My first children’s book for Scholastic was finally published this month. “Big Shark’s Valentine Surprise” is the fifth children’s book I’ve illustrated, but my first time with Scholastic. My comp copies finally arrived last week. It’s too late to order copies for Valentine’s Day, and actually I’m told the book is only available through Scholastic’s book club and not in stores (at least not yet). But if you want to get one there are a couple of used copies for sale on Amazon.com (regular and audio-book versions).
(EDIT: I’ve also posted a scan of an interior spread from the book. You’ll notice that the shark on the cover is not quite the same as the shark inside the book, for example his hat is missing and his mouth is bigger. These were changes that Scholastic insisted I make to the cover, although I never did get a good explanation. Oh well. Overall I’m still pretty happy with how the book turned out.)
I’m currently working on two more children’s books, a follow-up book for Scholastic and a graphic novel for Stone Arch Books. More info on those projects soon.
Here’s a website devoted to promoting modest dress among teenagers. They recently took a survey of 1,600 Christian teenage guys asking them questions related to how girls should dress. The results are interesting. I remember what it was like to be a young man with raging hormones and roving eyes, and I don’t think most women truly realize what a powerful stumbling block their clothing (or lack thereof) can be for the guys all around them. So I’m glad someone is finally talking about this issue.
The upcoming assignment for DrawerGeeks is “Grrrrrr!”. Our instructions are to create “the most bizarrely hilarious ‘grrrr’ face you can come up with!” It’s not due for a couple of weeks yet, but this was a sketch I did this morning while playing around with my new Cintiq. I’ve always admired caricature artists who can distort the human face into crazy rubbery shapes. So in this sketch I thought it would be a good exercise to try and push an expression a lot farther than I normally would. It’s not supposed to be a caricature of anyone in particular, just a generic face I made up in my head.
Phil Vischer also has a blog that is worth checking out:
“My big hairy audacious goal: To build the most trusted of the top four family media brands within twenty years,”
So writes Phil Vischer, the founder of Big Idea Productions (creators of VeggieTales), an ambitious Walt Disney wanna-be. And he was off to a good start. Between 1996 and 1999 Big Idea’s revenue grew by 3,300 percent, from $1.3 million to $44 million. One in three households with children owns at least one VeggieTales video. Their first theatrical release, “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie” was the highest-grossing Christian film in history until “Passion of the Christ”.
Yet less than a year after “Jonah” hit theaters, Big Idea filed for bankruptcy.
What went wrong? Vischer’s new book, “Me, Myself, & Bob” is a fascinating and surprisingly transparent account of the rise and fall of Big Idea. Part auto-biography, part business book, and laced with goofy humor, the book is a remarkably good read. My wife and I started reading chapters aloud to each other at night or in the car together, and we could barely put it down. One night we read four chapters back-to-back, and after my wife went to sleep I kept reading and finished the book.
I was a college student working at a Christian bookstore when VeggieTales exploded onto the scene. As an art student and an animation fan, I was thrilled to see Christian videos that were actually funny, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Someone was finally proving that Christian media didn’t have to be lame. Big Idea was giving hope to people like me who aspired to do something truly positive with mass-media. I began to dream about working at Big Idea (I actually applied for an opening once but didn’t get in).
So I was surprised as anyone to hear about Big Idea’s bankruptcy. The cruise ship full of happy vegetables had suddenly hit an iceberg. (The company was eventually purchased by Classic Media which continues to produce the videos.)
Ultimately Vischer takes all the blame for what went wrong at Big Idea. The buck stops with him, and he is open and honest about the many mistakes he made. Chapter 20, “Lessons”, is worth the price of the book as Vischer shares seven important lessons which any business or ministry leader would do well to heed. He describes how the whole experience has changed him for the better (hint: becoming the next Walt Disney is no longer Vischer’s goal), and warns that passion and ambition can create spiritual blind spots–even for successful ministry leaders. Vischer’s humility, humor, and honesty about his mistakes makes him a refreshing role model.
As an animation buff and business owner, “Me, Myself, & Bob” is now officially one of my favorite books. The last third of my copy is full of dog-eared pages and underlining. Vischer’s honesty and likeability will keep you turning pages. You could do a lot worse than to pick up a copy for yourself.