they are very much needed in the world. Besides, doing my work keeps me out of trouble. I would be out tipping cows otherwise.

What local cons do you attend ? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I exhibit at Comic Cons all over the country. Every year, I apply for Comic Con International in San Diego. I have been in that Con for two years. That’s a fun Comic Con, even though it’s more Pop Cultural. I also do Baltimore Comic Con and next year, because it moved to Los Angeles, I am exhibiting at Wonder Con. Each Comic Con has it’s own favor to it. Some cons are more traditional; like Baltimore, MegaCon, Allentown, Then there are some that are more pop cultural like Comic Con International, Garden State, and Steel City Con. There is one thing they all have in common; comic book artists are some of the best people you can ever meet. I have made some really good friends along the way.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The Art Cultural Places and Museums are my favorite things. I loved the Spy Museum and if I ever need to change careers and I can’t rule England, I found out that I would make a great spy. Talk about a great adventure. Where do I sign up?

Least favorite?

Traffic, but lucky for me I only have to commute to my studio in my house. A few foot steps away.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

The Museums on the Mall. Most people want to go to the Air and Space Museum when they visit.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Too many good ones to have a favorite.

Do you have a website or blog?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sept 26: A Lecture on COMICS IN RUSSIA at Howard University

A comics friend of mine is in town giving a free lecture next Monday (which I won't be able to make it to unfortunately).


How to Read Post-Soviet Children's Comics: Snegirov's Keshka

Prof. José Alaniz  (University of Washington, Seattle), author of Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (2010), will present an illustrated talk on the history of comic books in Russia, with an emphasis on the politics behind  the post-Soviet children's series Keshka by Andrei Snegirov.

WHERE: Howard University,
             Douglass 240
WHEN: Mon, Sept. 26
 10:10 a.m.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jeffrey Thompson's travel sketchbooks

Big Planet Comics' staff (and children's book artist) Jeffrey Thompson happened to mention that he was planning on traveling to Peru this summer and would then be posting his sketchbook online to me today. I was surprised to find out that he's been doing travel sketch books since this one from Belize in 1996. Links to his others are here: Italy & Amsterdam, Iceland & Ireland, France & Verdun, Mexico & Belize.

I love these types of books.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kate Feiffer interview

She was at Politics and Prose today with her father Jules Feiffer, and will be in Old Town Alexandria tomorrow. See "Big Woof: Kate Feiffer's 'Which Puppy?'," by Express contributor Stephen M. Deusner, Express April 30, 2009.

Also as we've noted, they'll be appearing tomorrow:

We’d be thrilled if you would mention that Jules & Kate Feiffer will be appearing at Hooray For Books! 1555 King St., Alexandria, VA on Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. We’ll have copies of “The Explainers” and “Great Comic Book Heroes” on hand.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

May 1: Jules & Kate Feiffer

Trish Brown writes in:

We’d be thrilled if you would mention that Jules & Kate Feiffer will be appearing at Hooray For Books! 1555 King St., Alexandria, VA on Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. We’ll have copies of “The Explainers” and “Great Comic Book Heroes” on hand.

Monday, October 06, 2008

VisArts call for children's book art

And another from Casey Shaw about an upcoming exhibit that's issued a call for children's book illustration:

"TURNING THE PAGE," A unique exhibit featuring original artwork from illustrators of children's books.
The artwork will be displayed next to a copy of the book in which it appeared, and both will be offered for sale.

NOTE: Original art (or if digital, a high-quality signed print) must be available for sale.
There is no entry or hanging fee, but the Gallery will retain a portion of the proceeds.

WHERE: The new VisArts Center Gallery in downtown Rockville, MD
WHEN: Thursday December 4, 2008 - February 21, 2009
GALLERY HOURS: Monday - Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm. Closed Saturday.
The Gallery is open two Sundays per month from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm for openings and coffee talks.

JUROR: Harriet Lesser, Director of Exhibitions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - Deadline for entry - receipt (no later than 5:00pm)
Friday, October 17, 2008 - Notification of decision and agreement
Monday, December 1, 2008 - Deliver accepted artwork to VisArts: 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD 20850
Thursday December 4, 2008 - Opening Reception: 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Harriet Lesser
Director of Exhibitions
VisArts at Rockville
155 Gibbs Street, #300
Rockville, MD 20850

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Helen Thomas and Chip Bok do children's book

Editorial cartoonist Chip Bok's actually based in Ohio, I think, but here's the article: "A Capital Caper from Two D.C. Insiders," By Sally Lodge, Children's Bookshelf -- Publishers Weekly, 8/14/2008.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Jeffrey Thompson's Hiawatha originals


Jeff Thompson who works at Big Planet Bethesda on Wednesdays is a Baltimore artist who's done children's books. He gave me a couple of pieces of artwork. Here you can see his Hiawatha children's book - scratchboard originals mounted with the finished book cover.


Jeff can be found online at

deviant art page

web site


Thursday, April 24, 2008

OT: April 27: Meet Author & Illustrator Tedd Arnold

Meet Author & Illustrator Tedd Arnold

Sunday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Attention early readers! Tedd Arnold, author and illustrator of the humorous, award-winning and easy-to-read Fly Guy series, will read and talk about his newest book, Fly Guy #5: Fly High, Fly Guy! Other titles in the series include There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy; Shoo, Fly Guy!; Super Fly Guy; and Hi! Fly Guy. Mr. Arnold also is author of Parts; More Parts; Even More Parts; Five Ugly Monsters; No Jumping On the Bed!; and No More Water in the Tub!

Ages 4-7. Please call to register.

Alina Gawlik
Aladdin's Lamp Children's Books and Other Treasures
2499 N. Harrison St.
Arlington, VA 22207
Tel 703-241-8281
Fax 703-241-8283

STORE HOURS: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday & Thursday 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wish You Were There #3 - A couple of book reviews

The following reviews are ones I wrote for the International Journal of Comic Art 3:1 (Spring 2001).

Raggedy Ann and More: Johnny Gruelle's Dolls and Merchandise. Patricia Hall. Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2000. ISBN 1-56554-102-2. $35.

Cartoonists, children's books, and merchandise have been linked since the late nineteenth century. While Charles Schulz, Jim Davis, Berke Breathed, and especially Walt Disney are well known to the contemporary reader, Johnny Gruelle has largely been forgotten. Patricia Hall has been working to reintroduce Gruelle, and this book is the second in a planned trilogy. The first was a biography, Johnny Gruelle, Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy (1993) and the third planned for spring 2001 will be a bibliography. Gruelle was an artist who moved easily between the worlds of comic strips, political cartoons, and children's books, eventually creating a family business that lasted until the 1960s.

Gruelle's life is recounted briefly by Hall, but readers interested in detail are referred to her previous book. This extremely well-illustrated book concentrates on the physical products derived from Gruelle's imagination. As a cartoonist for the New York Herald, Gruelle created the "Mr. Twee Deedle" comic strip which was merchandized as a doll by the newspaper immediately. While doing the comic strip, he also illustrated children's magazines and books. In 1915, he submitted a design for a patent on Raggedy Ann, a doll that was apparently partially based on characters from his comic strip.

The patent was granted and Gruelle began making his own dolls. Raggedy Ann was not based on a familiar character and initial sales were slow. Gruelle generated interest in the doll by contracting with publisher P. F. Volland for a children's book based on the doll. Other characters he developed, such as the duck Quacky Doodles, proved more popular and merchandising included a cartoon series. By late 1918, Gruelle had completed his book on Raggedy Ann and dolls were produced to be sold with it. The book and doll combination was a success and Gruelle continued producing merchandizable ideas until he died in 1938. His family took over the company and continued licensing Gruelle's characters until they sold the company to a book publisher.

Probably because of marketing concerns, the book is a curious mixture of a business history attractively designed as a full-color coffee table book that includes a price guide. Hall writes to appeal to historians as well as collectors of children's books, dolls, toys, and cartoons. Many sidebar pieces detail specific parts of Gruelle's business efforts, such as books, sheet music, and copyright infringements. Anyone interested in Gruelle, cartoon merchandising, book or doll collecting, or popular culture of the first half of the twentieth century should find something of interest in this book.

Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell. J. D. "Illiad" Frazer. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 2000.

A collection of User Friendly, a free online comic strip, raises some interesting questions about the future of comic art. Frazer's strip is written for a specialized audience of advanced computer users and is published by a company specializing in computer manuals. The strip is done on a computer and lacks backgrounds in the simplified art style that Dilbert made acceptable. Illiad has stated that Breathed's Bloom County was an inspiration, but the humor of User Friendly is extremely dependent on knowledge of computers. A niche market product, reminiscent of earlier specialized work such as Jake's military cartoons, User Friendly is not syndicated, but it still appears in more than 150 college papers and several magazines. In the introduction to this second collection, Frazer said, "But today, with the Web, the distribution infrastructure the syndicates possess is becoming less valuable, and is no longer necessary." One of the strip's webpages claims, "The site,, attracts more than 2 million visits each month, including more than a half million unique visitors and 15 million page views ...and is now by far the largest web-based comic strip... Compared to more traditional syndicated comics, User Friendly the Comic Strip is catching up very quickly. For example, Dilbert, around since 1986, is syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers. boasts an audience equal to 42% of Dilbert’s online audience."

User Friendly can thus be seen as supporting part of McCloud's argument about the transition of comics to the web, but Frazer, O'Reilly, and McCloud decided to publish and charge for a paper version. The ability of both electronic and paper versions to succeed seems to bode well for the future of comic art. The strip and additional information about it can be seen at and

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jeffery Thompson, children's book illustrator and Big Planet employee

Jeff Thompson's worked in the Bethesda store for years, and has been doing art for childen's books too. He mentioned to me that he had a new book out today. I just ordered all the ones I was missing, as he didn't mention some of the recent ones to me until I started quizzing him today. Book signing next Wednesday - at least for me!

Jeff's books with ordering info from Amazon -

The new one:

Cesar Chavez: Champion and Voice of Farmworkers (Biographies) by Suzanne Slade and Jeffrey Thompson

Two favorites of his (and mine). He did all the work on these except the original poem:

The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere (Hardcover) by Henry W. Longfellow - note on the paperback version of this, Amazon has conflated Jeff and Christopher Bing's two different books. Bing's an excellent artist too, who used to do regular editorial illustrations for the Washington Post. I really like his work as well. Buy both books.

Hiawatha And Megissogwon (Hardcover) by Henry W. Longfellow (Author

Thomas Edison: Inventor, Scientist, and Genius by Lori Mortensen and Jeffrey Thompson

The Camping Scare (Read-It! Readers) by Terri Dougherty (Author), Jeffrey Thompson (Illustrator)

Brazil Abcs: A Book About the People and Places of Brazil (Country Abcs) (Hardcover) by David Seidman (Author), Jeffrey Thompson (Author)