November 30, 2010

Q-Pop Shop!

Painting Q Pop from Kevin's Worldwide Adventures on Vimeo.

I recently discovered this amazing video online!  It looks as if Chris Mitchell's shop is open for business!  It warms my heart and soul to see Chris Turnham, Liz Ito, and Kevin Dart painting amazing murals for the store. Mitchell is in good hands with these folks!
Q Pop! Los Angeles

November 29, 2010

Looking Back...

Well, I just finished the last of the revisions for Rocket Town, which is due to release through Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in Spring 2011.  Now what?  The truth is, I simply don’t know.  Although it’s been over a year, I remember like it was yesterday getting the go-ahead to start The Sea of Bath.

Early concept of the toy captain for The Sea of Bath.

My brief history in the world of picture books started with a fellow by the name of Jason Lethcoe.  In 2003, I went over to the newly created Sony Pictures Animation to work with him in story on a film scheduled back then to be directed by Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi (of Disney) involving meatballs falling from the sky.  (Yep, that movie underwent some changes over the years).  Being friends with Jason and the fact that Sony Animation was rapidly growing with limited space, we elected to share an office.

Our office...

Now the way Jason works, he gets an idea and pursues it with no fear or reservations.  During the time we shared an office, I witnessed him get an idea for a book, find a printer, design one layout per day (on a thirty day schedule), and ultimately ship off his creation to be made.  He just did it!  The result was a spontaneous and charming alphabet book based on children with extraordinary superpowers called, The ABC's of Superpowers.

I had (and still have) tremendous respect for him for simply acting without questioning the realities or potential problems often associated with self-publishing.  I also realized I wanted the same.  Working in story in animation, everything is a sketch or an idea.  Holding a final thought in the form of a book was seductive to say the least.

I was learning Illustrator at the time and was playing with “non-human-type” objects practicing my vector coloring and Bezier curves.  I sketched out a bunch of stylized rocket ships of various shapes and sizes with pencil that I was going to bring into the program to work on.  Upon seeing the pile of drawings, Jason thought I should make a book about these rockets.  And so, I began to work on a book called, The Rocket Museum, which was about a place where people could visit “odd” rockets with distinct personalities and names, not unlike visiting a collection of Ed “Big-Daddy” Roth cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in southern California.

Early concepts and original layout for The Rocket Museum.

Jason also advised me to stick to his one-layout per day schedule.

Three years later…

I gathered the courage to finally send the files off to Hong Kong to be made into a book; only the book no longer involved a museum.  It was a small, functioning town where the rockets played a role in the townspeople's lives.  I wanted to do “Ray-Bradbury-for-kids” by having a familiar looking mid-western town juxtaposed with these strange and extraordinary modes of transportation.  My wife, thankfully, kept me grounded by giving the book a framework children would grasp (colors, sizes, speeds).  I then chose to make it a book about opposites.

Cover of Rocket Town (orig. self-published version).

My self-published book came out okay.  I had some printing glitches.  I did a short print run and friends, family, and some actual customers were gracious enough to buy it.  (I also gave out a few).  I enjoyed sharing a booth at APE in San Francisco with my pal, Liz Ito.  However, I didn’t enjoy having to deal with ISBN numbers, port fees, printing problems, Pay pal, and damaged books.

By now, Jason was now on the road to becoming an author of young-adult fiction.  He has since written numerous books.  (You can check out his titles here).  He was kind enough to pass along a copy of Rocket Town to his agency. Originally, I don’t think the agent thought much of it, but luckily something changed her mind.

She asked me for another premise and then started shopping around both Rocket Town and the concept for the Sea Of Bath. After a couple of years and a few rejection letters later, she informed me that a publisher by the name of Sourcebooks wanted to do both books.

I was excited!

Then I panicked.

Career?  Family?  New bosses?  Deadlines?  More bosses?  Deadlines!?  Paranoia aside, I enjoy and have enjoyed every moment of making children's books.  I love doing the research, scribbling out the “dummy” version, collaborating with experienced editors and art directors, and seeing the final product.  I feel I've been given a tremendous gift with this opportunity and I'm grateful.

Early pencil sketch of "The Captain" for The Sea of Bath.

I guess this blog entry is a thank you (complete with a back-story) for the people involved with this adventure…

To Jason, for your continued support and encouragement...
To Jennifer, the super-agent who didn’t give up on my books... 
To Rebecca and Kelly at Sourcebooks, for allowing me to experience the joy, hard work, and collaboration that goes into making a children’s book...
To my wife Jill, for her advice on children, keeping my nerves at bay, and putting up with my long nights working... 
To my pugs, for supervising me during those long nights at work...
To my son, for whom the books are dedicated...

And to my readers, who I hope enjoy the books!

November 23, 2010

Remembering Michael J. Smollin...

For me, illustrator Michael Smollin played a vital role within Jim Henson’s universe. As a child, I loved his illustrations for The Monster at the End of This Book.  But I also have fond memories of Smollin’s beautifully designed booklets that accompanied a few of the Sesame Street record albums in the early seventies.

In his illustrations, Smollin best captures the slightly psychedelic color palette and textures that make Sesame Street unique and unmistakable.  He will be missed.

(from:  The Monster at the End of This Book)

Images from Muppet Wiki &

November 15, 2010

Me At My Local Barnes & Noble...

(photo taken of me with my phone by a helpful mom). 

(an ad for my book and a NOOK).

I would like to extend a hearty thanks to Pam at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, California for allowing me to visit the store to read and sign my book. I was really excited and (I might add) a little bit nervous! The turnout was great!  I should have brought my camera to better document the moment. I had to make do with my phone.

I would like to thank the staff and volunteers at Westlake Elementary for allowing me to take part in their book event as well!

November 13, 2010

Rocket Town...

I'm plugging away on the final changes for Rocket Town.  Above, is the new cover from the publisher, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.  The"collage-style" reminds me a little of the cover of one of my all-time favorite radio shows, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

This version of: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is Copyright 1994 by Time Warner AudioBooks.

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky To Release Rocket Town!

Arriving Spring 2011!

November 7, 2010

More Sea Of Bath News...

The Sea Of Bath made the 2010 Book of the Week List on Embracing the!

A Day At Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop…

I would like to thank Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop in La Verne, CA for inviting me to visit their really amazing store!  If there is a center to the galaxy where all the children’s books hang out, this place is most likely it.  A special thanks is in order to bookseller and story-time gal, Caitlin for organizing the book-signing event and including a special Sea Of Bath arts & crafts activity for the children!  Here is my artsy craft…

I really enjoyed visiting with the parents, staff, and children.  I hope to do it again soon!


I couldn’t leave Mrs. Nelson’s without picking up a few titles.  Here are three that caught my eye...

I haven't read them yet.  Admittedly, when I shop for picture books, I buy for the illustrations. I like the bold and confident illustrations in Sarah Adams' book, Gary and Ray.  Troy Cummings' illustrations for More Bears! boast a fun use of shapes and a color palette reminiscent of classic Hanna Barbera.  And Ronald Searle is... well, let's face it.  It's Ronald Searle!

November 4, 2010