Thursday, August 31, 2006

snakes on a plane

*Sigh* Could've been better, but I had to see it. I like the idea of a crazy, campy, hokey movie if it's done right, and they fell just a little short. It's amazing how much a movie can change from script to finish, even how much it changes after all the film is shot. I think the studio got nervous and tried to make it more dramatic when they should have left it more screwball and jumpy.

AND... grrr.... they had a cornsnake casted as on the poisonous snakes, and if by that they meant they'd kill passengers with kindness and their nice manners then I guess that's fine. Not to mention the anaconda they CGed that had 18 teeth (snakes have two big teeth called fangs, might've heard of them).

Oh well, maybe next time :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ok, I know they're lizards, but I caught that parent/child moment with this one I think. It's my mom with big sucker pad hands :) Posted by Picasa

ok, ok, I won't post the whole book, but I'm so happy it's coming together! :) Posted by Picasa

This page is on the right of the page below and it sets up what the series is about... through the book you see the type letters and you know it's the letter he's writing home. Fun, huh? I'm super excited it's going to get published :) Posted by Picasa

EEEEEE!!! Letter from Camp Lizard is officially in production! *insert exploding bottle of champagne!* I'm chosing to do some fun "graphic effects" like this green scribble screen on the chapter header page. You still see what's going on (little lizard parents saying bye to their kids), but the circle helps the reader zero in on the star of the book. I like that the momma iguana is in tears and the kids getting crushed. Also note the water dragon lizards are skipping across the water, while the skinks popped out of the sand (they dig). Posted by Picasa

poor platypus... he's so afraid koala will pop a balloon he missed the whole creation of the kangaroo balloon animal (notice the koala is being rocked back by the force of his blowing.. ehehehehe) Posted by Picasa

This is called Platypus Wuss, and it's an idea that's rumbling in my noggin. I'd like to write a story about how kids tease someone for being a wuss. Something happens where the wuss saves the day for being himself (maybe the other kids do something way too dangerous, so the wuss is left to rescue them). So in the platypus case, it'd be maybe a koala, wallaby and a wombat that are teasing him. I also just like the refrain: "Platypus Wuss, Oh, Platypus Wuss... No bigger Wuss then our Platypus Wuss!" *sung to the tune of "Galaxy Glue" from the film the Incredible Shrinking Woman (egads, who remembers that movie?! Mom?!?)*  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ok, I've never worked so hard to draw a character being so lazy! If you couldn't tell the news isn't cheery in this world... that's the total dead in the ongoing struggle with the Nor... Hope I don't see that stat on my news *shiver* Posted by Picasa

strange dream...

No lie... I dreamed that Mel Gibson was picking up chicks late at night, taking them back to his place... and FEEDING THEM TO LIVE BEARS!

I was somehow made aware of this in the dream after me and these girls met MG at a bar and went back to his place "for the real party" (actual quote from the dream). I started getting anxious in the dream because he had that last-30-min-of-Mad Max look about him. I was walking around his big house and I saw hands and legs poking out of his lawn like they were frozen there. Then the lawn split and, you guessed it, big hungry bears were waiting for their next bimbo combo.

It got really campy toward the end, like James Bond/Dr. Evil corney ("All I want is frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams on their frickin' heads!"), so I'm not calling it a nightmare persay... But, man, what is knocking around in my head to make me dream that?!?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Painted the Griffin Chicks piece. I like how it came out. I chose to do the sky in a Japanese woodcut style (not that I'm not patriotic). The chicks I made spotted like some big cat breeds have spotted coats that they grow out of. I also like how the nest came out, nice and cozy looking. Posted by Picasa

Here's a test for Ducky... since it's for a board book I'll keep the coloring simple, like this airbrush test. It will be really bright with bold black lines. I want some texture so there's some splatter effects. If I had the resources and time, it'd be great to do this book as a silk screen or woodcut. Posted by Picasa

School Visit

I got to speak in front of 100 first graders today at Forest Trail Elementary. It was such a nice school and the students were great. I spoke for about 45 minutes and showed them how I wrote and illustrated the book. I'm still getting my "talking points" down for talking to kids. I know the teachers want me to cover certain themes so they can go back to the classroom and discuss them. For instance when I was answering questions one of the teachers asked how many publishers I showed the book to before it was published, hoping we could cover the "try try again" theme, but it caught me off guard a little and I answered honestly, "Oh. Just the one publisher. I guess I hit it out of the park on the first try." That makes me laugh now, Yeah, kids, try once and if it doesn't pan out go back to your video games (no, I didn't say that!).

I did talk about ideas and how books start with an idea which is why kids are in school to load up their brains with information in hopes they will have the big ideas for tomorrow. And I talked about trial and error, how I made decisions about the story and illustrations. Overall I think I did great and I asked one little girl as they were lining up to leave how I did, and she said, "It was great!"

When I was reading the book, too, I was surprised how many kids already knew it! One girl raised her hand and said she had my book, and another boy near the front did to (he was whispering what was on the next page to his friends... and one of them elbowed him to make him stop which I think means he liked the story). They really liked the picture of my studio, so I'll be sure to keep that in the presentation. I pointed out the aquarium with the corn snake and my "cool" status shot up dramatically I could tell.

I only wish I'd had pictures, but the hubby took the cameras to Ohio. That's ok, I'll get some next time.

This is Forest Trail Elementary where I had my school visit today Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Need a Keeper!

The hubby's up in Ohio for a golf tournament trip. I drop him off at the airport, drive to work and immediately lock my keys in my car.

"D-Oh!" (Homer Simpson sound)

And I got sunburn standing out there with the guy from Pop-a-lock. My car's apparently hard to break into, which normally would be a good thing. As it is, my neck and the tops of my feet are fried.

I think the pets are on to Mike being gone, too. I feel their little stares and tiny doubts. Good thing they're hardy is all I can say.

I know he deserves a little fun weekend, but I need my keeper back!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Here's me at work in my studio... Do I really hunch over that much? Yikes! And around me are toys, book I like and autographed copies... The aquarium in front of me has Capote the Corn Snake and the big on on my right has Reno the Mali Uromastyx (spiny tail lizard). The penguins are there because they make me happy. :) Posted by Picasa

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

So Mr. Bush is going to have dinner next week in my childhood home! How 'bout that.
There's going to be a dinner there for Asa Hutchinson, and he's coming to support him. Dad's gotta be proud to have built the English Tudor that will host the leader of the more-or-less free world.

Now, I wonder how much trouble I'd get in if Mike and I sent over a big box of pretzels the night of the dinner? Would that be considered a concealed salted weapon of mass asphyxiation?

Too bad Clinton never got to go skinny dippin' in the pool at the other house I grew up in... or maybe he did :)

Monday, August 21, 2006


I did the watercolor below after reading about how scientists are now claiming that the West African black rhino is extinct. It wasn't a shock, their numbers had dwindled in the teens for the last ten years, but still it is sobering that they are gone.

I can't help feeling angry at the human race in general for this for several reasons:
  1. While their numbers began first declining when land was taken to cultivate in Africa, rhinos really started becoming scarce when someone got it in their head that their horns would give men erections. So while it was Asian medicine that claimed that, people of all races killed rhinos just for their horns letting the rest rot. A single horn was worth between $30,000 - $100,000 and living beside them are desperate, poor people who could care less how many were left... and all because men want erections. Nice.
  2. I mean the phrase "hunted to extinction" should chill your blood. It wasn't a plague or even that people took all the land away from them, it means a black rhinoceros probably hasn't died of old age in the wild in the last hundred years. Humans killed them until there are no more to kill.
  3. And I get frustrated when I realize there were people and groups and conservationists who wanted to save them and couldn't because of the civil unrest in Africa. Part of me understands when your country is fighting civil wars and people are dying, rhinos aren't your first priority as a government. But I would argue that at when the conflict in that country is finally over there will still be humans, while the black rhino is gone.
  4. And it turns my stomach that the other endangered rhinos, and in fact other animals in Africa, in order to be safe from poachers have to be transplanted to parks and reserves. Is that still even considered "wild" anymore? Are we not just ranchers at this point? I know it's naive of me, but I just wish some of this planet was still untamed.
  5. I don't know why some people aren't moved by this. Extinction happens every day all over the world, most of the time with animals we know little about or aren't as noticeable as a black rhino. It angers me that our country is more concerned about running out of oil than the world running out of species. At least when the oil runs out we can still use alternative fuels. When a species goes extinct, their niche in the worldwide system becomes a hole making it more unstable.
The articles I've read all bring up the same irony over and over: We realize the importance and value of something just as we lose it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

here a witch pours in the black widows for her beauty brew as her kitty keeps her place. (I assure you this has NOTHING to do with my last birthday :) ) Stuck in are a few other animals, the bat on her hat, the toad on her stool (har har), and a gecko on her cauldron. Another slightly creepy touch is that in the Curse book a tongue in keeping her place as a bookmark and knife is sticking out of the jack o lantern. I like her french fry-like hair and the witch cameo on her neck, too. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Dart Frog Blog

I started another blog today dedicated to the poison dart frog!

Here's a link:

Bookmark it and check in now and then. It will mainly be about frogs, the environment, and my quest to someday own a dart frog, so don't stop checking out this blog. :)

love how this one's little feet came out. This also shows the angular back that the dart frogs have. Posted by Picasa

are these not the most amazing creatures?!? I'm smitten with the poison dart frogs. Even more so, painting them is so relaxing and enjoyable, like sumi-e painting. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Giraffe Rant

I was researching jungle and rainforest themed books for kids and I stumbled across NUMEROUS books that had a giraffe stuck in them, and I instantly furrowed my brow.

Giraffes don't live in the jungle!

Monkeys? Yes! Tigers? Yes! Bears, snakes, frogs, elephants, even chickens? YES!!!

But not giraffes, and if you've never thought about it, here's why:

Giraffes are designed/have adapted to be able to feed high up on the leaves of the acacia tree because on the GRASSLANDS there's not a lot of green stuff to go around, but no other grazer on the plains is crazy enough to put up with a neck like that. And a giraffes spots camouflaged it with the arid colors of the savannah, not the jungle. Plus, the only other perk of being a giraffe is that they can haul tail with those stilts they walk on... how fast do you think anything that size could run or try to in a dense jungle?

So all these incredible, unique and educational adaptations the giraffe has and what do these kid's authors/illustrators do? They cast him in a jungle! Talk about Duck outta water!

The more reasonable side of my brain is trying to concede that: Look, Regan, sure you don't find giraffes in real life actual jungles, but this is a children's book. Let little Molly have her cutsey, wootsey lil giraffe.

Well, tough noogies, Molly!

I'll take giraffes in a zoo, or on Noah's ark, or in some fantastical situation like a waiter at a sidewalk cafe, but DON'T tell unsuspecting kids that giraffes are from the jungle.


I feel a little better.
...say, this would be a fun story on it's own, the Misplaced Giraffe or How a Children's Author Thrwarted God and Natural Selection by Regan Johnson. :)

That was my own photo manipulation for educational purpose... grumble*girraffe*grumble... Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006

Yippee! This is a preview of the cover for CL and it's a solid black with a screened green. I like the look of it. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wanting to add some fantasy artwork to the new website, so this is a Griffin mother with three little Griffin kitties... chicks... well, they're cute anyway. I find especially in raptors that no matter how start and stern the adults are, the babies are these little fluffy puffballs. This could still maybe be in the kid's portfolio, so it may run in both. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

aren't they cute? this is a logo for their strip, and a chance to do some digital coloring, which I'm liking more for some things like these two. Another funny note, I'm basing the color scheme on the Family Guy show. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Putting Lizards to Work

It occurred to me while I was cleaning the cages that these little lizards should really be pulling their own weight a little more. I mean, sure, they're cute and provide hours of entertainment and fascination, but I got electric bills to pay (for their heat lamps!), so I'm putting the little critters to work.

I've come up with a graphic novel based on lizards. In short it's called "Camp Lizard" or tentatively "Letters from Camp Lizard." Dunno which I'll go with yet. But in the story, Leon goes off to camp and gets to know his cabin mates (the gila monster, chameleon and a frill neck dragon (not shown yet). The camp exists to give lizards a chance to meet lizards from all over the world and see how they are different from them and how lizards have adapted to almost every kind of environment. Also, there could be competitions between cabins and with the nearby Camp Amphib.

I think it's a chance to cover lots of topics with kids, like understanding of other people, nature lessons, competitiveness, trust, ect... And best I'm starting with the notion of low-tech drawing. I'm purposely drawing with a marker to keep it simple.

So this is the 8th or 9th iron in the fire, but it's got me intrigued. And all the lizards want to me to do it (the beardie's insisted on being a camp counselor in it).

Look for sketches to follow, they're too fun to horde to myself.

This is Leon, the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko. He's slotted to be the main character, partly because he's easier to draw, and partly because the Geiko gecko made them so popular. I do have a goldust day gecko named Klondike to serve as a model. Posted by Picasa

I knew I had to pursue this idea once I realized that one of the campers could be a gila monster. And since they're native to the southwest US and Mexico, his name is Hulio (and gila is pronounced hee-la). Also had to pick the gangsta' font for him. :) He'll be fun, I can tell! Posted by Picasa

This is Eddie who would like to go by "The Great Mysterioso" and his name was picked in homage to Eddie Izzard my favorite commedian who also looks colorful on stage. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 04, 2006

cleaning house

Imagine you're watching TV and you go to get a soda and your fridge is suddenly missing. Then you come back and the couch is missing. Then you click your remote at the TV and realize the TV is missing, too!

"What in holy hell?!?"

Then a horrible screeching sound comes from overhead and a giant razor blade shimmies down the side of your wall and scrapes all the wallpaper off. You run to the other side of the room then have to dodge again as it comes down the other wall.

"Knock it off! Are you nuts?!?"

But then something even more unnerving happens as the carpet you're standing on is pulled out from under you. You run to the other end of the house until your cornered. Not knowing what else to do you cling to the stripped wall and watch the last bit of carpet dissappear beneath you.

*Huff, huff, huff* "What could possible happen next?!" You look up, "Oh, you have got to be joking!!"

New carpet starts raining down from above. You run around trying to dodge it and run smack into a shiny new fridge. Rubbing your head you trip over the new couch that is back where the old one was. The TV is now a flatscreen, and everything has that new home smell.

You look around, still unsure if the upheaval is over. There's a knock at the door and you nearly jump out of your skin.

You cautiously open the door... and it's pizza delivery.

As you eat your pizza and watch your new TV, you tell yourself there's got to be a better way to have our house cleaned.

the end.

dedicated to my poor traumatized geckos, snakes, and lizards residing in new squeaky clean terrariums: "Hang in there fellas!"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

a full page from the graphic novel... I felt bad I'd only been previewing little panels, and yes, Kahf is running at my demon possessed childhood self with a katana. Don't worry, I signed release forms. Posted by Picasa