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April 3, 2014

Middle School: Ultimate Showdown

Guess what? I illustrated a chapter book!  It came out this week and it's called Middle School: Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson and Julia Bergen.

This is book five of the Middle School series, starring Rafe and Georgia Katchadorian.  The series is in a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" style, where the first-person narrator is also supposed to be making the drawings in the book.  In reality, Rafe's drawings are illustrated by Laura Park and Georgia's drawings are illustrated by Neil Swaab.

Well, the series is pretty popular, so Laura was busy drawing the next Rafe book and Neil was busy drawing the next Georgia book, so I was hired to draw a crossover book with both of the sibling characters!  This meant that I had to carefully match both Laura and Neil's drawing and lettering styles for alternating chapters.  Luckily, I was able to talk to both Neil and Laura to get the inside scoop on which drawing tools they use and what size they draw, etc. etc.

Here's an example of me drawing like Laura/Rafe (click to see bigger):

And here's an example of me drawing like Neil/Georgia (click to see bigger):

This was by far the biggest illustration project I have ever taken on.  There were over 200 illustrations and I only had four months to draw them all.  Pretty much everything else I was working on had to be put on hold from July 15th-November 15th of last year.  Here is my chart for this project - the line on the left was for pencils, the line on the right was inks and the straight blue line is the goal.  This really helped me stay on target and made it possible for me to hit the deadline exactly on the nose.

Tonight I went down to my local bookstore (Books Inc. in Alameda!) to pick up a copy in person.  I have made a lot of books but this is the first time I could just walk into a bookstore and it was there on the shelf.  Exciting!

It was also a pretty good feeling, seeing my name on the title page.  Wahoo!  I'm hoping this will be the first of many books that I illustrate.

Anyway, this book is everywhere, so look for it at your local bookstore!  It's a really fun series - I would have read these books like crazy when I was a kid.  It's amazing to think that there are probably kids all over the place reading it right now!