Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm On the TeeVee.

I don't have an iPad, but I am typing this on a four-year-old MacBook–which I realize is so old in computer terms it's practically steampunk. But if I command my old-timey inter-net browsing soft-ware routine to visit the correct address, I can watch this national commercial for iPads, which features a shot of one of my books at the ten-second mark:

There it is, a Fat Vampire second from the upper left on the virtual bookshelf:

Friday, January 21, 2011


I think this is it–the culmination of all my panda-related efforts this past week. A little cub wearing a t-shirt and a pilot's helmet and goggles. This is what it's all been for.

I hope the Home Office agrees that I can't responsibly get any cuter than this. What would they have me do? Draw a panda in a onesie? Or with...I don't know...wings or something? Or dressed up as an entirely different animal? Or even–and I hesitate to suggest this–a panda covered in smaller pandas?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Special Request

My Illustratophone started chugging away again last night, much to my surprise. This morning I had a special request from the Illustrators Home Office:

It's nice to see them showing an interest. I think the assignment must be going really well.

Brian Biggs commented on a previous post that he was disappointed with the Apple Illustratophone App. I've been thinking of getting an iPhone–anyone else have this problem? I love my landline Illustratophone but it goes through kerosene like nobody's business.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Big emergency this morning. I sat down to draw the day's batch of pandas and I guess I went into some sort of fugue state, and when I emerged I'd accidentally drawn Abraham SuperLincoln fighting an octopus on the moon.

And to think I almost sent this to the Home Office! This kind of thing doesn't usually happen to me when I draw, though I can tell you that I've often begun writing what I intended to be an international bestseller and mistakenly ended up with a book nobody wanted to read.

Anyway, I got back on track, and ended the morning with what I consider to be a passable panda-in-waistcoat sketch.

One reader asked about my Illustratophone, seen previously. I realize I'm lucky to have one of the nice old ones. I'm told it was formerly commissioned to Clive Lumley, who of course is best known for the popular "Lumley Girl" series of illustrated hosiery ads in the 50s and 60s.

I prefer to remember him for these, and not for his slow decline into pornographic album covers in the 1970s and beyond.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stories that Soar!

I don't know if I mentioned previously that I'm on the board of a Tucson nonprofit called Stories that Soar! The exclamation point is part of the name–I'm not trying to convey that I'm really excited about that last sentence or anything. I mean, I AM excited about StS!, but I'm not really an exclamation point kind of guy. If I were any kind of punctuation it would probably be an em dash.

But the point is, Stories that Soar! visits Tucson-area schools and encourages kids to write and to feed the Magic Box, a hungry box that eats stories. Then StS! returns and puts on a stage show scripted entirely with the words these schoolkids wrote. And in case this sounds like it could come off as kind of squirmy and precious, let me tell you that the acting troupe is AMAZING.

Usually their shows are for the kids only, but this Thursday, the 20th, they'll be giving a public evening show. If you live in or around Tucson, I would love to see you there.

Jan 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM
STS! at AZ Schools for the Deaf and Blind
Berger Performing Arts Center
1200 W Speedway
Tucson, AZ 85745

The Illustrators Home Office Continued

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd gotten a new assignment from the Illustrators Home Office in Pueblo, Colorado. I'm pretty jazzed about it now. I don't know why they need all these pandas and I'm not going to ask. This offers a good lesson for the art students and up-and-coming illustrators who read my blog: DON'T QUESTION THE ILLUSTRATORS HOME OFFICE. The one and only time I asked for a little clarification they had me drawing hands and complicated Rococo furniture for a month.

Anyway, here's today's batch of pandas. I think I'm really getting somewhere.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Illustrators Home Office

Late last night I got an assignment from the Illustrators Home Office. I hadn't heard boo from them in two years but then I'm suddenly awakened by the chugga-chugga noise of my Illustratophone. I didn't even know it was plugged in.

I hate that chugga-chugga noise.

Anyway, I checked it this morning and the assignment's a peach, so I must be back in their good graces:

Here's the first batch. They'll probably have me doing these all week. I won't know I'm done until the Illustratophone makes the pinging noise and raises the little flags and the tiny metal bird goes back and forth on the track with the yellow things, and you know what they say–a watched illustratophone never pings. So I may as well keep my head down.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Need a Recommendation

An elementary school teacher friend of mine, who teaches 2nd and 3rd graders, needs age-appropriate books about toy design. Design, invention, toy testing...anything along those lines, I think. All I could come up with is Marla Frazee's Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert, and it's a little lean on real-world information.

Little help?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Odyssey Award

Well! This is nice.

The ALA Youth Media Awards were given this morning–a big batch of medals that includes the Caldecotts and Newberys (Newberries?).

So I eventually emerge from my bedroom this morning to discover a bunch of congratulatory emails, because the audio production of The True Meaning of Smekday (read by Bahni Turpin) has won the 2011 Odyssey award for best audiobook produced for children or young adults. Which was a complete surprise. That's not to slight the production or Ms. Turpin, but I just didn't go to bed last night hoping the ALA Santa might bring me something in the morning. It hadn't occurred to me that the audiobook of Smekday was in the running.

I'd have a celebratory drink, but it's only two in the afternoon here.

Thanks to Bahni Turpin and producer Dan Musselman at Listening Library!