Construction site in Manhattan

Here are some more work-in-progress shots from Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop. This scene shows a crowded sidewalk next to a construction site. The lady next to Finnegan is upset because a mouse ran over her foot!

We’re looking at the thumbnail sketch (very small), tight sketch (half-size of the painting), painting in progress and final painting. With crowd scenes, I’m always looking for people to include in the scene. It’s hard to make up all those characters. Hannah was interning for me when I painted Finnegan. Can you spot her?

 

Times Square

Times Square in the middle of Manhattan is Fox and Finnegan‘s beat. Here’s the scene that introduces them. Thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, color sketch and final painting.

Designing Finnegan and Fox

 Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop will be available February 1st! You know what that means: I’ll be showing you sketches and paintings in progress. Here are character studies for Finnegan, the police horse and Fox, his policeman.

Finnegan is a powerful 10 year old horse—younger and more muscular than the tired old rosinantes I’m so fond of drawing in other of my books. Police horses, just like policemen, wear a uniform. I had to research Finnegan’s bridle and saddle as well as the pad that goes under it. The pad is blue with the NYPD badge in the corner. Mounted cops use an English style of saddle which is smaller than the American version.

I did some sketches of Fox, the policeman, but the editors and art director weren’t happy with how he looked. He’s too comic, too silly. Fox has to look serious enough to be a cop but also friendly-looking. I had a difficult time getting this character to look just right. The editors weren’t able to tell me exactly how they’d like me to draw him. I hate to not please my clients. Felicia Macheske was my art director for this project. She and I came up with the idea to ask the editors which actor they would choose to play Fox. That was much easier! They said they’d cast Jesse Martin. Designing Fox went much more smoothly once I knew what my clients wanted.

finnegan.left finnegan.right fox.1 fox.2 newfox.body newfox.heads

Beth McKinney’s blog

Here.

Blog Hop!

My writer (and artist) pal Beth MacKinney asked me to be part of an exciting project this weekend. Authors with blogs are linking to other author-blogs for a huge, weekend-long Blog-Hop! Beth is linking to my blog and she sent me questions—about whatever my latest writing project is— for the occasion. Here they are.

  • What is the working title of your book?
    Dark Circles.
  • Where did the idea come from for the book?
    I thought it would be funny to spoof the Twilight Saga. Also, there ought to be a school-infested-by-vampires-and-werewolves story for kids too young to read about the exploits of Bella and Edward.
  • What genre does your book fall under?
    Picture Book. Unless you have a category called ‘Doomed Picture Book’.
  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
    Actors who look like K-Stew and R-Patz, but younger and zippier. You know, not half- asleep.
  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    The first day at a new school is tough, but it’s even more difficult for Ella, who has no idea her new classmates are undead!
  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    I’m definitely going to shop this around to publishers. If my agent (who reps illustrators not authors) likes it, she may help me promote it.
  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
    Still working on it! I can’t figure out how to get the plot to the third act. Either my protagonist realizes all her classmates are vampires and werewolves and needs to deal with that, or else she remains unaware while chaos erupts around her. I haven’t thought of a way to end the chaos, or the story.
  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    Milton’s Paradise Lost—the one with Gustave Dorè’s illustrations. I know, I know, PL is over 10,000 lines long, but you haven’t seen my manuscript. I need to do a lot of cutting.
  • Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    ‘Inspired’ may not be the best word. I’ve been a little tired of wall-to-wall Twilight and my smart-alecky brain naturally turns to spoof. I thought I’d try to turn spoof into a picture book project for my crowd, which are 5 to 8-year-olds.
  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    It’s narrated in the first person. It’s written in rhyme. Here’s a sample:

The first day at my new school
Was awkward as I feared
The kids who go there—and their dogs—
Are more than slightly weird.

Their skin is pale and pasty
They’re thin and underfed
Their eyes are dark with circles
Like they haven’t been to bed.

They hate to see the sun shine
They like the lighting dim
The window blinds are always down
Which makes it kind of grim.

As you probably noticed, it’s the same structure as The Last Time I Saw Paris— composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. If that doesn’t pique a reader’s interest, I don’t know what will!

New book coming out soon!

Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop will be hitting the bookshelves February 1st. I’ll have some work-in-progress posts up soon. In the meantime, here’s a review from Publishers’ Weekly.

John_The-Ten-Foot-Cop-PW-review