Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Cards Past - #1

One year I will have the Christmas card finished before Thanksgiving. Not this year, but one year. This year I'll be spending the holiday before Christmas in the traditional way - in front of the drafting table wishing that I had done the card back in July.

For ten years now I have done dachshund-themed Christmas cards. I'm smitten with the little weiner dogs, and have enjoyed designing something every year that demanded no consistency of style or materials.

So here's a little trip down memory lane, starting with the first card.

This one was an unholy medieval/photo mashup. That's an ox and ass in the stable. Baby Jesus is represented by the yellow glow, in the same way that he's represented by a lightbulb in many Christmas pageants. This design was a combination of photography and some work in the late, lamented FreeHand, assembled in Photoshop.

The following year I was still doing a sacred/secular mix. Here we have the Adoration of the Wiener Dogs, with the happy dogs bounding in to greet the Holy Family with the shepherds.. I'm not sure whose image I borrowed for the base. I do apologize; this probably doesn't constitute "fair use" and I promise not to do it again. Next time I'll have to paint my own Renaissance master-esque scene. I dropped my dogs in with Photoshop.

Have you ever enjoyed a December afternoon wrapping presents and listening to the Wiener Knabenchor (Vienna Boys' Choir)? How about shattering the peace with the Howleluja Chorus and the Wiener Hundenchor? This year's card was rendered in watercolor.

More to come!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Werewolf Club #1

These are a couple of sketches for some samples I'm planning based on The Werewolf Club #2 - The Lunchroom of Doom by Daniel Pinkwater.

Mr. Pinkwater used to review children's books on Weekend Edition on NPR. It's been a long time since I've heard him, though, so I wonder if that feature has been discontinued.

The first book of his that I read was the wonderful Lizard Music. I love it when a book surprises me, and this one had something unexpected on nearly every page.

Recently I picked up this second installment in The Werewolf Club at Half-Price. Even though this is a book for a much younger reader, and the story is pretty simple, it is still delightfully unpredictable and a fun read. It's unusual for a book that is supposed to be funny for 9 year olds to also be funny to bit more mature. Just the idea that a school would have a werewolf group along with Spanish club and chess club makes me smile. Lucky for this school, they had a werewolf teacher to act as faculty sponsor. I even enjoyed re-reading this story, and think that it's entertaining enough that young readers would want to look up some of the longer, unfamiliar words. The others in the series are going on my Amazon list, unless I'm lucky enough to find more of them at Half-Price.
One of the speakers at the last SCBWI conference I attended suggested that illustrators expand their scope beyond picture books and consider chapter books as well. Werewolf Club came to mind instantly as a story I'd like to tackle.
There's not a whole lot of character development in this story, but Billy Furball stands out as the comic figure within the comedy. The other kids are united not only in lycanthropy, but in their revulsion over Billy's lunches and hygiene. The villians are evil space aliens, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance!
No spoilers yet. More to come.