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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Celebrities as Disney Characters (fun!)

Apparently, I’m on a Disney kick lately. Any way, the pictures taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz of celebrities as Disney characters from http://likes.com/celebs/celebs-as-real-life-disney-characters are stunningly composed, and really tickled my fancy and floated my boat. Enjoy.

01SleepingBeauty
#1 Sleeping Beauty

This photo of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens must have been taken when they were still dating… Cute nonetheless!

02SnowWhite
#2 No Place Like Home

Keira Knightley looks amazing here as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

03WizardOz
#3 Snow White

Rachel Weisz posing as Snow White, with all the cute little forest creatures. Check out the golden bricks and red high heels.

04Cinderella
#4 Cinderella

Scarlett Johansson posing as a beautiful Cinderella, at midnight!!

05AliceWonderland
#5 Alice in Wonderland

Beyonce posing as an adorable Alice, Oliver Platt as a crazy Mad Hatter, and Lyle Lovett as the March Hare… All in a teacup!

06Tinkerbell
#6 Tinkerbell from Peter Pan

Tina Fey, with a very Tinkerbell-esque facial expression, posing for the Peter Pan photo shoot 🙂 How appropriate that Fey portrays a fae!

07PeterPan
#7 Peter Pan

Gisele Bundchen as Wendy Darling, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, and Tina Fey as Tinker Bell from Peter Pan!

08LittleMermaid
#8 Merman

Photographer Annie Leibovitz shoots Michael Phelps, who posed as a merman in Julianne Moore’s photo of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

09Ariel
#9 Ariel from The Little Mermaid

Julianne Moore’s red hair is perfect for the character Ariel from The Little Mermaid!

10Pocahontas
#10 Pocahontas

Jessica Biel rocks an action shot of herself dressed as Pocahontas 🙂

11Aladdin
#11 Jasmine and Aladdin

Jennifer Lopez and her then husband Marc Anthony pose as Jasmine and Aladdin from Aladdin, on their magic carpet ride!

12Genie
#12 Genie from Aladdin

Whoopi Goldberg makes a comical pose to capture the essence of the Genie from Aladdin.

13Ursula
#13 The Little Mermaid’s Ursula

Queen Latifah goes all out as the evil Ursula from The Little Mermaid! Her face still looks a little nice though…

14BeautyBeast
#14 Beauty and the Beast

Penelope Cruz poses as a happy Belle, with Jeff Bridges as her transformed prince ❤

15EvilQueen
#15 The Evil Queen and Her Magic Mirror

Alec Baldwin is the face in the magic for the evil queen, Olivia Wilde. Not used to seeing her as an evil character!


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Interview with the creators of Six Degrees of Sauron

With the impending release of the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, we thought it would be fun to interview Emil Johansson about his fansite LOTRproject and his recent collaboration with me to create Six Degrees of Sauron.

SixDegreesHomeSmall    emilsmall

Henry: It is no exaggeration to characterize you as a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fanatic. What is it about those books that so appeals to you?

Emil: I think The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were the first books I read that really stimulated my imagination. There is such a vast world in Tolkien’s book, it almost seems real, but there’s still enough left out to make it mysterious. I also guess I was somewhat a daydreamer when I was a child, and I always imagined being part of some adventure.

Henry: I started reading The Lord of the Rings in fifth grade, and never looked back. You host the LOTRproject Tolkien fansite. Please tell us about that.

EmilLOTRproject is a personal project that allows me to design interactive projects for exploring Middle-earth. I could say it is what I have always wanted to do. The site started out as only a family tree of characters from Tolkien’s work. Since then it has grown to become something much larger. The main mission of the project is to encourage people to explore Middle-earth.

Henry: As Elrond tells Aragorn, “Be who you were born to be!” Emil is being modest when he says “ONLY a family tree of characters from Tolkien’s work.”

Your latest LOTRproject effort is called Six Degrees of Sauron. How did that come about and what is it?

Emil: Trick question: it was you who first suggested the idea. I had just been working on analyzing networks between characters in The Lord of the Rings, and it seemed like a nice challenge to make it work. Six Degrees of Sauron is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meets Middle-earth.  You can enter any two characters from The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit, or The Silmarillion, and the application displays the string of connections showing how they are connected.

It has been a very rewarding collaboration between the two of us and the result is far better than I imagined. I think collaborative projects are something I will do a lot more of in the future.

Henry: Emil’s right – I am awesome. Seriously though, aside from Six Degrees of Sauron, what are some other features of LOTRproject?

Emil: There is the core of the site, the family tree. There is also a interactive map of Middle-earth, geospatial timelines of the history of Middle-earth, and some statistics. The statistics were derived from the family tree and gave some fascinating numbers on average lifespan of Hobbits, Dwarves and Men. Average lifespan of a Hobbit is 96.8 士 2.4 years with a confidence level of 95% and a standard deviation of 10.6 years. I also created a page which allows you to see the frequency of character mentions in The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Henry: LOTRproject also features fun infographics, such as a flowchart for figuring out which dwarf in The Hobbit you are viewing based on his facial hair.

By movie-making necessity, the cinematic versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit differ in some ways from the written works. How do you feel about that?

Emil: My opinion is that they have the freedom to make an adaption the way he wants, to a certain extent. I should say there are a lot of things I really like about the movies, and I certainly enjoy watching them. However, the rearranged timeline in The Hobbit movies compared to the book is something I am not too happy about. Also, I can’t understand why they came up with the idea that the Witch-king had been buried. After the fall of Angmar, he fled, and when Eärnur wanted to pursue him, Glorfindel made his famous prophecy, “He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.” That prophecy is quite important, even in the movies.

Henry: “I am no man!” Lady Eowyn declares as she kicks Witch-king butt.

By virtue of your LOTRproject activities, you’ve met like-minded people from all over the world. Can you tell us about some of them?

Emil: I have been very fortunate to meet a lot excellent people from the Tolkien community. There really are all kinds of people and that is the beauty of it. Henry is one great example, of course, and getting to know him opened the door to the Six Degrees of Sauron project. I’ve also been able to meet the wonderful artist Ted Naismith, who I have been a huge fan of for many years.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to present my project at HobbitCon in Germany where I also got to meet some of the actors from The Hobbit movie. LOTRproject has in many ways opened a whole new world to me.

Henry: I’ve attended several San Diego Comic-Con’s, so I’ve been lucky enough to see Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel), and Sir Richard Taylor (head of Weta) in person. Goblin art from my book Nimpentoad was a finalist in a Warner Bros. online art contest judged by Sir Richard Taylor, Alan Lee, and John Howe.

What are some of your favorite quotes from the books and scenes from the movie?

Emil: I have one I quite like, which is present in both The Lord of the Rings films and, of course, the books. It is of Gandalf and Frodo talking about Sméagol:

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least.” ― Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring


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Superheroes as Little Kids are Super Cute

Before they were superheroes, they were supercute kids. Artwork by Alberto Varanda (http://www.alvaranda.com/). First posted by Rebecca Pahle and the wonderful folks at The Mary Sue – http://www.themarysue.com/little-kid-superheroes/

bats

Little Batman will sneak into your heart.

catwoman

“C’mon, kitty, I’ll show you what to do,” said Little Catwoman.

hulk

When little Hulk gets angry, he busts out of his diaper. Yikes!

robin

This little Robin isn’t much of a mouser. Perhaps it’s the full diaper…

spidey

Even  little Spiderman had a way with the ladies.

supes

Love little Superman’s untied shoes. Not a problem – he can fly!

thor

Little Thor’s philosophy: when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

wolvie

Little Wolverine cleans up bad guys AND litter.

wondy

Little Wonder Woman jumping rope with her lasso of truth is the cutest image of all. Honest!


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The 13 Best Doctor Who Cakes Of All Time

From the geniuses at Cake Wrecks – http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2013/11/23/sunday-sweets-who-loves-ya.html


(By Nerdache Cakes)

Much as I adore Tigger, I’m kinda bummed I can’t make a “Doctor POOH” joke here. But that’s ok; Piglet in a homemade Dalek costume MORE than makes up for it.

And speaking of Daleks:


(By Stacked Cakes)

WOW.

The ‘net is full of so many fantastic TARDIS cakes, it’s hard to narrow down the best ones.

Actually, I take that back; this one wasn’t hard to narrow down at all:


(By Leigh Henderson of theyrecoming.com)

This cake (yes, it’s cake!) is fitted with mirrors and lights to make it actually look bigger on the inside.

Here’s a peek inside the window:

Time for a cookie break!


(Sub’d by Christina C. and made by Cookie Cowgirl)

Daleks in party hats. YESSS.

And who’s the cutest widdle alien fat particle of all time?


(Found here, baker unknown)

IT’S YOU!

(No, not YOU you. I mean the adipose. Um. Awkwarrrd.)

As a Classic Who girl, these guys were always my favorite villains:


(By Truly Scrumptious Designer Cakes)

Still can’t get over how cute she managed to make a Cyberman look, though. I seriously want that cake in doll form!

And now for something a little steamy:


(By The Little Cake Patch)

If you think about it, Steampunk and Doctor Who really are a match made in the heavens, am I right?

And while we’re talking TARDISes TARDI TARDIS cakes, I love the galaxy airbrushing on this one:


(Made by Claudia’s Cakery)

It takes a lot to fool me with cake these days, but this next one did. I *still* have a hard time believing it’s not a wooden model:


(Sub’d by Kristy G. and found here)

Even if you’ve only watched Doctor Who since the reboot, I bet you still have a soft spot for Tom Baker:


(Sub’d by Emily G. and made by Border City Cakes)

It’s all about the scarf, right? And the crazy hair.
(I’m, uh, glad the baker went with the scarf, though. o.0)

And another excellent contribution from the original show:


(By Imaginative Icing)

K-9!

Sometimes you see a fan-built K-9 rolling around at conventions, and I so want one.

Even though I grew up on the show, I’m ashamed to admit I have a LOT of catching up to do with the new episodes. (Too many were making me cry!) I will catch up, though – I WILL.

Anyway, if you’re in the same boat – or if you’ve never seen ANY episodes and just want to know what all the fuss is about, then at least watch the episode “Blink.” It’s quite possibly the best episode of any sci-fi show EVER, and stands alone just fine.

Plus, after you watch that, you’ll know why everyone else is about to flinch away from their screens in terror:


(By the cake girl)

BOO!

Muahahahaha! 😀

Ok, one more, just so we can end on a less petrifying [smirk] note:


(By Michelle Sugar Art)

Woohoo! It’s a WHO-bilation!

(In my mind Doctor Seuss & the Doctor are friends, so that totally works.)


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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.


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‘Game of Thrones’ as Saved by the Bell characters

George R.R. Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ (GoT) is a wildly popular fantasy book and HBO series. And fans can’t seem to get enough mashups of ‘Game of Thrones’ characters and other franchises. For example, GoT meets the Muppets (http://www.examiner.com/list/game-of-thrones-meets-the-muppets-by-ymercado). The latest GoT mashup we’ve found (thanks to Rebecca Pahle at The Mary Sue is by artist Mike Wrobel.

In a delightfully twisted way Mike Wrobel of Moshi Studio visually transported GoT characters into the late 1980’s. He says, “I grew up at a wonderful time when X-Files was THE show we couldn’t miss, Grunge music made us wear ripped jeans, and we still could find toys in cereal boxes.” Perhaps Hollywood will make a sci-fi time travel spinoff, with characters transported through by the Throne a la Dr. Who’s TARDIS…

Mike describes himself as “a French creative graphic designer based in Tokyo Japan. Well, something that could probably explain my vivid imagination and passion for pop culture is the fact that I grew up watching the X-Files, throwing Hadoken in Street Fighter, reading horror movie magazines, building some unlikely Lego spaceships and other stuff that made my childhood so awesome.”

Winter came and went! Enjoy these images from http://www.moshistudio.com/

Khal Drogo

khal

Per wikipedia.org:
“Drogo is a powerful khal, or warlord, of the Dothraki people, a tribal nation of expert riders and raiders in the steppes beyond the Free Cities. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle. In ‘A Game of Throne’s, Viserys Targaryen and Illyrio Mopatis conspire to marry Daenerys Targaryen to Drogo to get his support and warriors for the invasion of Westeros. Drogo approves of her and takes her as his wife. Despite his fearsome attitude toward his warriors, he proves to be a kind and sensitive husband. After a failed attempt on the pregnant Daenerys’ life, he vows to invade Westeros to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms for the Targaryens and his son. However, Viserys’ impertinence ultimately causes Drogo to kill him. He raids several villages and attacks other Dothraki hordes to gather supplies for the invasion and is wounded by an enemy khal. The wound festers and Drogo falls from his horse, causing most of his warriors to abandon him. Daenerys unwittingly sacrifices their unborn son to revive him, and he becomes an unresponsive shell of his former self. She smothers him out of pity, and the flames of his funeral pyre hatch her dragon eggs.”

Cersei Lannister

cersei

From wikipedia.org:
“Cersei Lannister of House Lannister is the older twin sister of Jaime and is the only daughter of Tywin Lannister. She is physically beautiful, but she is also greedy, cruel, manipulative, amoral and not very intelligent; she is also short tempered and quick to hold grudges, as well as often rushing into situations without pausing to consider the consequences of her actions. She shares her father’s belief that to be feared is better than to be loved; however, unlike her father, Cersei has never learnt to temper ruthlessness with pragmatism and good judgement.”

Bronn

bronn

From wikipedia.org:
“Bronn is a sell-sword with a sardonic sense of humor, and a retainer to Tyrion Lannister. After their arrival in King’s Landing, Bronn’s service to Tyrion earns him a position as Commander of the City Watch. When Stannis Baratheon attacks the city by sailing up the Blackwater Bay, he shoots a fire arrow to a ship containing wild fire which destroys half of Stannis’ fleet. However, Bronn is stripped of his position after Tywin Lannister takes over as Hand of The King.”

Margaery Tyrell

marg

From wikipedia.org:
“Margaery is the only daughter of Lord Mace Tyrell, and has recently married the late King Robert’s brother, Renly Baratheon, as part of House Tyrell’s support for his bid to seize the Iron Throne from King Joffrey. Somewhere in her mid to late twenties, she is surprisingly canny and cunning. She is aware of her husband’s homosexual orientation and inclinations towards her brother. Despite her knowledge of this, she actively attempts to become pregnant as to secure the alliance between their families. When Renly is killed, the Tyrells ally with House Lannister and she is planned to marry to King Joffrey. In a departure from her characterization in the novels, where her personal motivations are unclear, Margaery’s naked ambition is made obvious.”

Theon Greyjoy

theon

From wikipedia.org:
“Theon Greyjoy is the youngest son of Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. He is the hostage and ward of Lord Eddard Stark, stemming from the failed Greyjoy Rebellion. Despite his position, he remains loyal to Eddard and is good friends with his sons Robb and Jon. While he has never questioned his position, he soon begins to have doubts after Tyrion tells him he is nothing more than a servant to the Starks and not everyone respects him. Nevertheless, Theon initially remains loyal to Robb after he goes to war with the Lannisters and supports his decision to have the North secede from the Seven Kingdoms and form their own kingdom. He is sent to the Iron Islands in Season 2 to seek a Stark alliance with the Greyjoys. However, his father criticizes Theon for accepting the northern lifestyle and reject Robb’s proposal. Wishing to prove to his father that he is a true Ironborn, he joins his family’s invasion of the North. To gain the respect of his men, he ignores his orders to raid the shores and captures Winterfell.”

Tyrion Lannister

tyrion

From wikipedia.org:
“Tyrion Lannister, mockingly nicknamed the Imp and Halfman, is a malformed dwarf and is the third child of Tywin Lannister. He is intelligent, witty and shares his father’s skill for political maneuvering. Because he is an outcast, he also has great sympathy for outcasts and the mistreated. His mother died giving birth to him, and Tywin has never forgiven him. Tywin also hates him for his dwarfism, sharp tongue, and frequent use of prostitutes. While Tyrion is hated by Tywin and his sister Cersei, his brother Jaime treats him with kindness and respect.”

Arya Stark

arya

From wikipedia.org:
“Arya Stark is the younger daughter and third child of Lord Eddard and Catelyn Stark of Winterfell. Ever the tomboy, Arya would rather be training to use weapons than sewing with a needle. Her direwolf is called Nymeria. When Ned is arrested for treason, her “dancing master” Syrio Forel helps her escape the Lannisters. She is later disguised as an orphan boy by Yoren, a Night’s Watch recruiter, in hopes of getting her back to Winterfell. From then on, she takes the name Arry. During Season 2, Yoren convoy is attacked by the Lannisters who are under orders by King Joffrey to find and kill Robert’s bastard children. Before she is captured, she releases the prisoner Jaqen H’ghar and two others, saving their lives. She and the rest of the captured recruits are sent to Harrenhal under Gregor Clegane who cruelly tortures and kills prisoners everyday. At the same time, she follows the advice of the late Yoren and makes a list of those she wants dead like a prayer.”

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


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Interview with ‘Star Wars Craft Book’ author Bonnie Burton @bonniegrrl

Author of the books ‘The Star Wars Craft Book’ (Random House), ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Planets In Peril’ (DK Readers), ‘Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Klutz Books), ‘You Can Draw: Star Wars’ (DK Children), ‘Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean To Each Other And How We Can Change’ (Zest Books) and ‘Never Threaten To Eat Your Co-Workers: Best Of Blogs’ (Apress). She edited/wrote for comic book anthologies ‘Womanthology: Heroic and Womantholgy: Space’ (IDW Publishing). Bonnie also written for Wired, Star Wars Insider, Geek, Bust, Craft, and Organic Gardening, CNN.com, Huffington Post and has a column in SFX magazine. Hosts web shows “Geek DIY” for Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, “Vaginal Fantasy” Book Club on Geek & Sundry, & her vlog “Ask Bonnie.”

BurtonBonnie

For what age audience do you write?

Most of my books are for children of all ages and teens. Though I am branching out into YA fiction soon.

Tell us about your latest craft book.

I love making crafts ever since I was a small child. Puppets fascinated me, as did making my own toys. Later, I loved making original art for my room whether it be embroidery, watercolors, mobiles, string art — you name it. When I started working at Lucasfilm 10 years ago, I thought it would be nice to have a craft section on StarWars.com for kids to make things like pet toys, holiday decorations, art, puppets and other crafts but with a Star Wars touch. The section became so popular that parents asked for a book. I created ‘The Star Wars Craft Book’ for Random House from years of crafts that I had developed for the site, as well as new crafts that I thought would be fun. It became quite a hit with fans, so much so that I’m often asked to do craft tutorials at conventions like Emerald City Comicon, New York Comic Con, Geek Girl Con, Stan Lee’s Comikaze and San Diego Comic-Con International. It’s been so much fun to see fans send me photos of the crafts they’ve made from my book over Twitter and email.

What got you interested in crafts?

Growing up. My family didn’t have a ton of money to spend on toys, so I often found myself making my own puppets, or dolls, or furniture for my dollhouse. I was always interested in arts and crafts thanks to my parents who were rather crafty as well. My mom loved to macramé, knit and crochet. My dad loved to doodle and sketch while he was talking on the phone. I had my own craft room growing up so I would spend hours and hours in there drawing, sewing, scrapbooking, journaling, painting and making puppets. I was in my own little world full of felt scraps and glitter — it was glorious.

Henry: I glued and painted monstrous plastic models – Frankenstein, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula. No Cthulhu or Rancor models were available at the time, however.

How did you become such a Star Wars fanatic?

My childhood was spent in Kansas in rather rural areas, so I spent a lot of my time daydreaming and writing stories. When I first saw Star Wars, I was a kid in the ’70s. So this is way before video games, the Internet, and the sorts of activities most kids are used to by now. We were expected to go outside and play, or stay indoors to read, play piano or craft. So after seeing Star Wars, I was obsessed with space, robots and of course saving the galaxy from the likes of Darth Vader. I was a big fan of sci-fi throughout my childhood thanks to Doctor Who (which was shown on our local PBS station) as well as the original Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. But Star Wars resonated with me the most because I suppose I wanted my own Wookie best friend, I had a mad crush on Han Solo and I desperately wanted to be as sassy as Princess Leia. In fact, I demanded my mom put my hair up in those iconic buns for numerous holidays, school photos, church, ballet lessons and other special occasions. Star Wars was always a favorite movie for me, and still is. It’s message that even a farm boy can become something great is something that strongly resonated with me being a kid from Kansas.

Henry: Well, who hasn’t put their hair up in Princess Leia buns, or donned a shiny gold bikini. Oops, TMI.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging, and why?

Honestly, just beginning is the worst. Starting a project is always difficult. Once I start writing, I’m fine. But just trying to get focused at the start is almost impossible. I’m the Queen of Procrastination. So it’s rather embarrassing to admit, but I try to do everything other than write. But once I start typing, I can’t stop and that’s worth it all.

Henry: Interesting. I find it easier to start than to stop, which makes me the Duke of Distraction.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Don’t try for perfection. Writers are notoriously hard on themselves. We try to be Hemingways and Kafkas right from the start and we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes. We cross out more than we should. We yell at the computer. We hate ourselves for not being bestselling authors. And worst of all, we’re horrified at the thought of failing, of being thought of as talentless hacks, and just not adding up to the brilliant novelists we think we should be. Patience is something I still struggle with.

Henry: Let he who has not punched a monitor or keyboard cast the first stone.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I think the rush of adrenaline one gets as a writer when you finish writing a book, an article, an essay or a short story. It’s a weird energy that keeps you going ’til the next project pops up. I can’t really explain it, but you feel like you accomplished something. Even if no other soul reads it, you know you finished writing something and that means a lot. I suppose it’s not just one experience but also a combination of them. I’ve become close friends with other writers, and that kinship is also something very special to me. It’s like belonging to an elite club of talented people who make you want to strive for greatness.

Henry: I get a rush when I’m holding my book proof in my hands. An idea that’s come to tangible fruition.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. No matter how many people tell you your dream is impossible. No matter how many rejection slips you get from publishers. No matter how many times you must edit and rewrite a piece over and over again. DO NOT GIVE UP. A lot of becoming a successful writer is about persistence. Keep with it. Write EVERY DAY. Even if one day it’s a poem about your dog. And the next day it’s a short story about an elephant that wants to time travel. And the next day is a grocery list written as a sonnet. Just do it. Challenge yourself to write different styles and genres. But always, ALWAYS be writing.

Also read read read. Read a book outside your normal comfort zone. Read biographies, memoirs, mysteries, romances, horror, dramas, young adult novels, comics, and anything else you’ve never tried reading. Read a page from the dictionary once a week. Read foreign best-sellers. Read the newspaper. The more you read, the more styles of writing you’ll be exposed to. The more you read, the better the writer you will become. I promise you.

Henry: Grocery list as a sonnet!? How do I love thee, Boston Creme Pie, let me count the ways.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I think my favorite quotes are all summed up in author Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech that he recently gave at a college. It was called “Make Good Art” and it’s brilliant for any writer or artist to listen to.

My favorite quote is the ending: “Make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”

Henry: We would be remiss if we did not also mention: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

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

I love having music on. But frankly I do warn against having the TV on as background noise. I get caught up in shows too easily and end up using it as a procrastination tool instead of a driving force to get any writing done. I also prefer to write when there are no distractions, usually very late at night.

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

To be able to put anyone to sleep instantly, not out of boredom mind you, but just put them into a very deep sleep so they stop yelling at bus stops, or drunkenly making a ruckus at 3am on my street, or fight with their boyfriends and girlfriends. I want to just say “sleep” and have them collapse where they stand into a deep, peaceful 8-hour snooze. I’d be like Sandman! Of course, I’d like to be able to give myself a good night’s rest as well. I tend to suffer from insomnia quite a bit, which probably explains why I write so much late at night.

Henry: Very innovative, and it offers a way to stop war.

If you could have three movie stars over for dinner, who would it be?

I could just pick movie stars I have crushes on, but then I suppose I would be too nervous to eat so why have dinner at all. But here goes! Sir Christopher Lee because he’s got so many amazing stories to tell that usually begin with “I remember when Errol Flynn and I…” I’d love to chat with Tom Baker because he was always my favorite Time Lord in Doctor Who, and he has such an inviting laugh that I know he must have some rather interesting tidbits to share from his acting days. And if she were still alive today, I would be honored to chat with Dorothy Parker. She’s eat me alive with her wit, but I imagine she would be quite the dinner party attendee just from her legacy of the Algonquin Round Table.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Unicorn! I’ve always been fascinated with them and what they represent. But who’s to say they were ever fictional. They’re mentioned in the Hebrew and Christian Bible numerous times, as well as present in various Chinese legends. I’d like to think they just became extinct from overzealous hunters looking to gain some kind of medieval powers. Two of my favorite movies – Blade Runner and Legend use the same unicorn film footage, and it’s always stayed with me.

Henry: Wait, there was no unicorn reference in “And the Lord did grin and people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orang-utans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and…”

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

Craft! Procrastinate! Play with my dog! Procrastinate some more! Watch British TV mysteries like Sherlock and Marple! Procrastinate again!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“I told you I was sick!” hahahaha… no. Actually, maybe I would use that. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. Or maybe “See you on the flipside” — that way I cover both bases. I don’t want to assume I’m headed to one destination over the other.

Where can readers find your work?

I write a monthly column for the British entertainment magazine SFX. You can find all my books on Amazon, and I’m redesigning my website – so check back there soon!

As always, I can be found hourly if not more on my Twitter.
Also, I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con, and have quite a few panels on writing, so be sure to say hello if you see me!

Henry: We’ll be wandering the Exhibit Hall on Sunday, proudly wearing our Nimpentoad t-shirts. We hope to see you there.

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


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Children’s, Fantasy and SciFi book titles with one letter missing

Periodically, certain hashtags surge in popularity. A recent hashtag that generated some clever responses was #bookswithaletter missing. Some notable tweets for children’s books, fantasy and science fiction were:

Liver Twist: a Dickensian Cookbook by @harpercollins

Harry Otter and the Chamber of Secrets: the story of a young otter who finds a secret swimming pool by @prof_minerva

Watership Don: The Mafia, bunny style by @ellenkushner

The Fellowship of the Rig: Smokey, the Bandit and Rubber Duck on a dramatic cross-country convoy to stop Sauron by @kurtbusiek

A Wrinkle in Tim: one man’s battle against sun damage by @mackidsbooks

Conan the Babarian: Thief. Reaver. Kindly elephant monarch by @kurtbusiek. Bonus points for mashing up two different books.

The Andromeda Stain: in which an extraterrestrial organism makes laundry unbearable by @starstew

Storm of Words: the epic fantasy novel in which Walder Frey gives the King in the North a stern talking to by @scotttbartlett

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fir: The story of a young boy’s love for trees by @prof_minerva

Charlie and the Chocolate Factor: poverty-stricken youth enters Cadbury-sponsored reality TV talent show by @willmchoebag

Where the Wild Thins Are: Sendak’s study of the behavioral habits of starved supermodels in New York City by @zeldawilliams

Harlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s tale of one illiterate prostitutes journey to secure herself a better clientele by @zeldawilliams

Harold and the Purple Rayon: A cherubic boy reckons with the reality of synthetic fabric by @danielpink

If that wasn’t fun enough, the guys at @darth used the power of PhotoShop to make the following hilarious book covers (also with one letter missing). Well done!

jurassic-ark

new-moo

secret-of-the-old-cock

the-baby-sitters-cub

the-lion-the-itch-and-the-wardrobe

the-princess-brie