Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category



Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

bookmarks at The Spiral Bookcase

I have a little gallery show going on currently at a bookstore down the hill from me here in Philadelphia called The Spiral Bookcase. Ann and Adam, who run the place, printed up some lovely bookmarks for the show. I gave them some images from the show to work with, and they set them up and laminated them. They’re nice and stiff and do a good job of marking the place in the book where you last read, and where you might want to pick up next time you open the book to read again.
Ann says they’d be happy to sell them to anyone who gets in touch.

bookmarks at The Spiral Bookcase

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Tampa Bay Times

An illustration of mine ran in the Tampa Bay Times this last weekend, on Sunday July 8. I don’t do a lot of editorial work these days, so it’s cool to have a big one like this that works well in a newspaper format. The idea is that the future is full of unknowns right now — education, health care, economy, home prices, and so on. The idea dovetailed nicely with the busy chaos in Everything Goes. Below the finished piece are a few of sketches showing the work in progress. The one on the left is the initial rough just to get the structure of the illustration down. The color one in the center is the first sketch I sent to the client. They asked for a few changes and the next iteration on the right is shat I use to make the final art. Click on the sketch image to enlarge it.

sketches for the Tampa Bay Times piece

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The Spiral Bookcase, a terrific little bookstore down the hill from me in Manayunk is having a First Friday show of my work on Friday night. There’s more information here on the Facebook event page.

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Like the first Everything Goes book (as well as the second, which you likely haven’t seen yet), Everything Goes By Sea is going to have a mix of busy scenes full of vehicles (boats, in this case) mixed with spreads showing close-up single images explaining the inner-workings and various interesting parts of the vehicle. I’ve been working on one of these latter ones, where the concept of displacement and flotation is explained to Henry.
I’ve drawn about a thousand boats over the last few days. Here are a few of them. The original drawings are about 3 inches by 2 inches, and are pencil on tracing paper. You can click on them to see them much larger.
























Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

2wheelers is a magazine/journal from Sweden, and they asked me to design the cover of their second issue. You might notice a familiar theme in this design. In the video, pay special attention at about :42.

Also, you need the poster. Big screenprinted thing. They really did an amazing job. Click on the image to go to their online shop.

2wheelers poster

Friday, May 11th, 2012

On Monday I posted a contest to name all six dinosaurs in the puzzle I made for Galison/Mudpuppy. As of noon today there were six correct entries.

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

The dinosaurs are thus, clockwise from top left in the above picture:

Green – T-rex, duh.
Orange – Triceretops
Purple – Ankylosaurus
Red – Stegosaurus
Yellow – Velociraptor
Blue/turquoise – Brachiosaurus, formerly known as Brontosaurus, which I accept as a correct answer.

So as I said, six people got all six, though many of you should watch your spelling. I assigned each of you a number (1 – 6) and then I used a random number generator to choose a number from one to six. One came up, (the actual order was 1, 3, 6, 5, 4, 2) which happened to be assigned to……………………..

Are you ready?

star trek dance

Sarah Perry!

This is Sarah:
Sarah Perry

She’s an author and mom of an almost-3-year-old and creator of Pajama Girl. I know this because I looked her up. She entered about forty-five seconds after I posted the contest, so she apparently knows her dinosaurs. Sarah, I’m gonna send you an email so I can get your address. In the meantime, congratulations.

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

A screen-grab rom the HarperCollins author search page. I hope no one gets us mixed up.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I’ll be appearing at some local events this week for Children’s Book Week, and if you live in the Philadelphia area I’d love to say hello. If you don’t live in the Philadelphia area, I’d still like to see you, but I just think it seems like a long-shot.

First, later today, I’ll be at the Lansdowne Public Library. I’ll be reading and chatting starting at 4pm. (55 S. Lansdowne Ave, Lansdowne, PA 19050)

Tomorrow night I’ll be in Harleysville, right up I-476 a few miles, at Harleysville Books. I’ll be reading here also, as well as doing some drawing on a big easel. This starts at 7pm. (Salford Square Shopping Center on Route 63, just west of the intersection of Route 63 and Route 113.)

Lastly, on Saturday I’ll be back at Children’s Book World in Haverford. I’ll be talking about Everything Goes and probably reading from The Boy Who Cried Alien, and they’ve got a big purple car set up for photos, as well as magnets and other goodies. This one starts at 1pm. (17 Haverford Sation Rd.
Haverford, PA 19041)

If you make it to all three, I’ll give you a prize.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Today, the internet is filled with posts and post-mortems and obits and love-letters to Maurice Sendak, who died this morning. My friend Charles Hatfield wrote a particularly good one:

RIP Maurice Sendak (1928-2012), one of America’s great cartoonists, her preeminent picture book artist, and one of the most articulate and impassioned author/critics in the children’s book field.

Sendak was a genuine Renaissance man, an artist whose interests could not be neatly corralled into one tiny box (genre, style, medium). But for me the heart of his achievement will always be his picture book children, those squat, feisty urchins, full of vinegar and fire: feisty, anti-authoritarian, and, yes, wild. He paid tribute to their imaginations by unleashing his own fierce imagination, untrammeled, boundless, and free.

Sendak pursued his interests in defiance of pinched, hidebound ideas about what children’s book could be (and children’s authors could do). He is that rare artist whose pursuit of self-indulgence liberated and humanized an entire field, extending its horizons and enriching its emotional palette. And he was a genuine scholar of his field too: his understanding of the picture book form was so complete, and his reverence for its history and greatest practitioners so genuine, that he became the great practitioner-critic of children’s books. (Who else would accept his Caldecott Medal by giving a speech praising Randolph Caldecott?)

Farewell, Mr. Sendak, one of our bright, burning stars.

There’s not much I can add, since I’m not so good about putting these kinds of thoughts down on a blog or Facebook or whatever. What I can say is that Sendak always scared me. I had stacks of great books — Scarry, Seuss, I’ll Fix Anthony, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, etc — and I read these books all the time, even when I was “too old” for them. But Where the Wild Things Are was kind of like the monster under the bed. There was something harder about that story, something scarier and dark and true that I didn’t understand when I was a kid. Max was angry. At his mom. He left home (or at least imagined he did). The monsters were chaotic. Did he control them? It didn’t seem possible. The safety net was gone.
Of course in the end Max returns home, but the line had already been cut and the truth revealed. It’s like the fence in your backyard where the woods begin. The yard is safe, sure. But once you’ve seen things move in the woods, once you know there is something more out there, nothing seems right any more.

Later on, Sendak’s drawings themselves, apart from the stories, were what led me back to the Where the Wild Things Are. His crosshatching, his kids, his compositions. In college, he was a big piece of the influence-puzzle that I soaked in and obsessed over. Along with Moebius, Lobel, especially Gorey, and a hundred other cartoonists and artists, Sendak made me look. Somewhere around the early or mid-nineties I found The Juniper Tree and Zlateh the Goat, both of which startled me. I think the thought went something like “good lord, this dude can draw.” I fell in love with the folk tales and the magic and, again, the crosshatching.

Then, once I was actually able to step foot through that door and start making picture books myself, I went back and read his words. Both his stories and his essays about picture books, as well as the marvelous biography by Selma Lanes. It so happened that my kids were quite young at this time, and I discovered Little Bear. The kids didn’t choose Little Bear to read at night as often as I did. Mainly so I could look at the drawings.

I’d just moved to Philadelphia and spent a lot of time at the Rosenbach Library, where I could put on the white gloves, sit in a nice clean room, and get to handle and swoon over Sendak’s original art. (By the way, a couple of observations about this: the Juniper Tree drawings are drawn at 100% of the size that they’re printed in the book, and four-color offset doesn’t remotely do justice to the colors Sendak used to make Where the Wild Things Are. They’re unbelievably gorgeous, while the book is muted and dull.)

I got to meet Maurice Sendak twice. The first time was at The Boathouse Cafe in Central Park, New York City. I was a waiter at the restaurant there, and had a table with two very nice men chatting about the lake behind them as they ate. After I delivered the check, one of them gave me his credit card, American Express, where I saw that the man’s name was Maurice Sendak. I asked him, probably in a daze, if he was the children’s author Maurice Sendak. He agreed that he was, and asked if I was an artist. I admitted that although I was actually a graphic design major at Parsons, I was a fan, and illustrating books was one of the things I truly wanted to do. He wished me luck, and signed his AmEx receipt when I returned. I’m sure the statute of limitations has expired, so I can finally admit that I kept the original and I’ve had it framed over my drawing table in various studios in various cities for twenty-four years.

The second time I met him was in 1993 where I saw him lecture in San Francisco. At the end of his lecture I ran to the stage and handed someone a copy of my graphic novel, Frederick & Eloise, with a inscription to Maurice, which had weeks earlier been published by Fantagraphics. Gorey is the more obvious influence on Frederick, but it was Sendak that forced me to put down on paper what I had in my head. There is a scene in the book where the main character, Frederick, a kind of rotund middle-aged man is falling through the sky, naked, which came right from In the Night Kitchen, and me not worrying about what my parents or people might say at what was to me a pretty twisted and dark story came from Where the Wild Things Are. Even last week, at a school visit north of Philadelphia, the school librarian had mistakenly ordered several copies of my pre-kids-books books from Amazon (Frederick, and Dear Julia,). She was a bit wary of a naked Frederick, and I brought up Night Kitchen when she asked me about it. It felt good to do that.
So the woman to whom I gave the book, back at the lecture in San Francisco, politely thanked me and walked off stage. Optimistically I waited a minute or two, and was repaid by Mr. Sendak returning to the stage, my book in his hands, looking for me. He walked over and told me he hadn’t had time to read it (!) but he loved what he saw, and wished me luck. Again. Two good lucks from Maurice Sendak did me just fine.

Admittedly, the work I am doing now isn’t digging into those recesses that Sendak exists in for me. But like Where the Wild Things Are did among my stack of books when I was a kid, that honesty, that unruly child with fears and dreams and real emotions hasn’t gone anywhere, and those stories are still working their way to the surface. I knew as a kid that the book was sitting there in the shelf, and just as I do now, I opened it and read it just to remind myself of what’s over that fence or under that bed. I’d stare at the pages where Max’s room transmogrifies into the woods, and I’d shudder.

And I still do.

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

A new dinosaur puzzle. I must like dinosaurs because I draw a lot of them.

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

This is a cool little thing from Galison/Mudpuppy, for whom I’ve made a lot of toys and puzzles. Six dinosaurs and one puzzle. The puzzle comes as a series of nine cubes, with each side being a piece of one of the puzzles.

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

You can get this here at the Mudpuppy site.

I have an extra one of these and I’d like to give it away to someone, so I thought I’d have a little contest. There are six dinosaurs here, right? Send me an email with all six dinosaurs correctly listed (and list the colors so I can tell which one you’re naming). Of all of the right answers I’ll pick one winner from random, okay?

[nggallery id=29]

So you have this week. I’ll pick the winner on Friday afternoon, around 3pm Eastern Time. Send your email to brian at mrbiggs dot com. You could leave it as a comment if you want, but then you’d be giving your answers away to everyone who reads this post. So instead of doing that, use email, and then just write a funny joke about dinosaurs in the comments. Cool?

Oh yeah, the winner has to send a picture of themselves building the puzzle when they get it. Okay? Good luck.