One Bigfoot Sighting Before Breakfast

h1 February 12th, 2013 by jules

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This image here is a development sketch that author/illustrator Scott Magoon sent out with a manuscript called The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!, back when he was looking for a publisher for it. I love it.

The book was picked up, indeed, by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books and published just last week.

In this entertaining story, an unidentified (at least for a while, that is) narrator introduces us to Ben, a “tenacious little fellow,” who likes to tell elaborate stories. His favorite tall tale, it seems, is about Bigfoot. Ben’s seen him, you see; at least that’s what he tells folks. But we readers are privy to his little secrets. For one, he uses props. (Ben is particularly adept at simulating very sasquatch-esque footsteps, as you can probably guess by spotting his giant, hand-constructed prop up above in that development sketch, as well as the title page illustration, below-left.)

The townsfolk, who appear to live in times past (“I just love going back in time a bit is all,” Scott told me, “especially old bikes and cameras”), are intrigued for a while, but they eventually give up on determined Ben, not believing his cries of wolf, so to speak. It was fun while it lasted, though. Ben clearly enjoys putting on a show.

Ben is defeated when, suddenly, he hears a “crick” in the woods. And I don’t think I’ll be too spoilertastic here (I mean, check out the book’s cover after all) when I say that our narrator is revealed to be Bigfoot himself. “I don’t ever remember crossing paths with you, Littlefoot,” he says, stepping out from behind some trees to Ben’s great surprise.

The histrionics (on the part of Ben) that follow are pretty funny—with one Charlie Brown-esque yell I particularly love—and Bigfoot is ultimately an endearing, if not ginormous, creature. (Really, he’s a softie. He’s having cyber-coffee with me and Scott today and hasn’t yet knocked over any mugs.) And, well now. I can’t give away the entire story, so I’ll stop there. In the end, “Ben has learned his lesson,” notes the Kirkus review, “although how he determines to tell the truth in the future is bound to leave readers giggling.” (Look closely in one of the final spreads for a Pinocchio reference, speaking of truth-telling.) And it’s there where I’ll stop so that I don’t ruin the entire read for you.

However, Scott (art director by day, author/illustrator by night!) is here this morning to share early character studies and sketches and even some final art, as well as talk a bit about the creation of the book. Let’s get to it! I love it when Magoon visits. I’m going to turn it over to him now.

* * *

On the Book’s Cover …

During the course of illustrating the interiors, I had held on to this idea of a retro design for the jacket. It’s a classic story; why not capture some of that on the cover?

Well, turns out with the boxes everywhere, it didn’t reflect the interiors at all. It had a hidden Bigfoot character, too, and so stepped headlong into the old debate: Do we keep plot points or character details off the cover—or do we give more away in the hopes that it will make the book more appealing on the shelf? We chose the latter and it works great.

With the big wraparound woodsy scene and both characters trying to communicate directly with the viewer, it’s a punchy, fun, and dynamic cover that expands on the action of the interior.

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On Character Design …

Dog had to be expressive throughout, as he’s the moral scoreboard of the story, Ben’s conscience.

Bigfoot: Huge, lovable—the New York Times Book Review said [in this round-up just last week], though, that “presenting an adorable Bigfoot smacks of overkill, like deep-fried Snickers bars.” [There is] some truth to that in that he is a bit over the top.


Ben: A good kid at heart, but a bit lost. He had to be very appealing—we want to root for Ben—but capable of some mischief.

Sketches of Ben’s family

Story thumbnails
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On the Book’s Interiors …

In my first book, [Kara LaReau’s] Ugly Fish, the action’s contained to a fish tank to imply the small world over which the bullies held sway. In comparison, The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! is similar in that it’s got a beast reportedly stalking a particular, small area, much like a stage. And so, except for just a few pages, I kept the background scenery the same—as though the reader was watching a play. The sky changes to reflect the time of day and casts back to us Ben’s inner mood throughout the story — pink and innocent dawn at the beginning; a light blue, partly cloudy morning turns green as he begins to lie; a fiery orange towards the end of the day when he’s angry and so on. I hope it’s a detail the reader could discover with subsequent readings.

“Ben liked to tell stories.”
(Click final spread to enlarge)

“All that practice made him a pretty good storyteller.”
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“He had raised such a ruckus that people came from all over town to see Bigfoot.
They waited and they waited, but the creature never appeared.”

(Click final spread to enlarge)

(Click final spread to enlarge)

“I don’t normally talk to a Littlefoot. But, there was something about this Ben I liked. He was a determined fellow. I also liked his bike! ‘Mind if I take it for a ride?'”
(Click final spread to enlarge)

* * *

Many thanks to Scott for visiting. There’s a lot more here at his blog about what inspired him to write this story, as well as his own experience with what he calls “everyone’s favorite cryptozoological hominid” and what it has to do with Night Driver for the Atari 2600.

It’s a great read, so when you put your Bigfoot binoculars down, consider heading over there.

* * * * * * *

THE BOY WHO CRIED BIGFOOT! Copyright © 2013 by Scott Magoon. Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, New York. All images here used with permission of Scott Magoon.

16 comments to “One Bigfoot Sighting Before Breakfast”

  1. This post is nifty!

  2. What a great post!
    Thanks Scott and Jules for sharing.
    I can’t wait to get a hold of this book.

  3. Bigfoot on a bike!!! Love it!

  4. That looks like fun. Congrats, Scott!

  5. Yes!! So much to love about this book. The mention of the dog being Ben’s conscience… proof of the literary merit that is often overlooked in many children’s books. And those people! Gorey-esque and funny-faced. You laugh just looking at Ben. Lovely color palette too. Awesome job.

  6. What a fun book! I will checking this one out at the store soon. Thanks for a great post.

  7. LOVE THIS!!! Can’t wait to get one.

  8. This book looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing the thought process along the way! Love to see ideas transform 🙂

  9. Me, too, Kelli. Love it when artists share so freely like that. It’s neat to see behind-the-scenes stuff.

  10. This one looks like great fun. On the list for sure.

  11. Great style. Love the behind the scenes too!!
    Love the dog’s expressions!

  12. Thank-you everyone for all of your kind comments; I really appreciate it! Special thanks to Jules for putting out such a fantastic blog day in and day out.

  13. This looks like a GREAT book! I loved seeing the illustration stages. Thank you for this post!

  14. Thanks, Jules and Scott, for this fun peek into BIGFOOT. My copy is on it’s way…Yay!

  15. Oops… typing too fast… my copy is on ITS way.
    oh… and YAY! again 🙂

  16. This looks and sounds delightful! Congratulations, Scott!

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