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Never Abandon Imagination

Welcome to the fantastical world of the award-winning, bestselling author and illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi.
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STAR WARS

Tony retells George Lucas' classic film trilogy with artwork by Academy award-winning artist, Ralph McQuarrie.
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The Battle for WondLa

Eva Nine's finale in the WondLa trilogy is now available in bookstores!
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REALMS

This long-awaited collection of Tony's roleplaying game art will be in bookstores next June.
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The Spiderwick Chronicles

Celebrate a decade of Spiderwick stories. Available in paperback for the first time!
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The Spider & The Fly

The Caldecott-winning picture book celebrates an anniversary with a new jacket and poster.
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Kenny & the dragon

Tony's award-winning chapter book is now available in paperback.
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Search for WondLa

Part fairy tale, part sci-fi, this lavishly illustrated bestseller is now available in paperback.
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Spiderwick Special Edition

The feature film based on the book series is now available in a Special Edition Blu-ray.
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Tony’s BlogLatest Posts

6

We Don't Make Fuzzy-Bunny Books (part 2)

Before I post more sketches of the characters and world I created for Kenny and the Dragon, I thought I would share some of the inspirational art that I looked at while writing the story.

Beatrix Potter, 1922

I started with the best known rabbit artist of all time, Beatrix Potter. Her technical skill and eye for detail in her numerous nature studies made her a master of creating anthropomorphic animal characters. The above shows her knack of placing these characters in an inviting environment as well. Look for Beatrix Potter Artist & Illustrator, by Anne Stevenson Hobbs, for more of her wonderful watercolors.

Br’er Rabbit bt A.B. Frost

Around the turn-of-the-century, when Beatrix was becoming huge in England and abroad, the American artist Arthur B. Frost was dazzling many with scratchy frenetic pen line. Probably best known for his work on the Uncle Remus books, he also illustrated books for such greats as Lewis Carroll. Though he gained a lot of accolades for his later paintings of hunters and fisherman, I prefer the inky gesture of his book illustration. The above watercolor is from The A.B. Frost Book.

Sullivant for LIFE magazine (1900-1919)

DETAIL - Sullivant for LIFE magazine (1900-1919)

Alongside Frost was an editorial illustrator named Thomas Sullivant whose work is bit harder to find (since he worked primarily for magazines and newspapers), but Jim Vadebonceur has featured Sullivant’s deft line-work in his many issues of the magazine, Images.

Br’er Rabbit by Harry Rountree

Over in New Zealand, Harry Rountree was creating fully animated scenes for children’s books and advertisements with his line and watercolor work. His rendition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, done in 1908, is one of the best. The above is from his version of Uncle Remus.

“Gooseberry-pie” by Wallace Tripp

Moving forward in time, I looked at Garth Williams (as Jim G. mentioned) and Lillian Hoban (I mentioned Emmet Otter back when I was discussing dragon designs). But Wallace Tripp’s work really had a lively quality which reminded me greatly of Garth’s work. The above is from 1976’s Granfa’s Grig Had a Pig.

..so there are some of the main influences in the character designing that went on in Kenny. I hope this was an introduction to some lesser-known illustrators who will delight you as they did me. Track some of their work down, you won’t be dissapointed.

4

Friday Fan Art- Triple Hogsqueal!

We got a lot of great art this week, but what stood out most were these three drawings of my favorite hob by Caleb, Christopher, and David. We thought it would be fun to see them up together, it’s always interesting to see different peoples take on the same character. Thanks to everyone who sent something in- keep on drawing!

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And for fun, here is one of the first drawings I did of Hoggy, including his heretofore unknown first name, Horace:

Early scribble of Hogsqueal

10

We Don't Make Fuzzy-Bunny Books (part 1)

“Kenny and the Dragon” cover

I am in the thick of finishing the 30+ illustrations for my upcoming chapter book, Kenny and the Dragon. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is inspired from Kenneth Grahame’s short story, The Reluctant Dragon, from his book Dream Days.

Originally, my idea was to set this story in the 1950’s -very Americana, very Norman Rockwell. But there were some plot issues that I just could not seem to resolve, so I wandered creatively for a bit. Then my agent, Ellen, proposed a horrible idea over dinner one night while up on the set for Spiderwick:

Tony: “So this story is one of my favorites, and it was written by the guy who wrote The Wind in the Willows.”

Ellen: “Wind in the Willows? Why don’t you make the characters all animals like in that story?”

Tony: “Animals? I don’t know…I don’t make ‘Fuzzy-Bunny’ books”

The term is actually one my editor, Kevin, and I often use. It refers to the idea that there are plenty of insipid, saccharine-y books out there for children, and that all the books we create will have some kernel of truth, of realism, that is planted in their heart.

First drawing I did of Kenny

But then, I DO LOVE Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, Redwall, Beatrix Potter books, heck, even Aesop’s fables. Perhaps (like the dragon design situation I faced early on), it was less about the physical skin the character wore, and more about what was inside.

Second drawing I did of a bookish Kenny

And, to my knowledge, I haven’t seen a dragon book with talking animals. Perhaps there was something there after all…

3

Friday Fan Art!

“Huper-Snout Boggart” by Christopher

It’s one thing to draw things we know, and quite another to draw things no one has ever seen before. This is especially true in the world of fantastical art: some artists stick to the standard fare of dragons and willow-limbed elves, and others venture far afield, creating entirely new creatures for unusual worlds.

“Stray Stump” by Christopher

I’ve always seen myself as having a foot in either camp. I draw on a lot of traditional mythological imagery, but I always look at it with a fresh eye for invention. If I’m not drawing a newly invented creature I try to add something exciting to the design. Sometimes I am inspired by the natural world, and sometimes by pure fancy. This is a skill that has taken me years to begin to understand, yet it is one that I’ve seen in abundance from these two inspiring fans!

“Common Butterfly Boggart” by Christopher

Christopher, age 10, has created some wonderful faerie/insect-inspired creatures. I really love his sense of imagination, this is definitely the sort of thing I was drawing when I was his age…except I wasn’t as technically adept with the pencil as he is.

“The Thestequitrix” by Valkyrie, 11

Valkyrie (yes her real name – so cool!), age 11(!), has created another amazing creature, the Thestequitrix, and her drawings are so nicely done! She has a great sense of anatomy and gesture, and she’s even developed a great storyline and world to back up it all up.

“The Snovaglot” by Valkyrie, 11

These two have really inspired me a lot, and I’m so glad that my work is perhaps helping inspire the next generation of great creators.

4

Home again, home again…

Partaying S’WICK Style

We just returned home from Florida where I was recuperating from a whirlwind publicity tour in the United Kingdom. Hol and I crammed the week-plus trip with book signings and other Spiderwick media events in England and Ireland.

I have to say, the UK is truly like a second home to me. The food is great, the folks I met were jovial and warm, and of course the literary and artistic heritage is the fiber that I am woven from.

Outside the BBC offices, Leeds

Highlights from the tour included spending an afternoon at antique bookstores and at the Chris Beetles gallery pouring over the original Arthur Rackham, Ernest Shepard, and Sir John Tenniel art.

Speaking of the great Alice illustrator, we taped a show for the BBC called Blue Peter in the London cemetery, and I happened upon the tomb of the family Dalziel. The Dalziel brothers, Edward and George, were famous Victorian engravers who created the woodcuts for Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was really neat to be so close to these people whose work had influenced me so much.

Hol & I at the London cemetary

Later on, in the town of Leeds, we did a presentation for a group of kids at the Leeds Art Gallery where they pulled out of storage, JUST FOR US, one of Atkinson Grimshaw’s “Iris” paintings! This famous Victorian fairy painter has always entranced me with his moody lighting and simple composition. To see the original in person was just awesome.

Posing with “Iris”

…sorry the picture blows. Between the lacquer on his painting and the layers of glass over it, I just couldn’t get a decent shot. Here’s a detail of the head though:

Detail of “Iris”

I had a blast drawing and cracking jokes for the kids, and it seems like the film is being well received as well (it was being released while we were there). I really am looking forward to going back, and bringing Sophia along to learn about the wonder and beauty of my favorite part of the world.

9

Friday Fan Art!

Wow! Obviously with the onslaught of Spiderwick-edness that has been barraging everybody over the past month, I have received buckets of fan-mail with all sorts of well-wishes and amazing stories of how my work has affected others. I am so touched – what a validation.

I’ve been so busy cranking out the final edits on my upcoming chapter book, Kenny and the Dragon, that I have been holding onto a few stars in the “Friday Fan Art” category – but this one needed to be shared with you all immediately as the timing is perfect.

Hoggy & Thimbletack by Joe

I’ve been chatting with Joe for years now, encouraging his imagination and obvious talent…which, honestly, he already has plenty of. I do this, because folks like William Stout, Jim Gurney and Brian Froud encouraged me along my way – and I never forgot how much a simple “follow your dreams” note from someone you look up to really keeps you going.

Along with his neato “Thank You” painting came this REALLY cool book on gadgets.

Cool Book o’Gadgets!

THANK YOU Joe, for the awesome image! Now finish your dream book, and get a website up, with all the cool art that you’ve been sending me, so everyone else can see it.

PS – Send fan art/money/babysitters/toys/books to:
Tony DiTerlizzi
PO Box #442
Amherst, MA 01004

UPDATE: With a tip-off from his wife, here is Joe’s other work!

4

Friday fan art

We got some more excellent Spiderwick an art this week, check it out! Thanks to Annie, Anna, Andrew and Marisa!

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13

I'm Lovin' It!

I see McDonald’s has The Spiderwick Chronicles Happy-Meals now available. If I didn’t think the film, toys, cereal, and video game were surreal enough, this definitely sent me to dreamland.

Spiderwick Happy Meal Box

My parents took us kids to get fast food every once and awhile. I grew up on Burger Chef and their equivalent to a Happy Meal, called the Fun Meal – which I loved. So I know the kid-version of me would so be into getting a “Common Ground Goblin” with my cheeseburger…or feeding Hogsqueal some fries.

Spiderwick Happy Meals Toys