Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spec art done for a book project for a large publisher. A little story goes along with this one:
Got a call from large publisher. Was informed that I was selected as one of a few illustrators to make submissions for a picture book telling the facts about the founding fathers and, drum roll, that the book was written by an international celebrity. They let me know that the winner of the contract would be chosen by both the editor/art director and the celebrity. They also let me know that they loved my line work (I said thank you.) and that they hoped I was duly excited about being involved with this celebrity (Sure, I said.). But they couldn't tell me the name of the celebrity until the choice was made. "Fine." I thought it over. The money was good but the time limit was quick- maybe 4 months to do 72 pages of pen&ink work. Not a lot of time, but, as I said the money was good. So I got busy. Couple days later I turned in about 6 or 7 sketches- two seen here. They were happy with the result but told me they wanted me to do one more sketch. I sighed, agreed and did the image of the eagle and the founding fathers, also seen here. (Just fyi, I don't like spec work. Remember- no money passing between us yet and they're asking form more art. Oy.) The short of it is- I won. Woohoo! Here's the fun part- when they'd told me I'd won they also let me know who the international celebrity was- go ahead, take a guess. You're right! It was Glenn Beck. I know... Glenn Beck.  So, I groaned. Not Glenn Beck- of all the international celebrities, why him? Fact is though, we needed the money. I'd just moved across the country and was about to wed my lovely wife so-ya, we needed the money. But I, in no way, wanted to support Glenn Beck or his message by creating art work for another one of his warped books for children. I talked it over with Kris, my wife. She agreed with me that, in spite of our need, there would have to be a whole lot of ice piling up in Hell before we could participate in this project. Yay Kris! I told the large publisher that I could not work on Glenn's book. In their response they were both surprised and indignant. "How could I turn this down?" The money, the publicity! They assured me that Mr. Beck would not be turning this project for children into a political statement. It was all going to be just history, the facts. "Ya, right." I snickered to my self. I responded that, while I believe they were sincere in their saying that Glenn would not put his spin on the project, I found his books, radio and t.v. products to be counterproductive to creating unity in our country.  Hence, I found it impossible that the book, because of who Glenn is and what he broadcasts, would not be used by him or another of his ilk as a political tool. Therefor, there was no way I could attach my name to this project. I didn't get a response after that. We're happy and still here. Pen&Ink, 2010.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Final art for pages 4/5 of "Gaijin-American Prisoner of War" written & illus.d by me and publ.d by Disney/Hyperion. There's a text frame in this art that's not yet placed which reads: "Sunday, Dec. 7th, 1941. San Francisco Bay- Six months ago Ishiro Miyamoto traveled back to Japan to help his ailing father and tend to the family business. He left his wife Adeline and son Koji behind, promising to return soon. Today is Koji's 13th birthday." Issei -"first generation"- is a Japanese language term used to specify the Japanese people first to immigrate to America. Their children are referred to as Nisei (second generation), and their grandchildren are Sansei (third generation). Water color, gouache, 2012.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

As Tweety said "Its the only way to fwy." Created purely for pleasure and... a little shameless self promotion. Pen&Ink, 2008.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Character sketch of Koji and his mom Adeline created to sell the graphic novel manuscript "Gaijin-American Prisoner of War", written and illus.d by me and publ.d by Disney/Hyperion.
This is the first sketch I did for the book of its two main characters together. Its funny for me to see this now after all the work done in developing both of them. There's a lot about them that has remained and that's interesting to me too. The main purpose of presenting this sketch with the package to the publisher was that I'd just started to do research on the way the internees/prisoners were treated by the government and I just couldn't believe what we did to our neighbors. Whole families were housed in horse stalls by our government for several months prior to being moved to prison camps further out in the mountains and desert- all because of their Japanese heritage. Interesting, too, to hear some adults response when I make presentations on this material. Some have been perfectly happy with the Japanese American Internment during WWII. After all, we were under attack- what'd you expect us to do.  My response- "So I guess we're the land of the free and home of the brave unless we're scared. So much for the Bill of Rights" By the way, of the 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned during WWII, 2/3s were American citizens and over half were children. Pen&Ink, 2007.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I can assure you that no bunnies love you more than these bunnies do. Specially if you've got a spare burrito laying around. Cover art sketch for "Mad Bunnies On Parade" Here's what the marketing people have come up with- "A Harrowing Tale of Madcap Adventure! See these brazen young coneys prancing about the town, bringing weirdness and joy wherever they go as they search for the perfect burrito!" Cool, huh?! Not yet published but we're working on it. Gouache, water color, pencil, 2009.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's the First Day of Spring! I hope you've acquired your Sacrificial Burrito for when the Mad Bunny Horde marches out of the Wild Woods in search of the finest in Mexican cuisine. Art for a t-shirt for "Mad Bunnies On Parade", written and illus.d by me, yet to be publ.d. Water color, gouache, 2009.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Intermediate layout sketch of pages 136/137 of "Gaijin-American Prisoner of War", written and illus.d by me, publ.d by Disney/Hyperion. This is close to the end of the story but don't worry, I'm not giving the end away. All during the making of the final art of the previous 135 pages, my editor and I shared ideas back and forth as to how I would bring the story to a close. I think what we've decided works. You'll have to let me know when you get the book! I like to create a few of these intermediate drawings once I've established the fore, middle and back ground in the thumbnail sketch. These intermediate sketches allow me to play around with light source and some details- but primarily lighting. Pencil, 2013.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Color sample double page spread for a "Mad Bunnies On Parade", written and illus.d by me.
BTW, I went to Parmenter Elementary public school. Cool looking old joint which is no longer a public school. No matter, the place still looks like some kind of orphanage/workhouse mill where children better eat their meat or they won't get any pudding. I mean, how can they have any pudding if they don't eat their meat?  Gonna get it into a picture book some day! ;) Water color, gouache, 2009.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

To My Picture Book Maker Pals: If you only go to on SCBWI conference this year- this is the one! The Wild, Wild MidWest 2013 MultiState Conference! May 3rd-5th in Fort Wayne, Indiana- Gonna be epic! Git there!   

Underlying drawing for finished art of pages 4/5 of "Gaijin-American Prisoner of War", written and illus.d by me and publ.d by Disney, 2014. I'm just about to start placing the text balloons and text. The text, therefor, is still fluid. Changes will probably be made to what you can read above as well as elsewhere. However, I don't expect anything drastic.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Color sample for a picture book manuscript I worked on with Tom Bodett (of NPR and Motel 6 fame) called "6 Billion & You". The story helped the younger reader to understand the vastness of humanity and their own individual importance within our glorious community. Editors take note: this one has yet to be purchased. Please go to my website ( and click the link to my agent, Jenn Laughran, if you have interest! Gouache and water color, 2005.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Illustration for Lawyer's Weekly magazine. The article was something about the complicated process of calculating international patent fees. Not exactly the most thrilling content but I did dig rendering the light and the clerk's teeth. Water color, gouache, 2008.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

This is Johiro "Jo" Motobu. Jo turned 15 in 1941. A week after Pearl Harbor, his father and uncle were arrested by the FBI. No charges were brought against them. No time limit or reason for incarceration were given. Jo's father and uncle, along with several thousand other Japanese American men on the west coast, would spend the next several months in this condition prior to being sent, along with their families, to concentration camps in the desert. Character sketch for "Gaijin- American Prisoner of War", written and illus.d by me, publ.d by Disney/Hyperion. Pencil, 2011.

About 15 years ago I was having a cup of tea with a friend during a break in between classes at the college where we were teaching. He was the dean of the sculpture division of the Fine Arts Dept. and I was adjunct faculty for the Illustration Dept. (don't get me started on my feelings about his dept. being called "fine arts" and mine not). Anyway, we were sharing concerns over the malaise we were encountering in students when he looked at his watch and said "I've got to go give a senior a critique of his degree project. Actually, this is a good example of what I see regularly." He then shared with me the story of this student who had spent the past 6 months not applying himself to the prescribed process for developing his degree project- moping about, not doing much, arguing with his instructors. Lo and behold, last week they found that he'd placed orange road-construction tape around his studio space. Seems he decided that the mess he'd made in his studio, along with the angst he'd experienced over the past 6 months, were his degree project. It was my friend's job to give this "project" his serious consideration.
I never found out how they graded this students efforts (or lack there of). What do you think- pass or fail?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Art for an article in "The WallStreetJournal Classroom Edition", a version of WSJ for high school students. I think the article was about the bad dreams smokers can have when trying to kick the habit. Pen&Ink 1988.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Line art for an article I illus.d in Barrons Magazine back in the early 1990's. The article was about the state of angst in America back then and was, I think, called something like The Culture of Complaint. Seems like it'd be a fairly appropriate image for today as well. What do you think?
Pen&ink, 1993.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sketch layout for a graphic novel I'm working on which shares the harrowing tale of how television came into my life and made everything shiny. Pencil, 2009.

Friday, March 1, 2013

This is a were-boar. Art I did for D&D/Wizards of the Coast monster manual back in, I think, 2002. Had a lot of fun drawing this guy. Cross hatching with pencil is very satisfying to me. How 'bout you?
Pencil, 2002.