Make your reservations now!

I am booking school visits in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area for Read Across America Week, March 2 – 6, 2015. Friday the 6th just got reserved this morning. If I can book the whole week, everybody gets me for 25% off the regular rate.

Contact Lisa—

Douglas Fairbanks

I see Hesperus Project is doing another one of their wonderful musical accompaniments to a silent film—this time around, it’s The Mark of Zorro, with the mighty Douglas Fairbanks.

I love these concerts. If you like ancient music or silent movies—or both—you’ll want to see and listen. A while back these guys were in Pittsburgh courtesy of the Renaissance & Baroque Society of Pittsburgh. They put together a concert of mediæval music for another Fairbanks flick, Robin Hood. Here is the art I created for the promotional poster.

By the way, if you’ve seen the 2011 movie The Artist, you’ve already seen one of Douglas Fairbanks’ daring stunts from Zorro painstakingly recreated for a new audience.

A fun interview

Click over to Kathy Temean’s blog—she interviewed me and posted a bunch of images.

The Reuben Award

From the press release my lovely wife wrote:

“The National Cartoonists Society 67th Annual Reuben Awards were held in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Manders, a first time attendee and nominee, won a Reuben Award in the Book Illustration division. The award was presented to him by Sandra Boynton. John is a local children’s book illustrator who resides in Franklin and has a studio at the National Transit Building in Oil City. Fellow nominees in his division were John Martz and Dave Whammond. John was honored to have been nominated with such talented cartoonists. Seven cartoonists/artists were nominated from Pittsburgh including George Schill, Pat Lewis, Vince Dorse, Mark Brewer, Michael McParlane and Wayno.”

What an honor! What a fun weekend! Thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported me over the years.

My Etsy shop

You young kids already know about Etsy, but for the benefit of oldsters like me—it’s an online store where you can shop for handmade items directly from the artists. I set up my page here. Please swing by and take a look. All the art is original. If there’s an image from one of my books you’d like to see up there, give me a holler.

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!

Clarion Library benefit auction

Clarion Library gave me one of their children’s chairs and asked me to paint it with a storybook theme. I chose Rapunzel from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The auction is at 6:00 this evening at the American Legion Hall on Main Street, Clarion, Pa. Come on out if you’d like to see some beautifully painted chairs!


Ahoy, ye lubbers!

Blast me for a marlin spike—tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day!
I’ll be yarning away the afternoon watch with the young scholards at Colfax Elementary School.

Never fear, you can talk like a pirate, too. Just click over here for a glossary of pirate words. You’ll also find some coloring sheets and the lyrics to that fine old buccaneer bunny sea shanty, Nibble Yer Greens!

Some excellent reading for the day: Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates, and Pirates Go To School.

Alphabet Trail & Tales

Come join me this Saturday in Frick Park (in Pittsburgh, Pa) at the big blue slide! I’ll be the one in the bunny ears, reading Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies and painting pictures.