Saturday, December 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"Rex takes his time mounting his preposterous edifice of a plot, but reader interest and suspension of disbelief never flag in this humorous, consistently entertaining, well-spun yarn."Preposterous edifice of a plot. That sounds about right.
Here's another illustration from CC. Regular visitors to my blog will be able to discern all the important plot points from these images, and will have no need to read the book.
Monday, November 21, 2011
The author tucks in portrait illustrations and hilariously odd TV-commercial storyboards, along with a hooded Secret Society, figures from Arthurian legend, magical spells and potions, a certain amount of violence, many wonderful throwaway lines (“Yeh may have a tarnished glamour about yeh, sure. Like a celebrity’s daughter.”) and tests of character with often surprising outcomes.I think their classification of the pictures in Cold Cereal as "portrait illustrations" may have something to do with the character of those few images that were actually on display in the Advance Reader Edition. I'm afraid most of the illustrations were missing then. But I got the picture above done in time to include it. From the book:
He steered toward the local park, down the storm drain shortcut he’d discovered yesterday, dodging broken glass and a man with a rabbit head, up the embankment, toward the gap in the fence and was that a man with a rabbit head? Scott braked hard, grinding a black snaking skid behind him. The rabbit-man stopped, too, and looked back. Its tweed pants and white dress shirt were creased and dirty. Its necktie was askew. Its rabbit head was a rabbit head.And, by way of signing off, here's a picture of two men dressed as a unicorn.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Anyway, the question of why Steve Brixton is in a bathrobe atop a moving train is best answered by reading the book, WHICH IS AVAILABLE NOW.
UPDATE: Due to popular demand (2 comments), here's my first attempt at a sketch, with no reference at all. I think this got approved, but I'd always promised to fix the dodgy drawing after shooting some photo reference.
Lacking a train and a 12-year-old boy, I put on my wife's robe (it actually has "Dr. Rex" stitched on the front–very hot) and lounged on a chaise.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
And the finished illustration:
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Anyhoo, here's a more recent issue of THE GOODS showcasing, among other things, fine finger haberdashery. And also Lincoln again. Because I only have five or six separate ideas in my head.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I know that doesn’t sound like much of a distinction but it meant a lot to me at the time.
(Disposable Bic pen and green Sharpie)
I’m in Alaska. My wife and I are taking a cruise with my parents, and right now we’re in the midst of a land tour. Today we passed through Wasilla and saw Sarah Palin’s old house. It’s a Lincoln-Loggy sort of place and not really the castle of frozen tears I was expecting.
Here’s an impromptu drawing of my mom, for which she will probably not be terribly grateful.
My mom is encouraged to remember that this was drawn in pen on a rattling motor-coach and that I was very tired.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Kid gumshoe Steve Brixton (who actually doesn’t have a brother, he just picked the name because it mirrors his beloved Bailey Brothers detective stories) has, at the ripe old age of 12, retired from the detecting game. He became disenchanted upon discovering, during his last adventure (Ghostwriter Secret, 2010), that the author of those inspiring books was actually a criminal mastermind. So Steve’s given up his agency, and now his best chum Dana is spending entirely too much time with Other Dana, his girlfriend. Little does Steve know that signing up for the Model U.N. with Dana and Other Dana will place him on a train rocketing toward detecting destiny! When meeting a mysterious young lady onboard gets Steve invited into the mysterious last car on the Sunset Coastliner, Steve and Dana (but not Other Dana) find themselves invited to protect Mr. Vanderdraak’s new, vintage motor car from serial car thieves! Can Steve solve the case? More importantly, can he go more than five minutes without getting trapped somewhere? Barnett’s sly and often silly Hardy Boy parody chugs along with plenty of laughs and enough honest-to-gosh mystery to please any lover of boy detective fiction. Rex’s black-and-white pencils (which also parody the Hardy tales) are still a fine match for the goofiness.
Here's one of those "pencils" which continues to be perfectly adequate:
This is actually, of course, a pretty nice review from a notoriously demanding publication. Happiness just isn't as much fun to blog about.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I was recently emailed two questions by a reader of my picture book, TREE RING CIRCUS. I present these below, with their answers, as a service to other readers who may have similar concerns.
1. When the tree first appears it is MISSING! A branch. How did the branch get cut off before the tree appeared?
2. After we first see the chicken he is not in the tree. He is in the next view of the tree. Where was he?
The missing branch was removed between the pages by pirates who all needed new legs. Some people tell me that if you look very closely you can see the pirates but I think these people are lying.
The chicken is obviously also hanging out with the pirates.
Also, chickens are girls.
Further questions can be directed to adamrex(at)earthlink(dot)net.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
The last time I was in China, I was very puzzled because none of my children’s picture books are in print in Mainland China. They’re in print in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, in complex Chinese characters, but they are not in print in Mainland China. I asked my producer, “Why aren’t any of my children’s picture books in print in Mainland China?,” and they said, “It’s because of their disrespect for authority.” I said, “Really?!” And they said, “Yeah, look at them. The Wolves in the Walls is about this little girl who tells her parents that there are wolves in the walls, but they do not believe her. There really are wolves in the walls, and thus her parents are proved wrong. And, in The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, these kids swap their dad. If that happened, society would crumble.”
So, suddenly, it became a goal of mine that was almost a little obsession to write a children’s picture book that would be published in Mainland China, that they could not help but publish, but still could have all of the things that are in my children’s picture books, and I did it. I wrote this book and it’s being painted right now by this wonderful artist, and it’s called Chu’s Day, and it is about a baby panda who sneezes. There is no way that anyone can resist a baby panda who sneezes. This is the single cutest book I’ve ever written. It is written for two-year-olds and is designed in such a way that I’ve tried it on kids and it actually works that when you get to the end, they just look at you and they say, “Read it again!” The only words on page one are, “When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.”
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I don't have any of my own photos from the week, but here are shots of me working on an assignment at the IMC courtesy of Kim Kincaid. Note that in the background there is original art by Dan Dos Santos, Rebecca Guay, Gregory Manchess, and Jeff Mack.
Anyway, during my lecture I tried something a little risky. I put up the cover to my next novel, COLD CEREAL, and asked the hundred-odd students to critique it. Here's what they saw:
They had a lot to say. It was unfocused. It was like "visual hopscotch," as one woman put it. The row of windows cut the composition in half in kind of an unappealing way. The door should be bigger. The hero should be bigger. They were right about everything.
That's what I ended up with after I'd processed their suggestions. It's a much stronger cover now, in my opinion.
I wouldn't normally show this cover so early, since the book doesn't come out until February, but I want the IMC alumni to see what I've done. Thanks again to the students, and to Rebecca Guay for putting the whole program together.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
As has been noted 115 times already on facebook, it is my birthday. In lieu of flowers, you might consider helping my dad make bail.
He's going to be locked up by the Muscular Dystrophy Association for a Muscular Dystrophy crime he didn't Muscular Dystrophy commit. There was a ridiculous show trial that lasted twenty-one hours, and Jerry Lewis stayed awake for the whole thing, and...anyway, I try not to ask for money very often, but if you have even a few bucks lying around we'd appreciate it.
Thank you. Here's the donation link.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I feel obliged to tell you that I don't like pigeon spikes. I don't like the way they make every ledge and sign look like some Lilliputian Thunderdome.
And I actually like pigeons. Longtime readers of my blog will remember how delighted I was to discover that first nest of them on my porch. I even asked you to name the babies.
But nest after nest of chicks convinced me that this was not some rare and fragile miracle. This was not Pale Male nesting on Fifth Avenue. My porch was more like an especially unsanitary inner city maternity ward.
Unsanitary because I've learned, and I don't think there's a delicate way to phrase this, that pigeons produce an astonishing amount of waste. They'd turned the columns flanking my house into two abstract expressionist monoliths, like exactly the sort of crapcentric art installations that make Republicans want to defund the NEA.
So, pigeon spikes. And now pigeons nesting in what was apparently not the appropriate amount of pigeon spikes. Those chicks above were fledged a couple weeks ago, so I went up the ladder to install stronger defenses. But they'd already rebuilt the nest. And the mother in it would not leave. I didn't take this with any kind of zoom. I was this close.
Eventually I was too close, and the pigeon lunged at the brush I'd brought to clear away the twigs and droppings. So for a moment I could see that she'd been hiding two new and dandelion-yellow chicks.
So, back down the ladder. I'll try again in a few weeks.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Then again, if you notice you're often saying "I could do that" when confronted with all kinds of things that are easy to do but difficult to do well (non-representational art, haiku...kid's books), then it might be time to put up and get your hands dirty. Yes, anyone can smear paint around, anyone can count syllables, anyone can write a very short story about bears learning to share or whatever.
You may even think, having crafted a bear story with a beginning, middle, and end, that it's fit for publication. Maybe you'll ask me who to talk to about that. I could give you the names of a number of editors, each of whom literally rejects thousands of stories per year. Because she doesn't think they're good enough. Or she doesn't think they're sellable. Or she doesn't think they have anything going for them besides a beginning, middle, and an end.
I wonder if you like the NPR comedy news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I usually catch at least a little of it each week, but I missed the episode a couple Saturdays ago when children's book agent Brenda Bowen got to be one of the call-in contestants. Here's a link to the transcript if you're interested–it's what got me thinking about all this.
Anyway, one of the panelists kicked things off by essentially mentioning that she suspects it would be easy, writing kid's books; and Paula Poundstone, whom I must say I like, nevertheless trotted out a variation on an old chestnut that I assume every kid's book writer has heard at least as often as I have. It always goes something like this: these books are a snap to write, which I will now exemplify by mentioning a board book I saw once that contained only pictures of shapes or farm animals or the alphabet. Because surely the fairest way to evaluate any vocation is by its most rudimentary example. SpaghettiOs. An elementary school dance recital. US Weekly.
Or maybe it's a question of length? Certainly I've heard that often enough–"It's only thirty pages and there's, like, ten words on each page. How hard can it be?"
It's a high school composition approach to writing–if a 500-word essay is hard, then a 1,000-word essay is harder. A novel must be harder to write than a short story. A really long novel must be harder to write than a novel.
May I suggest you try something?–write a brand new, memorable quote. Something we'll still be repeating a hundred years from now, like people are always doing with Twain. It should be easy, shouldn't it? It only needs to be, like, ten words.
Or is it hard to think of something worth saying? And hard to think of the perfect way to say it because, with so few words, each one has to really count? My stars but that's interesting.
And then you have the audacity to say I'm "lucky" to be doing what I do.
No, you're right about that, actually.
On deck for tomorrow: another post about how hard it is to be me. Maybe something about the headaches of having a beautiful, intelligent wife.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I'll be there at Lulubell (on Toole and 7th Ave.) from 6-9 this Saturday for the opening. So will a lot of other artists. Come say hi, maybe.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
So the knife became a lead pipe (which, if also rejected, would have been replaced with a candlestick or some business), and then I made the towel a robe:
Which everyone liked, but now they were disturbed by the placement of Steve's hand.
There, now. We have arrived at Successful Book Cover Terminal. All passengers must exit.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Of course there had to be a foot chase on top of the moving train at some point. But this alone wouldn't convey the slightly off-center atmosphere that all the BB books have, and which I like the covers to reflect. I asked Mac if it would be possible for main character Steve Brixton to be wearing a bath towel. If memory serves, I was sort of kidding.
"Actually," said Mac, "I think I could make that work."
I think you should read the book, so I'm only going to say that it makes perfect sense in context. But the above cover sketch isn't very good. I struggled early on with how to show both the train and the action in an engaging way. I could pull back and show more of the train, but then the action would suffer for lack of tension. I could close in on the action, but then everyone might look like they're fighting atop a Tuff Shed.
Ooh, better. But at this point Mac let me know that there could only be just the one masked goon.
And that he needed to be left-handed.
And this image-flopping killed two birds, actually, since the train needed to be shown traveling south down the California coast. So now everything was perfect, except that the publisher decided that they couldn't show a knife on the cover, and also that Steve in a bath towel was stirring up some...confusing feelings.
TOMORROW: The finished cover.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I haven't had a lot of translations of my books, and there's always something cool about Asian editions, isn't there? Maybe it's just me.
Anyway, I hear from Mac Barnett that the title actually translates as IF YOU DON'T LISTEN TO MOM'S WORDS, I'LL BRING A LONG WHITE MUSTACHE WHALE TO YOU. Isn't that nice? Tells you everything you need to know. I look forward to collecting other Korean editions such as THE CAT IN THE HAT IS THE CAUSE OF AND THE SOLUTION TO ALL OUR DIFFICULTIES and maybe WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS THERE IS POETRY AND ALSO A FUTURE SITE FOR FURTHER SIDEWALK DEVELOPMENT.
Does anyone out there read Korean? I'm curious which part of that cover is my name.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
A couple minor characters from my next novel, which is written but not illustrated yet. It'll be the first volume of a new middle-grade trilogy (by which I mean it's for middle-grade readers, not that it's a mediocre, utility-grade trilogy), and will be in stores some time in the winter.
These guys are goblins, and are described in the manuscript thusly:
They were each perhaps just a half-foot taller than Mick, with milky-white bodies but startling red faces. Red as if they’d been dipped to their chins in blood and the stuff had dripped some foreign alphabet all over their necks and collars. From top to bottom they had: bald pates, all the worst features of both toad and bat, little wool grey suit jackets with ties, short pants, and chicken feet.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
So, that's comforting. Here's my review, in case you're interested.
Say! The cover design for my book Fat Vampire won third place in the Children's Trade category at the 25th Annual New York Book Show!
Though I didn't photograph it myself (it was photographed by Dan Saelinger) and I'm only partially responsible for the finished design (Carla Weise collaborated), the whole thing was based on my sketch. So.
Friday, March 25, 2011
We assumed it was the case
that in a place as big as space
we’d find some trace of other races
with our scientific bases.
When a signal was detected
it was not what we expected.
In the subject line it pleaded,
PLEASE REPLY–ASSISTENCE NEEDED
SALUTATIONS TO YOUR HEALTH.
PLEASE HELP ME TRANSFER ALL MY WEALTH
INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT ON EARTH–
ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS WORTH.
I NEED YOUR ANSWER RIGHT AWAY.
PLEASE SEND A LETTER BACK TODAY
(ALONG WITH FIFTY DOLLARS, PLEASE,
TO PAY THE MONEY TRANSFER FEES).
We gasped–a message from the stars!
And then another came from Mars:
NEED BIGGER, YELLOWER ANTENNAE?
HAVE TO FEW OR HAVE TOO MANY?
LOSS OF VIGOR? LOUSY SLEEPER?
OUR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ARE CHEAPER!!!
We were noticing a pattern,
when a bunch arrived from Saturn–
FANCY WATCHES! CLICK AND SEE!
and GET YOUR HYPERSCHOOL DEGREE.
At SINGLES IN YOUR SECTOR!!!
we disabled our detector.
Then we emptied out the cache
and dragged the letters to the trash.
So that’s the fact we had to face:
there’s no intelligence in space.
But that’s okay–for what it’s worth,
there isn’t much of it on Earth.
Copyright 2008 Adam Rex
From Frankenstein Takes the Cake
So I wrote this a few years ago, and always thought its natural habitat was the internet. Of course I control the rights to this poem–there's a copyright notice and everything following the verse. But I am curious to see if people like it enough to share it, and if so how long it takes before it's forwarded to me or someone I know. I also understand that all creative writing on the internet eventually gets attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, so we'll see how long that takes.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
1:00-2:00 COE 351 – Adam Rex -- Digital Painting Workshop: Illustrating Books with Photoshop. I'm going to actually give a live demo of this I guess, God help me.
2:00-2:30 Post-workshop autographing
4:00-5:00 COE Kiva – E. B. Lewis, Wendy Watson and I will be on a panel called "I Didn’t Write It, But….Illustrating for Other Authors."
5:00-5:30 Post-panel autographing
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I swear*, this burrito last night was literally** like a hundred pounds. Seriously***, it would have taken fifty people to finish it, I shit you not****.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I did the spread about table manners. Click to enlarge.
You know, I don't think I follow any of these commandments except the ones about feet and napkins. It's like my mother didn't raise me right. But I know that could not possibly be the case, because my mother is classy and beautiful and reads my blog.