Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday Goonies


If you've come looking for what's new from "Saturday" the book, you come to the right place.  If you come lookin' fer, I can't really help you.  If you're one of the many people who didn't, in fact, come looking for this update (or for trouble) but instead sat minding your own business only to have this show up unwanted like a canker sore or a J.C. Penny catalog...well, at least there's no trouble.

So, just to re-cap the contents of this post:

1.) "Saturday" the book update: Check
2.) Trouble: No
3.) Canker sore: No
4.) J.C. Penny catalog: No

I've tentatively finished the cover.  I say "tentatively" because there will likely be small changes made here and there.  When I finish any drawing or design, I like to "live with it" for a few days.  I'll put it somewhere I can see it and then look at it once in a while for a week or two.  Sometimes that process allows me to see things I didn't see while I was working on it.  It's like a "Magic Eye" poster except the only thing that emerges are screw ups.

"So...are you done?"

Ha ha.  Silly mortal.  Sisyphus never rests.  Now comes the editing.  Yes, I edited and revised the story dozens if not hundreds of times.  And continued to edit as I went.  Consequently, I feel pretty good about the story.  But some of the drawings need work.  I started "Saturday" several years ago.  The first pages are now several years old and some of them need to be touched up.  Some of them need to be completely overhauled.  I'm a better illustrator than I was three years ago and I'd like all of the book to be up to my current standards.

I'm not going to get too carried away.  The editing will take a little time, but I don't plan on constantly editing until I drop dead like some kind of artistic ouroboros.  I've said it a bunch already but I'll say it again: I'm excited to share this with you.  Probably more now than ever because it feels so close.

Speaking of editing as I went, take a look at this:

This panel was originally slated for the first page.  It was going to be part of series of panels showing the inner workings of India's imagination.  I must have gone through at least four different versions of this sketch.  And then I thought of a better idea and discarded this one altogether.  C'est la vie.

This panel illustrates something else, too: India's character model has changed over the years.  Not drastically, but noticeably.  It happens with any character who's drawn over and over again over the years (comic strips, cartoon characters, etc.).  But because early India and late India are part of the same book and not separated by years of different comic strips in a newspaper, I'll have to re-draw some of the early panels so everything's consistent.

Ok, that was a lot of blah blah blahing.

If you've been here for the whole thing (not just this post but since I started this fool's errand), thank you.  Thank you for being patient.  If you're just joining us, thank you.

I'll get it done.  I promise.  I don't know when you'll be able to hold it in your hands and turn the pages and smell it (I smell all my books), but it will happen.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The DaVinci Load


Get ready for some non-stop*, roaring*, off-the-hook* "Saturday" ACTION ACTION ACTION*!

*It will stop, eventually.
*Actually quiet.
*I'm not sure what "off the hook" actually means.
*If you think of updates about a children's book as "action", then, yes: this will be action.  But of the lower-case variety.

I'm still working on the cover.  And it is still all manner of fun.  What manner, specifically?  The drawing manner, mostly.  Which is my favorite of the manners.  I'm debating whether or not to show the cover to you once it's finished or keep it a secret so that it's a surprise.  I've tried to strike a balance between how much to share (because I'm excited to share it with you) and how much to keep secret.  There are no Darth Vader-esque paternity reveals or anything, but I've only shared a fraction of "Saturday" here, which means there's still a ton of fun stuff to discover once the book finally comes out.

And speaking of keeping things secret, this strange little image is from a page that I've never shown:

It's one of the many odd things in "Saturday" that, taken out of context, probably seems completely mental.  It's meant to look like a DaVinci invention sketch.  Fedoras existed in 15th century Italy, right?

When I was a little kid reading Chris Van Allsburg books (The Stranger, The Polar Express, The Wreck of the Zephyr) and Holling Clancy Holling books (Paddle to the Sea, The Tree in the Trail), it never occurred to me that books like that were written and drawn by human beings.  Sure, their names were on the covers, but the books were otherworldly.  My favorite books seemed so good that I never imagined a normal human being could have created them.  A team of artistic robots?  Possibly.  Super advanced alien artists?  Also maybe.  But humans?  Nah.  Or, if they had been human, they must have been geniuses.

Certainly not real people who brushed their teeth and forgot where they parked.  To me, these books were perfect, and how could something that good come from regular old people?  And even as I got older, there was always a separation in my mind between me and people who created great stuff.  They could do it but I couldn't because I wasn't talented enough.  I was a regular, flawed person.

But the truth is that they were all regular people (Ok, DaVinci was probably a genius.  And he probably never lost his car and may never have brushed his teeth.  But I'd bet he worried about normal human things and sometimes farted when he thought no one else was in his workshop).  Granted, you have to be a little different to do this kind of work.  But you don't have to be a genius. 

 It's true, I've been called a genius many times.  But since it was always by gym teachers, other drivers, and anyone who's seen me do math, I don't think it counts.  And I'm also not saying that "Saturday" is a masterpiece or even that it's comparable to my favorite books as a kid.  But I'm a regular Joe and I wanted to write and illustrate a book.  And I did.  And, what's more, I think the fact that neat things can come from regular human beings makes those creations all the more significant.

I imagine that things come easily to a genius.  They catch a fly ball without thinking, compose music with ease, send rockets and satellites into space on a lark.  Me, I sweat and worry and curse and struggle.  But sometimes I can get through it and even have something to show for it in the end.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

There goes the neighborhood.


Walk right in.  Sit right down.  Daddy let your mind roll on.  Whatever the heck that means (if anyone happens to speak 1960s, drop me a line and hip me to the jive).  If "Daddy let your mind roll on" means "read this here update of 'Saturday' the book", well then...good news!  'Cause that's exactly what these words are.

Right now (as in "currently", not right this second of course) I'm working on the cover.  I've read that the author isn't supposed to do the cover because the publishing company will likely want to design it for optimal marketing stuff and nonsense.  But I always figured drawing the cover would be more fun than a bouncy castle full of puppies and margaritas,  and I wasn't about to pass the buck to someone else.  As luck would have it (I want to see how many colloquialisms I can cram into a single update), it is more fun than said bouncy castle.  And slightly less messy.

Aside from working on the cover, I'm also still researching agents and publishers.  And the more I read, the more I understand that it's going to take a while to see the book in stores.  In my mind, where I do the lion's share of my thinking, I would finish the book and then shortly thereafter it would appear magically on shelves.  However, this expectation turned out to be slightly unrealistic.  C'est la vie.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little more of "Saturday" than usual.  So, I've mentioned that the book is huge, right?  It's 11" x 17".  Which is way bigger than most books you'll find.  That was part of the point.  I wanted a book in which you could get lost.  Most of the pages are made up of multiple panels, many of which I've shown you in these posts.  Some of the pages, though, are giant, full-page spreads.  You turn a page and there's just one massive drawing that fills the whole thing.

Sometimes Herge would do that (he wrote and drew "Tintin").  I still remember the feeling of awe the first time I turned the page and saw one of the full page illustrations in "The Crab with the Golden Claws".  Well, you've heard the quote "Good artists create, great artists steal?"  If stealing the idea for full-page spreads makes me a great artist, then man, am I talented.

This is the view from the McGreevy's front porch.  It's what India is looking at on Saturday morning when her parents kick her out of the house.

Here's the full, finished page:


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Through the Looking Glass


How have you been?  It feels like it's been a week since I talked to you last.  You know, a lot can happen in a week.  I mean, not that anything DID happen to/for me last week, but there was potential.  That's all I'm saying.  Things could have happened.  Well, I guess one thing happened: I finished the book.

Ok, that's an exaggeration.  I finished the last page of the book.  I still have some editing to do.  And the cover.  But finishing the last page felt...definitive somehow.  As I've said before, finishing the book makes me nervous.  And excited.  Like leftover three star chicken curry with broccoli.

Want to see some of the last page?  Well, I'm going to show you anyway.

As the book ends, the McGreevy family is just about to start a new week:

India's parents, accustomed to waking up earlier than their daughter, have come to rouse her:

When I was a kid, my parents always had to wake me up for school.  They woke up freakishly early every day, weekends included.  I'm pretty sure I was up before them once per year: Christmas morning.  Full stop.  End of exceptions.

School started at the usual time, but we lived out of town and the bus ride took an hour or more.  Hence the waking up at an indecent hour.  It was doubly excruciating to get up in Winter because it was dark and, as is the obnoxious habit of Winter, freaking cold.  I would fumble, bleak and bleary, to put on my haute couture Hammer pants and Hypercolor shirt (which never changes color when it's 25 degrees out).  And then I would have to be serenaded by the dulcet, swingin' 70's grooves of KVNI, my mom's favorite AM radio station.  I heard "Brandy" by Looking Glass more than most 6th graders care to.  Which is some.

But I guess that's why they call it the blues.

These days I wake up (modestly) early on purpose.  It's quiet and a great time to concentrate before the frenetic energy of the day begins.  It's part of how I was able to work on "Saturday" every day and still have a job.  I suppose I should thank the long bus rides, the cold mornings, and Looking Glass for the Shao Lin-like training that made it possible.

But I'm not going to, because Looking Glass is still gawd-awful and I never grew to like them.

Ok, fine.  I secretly love Looking Glass.  There I said it.  I have always told the truth, for I am an honest man.  And Brandy does her best to UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND.

Do do do do do do do do do do do do.