Pictured here is a sneak-peek from author/illustrator/graphic novelist Paul Hoppe. In Spring 2011, Chronicle will release The Woods, which Paul describes as his second self-authored children’s book. It’s about a boy who goes into the woods to look for his stuffed bunny. “This is very much based on stories and fairy tales from Poland, Germany, and all over Europe,” Paul told me, “in which the forest was a magical, mysterious place.”
Paul, an illustrator and graphic designer, first came to my attention last year with his 2009 release from Bloomsbury, Hat. I very much liked this book, all about Henry, a young boy with his mother, who spots a wide-brimmed hat on a park bench. Henry really wants to keep the red hat, and his imagination takes off as he ponders the hat’s uses (a boat, sailing far away; a wedge for a crocodile’s mouth; a prop in a stage show that makes Henry a bonafide star; etc.).
However, when his mother suggests that someone else might need the hat, Henry then imagines his scenarios in reverse — keeping in mind what would happen to the folks who are without said hat (a sunburned lifeguard, for one). So, Henry decides to leave the hat behind. (AND…I’m doing a poor job of describing it, since my copy was a library copy and I don’t currently have a copy on hand. But that’s the gist of it.)
Publishers Weekly wrote about this one, “Hoppe’s…inked cartoons, punctuated by rose, teal and green spot colors, give Henry’s Walter Mittyesque musings an indomitable, ebullient innocence reminiscent of kids’ books from the early 1960s,” and the Kirkus review notes the “gorgeous Caps for Sale blue.”
Paul’s here this morning to briefly introduce himself, so let’s get right to it, and as we listen, we’ll take a look at some more of his illustrations and graphic-novel work…
Paul: I was born in Poland and grew up in Germany. I got interested in the arts through reading comics as a young boy. But, since it didn’t seem feasible, I studied graphic design and fine arts and started working in the advertising and animation field. To grow artistically, I came to New York on a grant by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to pursue my MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Here, I met incredibly talented and ambitious artists who are both inspiration and dear friends to this day. In my year at the SVA MFA program, there were four students who were very determined and focused on becoming children’s book authors / illustrators. Lauren Castillo, Shadra Strickland, Taeun Yoo and Jonathan Bean were our children’s book “taskforce.” I learned a lot from them.
Inspired by the Big City, I did a lot of location drawing and explored urban themes. I started doing editorial illustration. Getting frequent assignments by esteemed publications such as The New York Times and The New Yorker was incredibly thrilling.
Inspired and encouraged by fellow graduates working in this field, I started working on children’s books and more recently got heavily into comics again, which is where my whole journey started.
Now, because of my colorful past, my projects are very diverse, which is both exciting and challenging. Sometimes I have to remind myself how fortunate I am being an artist in New York.
I have a great interest in comic-zines, self-publishing, and hand-made books. Out of this interest, I started the Comic Anthology Rabid Rabbit with my colleague Chris M. Butzer, joined by Ben X. Trinh and S.Y. Choi and a pool of fantastic contributors. I continue to do hand-made mini-comics and sell them at events such as the MoCCA Festival and Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival — and sometimes comic stores in the city.
Can I See Your I.D.?, written by Chris Barton and to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in Spring 2011, is a young adult title. Ten stories about pretenders and people that took on a different identity through various time periods. I did the cover and a one-page comic for each chapter.
Metal Man was published by Charlesbridge in 2008. One day, a metal welder and a young boy create art together.
Peanut, written by Ayun Halliday (Schwartz & Wade), is my biggest project, a 200-page young adult graphic novel about a girl who switches schools and finds an unusual way to make herself more interesting in her new surrounding. This one is still in the works.
(Click to enlarge)
All images © Paul Hoppe and used with permission. All rights reserved.
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.
Honestly, I’m surprised I could muster up seven kicks. I have felt all week as if a violin has been playing out of tune in the next room. Let’s make that a fiddle, since the very funny Steve Martin is entertaining us below with some bluegrass this morning. No, I don’t know why a fiddle would be playing in the first place in the next room of my life—I don’t claim to be a novelist any good at metaphoring (I just turned that word into a verb)—but mine’s been creaking and caterwauling and altogether off-key.
But, because I would be a fail-tastic host to not bring you some kicks this week, I shall do so. Not to mention there are always small graces to be found in this world. (And, quite possibly, it’s our task to find them.)
1). As mentioned above, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers with the entire atheist hymnal:
I mean. JUST. PERFECT.
You see, bluegrass is one of my Best Things Ever—and, when it comes to music, my Best Kind of Music—and so I’ve heard a lot about Jesus and sin and the devil and passing through the pearly gates and crowns of gold and His life on Calvary and the shining gospel way and the great judgment day over my many long years of fan-dom. So, again, that’s just flat-out clever. That Steve Martin. Leave it to him.
Plus, I think Martin just single-handedly established a trademark gesture for all the atheists of the world (the lower-case finger thingy he’s doing over the musicians’ heads). And now I think he should tackle a bluegrass hymn for agnostics. That just screams for all kinds of creative lyrics.
2). Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, spoke in Nashville yesterday. Two good friends of mine in Knoxville had planned to join me on this poetry adventure, but they both couldn’t make it. I got up early; made some strong coffee; and went by myself. I enjoyed the time to sit and think, as I sat there nerdy-early to get a good seat (even if I did have to drink my coffee out of a travel mug, which is a sacrilege I engage in only when I have no other options. Dear coffee: THOU SHALT NOT HAVE A LID. Or be iced.)
Anywhoozles, Collins was a terrific speaker. Not an ounce of pretension in the man. My two favorite moments: Someone asked after his talk how he manages self-discipline when it comes to his writing, and he said he has none and that he’s actually a low-grade hedonist. Also, he tells his students to throw a dog into their poems when they get too navel-gazing and self-absorbed. Couldn’t tell if he was being tongue-in-cheek or serious, but I suspect it’s a little bit of both. And then he read this — as an example of that, but also an example of a poem devoid of any sentimentality whatsoever. One doesn’t envision laughing so hard at a poetry reading.
3). Want some more music? This is my friend, Natasha, in a recent live performance. She was trained classically on the guitar, and I think you can tell when you see this guitar-playing.
4). I got parent-of-the-year looks from my girls when I a) spent all of six bucks on songs from The Aristocats to stick on my iPod for them and b) got them some simple supplies for their arts-and-crafts
obsessions needs. It’s always the little things, isn’t it?
4½). My talented co-authors and their smart-itude.
5). My sun:
6). Mid-morning walks with the above-pictured five-year-old. No destination in mind. Just strolling. And looking. And talking. (”Walking through the world, walking under trees. / Many things that only you and only I have seen,” writes Karen Peris in one of her beautiful songs about walking with one of her children.) And, if Ada’s involved, you’re going to be looking for cats. We spotted one surly-looking feline one morning, which good common sense told us not to pet, but the next morning, he deemed us worthy to touch him. This was the central and most compelling moment of the five-year-old’s week.
7). I’m reading Laurel Snyder’s Penny Dreadful to my girls. And my last kick is the character of Luella, a friend the book’s protagonist, Penny, meets when she moves to a small town in East Tennessee (!), called Thrush Junction. And the other part to this kick is the notion of worm battles, which Luella is into watching. (”Are you ready to RUUUUUMBLE?”) This made me have to put the book down and laugh a minute.
Also, I just stumbled upon Laurel’s own music playlist for her novel, as posted over at Largehearted Boy in early October. I whole-heartedly approve of that song list. I’ll sign off with one of the songs from her list, Uncle Tupelo with “No Depression.” There’s nothing snazzy about this video, but it enables you to enjoy the song. So, please do so.
Or, SHOOT. I’ll even put the original down here, as performed by the Carter Family. This brings us full-circle in my kicks to Steve Martin’s secular bluegrass. Hey, it’s a little something for everyone, no matter your religious beliefs — or lack thereof.
Note: As noted in Publishers Marketplace this week, journalist and reviewer and blogger Colleen Mondor sold The Map of Dead Pilots, a nonfiction title all about “Alaskan pilots navigating a world that demands a close communion with extreme physical danger and emotional toughness.” It was sold to Lyons Press. Big ‘ol congratulations to Colleen!
Final Note: SAVE THE WORDS! The Oxford English dictionary is on a quest to prevent thousands of words from falling out of daily use. They are asking folks to adopt a word, use it in everyday speech, and keep it alive. Given my love of hyperbole, I decided to adopt “traboccant,” which means “superabundant.”
“I have a traboccant love for coffee, and so I am going to get up and have another cup.”
Did I do that right? The only problem is that I like the more modest “superabundant” even more, with my apologies to “traboccant.” Such as, “my need for a second cup of coffee is soooo superabundant, dude.”
And what are YOUR kicks this week? Feel free to pick an endangered word and use it in your kicks. Here’s the site. If you click on “adopt-a-word” and then “find,” you can pick from a list of words facing utter extinction. I humbly ask you to do your part to save the poor scorned, scoffed at words, dear readers. Misfits, all of them.