Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How becoming a P.I. for a day may result in a book deal.

Today is the release date of Lisa Lutz's TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS. I'm beyond thrilled to say some of my illustrations are in it, which means I got to collaborate with my friend Lisa as well as be a part of one of my favorite series (I am lucky enough to be a character in the book—the ex-girlfriend of one of the characters (let the record show I only go to second base with fictional characters)).

But this is not the first time I have been involved with the Spellmans! Oh, no. Years ago, before becoming Lisa's friend, I was just a big fan. So in 2007, when I saw Simon & Schuster offering a contest to BE A SPELLMAN FOR A DAY, I jumped at the chance.

Never underestimate the power of entering contests. When I was a kid I remember my aunt entered a contest and won a minivan (my memory isn't that good, it could be she only won a pillow (or maybe it was a minivan full of pillows, which is even more amazing?)) and I've thought contests were a wise waste of time ever since.

To enter the BE A SPELLMAN FOR A DAY contest, you had to submit a paragraph on why you would want to win an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco, copies of the latest Spellman books, and the chance to spend the day with Lisa at her old job, which meant hanging out with a hilarious and clever author AND a retired FBI agent plus his private investigating staff. There was also the unspoken hope of spy equipment being used (WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO WIN? (I think I mentioned in my submission that I was naturally suspicious, and a huge Spellman fan. I don't think I mentioned minivans or pillows)).

So I won! And was over the moon about it. In the spring of 2008 I got to meet Lisa and the Desvernines and we had a ridiculously fun morning of really terrible (terrible on my part) private investigating (Lisa and her former co-workers tried valiantly to explain how to be observant while not being observed (the lesson culminated in me losing the tail on a mark because I noticed a candy store across the street, and of course, had to investigate THAT)).

Spellmans TWO through FOUR, they just keep getting better!

The afternoon was devoted to visiting the Buena Vista, the bar that perfected the Irish Coffee (Lisa had one and seemed fine (I had one and needed a three-hour nap)). Later that evening we met up at a real dive bar (Izzy's favorite!) and enjoyed truly terrible beers while listening to more exciting stake out stories.

Between the time I won and actually going on the trip, I'd started my media escort business in Seattle. Lisa was gracious enough to ask for me to be her escort when she came to town on her book tour. And I've looked forward to spending April Fool's with her ever since.
At Seattle Mystery Bookshop Free Schmidting with manager Fran, Lisa's super cousins Anastasia and Jay of juxtaprose.com, me, and the stooge up front is Lisa.

And then last year I got an email from Lisa that it might be fun to have pictures instead of descriptions for a portion of SPELLMANS 5 she was working on. And ye, that begat fun.

The illustrations I did in TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS are of a few pages of a fake picture book Lisa concocted. But by the power of Greyskull (Lisa's writing chops (Justin Chanda's fine purchasing sense)) the fake picture book is getting totally Pinocchio-ed, IT'S GOING TO BE A REAL BOOK!
Real cover of fake picture book in real novel, to be a real title page in a real picture book in 2013 written by a fake person! If you click to full size, I dig the "HOW WHEAT IT IS" boxes while Stephen Barr prefers the "RAISINS :(" boxes.
 I couldn't be happier to be working with Lisa and all the amazing people at Simon & Schuster on HOW TO NEGOTIATE EVERYTHING. If you haven't already, I hope you will check out the Spellman series, they are tons of fun. 

And if you want some actual bloodshed in your mystery and/or you are a writer interested in playing with genres, I urge you to check out her wildly witty collaboration with David Hayward, HEADS YOU LOSE.

Happy book birthday, Lisa!

My favorite, work-safe photo of Lisa, taken by Stesha at University Book Store. Which one will grow up to be more deadly? Your guess is as good as mine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Tumblr Weeds

I yanked my Tumblr account for now, all sketchy bits and bobs will just be on Cocoastomp. EASY!

Here are previously-on-Tumblr sketches by subject.






Friday, February 3, 2012

Did I never mention the McSweeneying? It's THE GOODS!

A busy fall and not being able to buy a copy locally kept me waiting to post about the AWESOME THE GOODS! One of my favorite authors and tweed wearers, Mac Barnett, was kind enough to include my Semaphore Kids in his groovy group. I never got to see it in print, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen! Here's hoping some kids somewhere are sending secret notes covered in flags. And maybe those newspaper copies are now spooning some quality fish and chips, which sounds like an ideal life cycle.

Here's the top bit:

And the key:


Have you seen Mac Barnett and Adam Rex are nominated for an Edgar for one of my all-time favorite MG series, THE BRIXTON BROTHERS: IT HAPPENED ON A TRAIN?

And here they are arguing about CHLOE AND THE LION:

And Mac's knitted up another awesome picture book, this time with Jon Klassen.