Last Sunday I was honored with the Boston Public Library’s Literary Lights for Children award. It was pretty amazing, especially since my fellow honorees were Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo, National Book award winner MT Anderson, and Pam Munoz Ryan, who has also won a boatload of awards. I was definitely the dark horse in that bunch, and was very grateful to be included. Plus they had each author introduced by a Boston school student, and my intro, courtesy of Annabell Asare, was brilliant (and by far the best, if I may say so).
The whole thing was super-gratifying, I met lots of great folks, and I hope they post some official video soon, so I can show you more.
I attribute my win to the good wishes of many wonderful fans — especially Mike Lewis’ class at Deer Hill School. I recorded a tiny video message for their Read Your Heart Out Day celebration, and they came back with this. Mike and his kids totally rock. http://www.youtube.com/user/deerhill145?feature=mhum
The reviews are in from from pretty much all the major all the major review publications, and The Odyssey has been praised across the board — three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, and The Horn Book), as well as an unexpected mention in The Wall Street Journal. You can see them all on my reviews page, along with recent interviews by Publishers Weekly and Graphic Novel Reporter.
Yesterday I finally delivered The Odyssey, in all it’s glory — the files fill 3 DVDs! (and the stack of artwork I already delivered was about 4 inches high). For those who are curious, it was basically on time. I actually had the discs burned on Friday, but Candlewick closes early on Fridays all summer (nice!), so they told me to bring them Monday. Anyway, the contract actually said Sunday (not sure whose idea that was), so Monday counts as on time. Not bad for a 16-month, 250-page project, if I do say so myself.
Here’s something I’ve been chipping away at during the process of The Odyssey, and the first installment is ready. This video shows my process for digital layout of the Odyssey pages. Each week I’ll put up another video. There are six in all, and they’ll show pencilling, painting, and digital word balloons & panel borders. This is my first effort at screencasting/podcasting, and it’s entirely homebrew, so I apologize if the production quality is a bit amateur; but I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the making of an epic graphic novel!
*A word of caution about this method: This is an unconventional way of using InDesign — a way for which it was not really intended. In the case of a long book (like, say, The Odyssey), filling up page after page with vector art can result in extremely large file sizes and degraded system performance. If you try this and your file starts getting above 500MB or your computer starts freaking out, try exporting to Interchange format (.inx) and then reimporting. Usually this makes the file smaller and happier. If it gets really broken, you can export the art to a static format such as TIF or JPG, delete the vector art and place the static art back in — but at that point you lose the ease of editing. As always, save often and keep multiple versions.