Thursday, August 27, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions 2

Can I get you a water?

No. Thank you, but no. This is my fault–I have a bottle of water already, and I should have put it in plain view. I understand from past appearances that if I don’t put my water in plain view you or someone else on your staff will continue to offer me some every couple of minutes until I either leave or say yes. You’re just trying to be hospitable, I know. You want to do something for me. An author in your library/bookstore/school is an apparition that’s equal parts magical and awkward, like a whale on a beach. And, like a beached whale, I am presumed to be vulnerable and in need of constant hydration.

I didn’t like how much bottled water I was drinking, so I bought this reusable bottle. Yes, it is shaped like a flask but no, it’s still water. The flask shape just happens to fit the pouches of my bag and if necessary, of course, my hip pocket. But isn’t it playful? Seeing this flask out in the open and so close to your children? It says that I’m one of you, that I do not spend every moment of my days in a child’s garden of verses–that I’m less Fred Rogers and more Shel Silverstein, but without all the whoring.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions 1

Is there anything special you need during your visit?

I’m usually thankful for an easel and a big pad of paper. If the event in question is the sort of thing at which I could show slides, I like to have a digital projector on hand. Sometimes I’m asked about less practical things, however. Sometimes I’m asked if I have any sort of weird, non-negotiable contract riders like a certain thread count to my hotel sheets or a single ostrich feather for book-signing.

I got on this topic once with a library that was hosting me for a reading and signing on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. I no longer remember if I was just trying to be funny and broached the subject on my own, or if maybe the library started it by asking if I needed a bowl of all-green M&Ms or a bowl of everything but green M&Ms or whatever. How did green M&Ms become the yardstick of celebrity dressing-room excess? I Google it and find the legend attributed to Van Halen on one website and Aerosmith on another. Probably neither is true. Anyway, to the library I believe I answered that color was immaterial but that I wanted M&Ms with the “m” on each candy to be replaced with the Greek letter “pi”, and also a dozen live doves.

These kinds of events are generally booked weeks or even months in advance, so by the evening of Dr. Seuss’s birthday I’d forgotten all about the conversation. They anticipated this and had a copy of our last email exchange attached to the bags of custom M&Ms they gave me. It seems Mars Incorporated could not, at the time, put the letter “pi” on an M&M, but they could print “3.14…” They could print it on each and every green oblate spheroid.

It was all a very nice gesture, but it made me sensitive to where these sorts of careless jokes can lead. So now I just ask for the doves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Book

Who's on Captain Gluebeard's shoulder?
Gold is gold. That feather's golder.
Got a guess? It's time to share it.
It's Polly! She's the pirate's


From Guess Again!, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. Available September 15th.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mail Call 2: They Make the Totally Difference Quality Taste

Got a package recently from Team Boov (previously) in Florida. They actually sent this stuff to me a while ago, but they unknowingly sent it to my old address, so I hope they all decide to check up on my blog eventually and see this post.

Included was a "really classy shirt," an artistic interpretation of a Boov in Philly, and a flyer for what they presume to be a Boovish restaurant. I give my full endorsement to all of these claims.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty is 3

And to celebrate they've put up a lot of art. Those of you who've visited CNLT before know that it's a blog kept by four kids of various ages (Elijah, Lily, Gracie, and Isaac) and their dad (Aaron Zenz), as a place for the kids' art. A fair amount of the art they post is inspired by books they read, so for the blog's third birthday Aaron thought it would be fun to ask some illustrators to create images inspired by the kids' art. CNLT fan art.
I'm proud to say those kids have posted pictures inspired by at least one of my books in the past. I've already blogged about it before. But I thought it would be overly self-indulgent of me to create fan art of their fan art of one of my books. Because what if one of them decided then to create fan art of the fan art of the fan art, and then the universe collapsed into an infinitely dense referential singularity. So I chose this one instead, by Gracie:

Click here to see more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Early Work 3

Another bit of early work–another Santa, even, drawn two years after the last one. Again presented with editorial comments.
Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alaska Again

Okay, so I know you don't come here looking for photos of my recent trip to Alaska. Or maybe you do. If you do, go here.

But I don't want to drop the subject entirely without showing a group who came to see an evening teen/adult program I presented. They arrived wearing homemade Boov t-shirts and brought me one as well.

I present them here, along with some of the librarians who made my trip possible.
Click to enlarge.

And for those of you who're wondering when I'm going to get back to posting some art, here are some people I sketched while sitting in a Seward, Alaska coffee shop called The Sea Bean:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mail Call

Interesting things I got in the mail recently:
Douglas Florian sent me a Frankenstein's Monster head he recently found on the streets of Hell's Kitchen (a neighborhood in New York City, not Hell's actual kitchen). Because I now hold the curious position of being a person of whom people are reminded when they see Frankenstein. It's so rough on the outside because it's actually a mold, once used to make some kind of soft-headed monster toy. Look at that detailed face inside.
I also received my first finished copy of Guess Again!, my next book with author Mac Barnett (who also wrote Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem). This book is going to make your head bleed rainbows. It was wicked hard to put together but worth it. I'll be posting art from it soon.