I'm not quite sure if my Odyssey project met with approval or not. The impressions and notes I wrote down during critique suggest that people didn't really get it. There was confusion about the creatures changing from one page to the next and whether the spaceman was being sucked IN to the blackhole, or spit OUT. I took the assignment much more literally than the others did and tried to work not only in the style of Emberly, but also in the spirit of his work.

Ed Emberly encourages the reader to use just a few basic shapes to create a whole world and shows how easily the shapes recombine to form new objects and creatures. So - I had the shapes recombining on each page... and then when they fall apart and fall out of the square at the end, the girl recombines them into the shape of a sleeping bear. I thought it made a nice circle and a nice journey. If I get time - I'll rework it with some of the suggestions. But I had been happy with how it turned out.

The next assignment is to do a children's book dummy!

We had lectures from James Sturm and then Sarah Stewart Taylor (she wrote the Expeditioners with Katherine Roy, a graduate of CCS). Sarah is also the leader of my brainstorming group for our picture book ideas. When I go home this weekend, I'm going to find my copy of the book so she can sign it next week!

They lectured on the history (quick version) of picture books.  It was so fast, I didn't have a chance to illustrate my notes! James pointed out that women have been neglected in the history of cartooning, but they were using their talents in the picture book world.


It was interesting that in the medieval times, "childhood" didn't exist. Kids were seen as just small adults without different needs. And most people were illiterate anyway. Children's books did not become a "thing" until after the industrial revolution when schooling became mandatory and schools needed books. Most of those books were moralistic or just plain boring ("Dick and Jane"!)

I find it a bit terrifying that the best-selling children's book EVER - is also one of the worst - the Golden Book - The Poky Little Puppy.

After our heads were stuffed full of info - we were given a worksheet and fifteen minutes to come up with three picture book pitches complete with titles. Then we had to pitch them to our brainstorming group and pick one... to write a manuscript and thumbnails for next week! Egads. The complete dummy with sketches and 2 finished spreads... is due the following week.

I am reminded that this is SCHOOL not the REAL WORLD. In the real World, we'd have at least three weeks. ;-)

I don't think well under pressure - especially for ideas. I tried to think of book ideas I had started that had been rejected by editors, but I'd love to rework. I did come up with one new idea - The Lilah Beans Build a Rainbow. But I don't have a story really. And with Fall Festival this weekend and my son coming home for a visit... I wonder if it wouldn't make more sense to go with one of my other two ideas reusing The Night Before Christmas or Old Mother Hubbard instead. Mostly - I'd like a day off without homework, cleaning, searching for legal files... a movie! In a movie theatre! Drool.

Anyway.

I haven't told you much about Life Drawing class because I didn't have much worth showing you. We were mostly doing really quick gesture drawings and I hate those. I don't work fast and I dislike charcoal and I get antsy drawing the same thing for 3 hours. We also have lectures about bones and muscles and how the two attach.

I find this both fascinating and disturbing. Despite - or maybe because of - having grown up in a laboratory. But last week's class, where Kriota drew on the model, made an impact on me. I started to see the use and the application of life drawing... if only I could find a medium that didn't frustrate me.

Interesting note from this morning's class...
We often learn - especially when doing cartoon people - to draw a stick figure and then build the character out from there. But human "sticks" don't actually look like a real stick figure. For example, the human legs are at an angle from the pelvis (hips) in order to support us standing upright.

Here is one of my charcoal sketches.

Today, Bill, the teacher - showed me how to smear the charcoal to make a gray background, then pick out highlights with the eraser. Since I had been so frustrated with trying to show substance (not stick figures!) this really appealed to me. I use a lot of shading in my work and it felt very natural. Although the darks are DARK and not easy to tone down.

I still hate charcoal - my hands and table were covered with it. (I'm kind of a neat-freak with materials). But at least I feel a little bit of satisfaction and encouragement to keep at this. Next week we are working on toned paper with white chalk.

The Visiting Artist today was Box Brown - "an Ignatz Award winning cartoonist, illustrator and comic publisher from Philadelphia." He runs Retrofit Comics and is famous for his graphic novel about Andre the Giant. He's obsessed with wrestling and I can totally picture him sitting on a couch with his best buds, drinking beer and yelling at the tv screen.

He was funny - but he didn't grab my attention the way some of the past presenters did. There's always something to be gleaned though. Box had a terrible experience with really bad reviews from the industry press. He was devastated until he realized that they are just someone's opinions. Someone loud, respected, and obnoxious... but just a human. His being angry and hating that person - was only hurting himself. Let it go.

Also - don't let yourself feel greedy about ideas and opportunities. There are plenty and you just need to think outside the usual places. Just as Kriota Wilberg pointed out last week (medical comics!) - his writing a comic about Andre the Giant appealed to not only comic book people, but was hugely popular with folks who might never touch a comic... wrestling fans!

During Q&A, someone asked about the interesting things he had learned about Andre. He said that of all the things he had done, Andre valued his time filming The Princess Bride the most. On the set, with all the fantastical creatures and magic settings, no one was staring at him. He wasn't a freak, just another magical creature.

And lastly, I had Lilah Beans on my mind (for my homework?) and did this really fun drawing... instead of taking many notes!)

Oh! And this is funny...
Face timing with my daughter works just fine. Kids are born knowing these things. But my Mom? Not so much. I kept trying to explain to her that I can SEE her in the screen, but she needs to show her face. I kept laughing because she would lower the phone and the buttons covered her eyes. Like some futuristic Coraline-Mom.

Coraline's Mom...

My mom...

Freaky, right?