Wow this week is moving fast! Maybe it's the picture book theme (my passion) and the intensifying work load. (Rumors are that it gets even heavier...!)

Monday's History class focused on more info about the Women of Comics/Picture Books. And the impact of comics on picture books. There was a really strong outcry from parents, critics, censors because comics were a terrible influence on children, of course. There were actually two reactions, one was a reaction against comics (mostly male artists) - picture books that  were even more traditional than usual. And the second reaction (mostly female artists!) which embraced some of the design concepts and experimented with comic book sensibilities: extra abilities, impossible odds, humor, and no serious damage suffered by anyone. This Experiment ended in 1947 and didn't reappear until Maurice Sendak in the 1960's.

Steve Bissette prefaced his lecture, "The Evolution of Word Balloons" by saying it would be the "most boring lecture this year." Our TA, James, assured us, that was not true. There would be plenty of other boring lectures. Although, he couldn't say what they were, as he had slept through them. ;-)

I actually thought this lecture was interesting. I hadn't realized that speech balloons, in a simplified form, appear in 12th century illuminated manuscripts. And religious art from the 1500's have gorgeous speech "scrolls" coming out of the painted figures mouths!

In Publication Workshop, we worked in Photoshop again to learn about "Layers." Luke gave a great demo showing how we could visualize it like sheets of transparencies stacked up in a pile. I have always had trouble figuring out how to make the white background drop out so that I could see the layers beneath - without physically erasing the white pixels. We learned a few different ways of selecting and transforming pixels including the "Multiply Layer" option. That one makes no sense, really... "multiply"? What?

Pretty good explanation... Say you have a layer with your black and white art, and beneath, you have a layer with pink and green art. Each of those colors has a number assigned to it (these are the colors that show up when you do color selection). So, simplifying it some more... Black is 100% and White is 0%. When you select "Multiply Layer" on the B&W layer, the program looks down through the layers and multiplies (actually it "Adds") the percentages of the colors. Since White is "0" - whatever color is beneath it, will show through clearly. The Black is 100%, so nothing shows through.

This may seem kind of boring, but it's important for cartooning since colors are created on separate layers from the black line art. I never could figure out how this was done.

We also got our next big design assignment - a POSTER for our favorite band. We studied a lot of poster designs to see what stands out and how to prioritize the information. We need 10 sketches for our poster by next class. So far... I can't think of my favorite band! Last concert I went to was Elton John at Madison Square Garden... hmmm... that could be an interesting challenge!

In Cartooning Studio today, we spent the whole first half in our critique groups going over our manuscripts and thumbnails for our picture books (dummies are due next week!)

Critique was really tough, but we all got really excited about each other's stories and the ideas and suggestions got better and better!

These are my sketches for a few of the items from my story...

Wolves, fluffernutter sandwiches, poison ivy, and compost piles. I bet you've never seen these all together before!?

My story is titled "Clarabell, Petunia, and Chester" and it's a riff on the Three Little Pigs. The kids are awful and slobs, They each have a clubhouse - one in a compost heap, one is a shed in a poison ivy patch, and the third is a treehouse in a willow tree over a river.

The mom freaks out and runs away. A hairy babysitter arrives, chases them from clubhouse to clubhouse. They all get knocked into the river from the treehouse... where they are exposed when clean - as actually being PIGS. "Moral of the story: If children act like pigs, they probably are." And the last picture is the mom, returned, feeding the piglets at a trough. Everyone is happy and clean (as pigs).

Developing the characters so they look like kids - without showing they are really pigs... TOUGH!

And some ideas for the cover...

I'm going to use the middle one.

For next Wednesday... I need to take those thumbnails and develop them into full-size detailed sketches. The covers, first page, and two 2-page spreads - all need to be completely finished art and typeset, or hand-lettered. The whole thing needs to be laid out in InDesign with typesetting, then printed and assembled into a dummy book. (Plus we have more lettering practice and sketches of trees.)

Yikes!

I apologize for not doing the inking video and Open Studio yet. I think I am bordering on overwhelmed! Those of you who joined the blog hoping to witness a nervous breakdown... stay tuned!

My son came home for a week's break from college, last Friday night. I got to hang out with him at our town's Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday, then ran back to school to do the above sketches. Tomorrow I'm planning to head back to Warner after classes finish, so I can see him before he heads back to his own school, on Saturday. Double distraction is all the legal stuff going on right now too. I am learning some very interesting things about trademarks and copyrights though.

I got an email from the kids' grandmother asking if she could borrow the kids to take them on a hike up Mt. Kearsarge on Friday after school. No, I'm not invited to join them. And that is the only time that I have to spend with my kids this week before Alex goes back to school (and I come back to my school on Saturday too.) Sigh. There is so much guilt. I suggested that Thursday would be better - since I'm not there anyway - but she said that wasn't convenient for her. Agh. I should just stay at school!

No! I need to talk to my tiny Art Director - she gives really good feedback for these assignments and it makes me feel so wonderful when she says "Oooo, mom, I really like that!" And she promised to take me to a movie! Mom-time trumps Gramma-time, right?