When Leo "awesome illustrator" Espinosa posts that his son digs my drawings for the TWTrio books, it really makes my day. But I have to admit it makes me a bit nervous.
I know when I was a kid, I used to pore over certain illustrated books and comics, wondering how they were done and trying to copy them. Tintin (Herge), Wizard of Oz (John R. Neill), Tolkein, >eh-hem< Crumb and Shelton - I'd notice the smallest nuance and I'd absorb it like a dried up little sponge.
Now that I make a living drawing pictures - and a chunk of that from drawing pictures for kids - it's a bit more intense being on the other side of it. For instance, I recently got a letter from a girl in Pennsylvania that asked me, "Why are Sam's eyes green in this one book and blue in this other book?". Or that little guy Angus Green, from Tim C's pictures, asking me recently why one of my characters looks exactly like General Alcazar. Or Nico (Marcos Sorenson and Isabel Samaras' kid) asking, "Why are their eyebrows polka-dotted?".
It's one thing to do an aesthetic, conceptual illustration for a magazine that's gone in a few days, or a high falutin' design piece for an ad or something, but another to draw a character that some youngster is actually LOOKING at and THINKING about. I don't think people who read magazines or look at advertisements really do that - just a hunch.
With a kid's book, I don't think you can get away with it - whatever you may try and get away with in a grown up context.
Anyway, I know that either myself or the author has done something right when I receive letters of appreciation. Actually, even better than the letters often are the accompanying drawings, often somehow inspired by the book.
Here are a few of them - all far better, of course, than the ones I did.
* I'm not posting the recent letter I got from somewhere in Texas that although written in child-like script was a long winded biblical assault on my drawings, and a futile attempt at purging my sins and bringing me into the light of Christ.