Rollicking Rhymes – Imagine That

Instructional Fair

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In November and December of 1999 I had the second of two full color book assignments for Instructional Fair. I had been doing mostly black and white cartoon work for this client for a couple years, and these two books were a chance to really stretch out and try something a bit more ambitious.

This book was the 2nd of the two, and consisted of two unrelated stories. One about a mystery man who arrives in a vaguely European town and proceeds to pull a number of inexplicable objects from his satchel, and then put them back in. The second story was about a boy who imagines a group of small creatures living in the pipes under his kitchen sink. I got the impression that the main purpose of these books were in introducing specific words to a young reader’s vocabulary, and the stories were sort of cobbled together around this laundry list of words.

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I tried to tie the two stories together by including the ‘under the sink creatures’ as a decorative motif at the base of the fountain. Not sure if it was noticeable enough. I certainly seemed to enjoy the challenge of the second half of the book much more than the first half, although in retrospect, the blue and pink were poor color choices for the characters.
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Previously, I had only shared a couple sample illustrations from this book, but am going back in 2018 to be a bit more completist, and have shared all the illustrations for the first time since publication.

As a side note, I had given away my free author’s copies of both of these books years ago, and recently tried to find them on eBay. For some reason, this particular title is very hard to find, and copies are going for several hundred dollars (while “Mother Goose News” the other title I did around the same time, is still very reasonable priced as a used book). Guess I’ll keep looking.

Also, as a bonus, here’s an alternate cover illustration that was never used (although it may have been used as a frontispiece for the book, I can’t remember).

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Challenge Your Child Grade One

Instructional Fair

Challenge1aOne of two ‘Challenge Your Child’ books that I did in the latter part of 1999. I would do two more of these books in the beginning of the following year. This one, like all four books in the series, were very labor intensive, in the neighborhood of 200 illustrations each. This is the first time I’m sharing all the illustrations in the project since publication. (writing this in 2018) – Anyways, here’s all the illustrations for “Grade One”:

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Legal Publication Work

ABA, Legal Times


The above large illustration was for a midwest legal magazine. I’m still sort of struggling with how to handle the scratchboard style when faced with a larger sized project. Interesting layout, but I’m not too happy with the end product. Unfortunate color choices, and the foreground figure is way too busy and overworked.

I had a trio of assignments this month for my east coast legal newspaper client. The first one was something to do with former ‘attorney generals’, and I’m not very pleased with how it turned out. The likenesses aren’t very good and the layout is a bit dull.


Another illustration above for the same client. A bit better use of scratchboard techniques on this one, and the layout was fairly simple and direct.

Below is another for the same client this month. Another very awkward layout and concept (handed me by the editors in this case), and the likenesses are very hit or miss. (I also never much care for illustrations that include ‘text labels’ to help explain what is going on).

Cartoon Assignments for December

Innovision, Metro Detroit Parent, Newsday


The above illustration regarding ‘online beauty sites’ was one of my better concepts around this time. The idea of a tiny little computer the size of a woman’s makeup compact was rather far fetched back in ’99, but only ten years later and we may very well end up seeing computer laptops shrunk down to this size.

Also this month, for a midwest evangelical client, I had a series of small spots having to do with ‘where your donations go’.

I also had a series of small black and white illustrations for my agent, for a michigan regional parenting magazine (one of which I’ve included here by way of example).

Newspaper Clippings

America, Newsday


I had three assignments this month for my east coast newspaper client. The color piece above was for a New Year’s feature (probably ‘food resolutions’ as the topic). The piece to the left was a same day assignment having to do with China as an emerging economic power in the east.

The piece below had something to do with ‘blended families’ and the problems they face during the holiday season. This was the second illustration this month in which I experimented with coloring a foreground character all in a single monotone color as a way of separating it from the background for dramatic effect. This one was more successful than the ‘classroom piece’ (pictured in another posting this month), but I’m still not too happy with how I treated the ‘couch’ on the right side.

Also, this month, for a jesuit publication, I had the following assignment. (don’t quite remember what it was about).