Color for Jack and the Giant Barbecue

Jack and the Giant Barbecue is Eric Kimmel’s retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, set in west Texas. I wanted my images to tell the reader where he is, so the costumes and settings were carefully researched.

Color is a powerful tool for telling a story. To make every page look like the American West, I turned to 2 classic painters for guidance: Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. I made small color studies of their paintings before I began developing a palette for Jack and the Giant Barbecue. Notice how both artists accentuate the heat of a prairie scene with warm colors—yellows & oranges—and make the shadows more vivid with cool colors—blues & purples.

The color script came next. You can see Russell’s and Remington’s influence in the color, particularly in the outdoor scenes. I carried blues and purples inside the Giant’s barbecue shack to make it dark and unsettling.

Eric reads Jack

Here’s Eric Kimmel reading Jack and the Giant Barbecue


Design for Jack

Jack and the Giant Barbecue is officially in bookstores today! I had a great time designing these characters. Here’s how Jack came to be.

The first drawing I do of a character is always too rough. I draw it just to get that drawing out of the way. Neither of the figures in the first sketch is very interesting. That hat, though, with the stitching around the brim is the one I wore when I was 4 or 5.

The second sketch is more finished, but this character doesn’t inspire much interest, either. Also, he looks too much like every other kid I ever draw.

I thought I might try making Jack a little squirt, to contrast even more with the Giant. The third sketch shows a more compact Jack. I think he’s starting to develop a personality!

The next sketch shows the smaller Jack doing different things and showing some expressions. This is the character who would have enough gumption to climb Mount Pecos and take on the recipe-stealing Giant.

Here’s a sketch of Jack deciding to go after the Giant. Art Director Anahid Hamparian thought the picture told the exact same story the words do, so she nixed it. She was right. Often, getting rid of a picture makes the story move more efficiently.

Let’s eat!

Grandpa Crow serves up some pizza in Let’s Have A Tree Party!


The Examiner interview, Part 3

Right over here!

Feb/2012 PSInside

Get your copy here!

Grandpa Crow’s tree

Here’s the establishing shot for Let’s Have A Tree Party! Just like in a movie, the establishing shot at the beginning lets the reader know where the story takes place. In this case we’re in the woods at the base of Grandpa Crow’s tree. Let’s look at the thumbnail sketch, tight sketch, painting in progress and the finished painting.


Here’s another title I have coming out in March—Jack and the Giant Barbecue. It’s Eric Kimmel‘s update of the Jack and the Beanstalk story set in west Texas. West Texas, you said? Cue the Elmer Bernstein music! Here we go: thumbnail sketch, tight sketch (originally a single page, art director Anahid Hamparian saw the epic possibilities of a two-page spread as Jack and his pony canter through the sagebrush) and painting.

Bunny hop

Here’s the scene in Let’s Have A Tree Party! where the animals bunny hop across a branch.  You’ll notice the thumbnail sketch shows a bird’s-eye view.  Art director Maryellen Hanley asked me to change the direction of the branch so it would be moving uphill as you read left-to-right.  While I was at it I changed the perspective to a bug’s-eye view.

Publishers’ Weekly reviews Tree Party!

Let’s Have A Tree Party! hits the bookstores in March. Here’s a very nice review from Publishers’ Weekly for you to read while you’re waiting.