Calling all artists . . .

h1 January 25th, 2010 by jules

Back in 2008, I received an ARC for this book, James Kennedy’s YA fantasy, The Order of Odd-Fish (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, August 2008). It instantly appealed to me, but it lay dormant in my to-be-read pile, an unfortunate occurrence that happens all too much in my life.

Just last week, the author (who, as you may know, upset Neil Gaiman in a series of mentally- and physically-fatiguing contests for the Newbery) contacted me about a super-keen art project of sorts that currently swirls around this book, which you may have already read about over at A Fuse #8 Production. Since I focus so heavily anymore on illustration/art here at this blog, I decided to do a post about his call for submissions.

First, let me say, I finally started the book. I haven’t gotten far, but I can say I never thought I’d see these words together in a sentence: “And Lily Larouche still had on her desk, floating in a jar of formaldehyde, the lonely eyebrows of President Eisenhower.” In fact, it looks as if the paperback version will be out next month:

So, back to Kennedy’s call for art-submissions:

He is collaborating with his fans on a unique arts event related to the book, scheduled for April. However, he’s also interested in seeing if some professional artists of the illustrating community want to be involved. I’m going to let him tell you all about it:

I’ve been getting a lot of wild, strange fan art for Odd-Fish, since it’s been published.

For example, one Chicago couple home-brewed a beer based on the book’s villain, the Belgian Prankster:

(James, sampling the fan beer, followed by the beer’s watercolor label)

A woman in Florida baked a grotesque cake, depicting the scene in the book where a fish vomits out a building:

And a high school kid in Indianapolis did mixed-media illustrations for all twenty-eight chapters of the book:

The Ruby Palace from Chapter One, created by Max Pitchkites

And more! I’ve posted all this fan art on a gallery on my web site.

Fan artists like this deserve broader recognition! So, this spring I’m planning a gallery show / extravaganza of Order of Odd-Fish art in Chicago. I’ve put out an open call for submissions:

It’ll be not only an art show, but also a costumed dance party and theatrical hoo-hah. I’m working with the Chicago theater group Collaboraction to decorate their cavernous space to portray scenes from the book (the fantastical tropical metropolis of Eldritch City, the digestive system of the All-Devouring Mother goddess, the Dome of Doom where knights fight duels on flying armored ostriches, etc.).

Opening night will be a dance party where guests will dress up as gods and do battle-dancing in the Dome of Doom. In the weeks afterward, we’ll bring in field trips from schools. They’ll browse the fan art galleries, check out the elaborately decorated environment we’ve created, take in performances from the book, and participate in an energetic writing workshop.

The whole shebang will open next April. The deadline for submissions is March 15.

The teen artists who have submitted art have been awesomely energetic, enthusiastic, and talented. The one-way street from author to reader has become a collaboration; it’s like crowdsourcing the visual aspects of the book, a process of co-creating the world of The Order of Odd-Fish together. I’m impressed and humbled by their talent and verve.

I want to put on an event that’s worthy of these young artists and make sure their fantastic efforts are recognized.

Consider yourselves informed. Thanks to James for the information (and photos, which are all used with his permission).

3 comments to “Calling all artists . . .”

  1. OMG! I love your book James Kennedy! You rock!

  2. Hey, thanks, Polina! I appreciate it!

  3. Never to late to use an idea from a book to get y/a that don’t read but blog, computer games, cell phone conversations, and Internet jumbo crazy web sites… Thanks! Will get this book and use the ideas. Thanks ATK

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