Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Seven Year Sketch

It was late 1999 as I huddled in my secluded mountain compound, awaiting Y2K and drawing this sketch. It was intended as a Magic: The Gathering card, if you can believe that. I was only meant to draw an automaton, but I had this urge to put him in a tree. The Art Director rejected the concept, and I was sort of relieved. I liked this guy so much I wanted to do something with him myself.

I've tried to insert the poor little robot into a number of projects over the years without success. One such project was a poem. After a number of false starts I realized that the only thing in the poem that really wasn't working was the robot, so I took him out. The poem became my first book as both author and illustrator, Tree Ring Circus. Here's a detail from one of the paintings. Someday, little robot.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Expo America!

There's something about that name that's always sounded like a theme park to me, or a World's Fair–ride the river rafts of Twain Town! Tilt at windmills in Quixote Junction! Get carried helplessly through the soul-crushingly confusing waterslides of Kafka's Splashocracy!

And so on.

Anyway, Book Expo America is only sort of like that. It's the big annual book industry convention, and this year it's in New York City from May 31 to June 3. If you're attending, I'll be signing copies of my next picture book, Pssst! at the Harcourt booth on Friday between 11:00 and 12:00, and signing copies of my first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, at the Hyperion signing area between 3:00 and 4:00.

I've also donated some Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich art to the ABC Annual Secret Garden Silent Auction that takes place Friday night at Copacabana. If you're going, look for me there. I'll be the guy who looks like me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. In half of a duplex, really, a matching pair of shoes on a block lined with other matching pairs. She wished people would call them shoeplexes, but no one ever did.

Her shoe was one of a pair of old lace-up boots, very tall and stately and elegant, and she was proud of this. It had its drawbacks--the leather needed oiling constantly or it would crack in the sun, and the sole leaked sometimes when it rained. Still, she'd have hated to live in a tennis shoe, or in one of the endless pairs of nearly identical loafers that had cropped up during the baby boom.

Not that the baby boom hadn't happened for her as well. Not that she hadn't had her own baby boom of astonishing proportions.

She had, in fact, so many children she was a bit at a loss. Where had they all come from? Well, men, she supposed. So many men. Returning soldiers at first, their fresh faces unspoiled by the war, but then it was just any kind of man who could make her feel for a while like she was a woman, and not just the mother of a hundred and three.

One hundred and four. She forgot to count Mary. Why did she always forget Mary?

Had she learned somewhere that it takes nine months to make a baby? Well if she had, she thought, she'd learned it too late. Too late to do her any good. That showed what came of having an education, she thought. If you went to a proper school perhaps you didn't have to have so many babies. She looked for a pencil and paper, finding the former beneath Brian and the latter stuck to Jane, and tried to work the figures. Nine months, times one hundred and three, no, four babies. Nine hundred thirty-six months. Or seventy-eight years.

Hmmm, she thought, that sounded about right. Perhaps she had taken nine months to have each child. How clever of her. She smiled and gazed out the window in the toe of her home. She wished people would call them wintoes, but no one ever did.

"Look at this," said a voice.

The old woman turned toward the voice, and found a round little face that was unfamiliar.

Oh, it was Mary. It would be Mary.

"Look at what they're saying about us," said Mary. "About you."

The girl thrust a frayed piece of notebook paper under the old woman's nose. It smelled like children. But didn't everything?

"Can't read without my glasses," she said. "You know--"

Mary read it for her.

"It says, 'There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she was a burden on the welfare system.' This was taped to my locker, Mother. They're taped everywhere."

The old woman turned over the paper she'd used to do her figures and held it at arm's length. What do you know, she thought, they are taped everywhere.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Plymouth Meeting Friends

I had a great school visit the other day at the Plymouth Meeting Friends School in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Are you a school? Do you know someone who is? If you're interested in having me come visit, draw, show slides, and share my SEVEN SURE-FIRE WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT NOW, I may be available to do everything but the weight-loss stuff. Drop me a line.
Here's a great welcome poster some of the students drew. Check out the portrait of me in the corner!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Final Spectrum Preview

I've been putting off posting the last piece of mine to make it into this year's Spectrum annual. It's the cover of my first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, which won't be published until September. So I though this post could be better timed to the release of the book, but oh well. I'll be posting more about Smekday and my other fall release, Pssst!, in the coming months, so please visit often and remember to tip your waitress.

Incidentally, if you'd like to learn a little more about The True Meaning of Smekday, click here.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Oh, My Stars and Garters.

Here's the other Marvel/Upper Deck trading card I painted last year–Hank McCoy, aka the Beast. I'm actually a fan of the current, more leonine appearance of Dr. McCoy. To be specific, I am a fan of said leonine Beast as written by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassaday in Astonishing X-Men. But Upper Deck had their reasons for wanting the old simian/Sasquatch look, so I relented.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


It was the Monsoon Season, a spell of two or three weeks when central Arizona received nearly all the rain it would it get the whole year. Today it had rained for three hours in a neighborhood with no storm drains, and the streets ran like rivers.

"What are you doing?" his older brother asked him. For a moment he considered the question, sitting on the edge of the curb, his pink hand submerged in the fast, filthy water, and wondered the same thing. Certainly his Mother would wonder, later, when she learned he'd spent the day with his hands and eventually feet in floodwaters thick with garbage and pulverized worms. She'd look at him like he was the dog from that urban legend, the one about the woman who rescues a stray only to learn later that it's a Tijuana street rat. Why had she thought this was her son, when it was clearly some sort of hairless trash monkey?

"I'm fishing," he said finally. "I'm going to catch a fish." He then turned his attention back to the river, cupping his hand in the current.

"There's no fish," said his brother. "You're not going to catch anything. Just 'cause the street looks like a river doesn't mean there's suddenly fish in it now."

He silently agreed that this was probably true, though the constant barrage of tiny objects (pebble, twig, something soft, pull-tab) against his hand in the cloudy water kept his hopes alive and then bump, his fingers closed suddenly around something big, the biggest thing yet, and he pulled it from the water.

It was a fish. A plastic fish, blue, a toy from something. He turned it over and over in his hand.

"I told you," he said, holding the fish up for inspection. "I said I would."

His brother leaned over, then looked unbalanced, like he'd leaned too far. His mouth opened and shut.

"That's not a real fish," he said finally. "It's just a toy fish. Not a real one. That's just a toy."

The younger brother thought this was a fantastically petty thing to say. He knew it wasn't real. But he'd said he was fishing and not ten seconds later had a plastic fish and wasn't that amazing? Didn't that deserve something? Something more than this poisonous spite? His brother was petty, and he wanted to tell him so, but he didn't know that word yet. So he said:

"You're a turd-boy. You smell like turds."

Then he left, feeling just like God, and looked for a bowl of water to put his fish in.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I Commend You For Your Punctuality!

I haven't actually posted many images lately, so here's a painting I did last year of Professor X for Marvel and Upper Deck's VS Trading Card Game. Comics fans will notice I got all Kirby with the nimbus.

Big in Japan

I've mentioned this before on my website, but the link listed there seems to be broken. So I state once again that I am an author, illustrator, and also some sort of Japanese software application:

My friend Reiko explained to me once what this thing is, but I've forgotten what she said, and the mystery is more fun than the answer anyway. According to Google's beta-tested Japanese-to-English translator,

[Adam-Rex allows] The multidimensional reporting
of the cross list OLAP cube there is no special knowledge,
with GUI based intuitively know operation speedily!

So I hope my high school algebra teacher is reading this. She said I'd never amount to anything.