Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the carnival

Remember how, in the first season of Lost, they spent a dozen episodes building up the mystery surrounding the contents of the hatch, and then the finale ended with them opening the hatch, and you suddenly realized to your horror and dissapointment that "oh my god, they're really not going to show us what's in the hatch"? Well, Abbie's "The Carnival" is kind of like that. But I'm sure the inevitable sequel, "The Carnival: At the Carnival" will clear up all unanswered questions, just like Lost has.

festival owl project

New Hampshire's Keene State College, which hosts a yearly children's literature festival, will be commemorating its centennial in 2009. As part of the celebration, they've invited one hundred published children's book illustrators (myself included) to contribute interpretations of their school mascot, the owl. The owls will be hung in the Festival Gallery, home to a sizeable collection of original picture book art by the likes of Eric Carle, Leo and Diane Dillon, and Trina Schart Hyman (all of whom also contributed an owl). It's really an honor to have my piece (below) hung alongside the work of some of my favorite illustrators (not to mention my former Art Institute of Boston classmate Denise Ortakales, whose collage work is absolutely amazing).

You can read more about the project here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

pickle dog

The dog-pickle-t-shirt cycle continues with this, the greatest story ever told. It's Ciera's "Pickle Dog". Do the command!

the dog who made trouble

A word of warning to all dogs thinking of attending Omro Elementary: don't. The grading system is unforgiving, and science murder. Or so says our next feature, the macabre "The Dog Who Made Trouble", by Ryan.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

the hungry dog

Tonight's morally ambiguous dog-pickle-t-shirt story is a thinly veiled critique of the Iraq War and American jingoism, called "The Hungry Dog". In order to avoid potential reprisals, the author has chosen to remain nameless.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Remember my visit to Omro Elementary a few weeks ago? Well, Mrs. Butkiewicz's second grade class wrote and illustrated some neat stories inspired by the "art on demand" portion of my presentation (featuring a dog in a t-shirt eating a pickle), all of which I'll be posting in the coming weeks.

First up is a thought-provoking tale exploring the power of creation...and the nature of sacrifice. I give you Cody's "Blazor the Dog".

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

one wish

With my birthday less than a month away, you're probably racking your brain trying to figure out what to get me. After all, I already have a lovely wife-to-be, a roof over my head, and some shirts. What else do I need?

How about laser eye beams to disintegrate my enemies? It's just a thought.

You see, I've been asking for laser eye beams since I was six. Although my mother assured me that she'd "work on it" for my seventh birthday, I did not receive them. It was because of her negligence that I was unable to vaporize Chris Doyle when he took off with one of my Gobots during a botched toy exchange a few months later. On my eighth birthday, I was denied laser eye beams, again. Shortly thereafter, I participated in a four-legged race at my elementary school. Had I been capable of shooting white hot fire from my cornias, I could have burned a trench in the soccer field, over which my opponents would have stumbled, and ensured myself a first place finish. Instead, I came in second place, and Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, precipitating the Persian Gulf War.

I am now on the verge of turning thirty-one years old. My dearth of laser eye beams has seriously hampered my attempts at incinerating all who oppose me. I do not possess the power to turn flesh into ash, ergo, I do not yet rule the Earth from a mountain of skulls, as is my right and priveledge. And I'm not getting any younger.

So, on June fifteenth, if someone were to, I don't know, buy me laser eye beams or something, I may decide to spare his life when I bring the Age of Man to its knees.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

tuesdays with june 2

The following is a transcript of the second in a series of interviews with my cat, in which she reminisces about her pre-adoptive life. We call it "Tuesdays with June".

NEWMANPICTURESBLOG: Okay, here we are, the second part of our interview...

JUNE: That's correct.

NPB: ...and we're going to discuss your parents. Your biological parents.

JUNE: Yes.

NPB: Now, what were they like?

JUNE: Brown.

NPB: Anything else?

JUNE: Yes...

NPB: Anything else that isn't also the description of characters from a classic novel?

JUNE: ...

NPB: ...

JUNE: (coughs)

NPB: ...

JUNE: ...Thank you for having me.

Join us next time for the third part of the "Tuesdays with June" series, when we discuss my cat's formative years, and she admits to a celebrity crush (spoiler alert: it's Joshua Jackson!).

a very special blog post: the reckoning

While I was on vacation (by the way, I was on vacation), Nicole, from an undisclosed region of Canada, and Kyle, a local boy from Wisconsin, mixed it up over The Great Shroogly-Dunk Giveaway. As y'all are no doubt aware, the friction created by their competing entries, sent to my inbox at the exact same instant, tore a hole in the fabric of reality at approximately 12:32 PM on May 18, 2007, the fallout from which is still being assessed. So far, we know that in the Alterverse, the South won the Civil War, faucets pour Ecto-Cooler instead of water, and Shrinky-Dinks are now called Shroogly-Dunks.

In doing my part to prevent further damage to the timestream, and put an end to this here destructive conflict, I'm fixing to award Shroogly-Dunks to both parties. Well played, Nicole and Kyle. Or, as we say in the North...well played.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

bride of the great shrinky dink giveaway

The Great Shrink-Dink Giveaway is this deal where I give away Shrinky-Dink art to people that email me. I know, it's crazy.

Well, I'm doing it again, and it really couldn't be any easier to win. I mean that. I literally can not make this contest any less difficult. To even call it a contest is bordering on fraud. There is no skill involved, whatsoever. All you need is a pokey thing to type with, the eye of the tiger, and a valid mailing address. You can even use someone else's address, if you don't have one of your own. But it should probably belong to someone you know. It can get a little awkward if you're caught trying to collect your prize from a stranger's mailbox. Believe me. One minute, you're rooting through some schmuck's bills, and the next you're in Cell Block 8, training a mouse to do your bidding.

Okay, so you've got a pokey thing, the will to survive, and someone's mailing address. Now, what? Simple. Open up an email, type the word "dink" in the subject line, send it to, and swear eternal allegiance to whichever dark master you serve in exchange for victory in The Great Shrinky-Dink Giveaway Mach III. If you're the first person to follow this procedure correctly, you'll know it because A) I'll tell you so, and B) you'll feel a persistent chill indicating you no longer have a soul. Congratulations! I hope it was worth it.

Newmanpicturesblog is in no way affiliated with Shrinky-Dinks or K & B Innovations, Inc., and will not be held accountable for car accidents linked to Shrinky-Dink slippage. Or herpes.

Dark masters do not guarantee Shrinky-Dinks in return for eternal allegiance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the dark is rising again

Months ago, I expressed my concerns over the upcoming film adaptation of The Dark is Rising. My beef was specifically with Ian McShane's un-Merriman like appearance (the character in the books is an older, lanky, white-haired magician of sorts, a contemporary version of Merlin). Well, my fears have been realized. The first set photos have been released, and Ian McShane looks like...Ian McShane. On the up side, Christopher Eccleston seems a suitable Rider, and the last image of what I presume is the Old Ones' temple, is spot on, atmospherically. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, May 14, 2007

the animation podcasts

If you, like me, are a fan of animation, then you really should check out Clay Kaytis's The Animation Podcast. Clay is a supervising animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and he's scored several enlightening interviews with fellow staff members from the past and present (including John Musker and Ron Clements of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin fame). There are only a handful of episodes available, but you can supplement your aural tour through the history of Disney animation with the even more infrequently produced Spline Cast. Both shows are available via iTunes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ross zellman's counterpoint: love you forever

Are we talking about the same book, here? Because the Love You Forever that I know is a fudging masterpiece. You should get down on your knees and thank God that it exists, Mr. Filthbottom. Perhaps then you'll be spared from burning in the hell reserved for murderers and those who insult the works of Robert Munsch. But I doubt it. In conclusion, you smell.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

professor filthbottom's ugly book review

I don't know if you've noticed, but there have been a lot of ugly picture books released throughout the long and storied history of children's bookdom. A lot of beautiful ones, sure, but a lot of unintentionally (or intentionally), disturbingly illustrated ones, too (see "What's Drunk, Mama?"). And some of these books have gone on to become bestsellers. I'm thinking of one, in particular, which I call Abomination from Beyond the Stars. You may know it as Love You Forever. If you haven't encountered this book, and apparently a lot of you have (it's currently number 1,370 in the sales rankings, and it was first published in 1986), you should make a point of seeking it out, if only to see what a very eerie, literal interpretation of a mother's eternal love for her child looks like. But I'll save you some time: it looks weird. There may be a better way to illustrate the book's central theme than to depict an old woman climbing a ladder into her forty year old son's bedroom to cradle him in the middle of the night, but I'm pretty sure no one could come up with a more terrifying way, short of giving the old woman clown makeup and fangs. Anyway, you can pick it up at your local Target (it's the one with a bathroom-wrecking gnome on the cover) along with The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and...well, that's it, really. Maybe some Dora the Explorer crap. I don't know.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

tuesdays with june

The following is a transcript of the first in a series of interviews with my cat, in which she reminisces about her pre-adoptive life. We call it "Tuesdays with June".

NEWMANPICTURESBLOG: we...all set? Yes, all set...June.

JUNE: Yes.

NPB: June, how are you tonight?

JUNE: I'm fine.

NPB: Maybe you can tell the people where you are right now?

JUNE: In my apartment.

NPB: (laughs) But where, specifically?

JUNE: In the bathroom sink.

NPB: And why are you in the bathroom sink?

JUNE: I think the question is, why are you not in the bathroom sink?

NPB: (laughs), your life...We've been living together for, what, almost two years, now?

JUNE: Yes.

NPB: And life's pretty good, huh?

JUNE: I'm fine. A little thirsty, maybe.

NPB: Oh. Well, here, just...let me turn on the faucet. Just...can you just shift over a little bit?

JUNE: Don't touch me.

NPB: Sorry, sorry...there...okay, there.

(lapping noises)

NPB: How's that? Better?

JUNE: I'm fine. A little tired, maybe.

At this point, June requested we move the interview to a pile of dirty clothes in the closet.

NPB: All settled in?

JUNE: Yes.

NPB: Great. Um, maybe we should start with where you were born?

JUNE: Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then...

NPB: I-I'm sorry. Um...I don't want to interrupt, but...

JUNE: It's fine.

NPB: Isn't that, uh, from To Kill a Mockingbird?

JUNE: I don't believe so, no.

NPB: Oh, okay...but I thought, maybe...

JUNE: This interview is over.

Join us next time for the second part of the "Tuesdays with June" series, when we discuss my cat's biological family, and she shares her recipe for fish tarts.

Monday, May 7, 2007

book sale

I went to a used book sale on Saturday, and picked up a lot of great stuff: three Madeline books (I now have the entire series, except, strangely, the original), a George and Martha compilation, Baba Yaga, illustrated by the extraordinary Blair Lent (whom I met in college, but sadly didn't appreciate at the time), Crictor, by Tomi Ungerer, and an assortment of others.

One of the "others" is called Joseph's Yard, and it includes some of the most hallucinatory imagery I've seen in any media, let alone a children's picture book. I'm not even sure I like it, but I certainly admire the technique (courtesy of author and illustrator Charles Keeping). Here are a few groovy samples:

Welcome back. The year is 2007. We missed you.

I also bought a book based solely on the cover, which is a poignant reminder of the dangers of relying too heavily on photo reference when creating an illustration, especially when that reference includes models of both genders:

Friday, May 4, 2007

room for improvement

Yesterday, at work (no, not the good writing/drawing/painting work, the bad work that I haven't mentioned here before; the one that involves spreadsheets, meetings, and me sighing every half hour) we received a Business Reply envelope full of rocks. I mean, really full, like I can't believe the US Postal Service would deliver it, full. And included with the rocks was a customer satisfaction card. It was not filled out.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

row house of the dead

So, Jodi and I (but mostly Jodi) finally came to the end of a very lengthy apartment search Monday night, and I have to say, for someone that despises the prospect of moving, I'm almost excited to settle into our new digs. Yes, almost. That's because, for all it's charms, I'm fairly certain the apartment is haunted.

It has to be. First of all, it's an old row house. You can't spit in an old row house and not have it pass through the ghost of a burly, axe-wielding gentleman with a large mustache and a vendetta against his adulterous wife. Those suckers are drawn to brick like bees to honey.

Then, there's the backyard, the only patch of land within a quarter mile covered by grass instead of cement. Now, what's the more likely explanation: that the neighborhood is in the process of being converted from an industrial district into a residential zone, or that our future home is built on an Indian burial ground that can bring pets and humans back to life, but at a terrible price? That's a rhetorical question.

The most damning evidence of all is the fact that we're getting three floors, three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, central air, a dish washer, a refrigerator with an ice maker, and a washing machine and dryer for just over one thousand dollars a month. How can the property owners charge so little for so much?

How, indeed?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

good show

Here's something weird: Hippo! No, Rhino is listed as a Best New Summer Book (specifically, the best book "for little zoologists") over at The thing is, it came out last summer, and was published by Little, Brown and Company. Not that I'm complaining. That's just awfully sporting of them.