I want to warn you ahead of time that I don’t have the finished illustration that would normally follow the series of sketches below.  I must have gotten rid of it, or else it’s boxed away somewhere in my attic (I moved last November and am still unpacking).

A while back I got an assignment to illustrate a cover for a summer issue of StoryWorks magazine.  The art director asked for fireflies reading books. Sounds like a fun idea—I went to work drawing variations of it.

The first one works, but it’s kind of the obvious solution:

I like this next one in spite of its being a little weird.  To make it work I’d need to really play up the lighting effects:


Fireflies reading books in a bookstore after hours:


Fireflies combining their individual lights to read a book:


Firefly using a flashlight, with a farm in the background:

And here are fireflies using each other’s butts to read by:

Those were the ideas I came up with.  The AD liked the last two, couldn’t decide which one to use—and asked me to combine them in one sketch:


I wasn’t happy with it.  Too many elements, too difficult to read the idea.  I would have loved to paint any of the other sketches, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Nobody’s fault; the art director and I just had different tastes.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.  You do your work, get your paycheck, and move on.

0 replies
  1. Rose
    Rose says:

    First of all I like ALL of the sketches, and am having a difficult time narrowing it down to one favorite (I’d make a lousy AD, wouldn’t I?)

    I think that you need to write a book about the lightening bugs (that’s what we called them when we were kids) and then you can use all of the sketches!

    This blog is awesome, John. Thank you and keep writing and sharing. Its helpful to see how you work and think.

  2. Jane
    Jane says:

    Rose is right – you need to write a book about the firefly -your imagination would delight children who love the bug that lights up the night sky – grown ups would love it too- because it would bring them fond memories of catching and releasing the firefly.


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