— Eric Orchard
Jules: Welcome to our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week—whether book-related or not—that happened to you.
It’s the first Sunday of the month — can you EVEN believe it’s the last one of the year? — and so it’s time to feature a new or student illustrator. Canadian illustrator Eric Orchard isn’t exactly new to illustrating, but I will join the Vancouver Sun in describing him as “a first-class up-and-coming illustrator,” which they did in October of this year when discussing Anything But Hank!, written by Rachel Lebowitz and Zachariah Wells and published this year by Canadian publisher Biblioasis.
In addition to that title, Eric—who graduated three years ago from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and who also teaches—has illustrated A Forest for Christmas (Nimbus, 2007), written by Michael Harris, and The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate (Nimbus, 2008), written by Carrie Muller and Jacqueline Halsey. He has also produced a book (a comic/graphic novel) for Scholastic, called The Robot Museum. His work has also been exhibited at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, and he will be presenting pieces for a gallery show in Paris in the new year. Eric’s drawing for the Totoro Forest Project at Pixar Studios (a fundraising exhibition/auction that supports the national trust Totoro Forest Foundation—which Oscar-winning film-maker Hayao Miyazaki has been helping over the years and which protects the Sayama Forest in Japan—featuring original art created by internationally-acclaimed artists in the fields of animation, comic books, and illustration), entitled The Guardians of Autumn, was recently accepted by the Society of Illustrators and included in their annual from this year (congrats to Eric!). Here’s that drawing:
At the moment, Eric—other than dealing with a wee tiny welcome addition to his home—is working on a comic book for Top Shelf’s site, entitled Harry and Silvio. Eric’s work seems, more and more lately, to have an element of the fantastic to it. In fact, he wrote here at his blog in August (where he shares musings—“be bolder,” for one—and sketches and paintings and experimental pieces and etc.), “I think of myself as a genre artist, not a strictly picture book artist” (though he doesn’t want to be tied down to just one genre, by any means, as he also writes at his blog: “I think that’s one of the great challenges in being a creative person: being open to many things and being brave enough to explore places that are new and surprising”). Inspired greatly by artists like Dave McKean, Eric even does the fantastically, horrifically creepy quite well (here and here are but two examples).
So, that’s Eric’s story, and I’ll just let his art work do the talking now. Many thanks to him for stopping by and for letting me pick images from his blog — and for sending a couple as well.
because the wallpaper is by William Morris.”
Maddy Kettle, a character for Harry and Silvio: “Maddy Kettle is an orphan raised in the Arizona desert by cowboys. She used to constantly be fending off her land from the goblin gang. One day she found a boat and flew to the clouds in it; now she defends the clouds from goblins as well.”
written by Michael Harris
1* That art is sweet, dude. I love the “Guardians of Autumn” drawing. And that spooky-ass mermaid. And the whole idea of Maddy Kettle.
2* Jules rolled out some kick-ass interviews this week. I want to go grab Maxwell Eaton III out of that canoe and drag him over to Cece Bell’s fabulous kitchen and see if she can get him to eat something besides Cheerios while we all hang out.
3* So, the husband and I have this Thanksgiving tradition, where we watch old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 while we eat. It’s because Comedy Central used to run “Turkey Day” marathons of the show when it was on. Anyway, he bought a couple of new DVDs this year in preparation, and we finally watched one of them Friday night.
4* While watching it, we ate Korean take-out, and drank the bottle of Bek Se Ju we brought back from our trip. It was sort of an ironic late-Thanksgiving, you see.
5* I got some sleep! Friday night I think I actually managed to fall asleep before 2:00 a.m., and I slept until 9:30 Saturday morning. Ahh.
6* I finished a project at work, and made more progress on the Lead Belly collection.
7* And I found out what my next project will be: processing a recently-acquired collection of oral history recordings taken from interviews with staff of mental hospitals in New York State. Call me a big nerd, but I think it sounds fascinating.
7.5* Bonus kick: I reconnected with a few of my old high-school friends via Facebook. I’m hoping to see a couple of them over Christmas.
I’m raising my hand, too, as a fellow nerd, Eisha, ’cause I agree that project sounds really fascinating.
1). My husband and I rented and watched Pan’s Labrynth this week. Seriously, people: It is so blazingly, terrifically good on so many levels. I can’t believe it took me that long to see it. Why didn’t any of my friends do an intervention? It is beautiful and gripping and stirring and nail-biting and heart-breaking and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And now I want the soundtrack so that I can hear that score—and that lullaby—whenever I want.
2). I went to a friend’s Friday night, and we had a sort of girls’ night out with a crafty twist: We made our own soaps. That was a first for me. It was fun, and now I’ve got my own lavender and patchouli and eucalyptus-scented soaps (and some for my girls, of course), even though mine came out kind of clunky.
3). We had breakfast with Santa yesterday at a great bistro in one of Nashville’s most beautiful bookstores. It was much better than waiting in a long line at some mall, and it was my girls’ first time to meet Santa. All went well.
5). This story I heard on NPR about an organization in San Francisco called Food Runners. Mary Risley, who founded it, deserves a medal for being so smart. If you—or a hotel or a restaurant or what-have-you—have excess food you’re just gonna otherwise throw away, Food Runners will either tell you where to deliver the food, or a volunteer will come, gather up the food, and redistribute it to the hungry. Talk about work that makes a difference. I emailed them and asked how such an organization could be started in middle Tennessee. No kidding. Someone actually responded. The problem I would have is that you’d have to be available 24-7, 365 days a year. I have two young children. Not possible.
Anyone want to move here and do it with me? I’m only partly kidding.
6). This retired, elderly man came to library story time this week and read to the children. He was good. He also looks like Maurice Sendak. He was so awesome that I wanted to just go up and hug him and ask him to be my friend.
7). I no longer get a slew of review copies at my doorstep, by choice, but somehow some way I got two books in the mail this week (one from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and one from National Geographic). And one of them, We Are Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures (in association with Amnesty International) is this wonderful collection of various illustrators’ interpretations of the document — from Niki Daly to Polly Dunbar to Bob Graham to Jackie Morris to many more talented artists. IT OPENS WITH AN ILLUSTRATION FROM JOHN BURNINGHAM, my second favorite illustrator of all time. I squealed.
TWO QUICK BONUS KICKS (good week) —
9). Adrienne’s new jazz-hands ratings system. Why didn’t I think of that?
What are YOUR kicks this week, dear readers?