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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Artists Recreate Kid Monster Drawings

Kids have amazing creativity, which is further fleshed out by professional artists as part of The Monster Project. From Greta J. and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Last year we introduced you to The Monster Project, an awesome initiative that sees professional artists adding their own unique touches to monster doodles created by kids in elementary. Well now we’re bringing you more of their amazing collaborations, and as you can see below, the results are quite spectacular.

Based out of Texas, the purpose of the project is to encourage creativity and provide inspiration for artistic children everywhere. “With a decreasing emphasis on arts in schools, many children don’t have the opportunity for creative exploration they deserve,” reads their website. “That’s a monstrous trend we would like to destroy. As artists ourselves, we understand how important that initial creative exposure is and how it can truly alter the shape of a child’s future. Creativity comes in many forms, and we hope to encourage their exploration of their own unique perceptions of the world we share.”

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project

The Monster Project


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Cakes Too Pretty to Eat

This has nothing to do with KidLit, fantasy, or sci-fi. But it relates to CAKE! From cake artisan Olga Noskovaa and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Russian confectioner Olga makes sweets that look like marbled mirrors. Although little is known about her, Olga’s Instagram is a source of envy for many. Luckily, reddit user SuperDrew124 shared the secret behind this mirror-like glaze:

Ingredients: 20 g Gelatin Powder, 120 g Water, 300 g Glucose, 300 g Sugar, 150 g Water, 200 g Sweetened Cond Milk, 300 g Chocolate (White, Milk, Dark or a combination), Food Coloring

Steps:

1) Bloom the gelatin in the water;
2) Boil the glucose, sugar & water;
3) Remove from heat and add the gelatin;
4) Add the cond milk;
5) Pour over chocolate and buerre mix to remove air bubbles;
Use at 35C/95F.

The marbling effect is achieved by pouring different color glazes together over the cake.”


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KidLit Creature Week 2016 now open for submissions

KIDLIT CREATURE WEEK is an annual collaboration of children’s book artists. Illustrators may now submit an illustration to our online gallery of monsters, creatures & other imaginary beasts suitable for children’s literature. We’ll be posting the submissions starting in mid-January. It’s fun and it’s free. Be inspired by others’ art. Promote your work by sharing it.

KCWbanner2016
Submit before 1/1/16 an image of any creature you’ve illustrated. It need not have been traditionally published. “Creature” is defined in this context as any sentient being not found in nature, e.g. dragon, ninja rabbit, muppet, talking crayon, elf, and so on. Full details are on the KCW website.

Here is artwork from some of this year’s Guests of Honor:

bowers2 Krispin Blaze by Tim Bowers

florianMostly Monstrous Monsters by Douglas Florian

kirschDragonfleez by Vincent X. Kirsch

klassenTattletale Crab by Jon Klassen
ladenCroctopus by Nina Laden
rexGiant Spider by Adam Rex
reynoldspEr-ick by Peter H. Reynolds


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KidLit Creature Week 2015 Launches!

KCWbanner2015

KidLit Creature Week 2015 has launched! KidLit Creature Week is a free illustrator collaboration displaying an online gallery of monsters, creatures & other imaginary beasts suitable for children’s literature. In addition to creatures from 12 Guests of Honor, starting January 15, we will start revealing the other participants’ creatures, roughly five per day. The first batch is below. View ALL the images at http://www.birchtreepub.com/kcw/

aultnoble

‘Sup by Kathryn Ault Noble

collard

Fredlet by Julia Shahin Collard

eddingfield

Nimpentoad by Sean Eddingfield

larson

Little Witch Muffet by Abigail Larson

ng-benitez

Atlas & Tarf by Shirley Ng-Benitez

santhanum

Scroffie Fondu by Karen Santhanum

yuly

Flowerbot by Toni Yuly

woods

Queen of Dreams by Lisa Woods

 

 


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How SFF characters made their way to the mountains of Titan

We all have our favorite children’s books. And many of them feature imagined worlds with their own languages, cultures, and geography. Did you know that some character and place names from science fiction and fantasy children’s literature have made their way into astronomy?

Titan

One of Saturn’s moons is Titan. And those wacky, kidlit-lovin’ astronomers have named some of the features of Titan after fictitious places created by fantasy and science fiction literature titans J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert. The full list can be viewed at the USGS website, but here are some tasty samples:

Angmar Montes (Mountain)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Named after an evil kingdom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Silmarillion”

From wikipedia.org:
“Angmar was founded in T.A. 1300 in the far north of the Misty Mountains by the evil Lord of the Ringwraiths, who became known as the “Witch-king of Angmar”. Since the Witch-king was a servant of the Dark Lord Sauron, it is presumed that Angmar’s wars against the successor kingdoms of Arnor were done at Sauron’s bidding to destroy an important ally of Gondor. It may also be presumed that wars against Arnor were an attempt to find the One Ring, as Isildur was going to Arnor to make the Ring an heirloom of the kingdom when he was killed.”

Arrakis Planitia (Impact basin)

Dune
Named after the planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic “Dune”

From wikipedia.org:
“Arrakis — informally known as Dune — is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert. Herbert’s first novel in the series, 1965’s Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. In Dune, the planet is the home of the Fremen, and subsequently is the Imperial Capital of the Atreides Empire.”

“Arrakis … Dune … wasteland of the Empire, and the most valuable planet in the universe. Because it is here — and only here — where spice is found. The spice. Without it there is no commerce in the Empire, there is no civilization. Arrakis … Dune … home of the spice, greatest of treasure in the universe. And he who controls it, controls our destiny.”

Arwen Colles (Hill)

Arwen
Named after the elf princess Arwen, daughter of Elrond in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings”

From wikipedia.org:
“Arwen was the youngest child of Elrond and Celebrían. Her name Ar-wen means ‘noble maiden’. She bore the sobriquet “Evenstar” (or Evening Star), as the most beautiful of the last generation of High Elves in Middle-earth.

As told in “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”, Aragorn in his twentieth year met Arwen for the first time in Rivendell, where he lived under Elrond’s protection. Arwen, then over 2700 years old, had recently returned to her father’s home after living for a while with her grandmother Lady Galadriel in Lórien. Aragorn fell in love with Arwen at first sight. Some thirty years later, the two were reunited in Lórien. Arwen reciprocated Aragorn’s love, and on the mound of Cerin Amroth they committed themselves to marry one another.”

Bilbo Colles (Hill)

bilbo
Named after Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit protagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

From wikipedia.org:
“In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit in comfortable middle age at 50 years old, was hired in spite of himself as a “burglar” by the wizard Gandalf and 13 dwarves led by their king Thorin Oakenshield on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. The adventure took Bilbo and the companions through the wilderness, to the elf haven of Rivendell, across the Misty Mountains and the black forest of Mirkwood, to Lake-town in the middle of Long Lake, and eventually to the Mountain itself. Here, after the dragon was killed and the Mountain reclaimed, the Battle of Five Armies took place.

In his journey, Bilbo encountered other fantastic creatures, including trolls, elves, giant spiders, a man who can change shape into a bear, goblins, eagles, wolves and a slimy, murderous creature named Gollum. Underground, near Gollum’s lair, Bilbo accidentally found a magic ring of invisibility, which he used to escape from Gollum.”

Chusuk Planitia (Impact basin)

chusuk
Named after the planet Chusuk in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic “Dune”

From wikipedia.org:
“In Dune, Chusuk is the “fourth planet of Theta Shalish; the so-called ‘Music Planet’ noted for the quality of its musical instruments.” The Appendix of Dune mentions “the Navachristianity of Chusuk.”

Doom Mons (Mountain)

mtdoom
Named after a volcanic mountain in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.

From wikipedia.org:
“Mount Doom is a fictional volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr. Alternative names, in Tolkien’s invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin (“fiery mountain”) and Amon Amarth (“mountain of fate”). The Sammath Naur (“Chambers of Fire”), made by Sauron in the Second Age, is a structure located deep within the mountain’s molten core. It was here Sauron forged the One Ring during the Second Age.

The mountain represents the endpoint of Frodo Baggins’ quest to destroy the Ring which is recounted in The Lord of the Rings. The chasm is the site where the One Ring was originally forged by the Dark Lord Sauron and the only place it can be destroyed.”

Echoriath Montes (Mountain)

echoriath
Named after the Encircling Mountains mountain range in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Silmarillion”

From wikipedia.org:
“A mountain range in the north of Beleriand, also called the Encircling Mountains. The Echoriath formed a natural circle of rock, enclosing the valley later called Tumladen, within which lay the Elven city of Gondolin. A hidden ravine provided the only access through the Echoriath — a way guarded by seven gates. Fingolfin, a High King of the Noldor, was buried in the Echoriath north of Gondolin, having been taken there by the eagle Thorondor after he was slain in his duel with Morgoth. Glorfindel was also buried in this place.”

Erebor Mons (Mountain)

Erebor
Named after a mountain and Dwarf kingdom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Hobbit”. 

From wikipedia.org:
“In J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium, the Lonely Mountain (Sindarin Erebor) is a mountain in the north of Rhovanion. It is the source of the Celduin River, and the location of the Kingdom Under the Mountain. The town of Dale lies in a vale on its southern slopes.

Erebor became the home of the Folk of Durin, a clan of Dwarves known as the Longbeards, after they were driven from their ancestral home of Khazad-dûm. In the latter days of the Third Age, this Kingdom Under the Mountain held one of the largest dwarvish treasure hoards in Middle-earth.”

Faramir Colles (Hill)

faramir
Named after the son of the steward of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Lord of the Rings”

From wikipedia.org:
“Faramir is the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor. The relationships between the three men are revealed over the course of the book and are elaborated in the appendices.

Faramir first enters the narrative in person in The Two Towers, where, upon meeting Frodo Baggins, he is presented with a temptation to take possession of the One Ring. In The Return of the King, he led the forces of Gondor during the War of the Ring, coming near to death, and eventually succeeded his father as the Steward and won the love of Éowyn of Rohan.”

Misty Montes (Mountain)

Misty_mountains
Named after the Misty Mountains mountain range in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

From wikipedia.org:
“In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-earth, the Misty Mountains (also known by its Sindarin name of Hithaeglir—misspelled as Hithaiglin on the original Lord of the Rings map—and as the Mountains of Mist) is a mountain range, running for 795 miles from north to south, between Eriador and the valley of the Great River, Anduin, and from Mount Gundabad in the far north to Methedras in the south.

The northernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Mount Gundabad, where according to legend Durin awoke, though it was later an abode of Orcs. The greatest Dwarven realm in Middle-earth, Khazad-dûm, was located at the midpoint of the Misty Mountains. The three peaks that were part of Khazad-dûm were Caradhras (Redhorn), Celebdil (Silvertine) and Fanuidhol (Cloudyhead). Inside Celebdil, the Dwarves built the Endless Stair, from the foundations of the mountain to the top of it. The southernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Methedras (Last Peak).”

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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The Nimpentoad authors at San Diego Comic-Con

My fellow Nimpentoad and Twignibble co-authors and I had a great time wandering the Exhibit Hall at the San Diego Comic-Con. Here are a few pictures.

SDCC_PlantVZombie

Nothing starts your day like meeting a zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies game my boys enjoy playing.

SDCC_PeterBeagle

For us older folks, it was a real treat to meet Peter Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn”.

SDCC_KenMeyer

Here are my co-authors with comic artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

SDCC_KatieCook

Here are my co-authors with Katie Cook, who writes “My Little Pony” for IDW Publishing, and has also done licensed illustration work for DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

SDCC_HappyHobbit

Proving again that timing is everything, we just  happened to wander in front of the Badali Jewelry booth, when our friend Cliff Broadway from TheOneRing.net was conducting a Lord of the Rings trivia quiz. Have I mentioned that I am a Lord of the Rings Rainman? It will then come as no surprise that we won the quiz, and left laden with terrific Tolkien booty, much as Bilbo ended his Hobbit adventure riding a pony burdened with treasure. As a bonus, we got to meet the Rice sisters, who write and star in the weekly Happy Hobbit video that is shown on TheOneRing.net.

SDCC_EvangelineLilly

In the foreground, my co-author Harrison. In the background, the smoking hot Evangeline Lilly, who will be appearing in the upcoming (second) Hobbit movie. We also saw Sir Richard Taylor, who heads up Weta, the company that makes props for Peter Jackson’s movies.

SDCC_Domo

Here my co-authors pose with the largest Domokun I’ve ever seen.

SDCC_Azog

An enormous Azog the Orc in front of the Weta booth was not nearly as welcoming as Domokun…

SDCC_AndrewHuerta

At the IDW Publishing booth, we spoke with several comic book illustrators. As it turned out, fate smiled upon us again. We have a friend Sohaib Awan, who writes the comic JINNRISE. His illustrator, Andrew Huerta, was there and graciously offered to sketch Nimpentoad !

SDCC_NimpByHuerta

Here is the wonderful end result he knocked out in no time flat.


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SDCC interview with comic book artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

Ken Meyer, Jr. has been doing art of one kind or another since he was a kid. He started drawing by tracing comic books using carbon paper (ask your grandpa). He became interested in more realistic comics, and then in illustration and painting. He has done some short Marvel comics pieces, but most of his comic work was done for smaller publishers like Caliber and Revolutionary. Today, the lion’s share of his art is painting.

Ken has graciously to tell us a bit more about himself and his work. In the photograph, he is the one on the left…

MeyerKen

For what age audience do you illustrate comics?

It has varied. The Marvel comics I’ve done are for all ages, while the Caliber work was more mature (but still able to be read by all ages). I have done a lot of horror art and some horror themed stories, so I guess the audience would depend on how much they could handle!

Henry: Challenge accepted!

Tell us about your latest work.

Lately, my work has been either doing altered Magic cards (Magic the Gathering is a collectible card game, and people send me the cards I have done to paint new images on them, making them more collectible), illustration for various uses, or portraits and other types of art. I also do “sketch covers,” which are actual comics with totally white covers (aside from the logo). They are made that way so fans can get their favorite artist to do drawings on the covers. I have done several Avengers (the movie character versions), and Walking Dead covers, with more to come.

Henry: Note to self: order one of these from Ken.

What aspect of illustrating do you find most challenging?

It depends on the job, to some degree. In comics, the most fun part is the initial layouts/thumbnails, where I am working out the composition of the page, what the best viewpoint for any given panel would be, etc. Considering I tend to use a lot of photos and models for reference, the most challenging part is probably getting people together and shooting the actual photos. If I am doing the strip completely out of my head, the most challenging part is probably doing any given viewpoint (worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view, etc.) correctly. Oh, and horses.

Henry: Note to self: do NOT ask Ken to paint the Riders of Rohan.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned?

To be honest, the most powerful lesson I learned is that it is very hard to actually make a living as a comic artist. You have to put a lot of work and time into comics, and the pay is not usually proportional to all that work (which is why a lot of people go into other fields such as animation or games). If you are in comics, most likely you are in it because you really love the genre.

What’s been a memorable experience that you’ve had?

I really love music, and several times, when I knew I was going to a concert by someone I really liked, I would do a painting ahead of time and take it to the show to try to meet the musician. It worked several times, and I met some of my favorites (Elvis Costello, Bruce Cockburn, Loudon Wainwright, Tori Amos and several others). Those were memorable for me!

Henry: And memorable for them too. That is certainly a unique way to get their attention. Well played, sir.

What advice would you give to aspiring comic or graphic novel illustrators?

The most crucial advice, and the advice you almost always hear, is just draw draw draw. Keep drawing, practice all the time, draw everything (not everything is skin tight-clad superheroes), and then draw a lot more. I had a professor who was an incredible draftsman, and he said the only reason he would be considered a better artist than us is that he had gotten a lot more terrible drawings out of the way. Of course, it helps to look at your favorite artists. See how they handle problems, the way they compose a panel and page, etc. Copy them for awhile, eventually you will come into your own style. Look at books and online sources. Draw from life. Just draw.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“I am an artist you know … it is my right to be odd.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Henry: It does seem to come with the territory. 🙂

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you illustrate?

Does painting with a chicken on your head count?

Henry: Yes. Yes it does. Best. Answer. Ever.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It would be the superpower to mimic all other superpowers. If there is a void of superpowers, then perhaps the good old standby, flight. If I am feeling altruistic that day, then it would be the power to manufacture any amount of food out of thin air.

Henry: Good for you for thinking of others!

If you could have three illustrators over for dinner, who would it be?
Oooooh, tough one! I will say Alphonse Mucha (to talk about his big Slav epic mural series), Bob Peak (an illustrator popular in the 70’s mostly, who did magazine illustration, movie posters, etc), and comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz (who started in comics as a clone of then very popular realistic comic artist Neal Adams, but went to to become one of the best multimedia artists ever, and is still creating amazing work today).

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

When I was young, I was a huge fantasy/heroic fiction fan, and read stuff like The Lord of the Rings, Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars), Conan, etc, non-stop. So, you are talking about a lot of imaginary creatures to choose from! I guess I will say the Sirens…you might drown, but you would have fun doing it.

Henry: Always the ladies’ man, eh?

What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?

I have several activities that siphon good working time away from the desk, unfortunately. I play tennis frequently, for example. I read a fair amount (but have become selective, choosing authors I have already read a lot of, such as Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, John Irving, etc.), plus tons of music magazines. I would say “listen to music,” but I do that all the time anyway. I probably watch too much TV (shows like Game of Thrones, Dexter, Breaking Bad, Stewart/Colbert/Maher, and like to see as many films as I can as well. So, you can see the easel has to do its share of fighting for attention!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“There was no shortage of art created, and no amount of time wasted!”

Where can readers find your work?

If you want to search in the comic book stores (which nowadays, means going online), I have a graphic novel called “Gustave, PI.” I have a few Marvel stories in comics, such as Open Space number 4, Marvel Portraits of  Universe 1, and Midnight Sons Unlimited 4. Caliber comics I have done include about seven issues (and about 11 covers): Kilroy is Here, stories in the anthology Negative Burn, and many covers. I also have many covers for Revolutionary Comics (music- and sports-related). You can search out the Tori Amos RAINN benefit calendars I put together between 2005 and 2009 (as well as her tour book for the “Dew Drop Inn” tour). I have a ton of work in various White Wolf game books, mostly for the lines of Vampire the Masquerade, Demon, Wraith, etc. I have also done a lot of cards for their Vampire the Eternal Struggle series (originally known as Jyhad). The game Magic the Gathering has card art by me, mostly in the Arabian Nights and Ice Age expansions. You can, of course, always go to my website if you have a few weeks to waste (there is a lot there, but I will be revamping it soon), or other websites that have my work for sale, such as Fine Art America. I also have a DeviantArt page.

Ken will be at San Diego Comic-Con in Artist Alley table II-6.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.