5.19.2015

Cartooning for a Cause

Allisa is the daughter of a friend of mine. She's in second grade, and unfortunately is struggling with brain cancer. She's responding well to treatment, but it is expensive.

So there was a huge fund-raising event - people around here are awesome, everyone was willing to help - where people could donate things for others to bid on to raise money. My offering was a cartooning class.

One of her fellow second-graders was very excited about getting to do cartooning, and convinced her mother to bid on it and win. She got to invite friends with her as well, and, since it was such a nice day, we got to hold the class outdoors:

Is there such a thing as Plein Air cartooning?

After teaching them how to create their own characters, I also wanted to show them how to draw those characters in action. They all voted to see super-hero action, naturally:

Apparently, I gesture dramatically when I draw dramatic things. As one should.

I liked this one too - along with superheroes, they wanted to make their characters spies. So I had to show them how to draw one scaling a building, to break in and do spy-stuff:

The mask was their idea. A creative bunch!

One of the best things about the class was that I was just giving examples here. They didn't all copy my hippo character, they made their own - dogs, penguins, tigers, monsters. Their creativity made it a great class to teach.

Also, if anyone out there wants to help Allisa, you can go to the donation site here. Thank you!

4.06.2015

Go Math Academy - Part 1




Go Math Academy is an online math program for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for kids up to grade 8, and I really enjoyed working on it! Here are some backgrounds I did for one of the lower grade programs. I always liked science fiction as a kid - if you had told me then that I would grow up to draw giant space stations as a job I would have been incredibly happy. Come to think of it, that was the case when I was working on it, even not knowing that as a kid!

1.09.2015

Bates Elementary School book talk


Got to talk about The Silver Rings at the Bates Elementary School today. They were great kids! They asked a lot of really insightful questions - in fact, it made the talk go better because they would often anticipate some of the topics I wanted to talk about. Also got to give them a drawing demonstration, which was a lot of fun for them (and me)!


And then afterwards, signed some books - even two to the library! So many kids asked to read it that they ordered the two. A really fun school to speak at!


3.21.2014

Honors Students, Folktales, and Dim Sum


(pictured: Dr. Snyder, standing and looking very professorial, 
a group of really intelligent Honors students, and me)

I got to talk about illustrating, my book, and folktales with a group of Honors Students from Mississippi State not too long ago. They were brought up here by Dr. Christopher Snyder (dean of the Honors Program), and, as both of us like Chinese food, we all met for Dim Sum.

The students were great - I got to share my experiences, as well as hear theirs. Which included math, astrophysics, political science, and medicine, so I definitely got a lot out of the lunch as well!

2.03.2014

The Silver Rings - It's Here!


The Silver Rings is now available at http://www.brattlepublishingstore.com/trade-publishing/the-silver-rings!

Here's the book description:

Alice and Celia are identical — as twins, and as the recipients of ghastly treatment from their horrid stepmother and stepsisters. To escape, they flee to their fairy godmother Mozzarella’s house. There, Mozzarella advises them to separate and make their way in the world, offering them the rather dubious assurances of troll skin disguises and silver, somewhat magical, rings.


Alice manages to find an abandoned cave of treasure, and settles in to blissful solitude. Celia, on the other hand, runs afoul of a bad-tempered witch, and is promptly turned into a frog. Informed by her magic ring of Celia’s peril, but not her whereabouts, Alice sets out to rescue her. Instead, she finds herself atop a glass mountain, avoiding the love-struck Prince Randall. With Alice’s quest at a standstill, and Celia still enchanted, will the sisters ever realize the high hopes that their godmother envisioned?

Got to create a lot of artwork for the book as well, so more pics to come!


1.26.2014

Map of Midgard


Another illustration for The Making of Middle Earth - a map of the world as the Vikings saw it. The author wanted to show where Tolkien got the concept of "Middle Earth" as the name for the world.

This started out as just a sketch, that I kept building on until this point, and it ended up getting used in the book!

Coincidentally, there's been a lot of Norse mythology around the house lately - the kids saw the movie Thor and wanted to know more about him. I had to explain that this is based on a comic book and not actual mythology, so then they wanted to know the real stories. So for their bedtime stories I've told them about Tyr (or Tiu, that Tuesday is named after), and now we're in the middle of how Thor got his hammer from the dwarfs. The Midgard Serpent shows up in the Tyr story - now that I think about it, I should show them this map too, it might help them get it!

1.10.2014

Meadhall

A reconstruction drawing for the book The Making of Middle Earth, about the sources Tolkien used to create The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

This is a cutaway section of a meadhall, where feasting and drinking would take place, all with a big fire pit raging in the center of the floor. With wooden walls. And a thatched roof. You know, when I put it that way, that may be the reason why people need to draw what they used to look like, instead of taking a picture of any existing ones.

1.05.2014

Sleeping Beauty's Mother-In-Law


Another one from the Modern Grimmoire book - it even shows up on one of the "Look Inside" pages on Amazon!

The illustration comes from an older version of Sleeping Beauty, by Charles Perrault. In most current versions, it's all happily-ever-after once the Prince kisses her. In Perrault, once she wakes up her troubles are only beginning. The Prince's stepmother is an ogre, who wants to eat her own step-grandchildren, along with Sleeping Beauty as well! And, were it not for the kindness of the cook, she would have succeeded. Then the ogre tries to kill them all with snakes and poison toads… but why give away the ending?

12.30.2013

Hans My Hedgehog


An illustration that got into Indigo Press' "Modern Grimmoire." They're an independent publisher, but the book is available on Amazon.

I always like "Hans My Hedgehog" ever since I read it in Grimm's Fairy Tales, mainly because it's so surreal. He's a half-human, half-hedgehog who's parents want him to leave. He agrees, but only if they shoe his rooster and give him bagpipes. Only after I started drawing it did I realize what an unfortunate instrument a bagpipe is for an animal with sharp spines!

4.07.2013

Book - The Last Akaway




Haven't posted for a while, but that's because I've been working on a book! Front cover, illustrations, everything. Couldn't post anything until the work was released!

It's "The Last Akaway" by Gary Karton. If you're in to Harry Potter-age literature (kids? Young adult? Juvenile fiction? Hard to keep track what each sub-genre is called), I definitely recommend the book (I can say that because my work on it is completely done, so I'm unbiased at this point).

I did like the story a lot - not a requirement to do illustrations, but definitely made it more enjoyable to work on!