One of my favorite projects from last year, was the book “Bringing Down a President” for MacMillan. I was an avid ‘Watergate Junky’ back when I was around ten years old, and I remember watching the hearings on television after school, and checking the bulky transcripts of the White House tapes out of the local library. So I was very enthusiastic when given the chance to draw Nixon and his gang of cronies for this book. A very interesting read, even though it is aimed for ‘middle school readers’, and I learned a few things that I didn’t know. Available on Amazon. Highly recommended. I’ve shared a few samples from this project in the past, but here’s the entire collection for the first time.
Been pretty busy the past two weeks. This is the big project I’ve been alluding to for the past 6-8 months. For MacMillan’s ‘First Second’ graphic novel line, I am adapting Dan Rather & Elliot Kirschner’s book ‘What Unites Us’ in graphic novel form for middle age readers (or all ages, for that matter), as part of their “World Citizen Comics” series. In May I worked up a complete rough sketch layout of the book, and a few weeks ago I got the go ahead to start the first two chapters, so that the publisher may run a sample printing on the paper stock and evaluate how it looks. Above and below are a few sample pages from the second chapter (above) and the first (below). I’ve also begun some preliminary concept work on the cover. Since I’ve never done anything of this complexity before, I was curious to see what sort of pace I would set for myself, and it looks like 3 pages a day is pretty much my maximum. There has been some talk of this possibly being released online in serial form, but I’ll hold off on additional samples until this comes to fruition. Been enjoying this project immensely so far, having been an ambition of mine to do comics since a very young age.
For the past three weeks I’ve been pretty much exclusively working on the Dan Rather “What Unites Us” project (above is a River Styx illustration which I just finished up this morning before diving into the final chapter). I’ve been working up layouts and doing rough sketches for the book’s page flow. Below is an image containing all but the final chapter in thumbnail form (the ten or so pages at the bottom are today’s workload, and then the 8 pages with the ‘red marks’ at the bottom are pages that may be gained by splitting some of the more crowded pages already sketched). This is the first time doing a graphic novel adaptation like this, so the biggest challenge for me so far has been in making it all come out to be the proper number of pages (in this case, 264). The plan is to perhaps release this book in serial form online on Mr. Rather’s website, so perhaps as I make headway into the finishes, I can share some of the work in progress. This has, so far, been one of the most interesting projects I’ve ever been involved with.
Been a while since I’ve written.
The green light to begin sketches on the graphic novel came through over the weekend, and I began work on outlining the structure of the book, and this week I have been hard at work at sketches. Nice to be busy again. I’ve set the paint brushes aside for now, but hopefully when things get a bit more under control I can return to them.
But as a nice reward for getting back into the painting, I decided to enter three pieces in this year’s “Festival of the Arts” visual arts competition. Our town hosts an all-volunteer run arts festival every year (this is their 50th year anniversary), and I have only ever entered artwork once before, way back in 1990 (or thereabouts). I am pleased to report that all three were accepted and will be on display from June 1-22 at the old art museum here in Grand Rapids. From the previous post, the paintings were “Life of the Party” (the sleeping man with the party hat), “Shot and a Beer” (man in the tee shirt with the bottle of J&B) and “The Water’s Fine” (the girl in the bathing suit).
Meanwhile, I’ve also had a few smaller assignments to work on in the margins. Above was another fiction piece for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and below is a sketch for an upcoming River Styx assignment.
And as a sneak peek at what has been taking up most of my time this week, here’s a look at one of the sketch pages for the Dan Rather “What Unites Us” graphic novel. More on this, I’m sure, over the coming months.
This was a book that I illustrated earlier this year, and I recently heard from the publisher, who shared this image of the cover design. This was a project that I was very excited to work on, as I was a ‘Watergate Junkie’ back in the seventies at the ripe young age of 12 years old, watching the hearings on TV in the afternoon, following the developments in the newspaper, and even checking the massive “Watergate Tapes” book out of the library when it was published (also a big fan of the book and movie version of “All the President’s Men”). So, when they approached me with this project, I couldn’t have been happier. Looking forward to seeing the finished product when it hits the bookshelves. (and once the book is published, I’ll be sharing the interior illustrations here, so stay tuned)