Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Evolution of The Big Splash cover—Fall 2008

Final Jacket
Final color plus texture
First color sketch
2nd round of sketches. Turning Matt toward the viewer to add strength to his character.
Pulp type idea
Nathan Fox's first sketches Boy vs. Girl
First cover ideas with help from Tomer Hanuka

The Big Splash

The Story: Matt Stevens is as tough as a steak from the school cafeteria. He’s a seventh-grade private eye, and he just did something he thought he’d never do: He accepted a job from Vincent “Vinny Biggs” Biggio, the kid behind every deal made at Franklin Middle School, from black market candy to forged hall passes. Matt had better watch his back as he tackles a case with more twists than a candy addict on a swivel chair.

full of crime!
A school
full of suspects!
Will he crack
the case . . .
Or be the next

Written by Jack D. Ferraiolo
Edited by Susan Van Metre
Jacket Illustration by Nathan Fox
Designed By Chad W. Beckerman

Thursday, April 24, 2008

RISD reviews

My day started with my cat waking me before my alarm went off at 5 am. Apparently he was hungry and didn't want to wait to be feed. Jerk.

I caught a the 6:20 am Acela train to Providence arriving at 9:30am. I hadn't been to Providence in about 2 years. It was strangely cleansing.

11 am Stopped at the Nature lab to visit some old friends. ( That place smells like death)

From 1-5pm I reviewed Portfolios of RISD Junior and Senior Illustrations. The focus for this program is to help students be better prepared for life after RISD, but also allows reviewers (me) a first-hand look at emerging talent.

I asked the same question of all of them. First, " What do you want to do?" Second " What in your portfolio was the most fun to do?" I think we all know what we want to do but sometime its hard to see beyond ourselves to see it. These questions were asked in hopes of starting a dialogue about the direction each student was going or hoped to go.

5:30 pm I walked to Thayer street for some Eastside Pockets goodness. An later wandered around to all the places I used to live in Providence. Oddly enough everything had the same smells.

6:45 pm I was on the road back to New York arriving at 10:34 pm

Here is a link to this year's reviewers:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cicada Summer Books are in!

Cicada Summer, originally uploaded by chadwbecks.

Final books for Cicada Summer By Andrea Beaty came in and they look pretty sweet I must say.

CICADA SUMMER has been chosen as the Original Voices title for May at Borders.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Amazing redesigns by Shepard Fairey

"Both books feature stunning covers by Shepard Fairey - if you're going to grab people, get them by the short and curlies."

Words/Pictures+Entertainment=$ (?)


New York Magazine ran and article about the acceptance of graphic storytelling. Highlighting two writers Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Jeff Kinney, creator of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. The article goes on to say, "They have have seized on the shift in young people’s reading expectations to make enormous hits out of books that mix comics and literature in clever ways. The yearlong residence of Hugo Cabret and the “Wimpy Kid” books near the top of the Times chapter-book best-seller list—typically populated by the usual suspects of young-adult best-sellerdom, like fantasy epics and li’l-chick lit—represents the first wave of a potential revolution in the YA market: the incursion of comics into “respectable” children’s fiction."

Like this a new thing? Comics have been around for years as well as graphic novels. So why now? Why now are they finally falling into the mainstream. Timing? Acceptance? Money?

I for one welcome the "change" and hope it pushes writers and illustrators to see the medium in a new way to produce new stories that will entertain us.

Entertain us? Is that really why these books are becoming more popular. Are they just more upfront out being entertaining? Is a book with 400 pages with 200 illustrations more entertaining than a book with just 400 pages of text? On the surface yes. I believe the success of the "Wimpy Kid" books beyond that it is a great story and funny as hell is that when kids or even adults look at it they don't see "work". They see a book that is entertaining. An this is solely due to its format. Mixing pictures and words to ease the reader along. To hide any "work" they might be doing in the actual reading in the pleasure and entertainment of the illustrations. Thus hooking the sought after reluctant reader. Sounds pretty easy right? Not at all. Like anything else you need a good idea and you need to execute that idea well. Just combining Words and Pictures in a new way just to be where the trend is won't work and it will result in mediocre works. I just hope that publishers don't go to the route of the cut off face/body part novel jacket. It seemed cool at the time but now that everyone is doing it things begin to look the same.

To clarify . . . do I want to see more books like The Invention of Hugo Cabret or The Wimpy Kid books, Yes! But I would hope not to see clones of these ideas rather the ideas that build on these ideas taking this "new" medium further.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Planning for the worst

I had the honor of talking about my profession to a group of about 30 Pratt University students today. I talked about how I got my start in publishing, graduating RISD as a illustrations major, (Illustration got some cheers. RISD got some boos.) as well as the process of making a picture book. All along trying my hardest to give as much real world advice as possible no matter how scary it might have seemed to them. I am sure I would have scared the crap out of myself at that age. The truth is a scary thing when you feel unprepared to hear it. How did my work fit in, I remember thinking? As I sure everyone does at that time. I tried to keep that in mind when talking with them. Trying to think what are other routes that you can take your work to make money so not to limit yourself. I went around the room and gave a brief crit of there work. which gets harder as you go around the room. I kept thinking I don't want to repeat myself and this person deserves to hear something new from me. I managed to mumble out some gems. Most had the same issues color, direction of there work and overall voice. Common issues that we all struggle with even after school. (well maybe not color ) Before each crit I asked the same question. The hardest question you can ask a senior with only weeks left of school. "What do you want to do?" I couldn't have answered it at that time but I knew what I liked. And if you follow that you will find what you want. I had no idea that I would be in children's books let alone and art director of them. In fact I didn't like kids books at all. Mainly because I didn't fit into them or so I thought. Perhaps that is why I have done well in the field. All in all I saw some promising work in the room but I left feeling a touch of anxiety in my chest. I was feeling the stress of the room I think. In no uncertain terms there futures are before them. Not knowing where they are going. It's tough to let go and dive into the abyss and hope for the best. My parting advice is we must plan for the worst so good things happen. If the bad shall occur we are prepare to deal with it rather than letting it consume us, keeping us from moving forward.

That being said, my next portfolio review is at RISD, April 23rd. I am interested to see what they will be bringing.