Partying with Fox + Chick

h1 April 24th, 2018 by jules


I’m hosting a party for The Party today. That is, author-illustrator Sergio Ruzzier visits to talk a bit about his new picture book, a collection of three stories called Fox + Chick: The Party: And Other Stories (Chronicle, April 2018). He also shares some preliminary images and artwork from the book.

As you will read below, this is a series of three stories about two endearing characters, Fox and Chick, with the promise of a second book to come next year. As you will also read below, Sergio returns to comics for the book’s format, and the results are wonderful. This is a set of stories that follows in the grand tradition of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories or James Marshall’s George and Martha stories. Only the comics format differs. You know you have in hand a book that will strike a chord with developing readers, much as Lobel’s and Marshall’s books did, when the personalities of the book’s duo are so clearly established on the first page of the first story in merely four small panels. (Chick is fussy and somewhat mercurial; Fox is centered and possesses an everlasting patience for his small friend.)

I’m going to move over now and give Sergio the 7-Imp mic, because you will learn more about the three stories within the book from his words and art below. I thank him for sharing.

* * *

Sergio: I grew up reading comics, my true passion. My myths were Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and company; Popeye; Krazy Kat; Li’l Abner; and many other American and Italian characters and stories. I still remember my heart pounding at the first sighting of a new issue of my favorite comic book at the newsstand.

Comic strips were the very first things I ever published, in my late teens, when I was still in Italy.

Fox + Chick is my return to comics, after so many years. The Party is the first book, a collection of three stories. Next year a second book with three more stories will come out (I just delivered all the art a few days ago), with the title The Quiet Boat Ride.


(Click to enlarge)


I have to thank my brilliant agent, Jennifer Laughran, for suggesting to try and write these stories as comics.

I did the art in my usual technique, which is pen & ink and watercolor. To be honest, for a moment I was tempted to colorize it digitally:


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I was afraid I couldn’t keep the right consistency doing it by hand, with all those panels. But at the end I went back to my watercolor . . .


Pictured top: Sample art;
pictured below: final art

(Click each to enlarge)


. . . which feels so much nicer and warmer than the flat computer color. I don’t have anything against digital work, by the way. Some people do wonderful digital art: Lane Smith, Bob Shea, Rowboat Watkins, to name a few. It just doesn’t really work for me, I think.

What was different than my usual is that this time I did the whole book with
pen & ink . . .


(Click to enlarge)


. . . and grey wash first:


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And then I painted over it with flattish swatches of color, which I prepared in large amounts to minimize any irregularity.


Final spread as it appears in the book
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I would have liked to hand-letter the whole text:



But there were concerns with legibility. So I was asked to make a simplified version of my handwriting . . .


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. . . which the designers transformed into a typeface, which I actually like very much:



This book was edited by Victoria Rock and designed by Sara Gillingham, who were also behind my previous book with Chronicle, This Is Not a Picture Book! I know how lucky I am to be able to work with both of them.

Fox + Chick is dedicated to my friend Robin Smith.

* * *

Below are some preliminary images and a bit of final art from the book. . . .


Early sketches from “The Party”
(Click each to enlarge)


Early sketch from “Good Soup”
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Early sketch from “Sit Still”
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Title page sketch and final art for “The Party”
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More early sketches
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Front bookflap illustration


A final spread: “I don’t like to eat grasshoppers. . . .”
(Click to enlarge)


Cover sketches and final cover
(Click first image to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

FOX + CHICK: THE PARTY: AND OTHER STORIES. Copyright © 2018 by Sergio Ruzzier. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All images reproduced by permission of Sergio Ruzzier.

2 comments to “Partying with Fox + Chick”

  1. Ooh, I love how graphic novels get earlier and earlier readership. I can well imagine a savvy six-year-old getting into this and just loving it. A few years ago, there really wasn’t too much for the very young, and now…

  2. Sergio Ruzzier is so freaking funny. I love all of this so, so much.

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