7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #157: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Janet Lee

h1 March 7th, 2010 by jules

A is for Alice:
Alice indeed was a curious girl
Who fell rather far through a hole in the world
She followed a clock-watching rabbit, you see,
To a land full of wonder…and madness…and tea.

(Click to enlarge image — and all artwork in this post.)

You’d think I’d timed today’s post to join in all the Alice mania right now, what with a new film adaptation out this week. But, nope, I’m not that organized. Here’s what happened instead: Last November, I visited an East-Nashville art gallery, the wonderful Art & Invention Gallery, which showed up in my kicks last Fall, and I took in an exhibit of works, called “Proto Pulp: Classic Books of the Future,” all created by local, aspiring children’s-book illustrators. It was there I saw the work of Janet Lee, whose Alice illustrations were hanging on the wall of the gallery that day and which are being featured at 7-Imp today. I’ve been wanting to have Janet visit the 7-Imp cyber-salon since then, but sometimes I’m just slow. Here she is today to tell us a bit about the her Alice art, as well as share some more illustrations from her other work-in-progress. So, without further ado, here’s Ms. Lee. (As mentioned above, all Janet’s illustrations here are hyperlinked to take you to larger versions, and I highly recommend rampant clicking-on-images, since her art is so texturized and beautiful up close.)

* * * * * * *

It’s exciting (and a bit intimidating!) to actually be on Seven Impossible Things, rather than just reading it. My name is Janet Lee; you won’t have heard of me… at least not yet! By day, I work as a Book Buyer for a large national wholesaler. By night and in every extra moment I can scrape together, I work as an artist/illustrator.

Last year, an amazing thing happened: I got a contract for my first book, a graphic novel called Return of the Dapper Men, which is coming out in October 2010 from Archaia Studios Press. And, in the process, I ended up illustrating a second book, Alice’s ABCs, which is in the hands of my agent now. There’s a story in that.

O is for Off:
Red Roses aren’t things to dread / Unless they’re white and you are dead. / No justice done, no tears to shed / The judgment’s in: Off with her head!

Nashville has a surprisingly vibrant art community. We know each other well; we talk. We realized that a number of us had half-started books or plans to illustrate books — but had never done so. We formed a plan for a gallery show of book illustration artwork.

R is for Rabbit:
For all the White Rabbit is the key / A hindrance as much as a guide is he /
A pocket watch decides his fate /Oh he who is forever late.

Jim McCann and I were already working on Return of the Dapper Men — he on the script and I on the concept art. Jim, who works for Marvel Comics, posted on an industry blog that he was working on an original graphic novel, posted links to my website, and much to our surprise and delight, Archaia asked us to pitch our book to them. Jim did, and suddenly we were under contract. Under contract with the publisher of some of my favorite comics of all time: Mouse Guard and Artesia.

But that threw a wrench in my plans for the illustration art show. I couldn’t show or sell the artwork for Return of the Dapper Men until after the book was published, so I had to change plans. I’ve always, always been fascinated with Alice in Wonderland and had made a series of pictures inspired by Alice’s adventures, which were quite popular. On a drive home from Atlanta, inspiration struck: I’d do an ABC book, filled with items from Wonderland. I called my dear friend, Alethea Kontis (author of AlphaOops), and asked her to write verses for each of the letters.

{Quick Ed. Note: Alethea is the author, as Janet mentions, of the picture book AlphaOops! : The Day Z Went First, illustrated by Bob Kolar. This summer, we’ll see AlphaOops! : H is for Halloween from Alethea and Bob. Alethea is also an editor, short fiction author and poet, and co-founder of the small press speculative fiction publisher Nyx Books — or, as she puts it at her site, “Author, Editor, Interviewer, Genre Chick, Fairy Princess, Geek.” She lives a hop, skip, and a jump from me (as in, a neighboring town), and I’ve had the good fortune of meeting her once before, as noted here in this very old 7-Imp post during the Era In Which Images Were Tragically Small and Mostly Just Eisha and I Left Comments for One Another Or, Actually, I Just Talked to Myself a Lot. Now back to Janet…}

For Alice’s ABCs, I based the designs for the letters on art nouveau patterns and finally put down the characters from my favorite books the way I’ve always imagined them. Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed making them!

M is for Mad Hatter:
Mad Hatter, savior, so carefree / Turns our water into tea / Ever knowing there and thence / Much madness is divinest sense.

B is for Bill:
Poor Bill, so helpful and compliant / Braved the chimney of a giant /
With one kick of Alice’s shoe / Up and out the flue he flew.

T is for Tweedledee and Tweedledum:
Tweedledum and Tweedledee / Stood side-by-side beneath a tree / Their answers lost ‘twixt thoughts and sighs / Were yes, no, and contrarywise.

Big ‘ol thanks to Janet for stopping by and sharing her artwork with us all this morning. I cannot wait to see Return of the Dapper Men, and I hope those Alice images, along with Alethea’s text, find a nice, cozy home in a book we can all hold in our hands one day.

P.S. Dear 7-Imp Readers, do you think, if I ask nicely, I could convince Janet to let me put this, which I fell in love with when I first saw it, in one of the headers on one of the pages at the blog — in my attempt to increase my ever-growing collection of Mad Tea Party images?

* * * * * * *

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a 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.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to be honest here: During the first part of this week, I was visited by some serious ennui, which I suspect was due, in large part, to the lack of sun around here. I wondered how on this good, green earth I’d ever find seven kicks, but then things turned around, as they’re wont to do. Here are some ways in which they did…

1). Picking up Rilke’s writings always help. I am reading this wonderful tome-like biography, which I’ve had for, ahem, about fifteen years now. Better late than never.

2). An energetic, as always, note from Andrea of Just One More Book (and now this) that she’s within one month of completing her chemotherapy. That really should be kick #1. I continue to wish her the very best.

3). Very thoughtful (and unnecessary but appreciated) thank-you gifts from folks whose work I’ve featured at the blog, including Jeff Newman and Susan Gal. Matt & Jenni Holm sent this, pictured left, to my daughter, since they’re also rockin’-nice.

4). My week first turned around when I heard from an illustrator friend (a random hello), who knew that my five-year-old was in a magnet school for the arts for kindergarten this year and asked: “Is Piper’s school being kind to her soul?” I love that she asked that.

5). Author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers, who will visit 7-Imp soon, has started a product line of sorts with two other artist friends, and their site is much fun. I am on the Oliver-Jeffers mailing list or some such thing, got notification of this via email, and promptly sat there and hooted with laughter at this site. There are only about six things for sale now, though these, the ode-to-Woody-Guthrie pencils, are new. This is my kind of diagram and pretty much captures what it sounds like when I try to describe pieces of equipment.

6). Hearing randomly from an old college friend I think the world of, who also directed me to some good new music in the name of Langhorne Slim. Me likey. Here’s where you can hear some Langhorne-tunage.

7). Looky! The editor of this wonderful online publication, The Bluegrass Special, contacted me to get permission to post excerpts from my 2009 interview with Bonnie Christensen for their March issue on Django Reinhardt. Here’s the piece. Neat, huh? (And more 7-Imp stuff might show up there in the future.) I strongly recommend exploration of that issue. In fact, as the editor pointed out to me, if you go to this page and scroll down to the The Bobby Fuller Four covering “I Fought the Law,” it’ll wake you right up. Many of those folks at The Bluegrass Special used to write for Rolling Stone, I believe, and they’re all following their bliss, as we bloggers do, donating their time to this wonderful, free publication.

BONUS KICK #1: The Poetry Seven are at it again, which is happy news for us readers.

BONUS KICK #2: My sweet oldest daughter turns six years old this week. SIX, people. It seems like just yesterday I was going into labor. Here’s an old pic of us when she was but a wee babe, since I get all sentimental and dewey-eyed on their birthdays. (See how intense she was? Also hairless.)

BONUS KICK #3: This lady.

BONUS KICK #4: My husband surprised me with the DVD of Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, and I finally mustered up the courage to watch it. (Too sacred. Y’all know how I feel about My Sendak.) I survived. And I didn’t actively dislike it either.

BONUS KICK #5: That I have four bonus kicks in a week that altogether started out on the wrong foot.

32 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #157: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Janet Lee”

  1. GO ANDREA! Your strength is amazing, and you are awesome.

    Oh, those illustrations are wonderful, Janet! Thank you so much for sharing this Alice alphabet, Janet and Jules. (Hi, Bill!)

    As per the Tea Party image – Yes, Jules! I will be quoting that caption quite often from now on. Punch-drunk rabbit, indeed.

    Hi, Babymouse (and Piper!)

    Happy sweet sixth birthday. 🙂

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Vocal rehearsal for new musical #1
    2) Awaiting callback details for new musical #2
    3) Being asked to reprise my role in new play #1
    * By “new,” I mean these are new shows, never before seen, in various stages of development. Woot!
    4) An audition for commercial (didn’t get it because they obviously wanted an older look, but I was still hopeful and go-getting)
    5) Honoring memories of those lost — loss is never a positive kick, but it was great to share stories and happy memories, and to help each other
    6) Reading and discussing various pieces with writer friends who needed feedback and edits
    7) The day ahead: I’m planning to attend a dance audition Sunday morning, then go from there to a dance production – I know many of the dancers and choreographers involved, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve created!

  2. P.S. Posted this for a friend:

    Got the Middle Child Blues? Share your story + enter Milly Marie’s giveaway before March 10th!

  3. Hi, everyone! I hope you all are having a kickin’ weekend. :o)

    Janet Lee, OMG. You are so talented. I am so glad to be introduced to your work!

    Happy Birthday, Piper!

    Jules, so how is Piper’s school? I’m truly curious.

    Little Willow, break a leg for all of those productions!

    Jules and Eisha, have you read The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz? I kept thinking of you two while reading it. It’s a quietly cool YA novel and the main character works at a record store, keeps a music blog, and writes a music zine. :o)

  4. OMG! Janet Lee and her Alice Alphabet! Would you look at those big green shoes on the Rabbit? And I love those Dapper Men. Can’t wait to see this book — and I’m sure the alphabet book will be snatched up pretty quick.

    Sorry about the ennui, Jules. Glad things turned around — what a great list of kicks. Happy Birthday, Piper (adorable photo)! And so cool about the Blue Grass Special excerpt!!

    Hi LW! Have fun at the dance audition today!

    Tarie, the Vinyl Princess sounds interesting!

    A couple of kicks:

    Kelly Fineman winning 3rd place in the Writer’s Digest Poetry Contest. Go, Kelly!!

    Maira Kalman interview in PaperMag Arts.

    “Serendipity” with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. Nice to see something sweet and hopelessly romantic for a change instead of the usual violence and/or over-the-top special effects.

    Won an ARC of Varian Johnson’s Saving Maddie at Melodye Shore’s blog (she’s interviewing him tomorrow, pub day on Tuesday)!

    Lunch with Len’s cousin and her daughter yesterday. The wonders of bowtie pasta. We had a funny, candid server who “unrecommended” some of the desserts. “Don’t order the brownie sundae. It’s not even Italian.”

    It’s warm. The snow is almost all gone.

    Happy Week, All!

  5. Fun to have Alice featurs the same weekend as the movie release (which I promised a friend I would wait until she is in town, 2 wks from now) to see. I love the art work especially the paneled one of the buttons and coins.
    So happy to hear that Andrea is on the mend.
    Jules, what a fabulous full and kickin’ weekyou have had! Piper, 6, really? Wow!
    LW, I honored a memory of my godmother who passed this week with a pantoum, Continue success with your plays!
    Tarie, hi, hope you’re having a great week.
    1. Finished listening to When You Reach Me. I loved it.
    2. Getting ready for Poetry Month. Do you what a poetry postcard sent to you? Let me know.
    3. Sent in membership forms to Haiku Society of America and Oregon State Poetry Association.
    4. Feedback from my godmother’s family that I captured her in my poem. I couldn’t get to the service in NJ though, sniff.
    5. The smell of Daphne.
    6. In the midst of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
    7. Yard work and warm sunshine.
    Have a great week.

  6. I just found you! I will be keeping up with your blog from now on. I am a friend of Janet’s and one of the artists who organized Proto Pulp, Classic Books of the Future, I created Possum Dreams. We are sending out a call for artists for this years Proto Pulp maybe you could send it to people you think might be interested. Let me know and I will send the call info. Keep up the great work, I have enjoyed your writing, julie Sola

  7. Little Willow, love, as always, your energetic kicks. Brand-new scripts: So exciting! Break a leg with that callback. Oh and same for the dance audition today. Keep us updated.

    Tarie, as for your question, it’s fine. But I’ll email you. And, no, I haven’t heard of that book. Thanks for the tip…I’ve missed your kicks. How’s your family and your truly kickin’ (in more ways than one) brothers?

    Jama, congrats to Kelly! And o! how I must find that Kalman interview. I’m glad the snow is gone for you. I should have listed warmer weather as a kick, too. It was warm yesterday — and will be today. For me, it’s not so much the absence of sunshine (as in, light) that gets me slightly down; it’s the cold. I get cold in 70-degree weather; I should probably never live way up North.

    Jone, sorry about your godmother. I saw this post, Jone, and I’m happy to see Naomi Shihab Nye has a new release (and, yes, I WANT A POETRY POSTCARD! Those are so fun! Do you need my address again?). But, anyway, I couldn’t leave a comment. Boo. What am I doing wrong? …Are you enjoying Grace’s book? Such a good novel. Glad you have sunshine, too.

  8. Hi, Julie! So glad you visited. I will definitely contact you. I’ll email you soon.

  9. Jama, p.s. Gotta love a waiter honest about the menu.

  10. Boy, is that looking like a great alphabet book or what? (Yes.) What I like best about the “A” image: what looks like a bow or scarf or something flaring out behind Alice’s head is revealed, on enlargement, to be a pair of rabbit ears!

    That’s a great tea-party image (and caption!) at Janet’s site, too. In 7-Imp parlance, Alice looks especially stabby at the moment. And no wonder.

    If 7-Imp visitors’ minds aren’t already twisted around enough, they might consider following that link which Janet provided, behind the boldfaced words “Return of the Dapper Men.” Hundreds of odd men in derbies + steampunk + robot girls + children who have been “play[ing] so long that it has almost become work.” Zowie!

    I’m so glad your week wound up well, Jules!

    That Oliver Jeffers (& co.) site is going straight into my shopping bookmarks. Although I do wonder if it’s possible to order customized ratios of the three sorts of “all occasion cards” here. Heh.

    Thanks again for pointing out The Bluegrass Special. Love it!


    * As long as we’re in Alice mode… This is pretty cool: The BFI National Archive recently released a restored print of the FIRST filmed version, from… 1903! (That was less than 40 years after Lewis Carroll wrote it, which blows my mind.) You can see it on YouTube here. It’s about 10 minutes long; the tea party starts around 5:45. And although it’s “restored,” you may need to arm yourself with Dramamine before viewing.

    * The art of dogwalking.

    * Web research, and the satisfaction of turning the results into something coherent.

    * Turner Classic Movies, for finally close-captioning Robert Osborne’s commentaries. Even though I’d gotten used to using those couple minutes before and after a film to get a snack or whatever, I don’t mind at all. Thanks, TCM!

    * Still cool temperatures, but very pretty days in these parts.

    * A good new power drill. Have gone without for years, because something else always seemed to come up. Now I’m drilling holes in everything incapable of moving out of my way.

    * I am never going to be a yachting person. If I had a gazillion dollars, I would never be a yachting person. But I have to admit, this blew my mind. Apparently it’s “just” a concept, but one which you can see in operation in a promotional video. Conspicuous consumption? Enormous carbon footprint? Um, yeah. But ye gods, that thing looks like something that could turn into the Starship Enterprise if you fell on the wrong button in the cockpit. Not something I’d ever want to happen to me, but it’s cool to live in a time where such things can go from mind, to paper, to real world.

  11. P.S. Jules, have I ever told you that I think it must be SO COOL to be one of your kids?

  12. Glad that your week turned so kick-y, Jules. I was glad about Andrea’s news, too. And I love Piper’s Babymouse picture. Hope she has a happy birthday!

    I’m sharing just one kick this week, but it’s a big one. As I just announced on my blog, Mheir and I are expecting a baby (or, as I put it there, growing our own bookworm). As a separate, but related, kick, she’s been kicking like crazy these days (I’m due in mid-June, so this is somewhat late news).

    Happy Sunday, all!

  13. Aw thanks, John. I hope my own kids think that.

    I’m so glad you pointed out the restored first Alice film adaptation ever, ’cause I meant to. I watched it here this week (as you know, John, you only have to provide an email address to see films there for free), and I completely forgot to mention it in today’s post. I think it’s fascinating to watch.

    So glad someone else noticed those cards at Oliver’s site (well, Oliver and the two other artists, rather). Aren’t they great? Eisha and I decided we needed to buy some just to correspond with one another, as we talk to each like that just for fun. (I emphasize “fun,” since I can’t imagine anything she’d ever do to make me really want to utter such a phrase to her.) Anyway. They’re funny, huh?

    Actually, that link to Return of the Dapper Men was one I found. I’m saying this for the record, in case Janet happens to not like that link or something! Anyway, I didn’t actually explore it as long as you did, John, so thanks for the tip. I MUST see a copy of that book when it comes out. Looks great.

    I’m out the door now, John, but I’ll explore the promotional video later. P.S. “The art of dogwalking.” I like that.

  14. Hi Jules,
    Yes please resend address at macrush53 at yahoo dot com. (and anyone else who is interested) This year I am finally going to make a spreadsheet for who is getting the poetry postcards. Hopefully it will make it easier in the future. Not sure what was up with not being able to post a comment…weird. I love Grace’s book!

  15. Jen, Oh my goodness, CONGRATULATIONS! And, BOY HOWDY, is that baby in good hands.

    I’m always so behind on blog-reading; that is one post I wish I hadn’t missed, but thank you for coming to tell us! You said “she.” !! Do you know for sure already? I’ll go read your post…


  16. Thanks, Jone. Will send that to you later. I love that project.

  17. Thanks, Jules! We do know that it’s a girl, because we’re sharing this news pretty late. She’s due in mid-June. And the blog post truly just went up – you didn’t miss it at all.

    I’ll be checking out Seven-Imp for new picture book recommendations, though, for sure.

  18. Bonus kick: the poem by Katha Pollitt in today’s Writer’s Almanac.

  19. Great illustrations today!

    Little Willow, you seem wonderfully busy!

    JES, I’m a bit leery of mega-rich yachts but you’re right – that one looks pretty cool.

    Congratulations, Jen! That is great news! What a lucky baby being born into a house with so many books and parents who will read to her.

    I’ve had a bit of a rough week too, Jules, but like you found it easier than expected to find seven kicks. And I’m with JES – it must be very cool to be one of your kids.

    1. Yellow iris are blooming in the garden pots – they are small and very cheerful.
    2. Surprise crocus are popping up in one pot. I thought I planted them from a bunch of bulbs with a note I wrote last year saying snake-head fritillaries, but I was either mistaken about the pot, wrong last year when I dug them up or they have mysteriously transmuted into crocus!
    3. Yesterday we took part in an archaeology day at a local reserve! We helped dig and sift through some test pits (didn’t find anything which helped disprove a theory about a potential railway on the site) and then unearthed foundations from a world war two set of huts that were far more extensive than expected – the archaeologists suspect it was a prisoner of war camp which was somewhere in our area. Great fun!
    4. I managed to speak to all of my parents and sisters today on the phone, which quite rare. It’s difficult to fit in everyone on a weekend (easier then with time difference) but lovely when it happens.
    5. An excellent veggie box this week has had us eating our way steadily – though admittedly slightly desperately as we ordered a larger size than usual – through some delicious meals.
    6. I’ve been able to join the current pilates class after work on Thursdays
    7. It has been sunny this weekend!

  20. Jules– you can totally use “Party’s Over” on your website! Thanks again for the chance to be part of 7 Impossible Things!


  21. I was going to say I was sure Janet would agree- and I see that she already has. What wonderful artwork! Thanks for sharing this up-and-coming talent.

  22. Jules…I’m so happy I actually had some free time today to meander along the internet and stumble upon your site. I too, will become a regular visitor. I suspect you get squeamish when doused with too many compliments so I will simply state “You made my day!” YOU, funny lady, are my big kick of the week. I really appreciate all the hard work you put into this site.
    Janet Lee’s artwork is a feast for the eyes. What a great mix of patterns, textures and color! Debbi

  23. Jen, CONGRATULATIONS!!! =D =D =D

    Jules, we (my family and I) have been so busy and tired lately because we just moved to a new house (that still doesn’t have Internet connection!).

    * collapses *

  24. P.S. I have a crush on Oliver Jeffers. * swoons *

  25. Very late this week, love the art, especially the Dapper Men. Very charming.

    Congrats and happy birthday to your oldest, jules!

    John, wanted to tell you I got lost in your writing on the song Fever today. Really really nice work, and very fun to get lost in.

    LW – good luck, good thoughts, and break legs to you, as always!

    jone – hasn’t this sunshine been amazing? I want another poetry postcard, I will email you the new address.

    One kick this week, but its a most excellent one – flew to Vegas to meet my sweetie for a 4 day weekend last week. Old Vegas is full of history and it was a very fun, nice break.

    Have a great week everyone!

  26. John, thanks for that poem. Love the imagery.

    Emmaco, hope those yellow flowers helped cheer you up. I painted my kitchen yellow to help cheer me in the mornings. ….An archeology dig sounds very fun. …And how are your sister and the growing baby doing?

    Janet, thanks!

    Thanks, Kelly. Isn’t it great?

    Thanks to you, too, Debbi. So glad you visited.

    Tarie, oh my. Moving is a big ‘ol life-stressor. Good luck. And Oliver’s so talented it must HURT.

    RM, glad you had a good, long weekend — and lots of sun, too.

    I wonder how Little Willow’s dance audition was, everyone….

  27. Jules, my sister is gorgeous and the baby is behaving and has turned upside down like she is supposed to. And now she’s past 36 weeks the baby can pretty much be born when she likes!

  28. Emmaco, you’re going to be one pretty wonderful aunt!

  29. RM, thank you so much for the comment about the “Fever” writeup!

    (It always makes me smile to scroll through my site’s Web stats and see how many people have read those music posts, even though my site isn’t really “about” music and even though, if anything, I know even less about music than I do about art. :))

  30. I am totally late–Sundays have been busy round here lately–but I do love Janet’s art, and I love that photograph, Jules, where it looks like you are considering eating Piper up because she’s so very cute.

    My kick is that we’ve had about four sunny days in a row here now, and I am just giddy with all the brand-new vitamin D running around in my system (okay, and a couple extra cups of coffee). I’m all energy today.

  31. RM, John’s music posts blow me away.

    Adrienne, high-energy days are good. Enjoy the sun and vitamin D.

  32. […] dead. No justice done, no tears to shed The judgment’s in: Off with her head!Want to see more? Click on over to Janet’s interview with Jules at Seven Impossible Things. There are more gorgeous pages and fun verses from A is for Alice, as well as scenes from Janet and […]

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