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The Space Walk is in orbit!

November 1st, 2019

The Space Walk, my latest book as an author/illustrator, was launched this last Tuesday, Oct 29. I’d planned to do something as a countdown, of sorts, but that didn’t work out so instead I put this historical record together. Please enjoy, and go order a copy of The Space Walk today.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.1: Ed White, first American to walk in space, had a copy of The Space Walk with him on his EVA. “I like the part where Randolph sees the constellations” was overheard on the NASA radio signals. 

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.2: Yuri Gagarin was known to enjoy a good picture book while being the first human in space. Recently unearthed photos show him reading aloud during his mission. “One hour and 48 minutes isn’t enough to get involved in a proper sci-fi novel,” he apparently said to Pravda in 1961. “So I like a good picture book about making friends with life from other worlds!”

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.3: Everyone knows that E.T. loved Sedak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and pretty much everything Shel Silverstein ever wrote. Apparently he liked stories that hit closer to “home” as well.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.4: Here’s a photo of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. People have always wondered how Neil and Buzz were chosen to walk on the moon, while Michael had to stay behind and orbit in the Columbia module. Well, the reason isn’t that Collins “had to.” He chose to sit in the lunar orbiter, all alone for almost 22 hours, because he knew he’d have more time to read picture books! “I heard the moon was pretty boring,” Collins explained in an interview. 

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.5: A long-lost Bugs Bunny episode was recently turned up in the dusty basement vaults of Warner Bros animation studios. Awkwardly titled “No Strangers Here, Only Martians We’ve Never Met,” this cartoon short features Marvin the Martian and Bugs Bunny sitting around reading The Space Walk together for ten minutes before hugging and walking off camera. Why it was canned, no one knows. 

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.6: Astronauts Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, and the lesser-known Randolph Witherspoon. The Right Stuff indeed.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.7: In 1957, as the story goes, an alien invasion was averted when “Bezos” and “Zebos,” The Saucer Men, were gifted a copy of The Space Walk. The story of a human astronaut befriending a space robot alien touched a nerve, a very large green nerve to be precise, and the Saucer Men called off the attack. In 1994, “Bezos” returned to earth and founded the famous website as a gift to all humans.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.8: On Friday, October 18, 2019, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch ventured outside the International Space Station to replace a power controller. This spacewalk was the first ever to be performed by an all-female crew. “Repairing power controllers is boring, so I read a book while Jessica wasn’t looking, LOL.” said Koch. Both actual astronauts described The Space Walk as being “highly realistic” in its portrayal of lone astronaut Randolph Witherspoon and his adventures in space. “The part where Randolph has to do a ton of work before getting to go outside reminded me of an hour earlier when I was back in the space station, doing chores.” said Meir.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.9: Previously unseen still image from The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951. In the original cut of this sci-fi classic from 20th Century Fox, Klaatu, the alien, seen here with his robot-guard Gort, claims to come “in peace and with good will” and would like to give a copy of this picture book, The Space Walk, to the President of the United States. This scene was re-cut by director Robert Wise when it was realized that the book was not even published yet, and would not be for almost 70 years.

Historically significant The Space Walk sightings, no.10: This scene of total bedlam was taken March 9, 1968 at Mission Control in Houston, Texas, as Astronaut Randolph Witherspoon returned from his Space Walk in time to write his report and eat his dinner. “Spacewalk complete! When can I go out again?” was the first recorded message from Witherspoon after his extra-vehicular activity (EVA).

He went out again the very next day.

covering Everything Goes, pt 2

June 7th, 2011

Yesterday I showed the process leading up to the cover of Everything Goes: On Land. Without further ado or brouhaha, here’s the final cover of the book. Click the image to see it quite a bit larger.

The cover design had to be indicative of the work that’s in the book, and I do believe it is. Cars and trucks, bikes and motorcycles, buses, construction vehicles, trains, and whatever else made it in the book and on this cover. Vehicles going this way and that way, all kinds of people riding and driving them, and even a friend’s blue and white striped Mini Cooper.

Once the final sketch was approved, I use that as the basis to create the inked drawing. I usually try to create my illustrations to the exact size that they’ll be printed. Everything Goes is going to be a big book — twelve inches tall and ten inches wide — so this was no problem. I draw the illustration using a big lightbox on nice Strathmore 500 series bristol with watered-down india ink, and use white gouache to carve out areas and add details.

If you take a look at the close-up image below, the wheels of the train, the white outlines of the train windows, the railroad ties, and the wing of the small black bird are examples of where I paint the negative space, or the white areas. When I inked the drawing, the area under the train was solid black. This part of the process is easily my favorite, as it’s a real joy to see these details appear and everything come together.

You may also notice that there is no type on the black-and-white line drawing. This is because when I do work like this I always draw the type and add it digitally.

Once these are all complete, they get scanned into the computer where I use Photoshop to color everything and piece it together. When it’s complete, I save it as a TIF file and send it to the designer at the publishing house (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in the case of Everything Goes).

Everything Goes: On Land is scheduled to be released on September 13. I’m currently working on book two of the series, which is called “In the Air,” and which will be published a year later. Lastly, “On the Sea” will come out in 2013. I don’t have the covers sketched for either of these two books yet, but they will be similar in idea and business to “On Land.” And of course I’ll post here about them when they’re ready to make their way into the world. Stay tuned!

Roscoe Riley at Children’s Book World

June 24th, 2008

Roscoe Riley at Children's Book World

Finally found one of the Roscoe display cases that I had heard about. Barnes & Noble and Borders didn’t have them, and in fact all these big stores I’ve visited had only one copy of each book in their shelves. For having such an influence over the design and marketing, you’d hope they’d put their money where their mouth is. But bless Hannah and Heather and Sarah at CBW in Haverford. They had dozens of Roscoe books and this nice display, and Hannah says she’s sold lots of books. Woo!