Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hocus Pocus - The Rise of Billy Butcherson

Well, kids, here it is!! My official Halloween illustration!

I decided to go with one of the all time best Halloween movies. HOCUS POCUS!! This movie was Halloween for me as a kid and I know it's the same for many others. I'd drawn a Hocus Pocus pic before but I was never completely happy with it and I REALLY wanted to get Billy Burcherson in there.

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Halloween!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Children's Books?

When people find out that I write and draw for children I’m inevitably asked, “Why?”

 Turns out being a children’s illustrator can be a bit awkward in social situations. It usually goes a bit like this, “Kevin, this is Mr. Whatshisface. He constructs airplanes for the army and is the Head Surgeon at Very Important Medical Office. Mr. Whatshisface, this is Kevin. He draws the darlingest things for little kiddies.”  

Mr. Whatshisface will concede that there is a place in the world for what I do and he maybe recalls being a child once upon a time. He’ll point out that there are greater artistic opportunities that he’s sure I’m in pursuit of and entertaining children is merely a stepping-stone. Certainly, I long to fill galleries with opulent pieces of art that show my deep inner turmoil or make a political statement. After all, I’m very talented, he’ll say, and I shouldn’t waste my time drawing Fart Monsters. He’ll then politely remove himself from the conversation in search of someone of more interest to him.  

The truth is, I love drawing and writing for children, and here’s why: Magic, Nostalgia and Laughter.  

Let me explain.  

Books are magic. Children’s books especially. Think of the book WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak. When you go back and look at it, there’s very little to it. Very few words and it barely gets into the inner workings of its fantastic world or even the Wild Things themselves. But that’s where its beauty and its magic lies. To a child that openness allows their imagination to take hold and build all of that themselves. And when that child closes that book he/she can still have endless adventures of their own in the land of the Wild Things.

If you were lucky, that book was a part of your childhood in a big way. You remember being fascinated by those creatures and begging your mom or dad to make you a Max outfit so you can run wild tell them you’ll EAT THEM UP!! You also probably remember moving out of your parent’s house and, while going through your old things, you found that book and your face lit up as all the memories rushed over you. And now, as an adult, you probably read that book to your kids and watch with unutterable joy as they play the same games and you shudder dramatically when they tell you that they’ll EAT YOU UP!!

That nostalgia carried for generations and will continue to do so for many more. And when we’re old and our minds start to go backwards we can take comfort in the fact that the childhood memories of having a wild rompus with the great Wild Things will be waiting for us.

I want to give that to children. I want to give them worlds to play in and characters who will stand by their side through all their adventures. But most of all, I want to give them laughter.

Children know how to laugh like no one else. They laugh unabashedly at anything and everything they find funny. As children we see the world through very clear windows. Granted, they’re small windows but they’re unobscured. As we get older and our view of the world gets larger, our parents, teachers and our own experiences take over our view. We’re told that this is funny and that is not. That it’s impolite to laugh when someone farts. But when you’re a child, none of that matters. If you walk into a room of businessmen and let loose a long, loud fart that sounds like a choking moose, you will be met with uncomfortable glances and looks of disgust. Perhaps one slightly enlightened individual will not be able to contain a snicker or a grin. But if you walk into a classroom or a playground filled with children and let that Fart Monster roar you will be met with an almost endless bombardment of laughter and joy. They will go home and tell their parents about the grown-up who farted so loudly that he came a foot off the ground!

Children find such joy in such simple things. Perhaps, I draw and write for children because I envy them of that quality and, having left the joyous life of childhood behind so long ago, I wish to recapture it as best I can by sharing in it with them. Or perhaps there’s some switch in my brain that never quite clicked on all the way, which leaves me regarding children in a much higher esteem than adults in most situations. Or perhaps I just deeply wish to be able to fart loudly in public areas and be able to laugh hysterically afterwards without being looked down upon for my obvious social retardation.

Either way, entertaining children through writing and drawing is where I intend to spend the majority of my time. I may never cure diseases or build complex machinery but when your children or grandchildren are running through the yard because they’re flying with witches under a full moon or are battling an ancient race of Fart Monsters commanded by the treacherous Queen Tootin-Often to ensure cleaner air to breathe for the whole world…. I did that.

And I'm damn proud of it.