Ahoy, buckos! It’s National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Now, I’m not going to talk pirate in this entire post. I’m not aye I can even pull that off. (See what I mean? Probably even that is wrong.) But what better way is there to celebrate than to showcase some art from Aaron Renier, seeing as how his latest title, The Unsinkable Walker Bean (First Second, August 2010 — colorist on this title is cartoonist and illustrator Alec Longstreth), involves adventure on the high seas — fearsome pirates, wicked sea-witches, a cursed skull, and CERTAIN PERIL. The swashbucklin’ kind. The image above comes from one of Aaron’s earlier sketches for this title. Aaron is not only a picture-book illustrator, but he is also a cartoonist who won the Eisner award for cartoonist deserving wider recognition for his first graphic novel, Spiral-Bound.
AND Renier was also recently named a recipient of the inaugural Sendak Fellowship. I had to do a web search on this fascinating-sounding thing, and I found more info here at this interview with Renier. Chris Mautner over at Manga Studio wrote on Friday:
At SPX this past weekend, First Second’s Gina Gagliano told me that cartoonist Aaron Renier was headed up to Maurice Sendak’s home after the convention, as he was one of four young illustrators who won a grant from the brand-new Sendak Fellowship, which, if I understood it correctly, gives aspiring artists the chance to meet, workshop and work on various projects for several weeks at Sendak’s house, as well as soak up wisdom from the author of In the Night Kitchen.
HOLY WOW. He gets to hang out with The Great One himself. HE IS DOING SO AS WE SPEAK. Just wow.
I don’t want to give too much away about this title, in case any of you read it, but let me just say that it’s FUN. It’s received many starred reviews (“exciting, deep, funny, and scary, with tremendous villains and valor galore,” wrote Booklist, for one) and is about a young boy, Walker Bean, whose grandfather is cursed by an enchanted skull in a trench somewhere in the middle of an ocean. Said grandfather asks Walker to take care of the mess caused by the curse, and thus his adventure begins. Yes, that’s all I’m going to tell you, just in case you want to see and read for yourself.
This morning, I’ve got a few pages from this graphic novel to share — a few of the book’s first spreads. Also featured are some of Aaron’s preliminary doodles and early sketches. You’ll note that one of the final ones is titled “Early Sketches of book #2.” Sneak peek. Neat. (I’m also including the cover of Aaron’s Pirate Kit, for use with children and in schools. If anyone wants to see a copy, I suppose I can hunt down that info for you. Also, I’m throwing in a page from that kit, the design-your-own-pirate-flag page. Have at it! Make a pirate flag, send me a JPG of it, and I’ll post it. Try me!)
THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN. Text copyright © 2010 by Aaron Renier. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, First Second, New York.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
1). Hands down, my kickiest kick of the week was getting to read to my first grader’s class. I took a stack of my favorite picture books from the year and read all of them, ’cause I think the teacher figured out quickly what a tremendous picture book nerd I am and just let me have at it.
Seeing as how my daughter threw up in the car line that very morning yet still wanted me to go read while she stayed home in her PJs with Daddy Danielson, I made sure to point out to the class her favorite moment in each book. They seemed to get a kick out of that.
2). Starting Tony DiTerlizzi’s Search for Wondla this weekend as a read-aloud. It might be my first grader’s first science fiction novel.
3). When my girls get sick, I am reminded how lucky I am that they are healthy on the whole.
4). Betsy Bird’s Newbery and Caldecott prediction post. I hardly have the time, but I just had to whip my own Caldecott ramblings that I will post later tonight perhaps.
6). See the number up there in the title’s post — 185? We’ve been kickin’ it, dear readers, for almost four years now.
7). Wrapping up my committee work with the Southern Festival of Books. ‘Twas fun.
Special Note: Congrats to the brilliant (and that’s no hyperbole) Kelly Fineman, whose poem “Troubled Water” is the closing piece in the e-book anthology Breaking Waves, a collection of 34 poems, memoirs, short stories, and articles. The anthology sells for $4.99 from Book View Café, 100% of which goes to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. Here’s the info!
What are your kicks this week? Anyone swashbucklin’ enough to leave their kicks in Pirate Talk gets extra points today.