Sunday, March 30, 2014

Surreal Genius


Welcome to the latest update of "Saturday" the book.  We're on page 22, which makes it Saturday in the world of India McGreevy.  Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 12:00 (mid-day).

At this point, the story goes a bit off the rails.  See, before this, India and company (Fred and Elizabeth) had been doing some begrudging trudging through a quagmire of a week, often finding themselves knee-deep in frustration, boredom, and grouchiness.

But Saturday seems to have brought with it some easier walking.  And not only is the walking easier, the territory they're walking through is getting curiouser and curiouser, as if the conductor of this story train is Rene Magritte.

But sometimes it takes a bit of surreal hijinks to get you out of your week-long torpor.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Adult Content, Gold Standards and Bad Ideas

Hey Kids!

Welcome to another zany update of "Saturday" the book.  Say, you know what you should never ever do?  This:

One of the questions I get asked regularly is, "What age group is your book for?"  After berating these hypothetical people for ending a sentence with a preposition, I usually say, "It's for children of all ages!"  At which point, there's a twinkle in my eye and a rainbow forms in the sky above my head.  Of course, many of these conversations take place indoors, so no one really notices the rainbow thing.

I said in my Kickstarter video that I wanted to make a book that both the 10 year old me and the 30 year old me would want to read.  I think to market to a specific age group or demographic is a little odd.  It seems limiting.  My favorite books and movies are the ones that work on multiple levels.  They're beautiful and entertaining at face value, but they have an emotional and intellectual complexity allows the audience to revisit the work at different times (and possibly different ages) and appreciate it on other levels.

A great example of this is "Calvin and Hobbes".  When I was a kid, I loved the comic because it was imaginative and goofy.  Reading the comic now, I see there are jokes and references and insinuations that only now make sense as an adult.  "The Simpsons" is another great source for this multiple-level entertainment.  Ditto Pixar movies.

These, of course, are the gold standards.  I have no idea if "Saturday" can work on multiple levels in the way these examples seem to do so effortlessly.  And I have no idea if "Saturday" will have that kind of emotional resonance.  But it will probably be marketed as a "kid's book" and read by kids (assuming, of course, that I can find a publisher and stuff).

But there's definitely some material in this book that's complex and adult in nature (emotional content, not the kind of adult content you were thinking of), and some kids won't understand some of it.  But I don't necessarily think that's a problem.  It seems like a lot of content for kids is a bit dumbed down, which does a disservice to kids.  I think it's ok for people (of any age) to read something or watch something and not understand it right away.  In fact, I might go so far as to say that's important.

But, for the love of god, whether you're an adult or a kid, don't let a creepy set of twins hold you by the ankles while you try to retrieve something from a storm drain.  Particularly if said twins have made it a point to tell you at every available opportunity how much they dislike you.

It's just a bad idea.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mustard?!? Let's not be SILLY. Now LEMON, that's different.


Welcome to the skinny on "Saturday" the book.

If you're just joining us on these updates, "Saturday" is a book about a (normally) creative little girl named India McGreevy, the frustrating week that leaves India and her family in a bit of a rut, and their attempts to climb back out of said rut.

It's Saturday morning at this point in the book, and India has just ventured outside begrudgingly.

Have I mentioned how much I love details?  Mostly, that's because I think details are fun and interesting.  It's visual candy.  But more than that, I think details can help to make a story more convincing.  They can make a story richer.  And I think they also show a level of care and respect for the audience.

Allow me to explain with an odd comparison:

Have you ever gone to a fancy restaurant or hotel?  (Being an illustrator, I'm of course familiar with only the finest of establishments.  Places where elderly, starched gentlemen in white gloves are constantly offering me jars of classy mustard.)  I tend to notice the details in places like this.  Someone has taken the time to think about every part of the experience.  And it's nice to feel that someone has taken that time for your benefit.

Well, in this case, I'm the well-starched guy offering you the fanciest mustard I can make.  Granted, sometimes that mustard recipe calls for puns that mix Bob Marley and Herman Melville:

I guess my point is this: I'm having a crazy amount of fun making this book.  But it isn't just for me.  I think constantly about what it will be like when you're turning the pages of this book and looking at every panel.  I hope I can make that happen soon.  I hope you notice the details.

And I really, really hope you like mustard.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Eponymous Day!


Welcome to most daylight savings timey update ever.  I have one hour less to fritter away today, so let's get right to the meat of it.  Chew the fat.  Spit out the gristle.  Wait, that last one isn't a saying.  It's just gross.

Anyhoo, it's currently Saturday morning in the book.  Here's what it looked like when we first visited:

Today is, as the title of the book might suggest, a day where some stuff is going to happen.  But first, exposition: Our heroine India McGreevy has come out of a trying week a bit worse for wear.  Noticing this, her mom has decided to take action the only way she knows how: By making stuff up as she goes along.  Her "plan" begins with a pep talk that's very little consolation to a forlorn and disconsolate India.  Then, to buy some time while she thinks of an actual plan, Elizabeth McGreevy sends India out on a fool's errand (which is a term I've always felt is redundant).

Here's India walking to said fool's errand:

Note the overwhelming enthusiasm.  This is the appropriate response to any activity in the "for your own good" category.

When I was a wee bairn, every adult looked confident, well-adjusted, and fully capable of anything and everything.  Adulthood was then (and in most cases today, still is) a mystery to me.  But I pretty much knew that part of that mysterious transition into grownuptitude involved a debriefing in which anything you'd ever need to know was told to you.  Afterward, it was just a matter of reaching into your limitless library of practical information and applying that knowledge to the situation in front of you.  No fuss, no muss.  So far as I knew, problems were solved this way.  Obstacles were overcome.  And certainty and confidence were every adult's two best friends.

This, it turns out, is a THRONE OF LIES.

Adults almost never know the answers.  To anything.  But one of the BILLIONS of crappy realities you have to face as an adult is that, a lot of the time, you just have to deal with whatever comes up.  The answers aren't right there for the taking, either.  Most of the time, they're amorphous.  There's no one to make it all better when you're an adult.  You're the one who has to fix stuff and solve problems and make it all better.  And that responsibility can be terrifying.

As a kid, I thought adults were all fearless.  Now, as a (partial) adult, I realize they're not fearless at all.  Reality can be a terrifying place and sometimes the appropriate response is fear.  But adults face it every day, regardless of fear and uncertainty.  And that's the definition of bravery.

There's a quote I always liked.  It's attributed to John Wayne, but who really knows.  Regardless of who said it originally, I strongly suggest you to read the following in John Wayne's voice:

"Courage isn't a lack of fear.  Courage is being afraid and saddling up anyway."

Well, if you're an adult who has to saddle up this week, I tip my hat to you, pardner.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crow Knows


I feel like it's been a while since my last update of "Saturday" the book.  A week or so, if my math is right.  So here's the skinny: I just finished page 32 and have begun pages 33 and 34 (they're part of a two page spread that's mildly insane in its detail and scope).

But, as far as these updates are concerned, we're only on page 17 (Remember?  I had to start over because I'm not drawing pages fast enough to keep up with a weekly update).

At any rate, India and her family have finally managed to survive the gauntlet that was the workaday week (which, in old-timey talk, is comprised of five "livelong" days).  Each and every one of those weekdays got progressively worse, like the "Police Academy" movies.  And, also like the "Police Academy" movies, everyone was near tears at the end.  But at least now it's Saturday, and everyone is safe.

Safe, but not sound.  Because a bad week has a way of causing emotional stress that stays with you.  Like a "Police Academy" movie.  Fortunately, India's parents have finally noticed she's a bit down in the mouth and are on the case.  A little collusion between India's mom and Thelonius might just help set things right.

Have I introduced Thelonius yet?

Thelonius is India's pet crow.  He makes a couple of appearances earlier in the book, but he's fairly inert until...well, until today.  Thelonius is a bit of a trouble maker, which is sometimes just the thing for a debilitating case of ennui.

Crows, I understand, are pretty sharp.  They can figure things out.  They can remember things.  They can recognize faces.  And I guess they can even be taught to speak.  Thelonius is no slouch in the smarts department, either.  He's wearing a tie, after all.  It's probably even a full Windsor knot.  Not just one of those half-Windsors.

Maybe old Thelonius is using his crow smarts and his penchant for trouble to help out his buddy India.  Or maybe he's just an animal, doing whatever he wants to do, blissfully unaware he's being anthropomorphized into an empathetic character.  But if he didn't want to get anthropomorphized, he really shouldn't have worn the tie.

But tie or no tie, Thelonius is just about be the catalyst for a crazy series of events.

In the words of Jack Kerouac: "...and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell."