Today is publication day of Dog Days of School. This book was written by Kelly DiPucchio and edited by Rotem Moscovich at Disney/Hyperion. Actually, she was the third editor on the book, as I signed on to do this thing way way back in, what, 2007 or 2008 or something like that. Everything Goes came along and took days off the calendar, and then The Boy Who Cried Alien had to get done, and finally last year after completing the third and final Everything Goes book, I took a few months and got this thing done.
And done it is. I love this book. I mean, okay, the illustrations are whatever. I like ’em and I hope you do too. But the book makes me laugh. When I read the script I knew that this was going to be a fun project. Freak Friday, but with a boy and a dog.
Here are some illustrations and sketches from the book. Please enjoy thanks.
A bunch of thumbnail sketches here. This is the form sketches come in when I first make them, and scan them. It’s the hardest but most important part of the whole process, for me.
In 2007, I signed on to illustrate two books for Hyperion. One was The Boy Who Cried Alien, by Marilyn Singer, and the other was called Dog Days of School, by Kelly DiPucchio. At the time, I was just getting my legs as a book illustrator and was excited to get these two projects while I start the process of learning to write my own books.
Little did I know that the seed of Everything Goes was planted a few months later, which subsequently took over my life for five years. This and other delays caused Alien and Dog Days to get pushed back a few years (!). Well, The Boy who Cried Alien came out in 2012, and Dog Days is finally coming out this June. I drew this book immediately after finishing Everything Goes and it was a dream to work on these big flat comparatively simply-composed illustrations. I only used six or seven colors for the entire book, and tried a few techniques with the art that I wasn’t able to do in Everything Goes.
I received a prepublication copy of the book yesterday and my lordy it looks beautiful. I mean, okay, the drawings are alright. But Hyperion knocked the production and design out of the park on this thing. Rotem Moscovich edited and Tyler Nevins did the design and I can’t think them enough. Of course, I can’t think Kelly enough for writing it either, and being incredibly patient as her story sat on my shelf for nearly seven years.
Look for more on this book in the next few months, including cover sketches and how it got made. Stay tuned!
The Boy Who Cried Alien is a book unlike any other book I’ve not only had the chance to illustrate, but unlike any book I’ve read before. It takes the old Boy Who Cried Wolf tale and tells it a little differently. In this one, Larry the Liar is our protagonist, and one day he sees a tooth-shaped alien spaceship crash-land into a lake near the town where he lives. Larry, as his name would imply, has a reputation for telling tall tales, so when he runs into town to announce what he’s seen, no one believes him. (Well some do, but they’re loony-toons.) So as Larry tries to figure out a way to get the townsfolk to believe him, the two aliens, brothers named Dreab and Carlig, sing songs about their problems, which include the ship having crashed, being out of gas, and getting in trouble by their dad back home. Now, here’s where things get weird. Dreab and Carlig don’t sing in regular old English. No, Marilyn Singer devised a language for them all her own, based on rearranging certain letters of the words. For instance, instead of saying “Rocket Kaput, no more gas,” they sing “Tapuk Tocker, on eorm, sag.” Do you see the pattern here?
Luckily, Marilyn also saw fit to include a translation key in the book so the reader can understand what the aliens are saying, and about halfway through Larry is given a translator helmet so that he can understand what the aliens are saying. Here are a bunch of images of the book.
One of my favorite things about the book was a last minute bit of inspiration by my editor, Rotem Moscovich, at Hyperion. On the case cover, which is the inside cover, under the dust cover, we re-did the title and author/illustrator credits to read in the alien-language. I’d forgotten about this when I got my hot-off-the-presses copy in the mail yesterday, and when I opened it I just cracked up.
Some books get written, get illustrated, get published, and the whole things seems like well-oiled machinery. And then there are books like The Boy Who Cried Alien. I’m not sure exactly when Marilyn Singer wrote the manuscript, but I know I first saw the it in July of 2007. Before that, at various times, illustrators as famous and talented as Dan Santat and Adam Rex were attached to it, and three different editors helped sculpt it into the work it is now. I often think of how relieved Marilyn must be to know that it is, finally, a real book and will be out in just a couple of months.
I’ll post more about this book as we get closer to publication date, including a bunch of sketches and outtakes. Ytas Dunet!