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Special Event in Los Angeles Added to KENNY & THE DRAGON Tour

Display riser for KENNY & THE DRAGON

Storyopolis has added an event to the second leg of my Kenny and the Dragon tour in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 4th at the Geffen playhouse. This will be a morning event, part of their “Saturday Scene” program, and will feature a live band as well as yours truly.

Tickets are available at Storyopolis, or you can call 310-208-5454. I hope I see you there!


New Spiderwick Book!


The latest installment of Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, A Giant Problem, is due out in stores tomorrow. You can find it in a store near you, or you can try Amazon (where you can buy this AND Kenny and the Dragon at a reduced price) or Barnes & Noble.

For our New York and New Jersey friends, Holly and I will be doing an event tomorrow night (Sept. 16th) at 6PM:

Essex Mall, 895 Bloomfield Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ 07006

Bring your books, we’ll sign them all! Seeya there!


Detritus (part 3)

My dive into my grade school years concludes with some bits-n-pieces of stuff from high school…

Tony D’s business card, 1986

Exhibit H: I really did have a business card in high school. And I really did want to be an illustrator. But I wasn’t one. Hey, a kid can dream…you never know what might happen.

Tony D’s high school ID

Exhibit I: my senior school ID. I went without glasses for a couple of years so I could “blend in”. I also practiced a crooked smile in the mirror ala Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis. It didn’t make me any cooler.

STUART NEWS Newspaper article with a teenaged, mula-winning Tony D

Exhibit J: By my senior year, I was entering all sorts of art competitions. Sometimes I’d place, sometimes I’d get overlooked and get nothing. This portrait of Pat Benatar won me some scholarship money. I loved drawing portraits of the rock-n-rollers back then as music was an integral part of my teenage life…and still is today.

This antique is called a record

Exhibit K: Speaking of Rock-n-Roll, I’ve spoken about the impact of beautifully designed and packaged albums before. And, though this was over 10 years old by the time I graduated in high school, this tri-fold presentation of Elton John’s 1974 classic, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was just awesome. You had typeset lyrics matched with hand-rendered imagery.

Look! Its like a 12″ book of rock!

With my record player and headphones, I was lost in Elt’s falsetto harmonies and Ian Beck’s and David Larkham’s cool illustrations. Both of artists, of course, went on to illustrate popular children’s books.

authentic Mixed tape, 1988

Exhibit L: This time period in my life would not be complete without showing this – the liner card to a mixed-tape from my high school girlfriend. Though I haven’t talked her in years and years, people like her that came in and out of my life certainly help mold and prepare me for the next chapter in my story.

Old Tony with Polaroid of teen-age Tony

Like the art contests that I didn’t win, my failed relationships (I feel) toughened my skin and strengthened my resolve on that winding journey to success and happiness.


Friday Fan Art!

I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks hence the lack of FFA, but now that I am back in the studio, there is much to share!

Thimbletack by Andrea

Angela received this cool note from our new favorite felt-master, Andrea Graham:

I enjoyed reading the Spiderwick Chronicles aloud to my three boys and looked forward to the illustrations as we turned each page. I am an artist as well, a feltmaker. While all my work is original, I was moved to create a likeness of Thimbletack. I have attached 2 images of the piece. He is entirely sculpted from wool, no sewing, no painting. I hope you enjoy seeing him.

We totally do Andrea! He is really neat! Thanks for sending him along (remember, he likes just a bit of milk at night – otherwise he gets…moody). Keep up the fantastic fiber art.

Thimbletack and Lemondrop by Andrea


Detritus (part 2)

Middle School glasses

My excavation of my past continues in this virtual display culled from a box full of artifacts collected during my middle school years.

Merit badge sash

Exhibit E: Merit badges from my years as a Boy Scout. I think I was more interested in collecting the badges based on how cool they looked moreso that what they represented. Hence, the awesome snake head for my first, the “Rattlesnake Milking” merit badge. I also see a variety of other favorites such as: “FBI Skills”, “Lyre-playing” and “Electrical Tower Ascension”…oh yeah, and “Art”.

PS – I came close to becoming an Eagle Scout, but lost interest and moved onto other hobbies. Nonetheless, I’ll always have the fondest of memories from my years as a scout.

Picasso in Miami!

Exhibit F: I really did see Picasso in Miami. My middle-school art teacher, Tom Prestopnik (aka Mr. P), took a busload of kids. I don’t remember much of the exhibit except someone in our class grabbing one of Picasso’s original sculptures on display so that he could examine it closer. Mr. P had to talk very calmly to him as he instructed him to put it back. You know, its like the way someone speaks to their indoor cat when it runs out the front door and freezes, just seconds from bolting, in the front yard.

Muppets by Tony D., circa 1981ish

Exhibit G: One of my favorite Christmas prezzies from this time was a View-Master projector that Santa had gotten for us DiTerlizzi kids. The reels that came with it were all of The Muppet Show, the best variety show in the universe. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I could trace the projected images onto a piece of paper taped to the wall, where I would then meticulously color each one in watercolors…and I wonder where my stamina for my book projects comes from…

Next time: High School Junk!


Article in Latest Issue of HOME COMPANION

Mary Engelbreit’s HOME COMPANION Oct/Nov ‘08

The latest issue (Oct/Nov. 08) of Mary Engelbreit’s HOME COMPANION magazine has a really nice 3-page article on yours truly. There is even a excerpt of it on their site. WOW!


Detritus (part 1)

“My Book About Me” by Dr. Seuss

We’ve been staying in Florida for a spell so I can catch my breath from the first leg of the tour – which was AWESOME btw, thanks to all who came out!

While here, I promised myself I would begin a project that has sat in the back of my mind for years – and that was to empty out a storage unit that I have had for over 20 years(!)

You read that right. You see, I created so much art in high school and college that I just couldn’t take it around with me as I moved from place to place. What I should have done was weed it and throw most of it out along the way. But, being the pack-rat that I am, I simply put it in my parent’s storage space…which then became my own storage space, which then became a holding bin for my old art and also A LOT of toys (I binged out on collecting Star Wars toys when they re-launched them in the late 90’s).

So I started clearing out some of my stuff, and found two gems: boxes full of my past life in grade school. You know the box – it has report cards in it, embarrassing school photos, perhaps a ribbon you won in some contest. What was interesting is what I’d chosen to hold onto all these years…and how perhaps these bits of detritus have set me on the course that I now travel on.

“Doodum Bird” by Dr. S and Tony D

Exhibit A: Dr. S’s My Book about Me. According to the entries, I’ve surmised I was in 2nd grade when I filled this out (about 7 years old). On page 23, I wrote I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up, however my favorite subject in school was “art”, as you can see by this rendition of the “Doodum Bird”. Where did my inspiration for G is for One Gzonk come from?

“Rabbit” by (a young) Tony D

Exhibit B: Speaking of art, I am often asked about books I loved as a kid. If this drawing in the front of my dilapidated copy of Winnie-the-Pooh doesn’t show the love, I don’t know what will. Interesting that I drew Rabbit of all the characters – I wonder if I associated with him the most? Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE Pooh, but as a kid, I always thought he was a little lazy.

Old books

Exhibit C: Here is that copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, along with The Great Brain, and a couple of other long-forgotten favorites. I’d like to think that How to Master the Video Games has done me good in life. If you can stay cool enough to zap the head of a fast-speeding centipede as it descends towards your shooter, you can handle any ridiculous deadline as it barrels closer.

“Godzilla” by (a young) Tony D

Exhibit D: The final bit of artifact from my elementary school years would be this poem, Godzilla, done in Mrs. Folsom’s 3rd grade class. Thank God she had the foresight to laminate it, keeping it perfectly preserved in groovy 1976 goodness. I am not sure why the mastodont’s face is pink – I think it was embarrassed.

Next time: Middle school junk!


Diversion #2 (A Darker Diversion)

My artistic summer diversions continue with a nod towards the classics, Puffin Classics to be exact.

Peter Pan

I was very familiar with these books, having read many of these stories as a kid. The publisher has re-launched the series with a whole new look, and I was absolutely thrilled when I was asked if I could write a forward to Peter Pan (with a cover by one of my favorite living British illustrators, Chris Riddell!)

My old Spiderwick cohort, Holly, was also asked to write an introduction. She will be adding her thoughts to the Bram Stoker classic, Dracula. I was then doubly thrilled when asked if I could render the cover image for this rendition. All those years of illustrating for White Wolf Games is paying off – Woo!

I really like the strong design of the series relaunch, and couldn’t wait to explore within the boundaries they set for the line. Most seemed to be iconic, simple, images rendered in 2 or 3 colors…so what do I draw for the fiendish Count Dracula?

Immediately, I thought of artists I would have loved to have seen illustrate this story: Aubrey Beardsley, Kay Nielsen, and Harry Clarke – those wonderful, wistful, (and oft-times) wicked draftsmen of old. So I began looking at some of their work for inspiration.

Vlad the Impaler

I also did a little research into the physical look of Dracula as well. Though Stoker never confirmed it, many believe his inspiration came from a real person, a Romanian prince named Vlad Dracula, or “Vlad the Impaler” for his notoriously cruel punishments during his reign.

I took the image of Vlad and started playing around with it. If I were to be illustrating the entire book, I would have spent a lot time designing the character, but given its limited use, I instead focused on variations of a theme – which were (hopefully) enticing portraits of Count D.

“Dracula” sketch 1

This first sketch is literally mimicking what the publisher had done thus far. It certainly got the point across, and (as the art director indicated) would be the safest route to go. You’ll note the large pointed front teeth as well as the elongated canines. As I researched vampire bats, I realized their biting teeth are in the front as well as the fangs we often imagine when thinking of Dracula…man, if only Arthur Spiderwick had recorded a vampire in his guide…

“Dracula” sketch 2

Sketch 2 shows Count D with a victim. I wanted to indicate the tell-tale signs of the vampire bite, and have Dracula slipping off into the shadows. I was jazzed about the contrast of his dark lines with the woman’s thin outline. In fact, this sketch is actually the result of several incarnations where the placement of the victim was explored and the heaviness of the shadow tweaked.

“Dracula” sketch 3

The third sketch was a narrative showing the connection between Count D and Mina. I didn’t think the publisher would go for it, but I was intrigued by the idea of a romantic image (however dark) nonetheless.

“Dracula” sketch 4

For the instantly recognizable reaction we wanted for this cover. I returned to the first sketch and pulled out a but showing more formal profile of Dracula. I think I was just so inspired by the old portrait of Vlad…so I gently played with some Art Noveau-ish lines and really tried to use the second color of red in an interesting way.

“Dracula” sketch 4 variation

In fact, I even tried a red sky, just to see how it would look – but it was a little too much red for my taste.

Below is the final inked image. All the sketches were simply done in pencil, then scanned into Photoshop, where the solid colors were added. Here, for the final, I inked it in my usual tools (black FW ink, Hunts 102 nib on Strathmore plate bristol) and completed the final in the computer.

“Dracula” final ink

…and here’s the final jacket from the publisher.

Puffin Classics: “Dracula”