Mabel P. Beefensqueeter, surly imaginary FAQ line assistant, returns.
While Miz Lisa goes off to celebrate her upcoming birthday, I, Mabel P., have been left to deal with a sudden onslaught of imaginary FAQs and a kind invitation from friend and fellow illustrator John Lechner to take part in a game of blog tag with other creative types.
John is a talented art director, animator, children's book author/illustrator, and comics illustrator based in Boston. His weekly webcomic, Sticky Burr, is a really fun and wonderfully drawn adventure. He also is an art director at FableVision in Boston.
John tagged Lisa to write about her creative process after writing a post about his own.
Since Lisa is probably in the South of France somewhere, eating bonbons, I, Mabel P., have researched her archives and, armed with information about her artsy fartsy days, will do my level best to write about her work in her absence by answering four questions. I will be expecting a bonus after this.
What am I working on currently?
Madam has just finished writing and illustrating a children's book about the mishaps of a flying squirrel, titled Sabrina: A Great Smoky Mountains Story. From what I hear it will be published early Spring 2015.
The next project is a graphic novel for an older audience (YA and adults) about a 15-year-old boy during The Great Depression. It is based on stories Lisa's dad and others have told about what it was like back then, but the characters themselves will be fictional.
The book is still in its early stages, and since Lisa has not published a graphic novel before, she plans to create the whole book before even attempting to send it to publishers. Who knows, she may even publish it herself, either as an online project or as an eBook. It will be filled with music, strange characters, a planned shotgun wedding, and a game of cat-and-mouse.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Lisa builds puppets for her books. When I say "puppets," I mean animation-style puppets, the kinds similar to the ones used in stop-motion animation films such as "Coraline," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and the upcoming "The Boxtrolls." These kinds of puppets are created with a kind of posable skeleton frame called an armature. After the armature is made, it can be covered up with silicone, foam, fabric, or wool. The armatures' simplicity is based on how much it will need to be posed. If it's going to go through a lot of torture (more poses, causing wires to become fragile), a more durable armature is built.
For "Sabrina" Lisa made a wire armature and covered it with felted wool. It held up reasonably well, considering. She has built soldered brass ball-and-socket armatures for other projects.
Her editor sent her a frozen flying squirrel for reference. The goal was not to make a super-realistic flying squirrel, but since Lisa had never seen a real flying squirrel up close and personal, the specimen was good to have.
" 'Allo, daffy English kniggets and Monsieur Arthur-King, who has the brain of a duck, you know! I wave my private parts at your aunties, you cheesy lot of second hand electric donkey bottom biters."
Why do I write what I do?
Hell, I don't know why Lisa writes what she does. Why are you asking me? Oh, wait—you didn't ask me. Uh, okay, I'll try to answer for her since she's in the south of France eating bonbons and cavorting about naked in the countryside.
Why does anyone write what they write? Probably because there's something eating away at you that you just have to get down on paper. Maybe the world is pissing you off and you want to give it a good talking to. Maybe you just have a burning desire to tell a good story and have people in your clutches for a few minutes, hours, or days. Maybe you're good at writing and you write to pay the bills. Maybe you know how good it feels to escape into a story. Maybe you just can't do anything else.
Based on what Lisa pays me, Mabel P. Beefensqueeter, I can tell you she ain't doing it for the money, pal.
What is my writing/creative process?
Become obsessed with a character you've created in your head. Build a world around it. Scratch out ideas of what this character looks like.
Drink caffeinated beverages. Take walks, or better yet, walk your dog.
Start writing things down. Write more stuff down. Think yourself immensely clever and laugh at your own dumb jokes.
Move the cat.
Make sketches of some of the different scenarios in the book. If it's a picture book, Lisa writes the manuscript first but will draw character sketches as she writes.
Figure out how to pace the story. Where should it slow down? Where should it speed up? Do quick little thumbnail sketches.
Small and scratchy scratchy thumbnail sketches for Sabrina.
Proceed to full-sized sketches. Put together a mock-up of the book, send to editor. Wait to hear back for comments. Argue over requested changes. Make agreed-upon changes. Send a revised PDF to editor, who gives the okay to proceed to final art.
Photograph the puppets.
Digitally paint the backgrounds and merge with puppet photos.
Rescue puppet head mauled by cat. Re-felt.
Send PDF of completed book with art in place to editor. Wait for comments. Argue over comments. Make agreed upon changes.
Collapse into puddle of exhaustion. Wait for book to be officially published.
* * *
Next up in our game of writer/illustrator tag-a-go-go is Linda Davick.
Lisa's friend Linda is a wonderful author/illustrator based in San Francisco. Years ago they both worked at the same publishing house in Tennessee. Her children's books include her most recent, I Love You Nose! I Love You, Toes! and she illustrated the wonderful counting book series by Janet Schulman: 10 Easter Egg Hunters, 10 Trick-or-Treaters, 10 Trim-the-Tree'ers, and 10 Valentine Friends.
And so, without further ado, here's Linda's blog. Keep your eyes peeled for her creative process blog in the next few days.
Tag! You're it!