7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #223: Featuring
Jana Christy and John Seven

h1 June 12th, 2011 by jules

This illustration is from an upcoming self-published picture book from husband and wife author and illustrator team, John Seven and Jana Christy. The book is all about anarchy. How much do I love this idea and its execution?

A lot, I tell you.

Jana, as you can see at this link, formerly did freelance illustration work in Boston for major newspapers but now spends most of her time illustrating children’s books and magazines. In addition to writing children’s books, John is a journalist, the arts and entertainment editor at the newspaper where he and Jana live in North Adams, Massachusetts. He is a regular comic book reviewer for Worcester Magazine and often contributes comics-related articles to Publishers Weekly. John (here’s his blog) and Jana got their start in comic books and have published a few picture books. Their most recent title, The Ocean Story, was released by Picture Window Books (Capstone) in January.

“The book,” John told me, “was inspired by the Gulf oil spill last year, an attempt to help really young kids understand it in context of the wider picture of the ocean—both the positives and the negatives—and put it into a format that wrapped age-appropriate information within some poetic flourishes that captured the wonder of it all. Jana and I spend most of our travel opportunities taking our kids to visit the ocean—from Nova Scotia to Costa Rica, over the years—and within those trips devote a lot of our daily routine to exploring the coasts that we stay on pretty intricately, so Jana welcomed the opportunity to express some of that affection and experience in her illustrations.”

But before I show you some spreads from The Ocean Story, let’s take a look at the other anarchy art:

I like this book already.

Now for a peek into The Ocean Story, which I’ve seen and which is a gentle (never finger-wagging) tale about the ocean and taking care of it — and what happens when we don’t. (I have to add that I also really appreciate its very simple explanation as to how we get oil from the earth and why we do so. It’s much easier to read my girls this book than to stumble and stutter over my science and social studies, which I usually do.)

“Some swim high and pop through to the surface.”

“So many creatures are part of the ocean story. The biggest are blue whales. They are beautiful singers. There aren’t many left, so listen to the songs carefully.”

“Oil runs our cars and warms our homes. We try to pull it out with care.”

“The strange, mysterious, and wonderful ocean creatures watch the ocean turn
very dark all around them.”

John and Jana started out making comics together. One of their webcomics is Happy Punks, and featured here are some of those cartoons, as well as the cover and some pages from their unpublished Happy Punks book:

Here are three cartoons from another of their webcomics (and here is a Dog & Cat treasury to enjoy):

And here are two illustrations for a middle-grade reader on which they’re currently collaborating:

I thank John and Jana for visiting and wish them well with their careers. John tells me that he and Jana are now represented by Mary Kole at Andrea Brown. It’s an “ultra brand-new arrangement,” he says, and the first time the two of them have had representation as a team. I give them seven cheers. A punk may not cheer, but perhaps a happy punk would. I’ll stop short of spirit fingers, since I don’t think even a happy punk would do that.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 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 * * *

1) My Best Kick of All this week was when Tarie referred to us kickers last week (in a comment) as “our family of kickers.” For real, people. I got damn near misty-eyed. We are a family of sorts, aren’t we? And it’s so easy for people these days to leave comments about posts over at places like Facebook, etc. (I’m guilty of this sometimes, too) that when people take the time to come list seven personal-esque kicks, well, I find it almost intimate anymore. I don’t count comments at my blog (oh, just end me if I ever get that serious about it) and I don’t expect comments, but I’m talking about Sundays here, and how the kicks seem so… well, meaningful. When someone takes the time, that is, to share. Anyway. I like you all is what I’m saying. And thanks again, Tarie, for that.

2) It was Maurice Sendak’s birthday this week. You all know what a ginormously geeky fan I am. Happy birthday to The Great One. Also, I love this.

3) Thanks to Sarah at the American International School of Budapest for the sweet/cool nod.

4) Congratulations to Betsy Bird, one of my co-authors, on the birth of her daughter!

5) A wonderful afternoon yesterday of coffee and catching up with two very smart, very fun ladies I know.

6) A new club (of sorts) I inadvertently started.

7) My girls’ Kitty Cat Club, which still meets in The Bottom Bunk. I read to them Esther Averill’s Jenny Linsky stories when they were very young (and they loved them), but we just re-read them and they got even more out of it this time (naturally) — especially given their own recently-formed Kitty Cat Club. (“Loyalty, Fidelity, Truth and Dues” is the motto for the Cat Club Jenny Linsky joins. I think we should just lift that. Don’t you?)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

20 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #223: Featuring
Jana Christy and John Seven”

  1. I gave a HAPPY DANCE – DISCO, so you know it was a big dance – when I saw that John & Jana are now represented. Because who could NOT want to make sure that wee anarchy book got published! I want to hug the ugliest monster I can find, and feel that everyone should be encouraged to do so! Plus, the stompy thing will happen anyway, so what the heck?

    I LOVE their webcomics. Dog & Cat crack me up. But, I have to agree with you – the spirit fingers are NOT very punk, Jules. Keep trying, babe.

    ISN’T LILYBIRD THE CUTEST WEE OISEAU EVER!? (We can only say that until the next wee oiseau.) It’s always so fun to share that sort of joy.

    And the club!! – I love the Bottom Bunk Kitty Cat Club motto, I agree we should take it. Don’t know what our dues are, though. Shall think on it…

    I want cake for dinner. Or, possibly, breakfast.

    Tech Boy is still getting stronger and better, and the name of the disease is Scottish – we’re calling it The Wicked Lurgy. That’s actually from some comedy routine in the sixties, and “the dreaded lurgy” is what people call vague colds/allergies/flu that keeps them down.

    Today’s kick, aside from the above, is that Tech Boy turns in his dissertation July 9. Barring complications, we can then turn our full attention to our next port of call. I’m hoping it is one where the summer weather is above fifty-four degrees, and it isn’t still raining!!

  2. Great post! John & Jana rule! Congrats to Betsy and the Bird clan! Long live the Kitty Cat Club!

    My kicks:
    1. Rain
    2. Lightning over Providence
    3. Moody ’80s British music
    4. My mom-in-law’s 71st birthday
    5. A completed manuscript
    6. More rain
    7. A new poem

    SETI Haiku
    By Steven Withrow

    seed of my small voice
    soaring out to you—a bird
    could cross worlds with it

  3. Happy Sunday!

    I LOVE cake for dinner (and lunch and breakfast), those punks, and the anarchy book! The blue whale spread is gorgeous. John and Jana are a kick ass team! 🙂

    There’s nothing like 7-Imp kicks anywhere else in the kidlit world. Not only does it feel “personal” in the best sense of the word, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to pause in your busy life and express gratitude every week. It’s good to share the light, isn’t it?

    T, I’m happy Tech Boy is feeling better and now sliding into the home stretch with his dissertation. Best of luck on your next world adventure!

    Steven, what a breathtakingly lovely haiku. Thank you! Happy Birthday to your MIL. 🙂


    Bing cherry season is here!
    Bossypants by Tina Fey
    Ben Sollee
    Never thought I’d say this: Love my Kindle
    Dreaming about faraway friends, emailing them, planning to see them this week

    Everyone, listen to Beatles tunes this week: Paul’s b-day is on Saturday :).

  4. Fly-by on the way to filming! I’m playing a rude shopgirl (think April in Parks & Rec) at a pet store, and we’re filming on location. I can’t wait to see what types of critters are there.

    I am digging Dog & Cat up there. Kudos.

    Hello to Jules’ family’s Kitty Cat Club!

    Kicks for the past week:
    1) Looking forward to filming today, naturally
    2) Cannot wait until tonight’s musical audition
    3) Yesterday’s horror audition (I screamed my heart & lungs out in one take)
    4) Reading with all of the actors at callbacks yesterday for a project in which I’ve already been cast and they’re finalizing the casting of the leads
    5) Things to come
    6) Visits
    7) Scarves

  5. Oh the anarchy of children…I love this book already because I love how children naturally tip our worlds upside down. It is the way it should be. Thank you John and Jana, for capturing that and the other hilarious moments you seem to have an eye for.
    My kicks
    1. Knowing that the instant I saw ‘cake’ in the first illustration, Jama would chime in with cake rhapsody, and Steven would add some poetry and Little Willow would tell us about her film world. Yes, Jules, you have built a family and it so lovely to join in.
    2.The last meeting with my critique group-the lucky ducks-before our summer break.
    3. Seeing X-Men First Class with my daughter and leaning towards each other quietly whispering bits of plots from other X-Men stories.
    4. Buying my friend Anne a gorgeous yellow hibiscus for her new home
    5. Two events where I got to spend time with the Austin Kidlit community. I love living here.
    6. Dinner at Texas French Bread. By day, a bakery, By night, a restaurant with lovely fresh food from the farms around Austin.
    7. Hearing the news that Baby Bird is in the nest.

  6. Tanita, no dues for you or any other kickers in the Kitty Cat Club. You all get a free pass, but only if you dress up as Happy Punks for the meeting. … I’m glad the Wicked Lurgy no longer has the hold on Tech Boy that it once did. And spirit fingers that he’s getting better. (I’m not dressed as a punk yet, so I can do that now, though actually it’s difficult to do with enthusiasm when you’ve not had coffee yet.) … Oh, and congrats to him AND YOU (considering the impending move) on almost getting that dissertation in.

    Steven, thanks for that haiku, and congrats on a completed manuscript!

    Jama, “it’s good to share the light, isn’t it?” should be the 7 Kicks motto, if…er…I did things like mottos at the blog. Seriously, it’s great. I like that. I’m gonna lift it one day if anyone ever asks me to describe this Sunday tradition. …. I so super-bad wanna read Bossypants, and I also love Ben Sollee’s music. I heard a track off his new CD that I liked (the one about the Bible Belt). … Paul’s b’day already? Seems like his b’day last year was just yesterday.

    LW, I want to see your horror scream one day! Also, congrats on the role, and BREAK A LEG TONIGHT. I’ll be thinking of you and crossing fingers.

    Lindsey, aw shucks, kick #1 made me feel fuzzy inside. Austin sounds so great. I want to visit one day. And Texas French Bread sounds nearly perfect. I finally got to visit our local farmer’s market yesterday, but unfortunately I had to hurry. I hope to go back next week.

  7. Break a leg, rude shopgirl!

    Lindsey, Texas French Bread *does* sound perfect. 🙂 Yellow hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower.

    Jules, I only just heard of Ben Sollee because of Irene Latham’s PF post. She shared a video and I thought, Wow, where have I been? Definitely want to hear more. I was a Kindle hold-out for a LONG time, but as you said, it’s really about practicality. I feel I can read more, acquire more books without worrying about shelf space. Later this year, supposedly, there’ll be more access to liberrry loans via Kindle. Bossypants is hilarious!

  8. Wow, I really love that anarchy picture book!

    Jules: Awww, I am part of your kicks and awww, The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award – that sounds like you and 7-Imp, all right!

    Tanita: I am sending more healing thoughts and prayers toward Tech Boy. My desperate wish is that your next port of call is somewhere in Asia – so that, you know, I can actually MEET another member of our family of kickers!

    Steven: I love rain! And congratulations on the completed manuscript. :o)

    Jama: What do you think about buying an iPad to read picture books?

    Little Willow: Break a leg this week! I really want to see you in action one day!

    Lindsey: I love your movie experience with your daughter. I really need to watch X-Men: First Class too!



    2. coconut pieeeeeee

    3. Went to the area around Taal volcano with my family yesterday. Had a yummy buffet breakfast, went horseback riding, and enjoyed the view. :o)

    4. my students from over the summer (summer in the Phils. is April and May)

    5. Starting this week (the school year starts June here), I will be teaching fifth grade English, sixth grade English, creative writing (to children and teens), and technical writing (to adult learners). Whew!

    6. I’m the guest speaker at the next SCBWI-Phils. meeting. :o)

    7. Singaporean coffee. Yum yum yum.

    Bonus kick: My new Android cellphone!

    I love our family! Have a kick-filled week!

  9. Jama, I have an older CD of Ben’s; I’ll have to look up the name later.

    Tarie, you’re teaching all those classes? LUCKY STUDENTS. Congrats on the speaking gig! I want to have Singaporean coffee one day — and with you.

  10. Amazing author/illustrator team. They’ll be huge, I’m sure.

  11. Loving Dog and Cat (and monkeys). Wondering what club you inadvertently started, Jules. Do tell. Love the Kitty Cat Club and wish I could attend a meeting.

    Tanita, so glad that Tech Boy is better. I will call everything I manage to catch from now on The Wicked Lurgy.
    Steven, I’m with you on loving 80’s British music, and basically anything from Jolly Olde England.
    Jama, sharing the light is a lovely description of what we do on Sundays here at 7-imp. Thank you for that.
    LW, go, Rude Shopgirl, go!!
    Lindsey, your description of Texas French Bread makes me very hungry.
    Tarie, your consistently positive attitude makes you the perfect teacher. Like Jules said, your students are lucky to have you.

    My kicks:
    1) Having a reunion of sorts last Wed. night with friends that I used to work with years ago. Was so good to see them.
    2) Seeing the band Luce at an Art & Wine Festival last weekend. I’ve mentioned them here before, but they really know how to share the light with their joy of music.
    3) Finally finding a really good optometrist.
    4) Sunshine after weeks of rain.
    5) Seeing the play “Titus Andronicus” last night in a beautiful forest setting. Very gory, but excellent acting.
    6) Finding some very cools apps for the iPhone, including an ocarina that you play by blowing into the microphone at the bottom of the phone. Once you get proficient enough, you can record your melodies and share them with the entire world, or listen to people playing in real time all over the globe. Amazing and magical. http://ocarina.smule.com/
    7) Speaking of gratitude, I LOVE this video with the comedian Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien:

    Have a happy week, all!

  12. […] met Mr. Dan Zanes, we had wonderful things written about us on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, we inched ever onward with our successful Kickstarter campaign for our upcoming self-published […]

  13. 1. Having JOOLS write about us!
    2. Having my dad stay with us.
    3. Watching our unschooled kids work on a film project of their own creation all weekend.
    4. Meeting DAN ZANES!
    5. Seeing my Uncle Gord off on the southern leg of his Appalachian Trail adventure.
    6. Getting signed with Mary Kole @ Andrea Brown.
    7. Sitting down and reflecting on all this— HELL OF A WEEK!!

  14. Jill, that video is very funny. And true. Isn’t it from a few years back? When he got to the part about the plane, it seemed familiar to me, but just as funny. … So glad you enjoyed Titus. Oh, and that app sounds great.

    Yes, everyone. I am JOOLS to Jana, and I love that. I will just have three names now: Julie, Jules, and Jools. … Dan Zanes. I’d hug that man’s neck, if I ever met him, on account of all the good music he’s brought kids. Music that doesn’t make the adults want to throw up in their mouths.

    Everyone, here is a Dog & Cat treasury from John and Jana: http://flotsamandjetpacks.com/2010/12/31/dog-and-cat-vol-1/. Enjoy. (And I’m going to edit my post to include that up there now.)

  15. A late fly-by. It’s been one of those crazy, hectic, disorganized end-of-school-year, June weekends with events, assemblies, awards banquets, weddings and a baseball team party. “What outfit do I change into now, someone grab the potluck baked beans, do we even know the address?!” Like that.

    7 Imp Today: Ooo. I love anarchy, oceans and cake for dinner. Totally enjoying john & jana’s art and sensibilities.

    Jules, there just HAS to be Bottom Bunk KCC dues—it’s in the motto. But maybe it could be something like sharing the oddest kitty names we’ve every heard. (I knew a cat once named “Dr. Biobrain” and another cat named “Dog”.)

    Fun, informative and interesting kicks as always: naming The Wicked Lurgy, completed manuscripts (!), Bossypants (great name), screaming auditions (so jealous as I can’t scream very loud—fluke of adenoids removal), movie-house whispers, Singaporean coffee (?), seeing play in a forest and fellow Andrea Brownies!

    My kicks: celebrated birthday on 6-6 (this year my favorite color will be: celery), a thoughtful gift from my dear sons, finding the elusive right word before turning in a final draft, and as Alice Cooper sings: SCHOOL’S OUT FOR THE SUMMER!

    Have a great week everyone.

  16. Denise, happy belated birthday! And congrats on finding that elusive word.

    I love to collect—in my head anyway—good kitty cat names of children’s lit, my latest favorite being Flash Harry (from a book in this post). “Dr. Biobrain” is pretty great.

  17. I’m a long time KICK FAN, first time contributor. 🙂

    Here are mine:
    – Long weekend in Australia. Needed it, loved it…
    – Even though I get frustrated, I’ve been having fun trying new techniques for illustration and some are going well. Speaking of – how good are the drawings for the Anarchy book? I LOVE! Awesome awesome.
    – Cycling in winter to pubs. Yes, it is cold and wet here in Melbourne, but cold wind followed by red wine and catch up with pals = bliss.
    – Twitter. I didn’t get it, took me ages to sign up, but I’m just starting to realise how fun/powerful it is – a voice for the people!
    – Op Shop (Thrift store) hand made woollen blankets!
    – Brunch breakfasts that are so yummy and massive that they keep you going to dinner. Well, almost…
    – Reading all your kicks on a Monday to reflect on my own and start the week right.

    Thanks, that feels good. Jess

  18. Hi, Jess! We remember you. Congrats on the success of your new techniques. When all else fails while experimenting, just cycle again to the pub. I wish there were a pub close enough to me to cycle to.

    Thanks for visiting, and have a good week.

  19. Hurray for self-publishing!!!

  20. […] news! Jules @ Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast who featured all things john & jana last month, is giving away 3 copies of our latest book, A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy […]

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