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Author, Illustrator, Creative Guy willstrong.art@gmail.com

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 25

One more day to go folks.  Tomorrow I have something special planned for the finale.  Come on back.  It's going to be fun.

Plot Synopsis:

Magic gumball machine.  Kids float.  Yeah.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 23

I think I'm bending the rules on this one, but technically this isn't a new picture book idea and I didn't write it.  It was actually written by Rick Walton, a buddy of mine.  But I am illustrating it.  So I figured I would use it for the marathon.

I'm still in the planning stages of the book, so these are really just some quick compositional sketches that I colored.

Plot Synopsis:

There is a little girl who is afraid of monsters but she figures that monsters are not very scary if she just calls them bunnies.  Then she races all around the house checking out all of the places that "bunnies" usually hide.  In the closet, under the bed, in the attic, in the basement, etc.

She runs into the backyard and there finds a cute little bunny (a real one.)  She sees it and cries, "Monster!" and runs away.


It's more involved than that but that is the gist of it.

Look for more info on "I'm Not Afraid of Bunnies" coming soon on this here blog.

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 22

I think I'm all caught up now.  Or maybe I need to do a recount.

Plot Synopsis:

Younger brother knocks over Mom's favorite vase.  Mom isn't home.  Older brother spends the next hour torturing younger brother with thoughts of what Mom is going to do when she finds out.

older brother - "Do you remember George, our oldest brother?"

younger brother - "No."

older brother - "That's because he broke Mom's other favorite vase when you were just a baby.  He should be back from military school when he turns 18."

younger brother - "Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!  I'm dead.  What am I gonna do?  Mom is going to kill me."

older brother - "Yeah, probably.  Or, instead of killing you, she could..."

And that's where the real mental torture begins.  Can you tell that I have two older brothers?

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 21

I don't know why but I'm really entertained by this idea.

Plot Synopsis:

It's the leftovers.  THEY HAVE GONE BAD!!

The whole family must fight back.

(Yeah, that's all I've got for this one.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 20

So far behind schedule.  Must catch up.

Plot Synopsis:  

Rooster has a cold.  And try as he might, every morning when he tries to wake the farm, he can't get out more than a tiny squeak.  The farmer, fed up with late morning wake ups, is starting to interview new birds for the job.  Rooster has to do something.

All of the animals try to help out and offer various remedies for Rooster's cold.  "Chicken soup?  Are you crazy!?!"

Will Rooster find his crow again?  (I'm pretty sure that he will.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 19

Yeah, this one is just weird.  But it was fun to mess around with a funky color scheme.

Plot Synopsis:

Ice Cream Man is a local hero.  Whenever someone is sad Ice Cream Man shows up with an ice cream cone in hand.  Ice Cream Man, and his loyal sidekick Sprinkles the monkey, know that ice cream makes everything better.  But then Ice Cream Man takes it too far.

He puts ice cream on everything, pizza, shoes, dogs, cats, little old ladies.  It's funny at first, but then he  goes nuts.  Ice Cream Man creates an ice cream blizzard that threatens to bury the city forever.  Can Sprinkles stop his best friend in the whole world from creating an irreversible disaster?

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 18

B-Movie fun in picture book form!  

These folks show up on Earth (in Iowa) because they've heard that the grazing is top choice in the galaxy.  They are friendly and really only want a snack, but people run in terror from the purple heard.  The cows can't figure it out.  Why is everybody freaking out?

I really want to make this one.  And yes, I fully intend to do it in 3-D and include 3-D glasses.  Kids love that stuff.

On the Subject of Hippos Riding Bicycles

Yesterday's Picture Book Marathon idea/sketch was based on a favor that I asked of some friends a couple of weeks back.  Let me explain.

When I go to schools and talk to kids about writing and illustrating stories one of the things that I like to talk about is how, with stories, there is always more than one right answer.  To demonstrate this I gave this assignment out to some folks: Draw a picture that has a hippo on a bike (or a tricycle or a unicycle.)

This is what I got in return:

from Michelle Weaver:

from Jed Henry:

from Anthony Holden:

I have the best art friends.

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 17

Yeah, I'm behind again.  Time to catch up.  I'm going to make it.  26 illustrated PB ideas.  For reals.

So, today:

Plot Synopsis:

Tommy and Sophie live down the street from a family of hippos.  Francis (the hippo family son) is trying to learn how to ride the bike that he got for his birthday but it's not going well.  So Tommy and Sophie decide to help out.

Their methods are a bit unusual.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Break Number 2

Yup.  I'm too beat today to do a real post.  

But I have started work on the grand finale for this year's marathon.  It's going to be good.  I promise.

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 16

This is a poem written by my friend Neil Hughes (who doesn't have a blog to link to.)  He brought it to our critique group and told us that he had written a whole bunch of these.  I told him that this poem begs to be illustrated.  To me it felt like an excerpt from a "Where the Sidewalk Ends" for angsty teens.

I think the subject of this poem looks like this.

by Neil Hughes

After the pain
after the rage
after the ....

The what?

Then the rage.
Then harsh words.
Then the self loathing,
and rage,
after the ....
The what?

The pain.
After it's simmered
and slowed down
and popped up
then down further
then exploded up
then down to the deepest place
in the minute and smallest vile
at the bottom of the sea
and it sucks in the ocean
and spits out a whale at your face.
And you dodge the whale.

What whale?

Then the giant squid.
What giant squid?

Then the shark.
What shark?

And the sea urchin.
What sea urchin?

Then the slug.
What?  Oh that little thing?
That's nothing.

Then what about the urchin?
It's kind of spiky cute.

And now the shark?
Doesn't he need water?

And the squid?

And the whale?

And the ocean?
That's to swim in.
With all my friends.


So, for today's entry I submit a collection of illustrated poems for angsty teens written by Neil Hughes and illustrated by Will Strong.  It would be great.  I know it.

(If I have time tomorrow then I'll draw a quick illo with the girl and all of the sea creatures.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 15

Plot Synopsis:

Baxter and his Great Aunt Fanny are going to the museum today but when they get to the car out front Fanny can't find her car keys.  They are in her bag somewhere.  Fanny starts looking.

Fanny starts pulling stuff out of her bag: umbrella, sunglasses, gum, cell phone, lipstick, aspirin, bobby pins and a granola bar.

But she still can't find her keys.

Fanny goes down even farther in her bag.  She finds: seashells, high-heeled shoes, a fishbowl, a globe, an ant farm, a candelabra, and a dictionary.

But she still can't find her keys.

Fanny and Baxter keep looking through the bag.  They find: a goat, a robot, crutches, a top hat, a fire hydrant, a T-rex skull, a unicycle, and a goat.

Baxter and Fanny empty out the entire bag on the lawn and when they're done there are piles and piles of stuff.  The last three things to drop out of the bag are: a hamster, a tooth brush and ... THE KEYS!

But then Fanny looks around and sees the giant mess they have made.  "We can't go to the museum now," says Fanny "We've made such a terrible mess."

"It's okay Aunt Fanny," says Baxter "I saw something over here that might help."

Baxter pulls out a ticket booth from the piles of stuff.  "With all this cool stuff we can start our own museum" says Baxter.

And so they did.  And the whole neighborhood came to see it.

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 14

If you are going by the official rules of the Picture Book Marathon then today's entry doesn't really count.  But since the purpose of my creative writing prompts is to help kids write their own stories I'm going to count it.

By the way, I've got more of these over at www.creativekidcentral.com.  And they are FREE!  I know a bunch of teachers that use these in their classrooms.  Kids love them (I have seen this with my own eyes.)

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 13

Have you been to an elementary school Valentine's Day party in recent history?  It's pretty much like this.

I meant to post this yesterday, but ya know...things.  They happen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 11 & Day 12

And now for something completely different.

I built this guy out of cardboard and painted him up all pretty with acrylic paints.  He's actually a box for my wife's valentines (5th grade party tomorrow.)  They go in the mouth.

And then I liked him so much that I decided to come up with a simple story.  And then another.

It may sound funny but I would love to illustrate a book this way.  Though if I were to really go for it I would need to learn how to take a decent photograph (these look much better in person.)

(Also, I'm sorry about the lack of decent cardboard backgrounds.  These are just sketches after all.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 9

I had so much fun with yesterday's preschool book that I did another one (in which my favorite shoes make a cameo.)

Tall monster wears shoes.
Short monster wears a hat.
Chubby monster wears pants.
Bumpy monster wears a dress.
Slimy monster wears a coat.
Fuzzy monster wears underpants.
Skinny monster wears a tie.
All monsters love clothes.
They're delicious.

These are fun.  I can't promise that there won't be more of these before the Picture Book Marathon is over.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 8

Today's book is called "MONSTER MOVERS."  It is intended for preschool kids.  It would be nice and chunky (good for chewing.)  The illos would all be very simple too.  One quick and lively image per page.

MONSTER MOVERS (by Will Strong)
Fuzzy monster jumps.
Tall monster waves.
Bumpy monster crawls.
Slimy monster slides.
Short monster runs.
Skinny monster hides.
Chubby monster flies.
All the monsters dance.

I think I need some more pages.  Oh well.  Any excuse to draw monsters, right?

Today's idea was inspired by Will Terry's new e-book.  Check it out.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 7

Synopsis:  Frank loves bath time.  He plays and plays until he's wrinkly all over.

One day in the bath Frank discovers that his tub is connected to the ocean.  All different kinds of sea animals show up in his bath (some more friendly than others.)  Mom hears the commotion and starts coming up the stairs to investigate.  She opens the door just as all the animals hide themselves.

Mom leaves.  And the bath time party resumes.  When the bath is over Frank towels off and says, "I'll see you guys tomorrow."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 6

Plot Summary: our Main Character (let's call him Quentin) loves his little metal cars so very, very much.  And the blue one happens to be his favorite.  And then it goes missing.  And Quentin goes to every room in the house blaming his brothers and sisters for the disappearance.  In the end it turns out to be somewhere Quentin would never have guessed.

When I was a kid I was always losing things.  And with 5 siblings there were plenty of people to blame it on instead of myself.

This cover is based on a true story.  Early this morning when my wife went down to the parking garage she noticed that the car was gone (kind of hard to miss really.)  We both immediately thought the car was stolen.  Bad news.

After my brain woke up a bit more I vaguely remembered driving the car to a friend's house on Saturday but I didn't recall driving it home.  Turns out that I left the car at this friend's house for a couple of days and just walked the two blocks home without thinking about it.

That's the biggest thing I've ever lost.  Good thing it didn't go far.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 5

Today it's an idea for comics.  It's not strictly a picture book but it is a story for kids.  In a book.  With pictures.  So, yeah.

This story is called "A Problem Involving a Megalomaniacal* Mustache, a Tommy Pugmire Tale."

So let's start with Tommy.

Tommy is smart, funny, a huge dork and generally acts without thinking things through (he's much like me at age 11.)  Tommy has noticed that grownups get to do all the cool stuff, like see scary movies and get tattoos.  So he decides that he wants to be a grownup too.

But Tommy can't figure out how to make anybody believe he's a grownup (the fake ID was a complete bust.)  Then it dawns on him, Facial Hair!  That's the ticket.

So Tommy find this mustache one day.  Where does he find it?  In his cereal box of course.  How did it get there?  That is explained in the actual story and would take much too much room here to explore.

So Tommy slaps that hairy little sucker on his face and starts convincing people that he is actually a grownup.  Things work out pretty well for a while.

But what Tommy Pugmire doesn't know is that the mustache of good fortune is actually an evil mustache.

The evil mustache sends tendrils up Tommy's nose and through his sinuses to wrap around his medulla oblongata.  The 'stache takes over Tommy's body and Tommy is helpless to stop it!  What will happen next?


I've written it all down and it will eventually get made.  But for right now these sketches will have to do.

What's that you say?  This particular Picture Book idea doesn't seem so slapped together as the others?  That's because I've been working on this one on and off for 2 years now.  Yikes.  Time to get on that.  Just as soon as I finish that e-book I'm working on.

(*see Napoleon or Justin Bieber)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 4

Today's idea gets logged under "weird."

Groblets are explorers.  They like to go camping in strange places, like inside your ears.  This isn't really a bad thing though because groblets are great story tellers.  After a long day of exploring, when the groblets have settled down for the night, they tell fantastic stories.  And never the same story twice.  This is where story ideas come from.

You may think somebody is really creative but they most likely have a groblet infestation.

If you've been enjoying this year's picture book marathon then I suggest you check out a few other illustrators who are also doing a book idea a day:

They are all doing fun stuff.

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 3

I'll let you folks decide what this one is about.

It's funny.  I didn't always hate Math.  We used to get along.  But somewhere in the middle of the 4th Grade we had a falling out.  It got really bad for a while; we couldn't even be in the same room without someone getting angry.

It's not like that anymore.  I don't really hate math, I've grown out of that.  Sometimes Math and I pass on the street.  We smile and wave but that's about it.  We both know that if we ever tried again to be more than just casual acquaintances it would all end in tears.  So we just steer clear of that pitfall.

And we're both much happier for it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Picture Book Marathon 2011 - Day 2

In honor of the weird holiday for which I hold a strange fondness.  It probably has something to do with Bill Murray.

Synopsis:  Groundhog is fed up with his job.  No one appreciates him and everybody complains about his weather predictions.  And everybody thinks his name is Phil because the last guy that had the job carved it above the office door.  So Groundhog leaves to find work that is more glamorous and exciting.

Meanwhile, Monkey tries his hand at Groundhog's old job with terrible results.