Well, it looks like this page needs some serious updating! I'm currently working on Seabiscuit. Below are some finishes.
I also finished a book called ASTRONAUT HANDBOOK. I'm really happy with it! Check back very soon for some samples from the book and for a lot of photos of NASA. The rest of the stuff below is old news. I'm going to make this page completely new.... very soon!
It's been a long while since I've updated this section. I thought it was time to give you all a peak at what's coming next.
Pale Male is a book idea that's been brewing in my head for several years. Its intended home was Harcourt BUT guess what? Children's book author/illustrator Jeannette Winter beat me to it! That rattled me a bit at first since I knew I had the idea first (just had to finish up my multiple other books under contract first... I swear, I'm not whining). I also offered the idea to Knopf... but they also weren't interested for some reason. Guess what I found out? They're doing a book on the hawk too! Geez! All I have to say is I had the idea first! I know the whole nest removal thing that was plastered all over the news gave this idea to these other talented writers and illustrators, but really, the situation does stink. I wondered for a time if MY Pale Male idea would ever find a home. Fortunately, my agent put me in contact with some wonderful folks at S&S. After meeting Paula Wiseman and editor Alexandra Penfold, I knew they were the right people to help me make this book a reality. Everything will work out wonderfully!
I'm really excited about the story because it's so unusual. A red-tailed hawk made his home in NYC and has been flying the city's skies since the early 90s. He's delighted birdwatchers everywhere! City folk will stop in awe as the large bird swoops down and snatches up a pigeon to feed his young. It's an exciting thing. It just goes to show that even though buildings will take over and trees will disappear, nature will find a way to survive. I go running a lot in Central Park and have sighted the hawk several times during the warm months, perched happily on a lamppost.
Below are several early sketches for the book.
I plan on hopefully very soon (once that book advance money comes in!) on purchasing a new digital camera that will allow me to document the Central Park happenings for myself. Working from many photo reference materials, I hope to make this book really attention grabbinglots of bird's-eye-view paintings of the city.
Stay tuned for more news shortly!
Lots of new projects are in the works and lots of old ones are getting some polish. I'm currently painting illustrations for HarcourtSteal Back the Mona Lisa!
Below are some finished illustrations:
The crooked crooks are stealing the Mona Lisa. .
Jack hops onto his private jet. Little does he know that the pilot is up to no good....
The Crooked Crooks have taken Jack to a dark, sinister warehouse.
Jack gets kidnapped and taken to a dark, speedy boat. Are those sharks?
Jack makes his way to the Louvre, with something very odd under his jacket.
This is a sketch of the proposed cover. The latest development is that apparently I can't paint the cover purple or pink as I'd plannedthose colors are too "girlie." I don't think so, but I guess my opinion doesn't get me far.
Steal Back the Mona Lisa is a story about a boy who wakes up one morning to discover that he's a spy and on a mission to rescue the Mona Lisa from the crooks who stole it! I want the artwork for this book to have a retro 007/Pink Panther influenced design.
Above are two interior sketches. The first is Special Agent Jack in the plane. The second is the two Crooked Crooks stealing the Mona Lisa.
To go to the book's official website, click here.
The book is about the day, in 1838, when Orson Welles and The Mercury Theater broadcast a play based on H.G Wells's story THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. The broadcast was was a little too convincing and thousands of Americans really believed that there was an alien invasion. People fled their homes with their worldly possessions. Telephone lines were jammed. Police searched in vain for Martian heat rays.
My book will quote considerable amounts from the actual play, written by Howard Koch. I believe that printing the actual words that fooled a nation is important. There will be a four paged author's note in the back that will talk about the broadcast and the history surrounding it, in more detail.
I hope that this book can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 1930s - 50s Pulp magazines are heavy design influences for this project. I think the design will make this educational book fun, engaging, and really place this story in the 1930s.
Above is a sketch of the proposed cover. Sometimes I do my sketches in B&W and sometimes I do them in color using a crayon.... It depends on my mood. Science fiction pulp will be my inspiration for this book. Below is the finished cover.
Below are two finishes for the book hot off the press!
These are the endpapers.
This is the scene when the aliens emerge from their fiery spaceship!
This is a sample of one of the B&W spreads.
Here is a sketch from the book"Seabiscuit VS. War Admiral"
Most people are aware of the Seabiscuit story because of Hillenbrand's bestseller or perhaps, because of the movie Seabiscuit staring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper. Certainly, there's plenty of Seabiscuit information to chew on. Perhaps some people are wondering then, why yet another book about Seabiscuit? For one, there are only a select few books on the subject for ages 12 and under. There is one picture book called Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral, there is a book called called Come on Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody which is a chapter book/middle grade originally published in 1963 (it has been repackaged for adults this past year), and there is a beginning reader recently published by Penguin Putnam entitled A Horse Named Seabiscuit. The books I've named are "serious" takes on the subject. True, the story has a serious, almost sad aspect to it, but the Seabiscuit saga is also a lot of fun! What kid wouldn't want to route for the goofy looking overweight horse who runs like a duck? What kid wouldn't want to read about how the underdog beat the snotty aristocratic horse named War Admiral?
Seabiscuit was America's hero, who in the late 1930s proved that the underdog could prevail, setting new racing records. My picture book will bring out the inherent silliness of this horse, but also show how inspiring he was to a country in need of a hero.
This is another sketch. Here we can see Seabiscuit at his fineststocky, low slung, overweight, with a limp.
This project involves a lot of research I've spent countless hours, days, and months digging up whatever I can find on the subject. I've looked through old newspaper articles, found Seabiscuit memorabilia on Ebay, and have read almost every book published on the subject.
And the work isn't done yet! I'm still working on the text. After that is finished, then I have a lot of photo research to do!
This is a sketch of people at the race track.
Recommended adult reading and viewing:
Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand: This is a MUST READ! This book started the Seabiscuit craze all over again, creating a new generation of Seabiscuit lovers. It's very will written and engaging (and this is coming from someone who previously cared little for horses or horse racing).
Go to the official website for the book at Seabiscuit online
Read Hillenbrand's article on Seabiscuit (written prior to the novel), first published in The Backstretch magazine, called Four Good Legs Between Us at : thoroughbredchampions.com
The Seabiscuit Story, edited by John McEvoy: This book is a compilation of all the articles surrounding the Seabiscuit story from The Blood-Horse magazine.
Seabiscuit: American Experience PBS documentary: I first got the idea to create my picture book after viewing this program. As always, PBS has captured the essence of the story using historical footage, informative commentary, and great interviews from the people who were really there!
Read more about Seabiscuit and the making of the PBS film, plus read the transcripts and listen to actual racing broadcasts at pbs.org - Seabiscuit (lots of great stuff for educators!)