Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Some spots for a Teaching Tolerance Magazine article on the myth that school uniforms are good for kids and their school environment.

Monday, December 3, 2012


When I was a kid, one of our favorite parts of the holiday season was the advent calendar. Our calendar was a beautiful handmade out of felt one by my Aunt Kathy. It was a Christmas tree with numbered pockets below that contained felt ornaments that you would hang on the tree for each day. 

I was thinking about this and wanted to make one for Oskar and Teddy. But there is one problem, I can't sew. So instead I made one out of a small gift box from Urban Outfitters that I glued and taped match boxes inside to create little compartments.

Add some paint, and a trip to Five below to fill it with goodies and knick knacks and we are good to go. Mazel Tov!

Monday, November 26, 2012

PS 347 and the Woodsies

Last month I had the privilege of reading Bernard to the awesome kids at P.S. 347 which is a school for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired as well as children with Deaf or Hearing Impaired parents.
I was invited by the gracious Gary Wellbrook, teacher at P.S. 347, enthusiast of children's literature and unabashed Joseph Campbell fan. So right way we had two things in common. He posted a lot of nice things on his blog about me and other kids book authors and illustrators, you can check out at his blog here.

One thing that Gary zeroed in on is my love for the work of Margret and H. A. Rey. Curious George is a big influence and I was reminded of another big influence over the holiday that I had forgotten about.Anyone remember these guys? The Woodsies?

My cousin got these from "Santa" in the early 80's and I remember pretty much frothing at the mouth in envy. I had had forgotten about these guys but after seeing them, I realized how much they made an imprint on my little brain back then. These guys are ALWAYS Fuzzy and Hopeful!

Monday, November 5, 2012


In an affort to fight off cabin fever during the Frankenstorm, Oskar and I made these wallets out of painted paper and cellophane tape. 

He and Teddy have become big TMNT fans so he wanted a Raphael wallet, Teddy's Michaelangelo wallet is in the works and in between, I made a Nilson and Amelia wallet, just cause.
The happy Nilsson wallet, for when he's nice and full of cash. But when its empty you get this guy.
Fortunately in the middle  you have Amelia to remind you to not have a fit.

It's been fun to see the guys getting into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was a little old for the real explosion of the Turtles in the 90's but I did get into the B+W comics from the late 80's. I even got to meet Eastman and Laird at one point. It was extra cool that they were from New Hampshire close to where I grew up. And they inspired me to start a short lived (thankfully) rip-off of TMNT and Sergio Aragones Groo the Wanderer that I called, ahem... Sly the Slaying Samurai Snail.
As it happens, a few weeks ago at a Memorial Service for my Grandmother my Aunt gave me a package of old stuff I had sent my Grandmother over the years and it included the first 2 pager comic of of Sly. Here it is in all its ball pen, unoriginal glory.

YIKES! That is Terrible.
In hind site it seems pretty obvious that I would be obsessed with Monty Python's The Holy Grail within a year or so of making this drivel.

Friday, October 26, 2012

SOI 28

It's no secret that I love Richard Scarry. And when I was asked for a quote for the SOI Original Art Show that I was on the jury for, I gave them this.
And I had no idea that they were honoring Mr. Scarry with an Lifetime Achievement Award!
Getting to see some Original Art from "I'm a Bunny" was like seeing my own Shroud of Turin.
Amazing and delicate brush work! I just want to live inside Busytown, those characters just make me happy, they give me good memories of reading books at my Grandmother's house and also playing with Puzzletown (see pic below) at my cousin's house.

2 years ago I managed to get a couple of these sets off Ebay for Teddy and Oskar, ok I admit and for me too! So much fun but man they are pricey!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A piece for the new Oxford American Music Issue. Cleveland Crochet and the Hill-Billy Ramblers. 50's era cajun garage-billy rock and roll. Real swamp music. At first, I was trying to get these guys all in the jaws of a giant croc, but then I thought it would be great to have a band on a Croc/Swamp tour boat. Thanks to Oskar for picking out the orange.
These guys have like two songs but  Sugar Bee was a major regional hit and even cracked the Billboard top 100.
As usual for these kind of assignments, except for some weirdo-obsessive music blogs there are hardly any photographs or other evidence these guys existed. These are the two reference photos I had to work with.
Early promo shot of the band.
The bandleader, Cleveland Crochet.

I'm honestly not usually a fan of Cajun or Zydeco music, the insistent oompah beat grates on me after a while. But this early stuff when rock and country and R & B were a little less defined is very interesting. Think a white Little Richard backed with a lap steel, fiddle and an accordion and you got yourself some Hill Billy Rambling jam.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No Fits Nilson News

Received this comp up of the No Fits, Nilson! cover yesterday. Super excited to see this book come together. Also they asked me to give a story about my inspiration for the book in some form for the marketing team. So I sent this little comparsion chart.

The marketing team thought this was pretty funny and asked me to do a more kid friendly version for the catalogue. So I did this one.
The book won't be out until next June so it will be nice to see the catalogue when it comes out. And in case you aren't a Mighty Boosh fan, the "Jazz Trance" is a reference to this.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Well...Finally finished updating the new website for zohora.com. If I didn't, the Design Police would come and give me a ticket. Now just waiting for the servers/internets to do their thing and bring it live in the next 24 hours or hopefully less...

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Oskar doesn't really take naps anymore. But Teddy does, so now during "naptime" we do fun projects. Today was Old Wood Block sculpture day. And Oskar learned about Blue Cheese. He thinks Blue Cheese is about the funniest thing he's ever heard of.

Here he is hard at work, and its hard to tell from this picture but that "cheese shaped" wedge on the table is painted a light blue and that led to the discussion.

Monday, September 17, 2012


The Philly Inquirer moved their HQ to a new location, the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store building. In a nod to their new home they wanted an illustration for the Fall Arts Preview that felt like a department store from back in the day.
I'm super pleased with how this came out. It was a nice way to start a Sunday.
They were even kind enough to include a bio.
And all the elements were broken out into little headers for the different features.
Thanks to Sterling Chen and everyone else for a fine design job.
And they also had me create some online elements so you could "shop the store" online.
You can check that out here.


Teddy turned three last week. To celebrate we went to Franklin Square and rode a lion and this weekend we had a party in our backyard complete with a homemade Lion ball game.
It was made out of two lawn bags, one inverted, we cut a hole for the mouth and a little hole in the side on the bottom to retrieve the ping pong balls the kids threw in there. Also a brick to weight the whole thing.

                               But the real hit was the ninja cupcakes that Lydia made.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This is a cover job I did over the summer for Clarion Books. The cover sketch they picked was the one I hoped they would and remained unchanged with the exception of some color changes to the type.
This is the first YA cover I've done and when they sent me the MS I was hooked and read the whole thing overnight. I forgot how much fun the genre is, I enjoyed reading books like this when I was a little too young and I enjoyed it being a lot too old.

It's the story of a kid who is schizophrenic and stops taking his meds.
He hears voices but a new one has emerged, a girl. Just as a real girl at school also starts to talk to him. Fascinating story by Edward Averett, looking forward to seeing this in person. Special thanks to SD Kerry Martin.

Below are the other sketches I sent in. Including a softer color palette version of the one they did pick.

                          And Lastly, the one wraparound idea with a little surprise/teaser.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Nice review at MTV HIVE of the latest two LP covers I did for Cultures of Soul records. Flattering to be mentioned in the same breath as Mingering Mike. Stay tuned for a giveaway of these very same LP's. Go here to read the full review.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Dope Evans Pyramid tees from Cultures of Soul, super limited, get them here, while you can.


Summertime has come and gone, my oh my...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Oskar with Plane Design #1

We are deep into the dog days of summer here and Oskar and I are starting (and hopefully finishing) projects left and right. Some of them are picture books in a day and others are slightly more esoteric.
On Lydia's birthday we took a day trip to Lambertville without the little guys to sniff around some old junk and bookstores and Lydia found this great book of Paper airplanes.

Oskar with Plane Design #14

 It has designs for 20 planes that were winners in the first International Airplane Design competition. They are usually entered by engineers and aerodynamics types, often on graph or tracing paper. They are beautiful and some are quite intricate. Oskar and I are going to attempt to build everyone of them before summers end. We started with Plane #1 and Plane #14.

I will post more as we make them this week.


(LtoR Front row: OA Advisor Laurent Linn, Carson Ellis, Carin Berger, Leonard Marcus, OA Chair Sophie Blackall, and OA Assistant Chair Brian Floca
Back Row: Me, OA Advisor Marcia Leonard, Christy Ottaviano, Raul Colon, and Dan Santat)

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of joining ten other amazing children's book professionals at the Society of Illustrators in New York to form the jury for the 2012 Original Art Show in October. With 550 books submitted we had our work cut out.
Stacks of 25 books on each table. We voted from 10am after much coffee until 12:30 when the Society prepared a delicious lunch for us. It was interesting to have so many books to look at at once. After a while you could detect mini-trends and patterns emerge from the mass. At 1:30 we were back at until the final medal decisions were made at 6pm.  
I did some record shopping to wind down and saw my Evans Pyramid cover on the wall at Academy Records.

Then it was on to Greenpoint for a surprise 40th/moving to LA party for Grady McFerrin (See photo below when he was 35) with the rest of the current and former Pencil Factory crew.