Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NEW Year, NEW Stuff, NEW Books!

www.loritaylorart.com 2014
Somewhere between holidays,and snow days I have had time to work on new book projects of the GRAPHIC nature. Not graphic as in "wait a minute Lori you're a children's author!", no, graphic as in ART, more ART and lots more ART! 

My last post dealt with new characters for a new story-line. And now here I am putting together COMIC BOOKS! In the last few years graphic novels and comics have been hitting the educational scene and I am so there! 

Befuddled "Crazy-Cat"
I have been crazy researching on how comics are a great way to TEACH! My personal teaching favorite is the comic character hero, Max Axiom. Max teaches chemistry, ecology and biology. Yes, comics teach and entertain. And yes, comics are fun and full of color. More of my favorites rich in content Thoreau's Walden graphic novel and Mouse Guard, Owly, and for funny fun Lunch Lady and the Magic Pickle.

"Tricky-Track Rabbit" the trickster 
And yet comics teach everything from science to history, math, poetry and more. Graphics--art--is a wonderful way to connect to kids--especially boys. The pictures break up the text and will get hesitant readers to read. And enjoy it--which is important with the lack of readers we keep hearing about.
"Ol-Man-Ramshackle" (actually Tricky-Track Rabbit in disguise)
Graphic novels and comic art is another way to tell a story, visually as well as literally. And I do love a good story. Pictures can say way more than words and convey emotion and evoke emotion. And humor is a good way to teach, part of the reason that I have always been interested in Native American legends, myths, and fables. Legends and fables are a fun way to get good ideas across using animals. 

(I found a young man in Ann Arbor sporting a frock like this, without the burs.)
So these are a few pages from my comic Crazy-Cat, Don't Chase That Rabbit!, that I hope to have published this summer. Crazy-cat finds out the hard way that his obsessive hunt for the trickster rabbit, Tricky-Track, causes him to miss out on life and thereby loses a part of himself--his beloved tail. This is a fave tale of mine I read many years ago. Not only are most traditional Native American tales entertaining, but they teach behavior and responsibility. How to be or not to be. Something else kids and adults need.

(I enjoy adding Arthur Rackham-ish trees that give clues...)
With this story I switched up the political views of the day to make the story more kid friendly. I came up with my own descriptive names instead of any one Native American tribal name for the characters. I had fun with a sing-song style of language here, too. And like my Holly Wild books, I give a bit of natural history, talk about predators and animal adaptations and included games and activities at the end. 
New year, new works, new fun! NEW STUFF!



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Snow Days, Art Days: Building NEW Characters!





The winter months are my creative months. I hibernate and ideas come to light and I work on them. I sketch them and begin building a world and story. And so the story begins from my memory and rabbit raising experiences of over 14 years ago. 

This is Ooglie Haargaard. He is a new character and new protagonist, rabbit hero for a new series I am working on. Made of Sculpley polymer clay, wrapped wire, and beaver and muskrat fur. He wears and old shirt of mine, a leather bag, and weasel jaw necklace and carries an actual beaver chew walking stick.

I decided I wanted to write about this rabbit's struggle. And it was for him from the get go, which is perfect fodder for a story. His story was a life and death struggle to live and then to continue to live. 

We or rather I, had raised pets rabbits for close to seven years. So I had a lot to work with. I sketched and drew my struggling hero first and then last weekend I created him from clay and wire. I glued on hair bits (hare bits, heh-heh) and gave Ooglie (his first name) a mo-hawk hairdo. This sparked creative license as the real rabbit had lost his hair and I thought this would work well in the story. So I gave him patchy fur and he wears clothes because, well, we dressed the real rabbit, Justin Thyme (Just in time :) in clothes to keep him warm when he lost his fur (he did get better).


I recycled materials that I had saved and glued clothing on the maquette, because, yes, I  HATE sewing. Extra Heavy Gel Medium works for what I need this guy for. While he was drying I sat down and recalled the place where we raised our rabbits. Goodrich. I had lived in Goodrich for 15 years so knew the area wildlife and habitats well. From memory I sketched our house, the yard, behind the yard and beyond.

And a story was born.

Now I needed a villain. I made a crow that same day and put him aside. Crow Boss, not a very strong bad guy--more of a trickster type, but a persuasive fellow who leads his crow bunch, Buzz, Burr, and Bob. I let that incubate this past week as I wrote more. 

Now I really despise making predators the bad guy. They do what they do to keep balance. But to another mammal or herp perspective, they are the enemy. So I came u with Danger the Hawk, and Haunt the Great Horned Owl. Still, they weren't really the villain I was looking for.

Then it hit me as I remembered all of the wildlife in the near woods and the most shocking find I had made in Goodrich. A wild boar! And boars are pretty bad dudes and do a bunch of damage.

The day I came across this wild find in Goodrich I was astounded--not what you are expecting to be on a bike path. Someone's car had either hit the boar or someone shot the animal because it died in a small field just off the dirt road. Nonetheless, here lie a wild dead pig that I almost ran over with my bike. As I was investigating the crime scene, a stout, striped critter ran through the grasses pell mell. Now having worked on a pig educational exhibit for the Metropark's Wolcott Farm Museum, I knew that young wild pigs were striped and figured that the young was still out and about. Then I started putting clues together remembered the wallow I had stumbled upon in the woods behind the house earlier that spring as I watched a hawk and her nest in the woods. At the time, I figured deer lived there with all of the tracks I found, and I was more focused on the hawk and the one million swarming mosquitos so left the woods. Then stories of torn and shredded gardens ans sightings came out. Here lie the culprit.


So yesterday, another snowy creative day, I created Baron von Pighoofen! or Baron BoarRegard. Here he is in the building process. I never really know how to start a sculpture, so I began with this big pig's pigginess. His royal snout! Pretty soon I had the head and hooves baking in the oven and ran in search of a boar bod. I repurposed a porcupine puppet (we have two) so the porky became a porker! I glued on hair and cut off hair and so my villain was born.

I now have begun writing the plot and putting together ingredients for the story. I have a world, strong good and bad characters and extras to add in as I go along.

By building the clay and wire critters, it helped me get into the their brain and how they would act and be.

My rabbit hero's name, Ooglie Haargaard, came to me in a dream. I woke in the middle of the night to write down with the name, Ooglie Haargaard. before I knew who he was or would be!
It wasn't until the next day did I decide he would be a rabbit.

I am excited to see where this tale and series will go. It is about released and escaped pets and wildlife living and struggling together in the big, dangerous suburban world. Each trying to survive. And it all began with a dream and clay.