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Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

JANUARY 27, 2017
This was an amazing opportunity. It just came in, another commission. The publisher chose me out of all the illustrators on the planet without knowing any of my shared history with Keith and his era. It was pure joy to work with Keith's sister, Kay Haring, and her loving manuscript. We worked closely with the Haring Foundation to showcase Keith's art, under the excellent guidence of Lucia Monfreid, editor, and with the deft art direction of Jasmin Rubero.
The task was to seamlessly combine my illustrations with Keith's drawings and paintings to tell his life story. It was tricky to showcase the art without cropping or retoucing anything. And we did the best we could respecting Keith's work. I got the advance copy last week and it came out magnificently.  Many, Many thanks to Dial Books for making this possible, and to my lovely agent, Linda Pratt
From Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House) :
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing:
This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith’s signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.
“Neubecker’s colorful illustrations capture the energy with which Keith [Haring] lived his life, and cleverly integrate some of the artist’s original works… Always upbeat, this story is a celebration of art and life.” — Booklist

“Neubecker neatly incorporates Haring’s real pieces into these zesty, bustling, digital-and-pencil illustrations…. Haring’s work pops; Neubecker’s compositions and enthusiastic crowd scenes do it wonderful credit.” — Kirkus

“An enlightening look at the merits of street art and how it allows those who may not ordinarily venture into a museum or gallery to experience and enjoy art….Children will relate to young Haring’s drive to pursue his calling despite naysayers.” —School Library Journal

“Cheerily energetic….Schools with “Picture Person” programs, as well as primary grades art teachers, will want to share this appealing title.” —BCCB
About Kay Haring:
Kay Haring is the younger sister of Keith Haring. She is a wife, mother, writer, hiker, lover of art and the wonders of nature. Kay has spent many years both working and volunteering for nonprofits, in management and fundraising capacities.  
Published by Dial Books
Feb 14, 2017 | 40 Pages | 9 x 11 | 5-8 years | ISBN 9780525428190

I would have blown out the chalk drawing more, but it wasn't my call. In the book,it draws you in, and being somewhat faint, adds an intimacy.

Kay got a Jean- Michael Basquiat crown and I had a Kenny Sharf from my street art collection- I prowled the Village with my Nikon and Kodachrome in the 80's & 90's. I added some of my own stuff on the lamp post from that period, and a couple pics of my rocker friend Holly Beth Vincent of Holly & the Italians. A few references to CB's and some tags, and there you go.

This looks better in the book- color's better. We had to work with Kay's photos, in spite of the million dollar budgets that children's books have, we couldn't afford to buy rights to any photo of Keith's murals we wanted. The art was different as the Foundation owns the rights- so I designed around what we had and Jasmin and I restored the shot as best we could. I think it came out great. I once worked with J.C. Suares at Push Pin Press. We were doing a trade paperback called "The Great Disasters". I said to J.C." But J.C., the Hindenburg crash only killed 26 people- the Yellow River floods of the 1920's killed hundreds of thousands..." J.C. replied: "A great disaster is whatever we have great pictures of." Just so.

I wasn't at this opening, but everybody heard about it. I added a few people that I like, Klaus Nomi, Ann Magnuson (who I remain desperately in love with-I'll never forget the Lower East Side Ladies Auxiliary from Club '57...) There's Lou Reed and Jeni Muldaur, his bandmate. There's John Sex, Basquiat, Yoko, Grace Jones, and next to Andy, my dear friend Ronnie Cutrone, who worked as Andy's assistant for ten years and died too young. I kinda had to draw Shafrazi, Keith's dealer, although I never forgave him for vandalizing Guernica. Yeah, that Guernica.

What can I say. 80's hairstyles...

This was the only possible image for page 1

This is one of my Haring stats (as in photostat) When I was a kid working at the New York Times, the grownups were all on vacation, and another kid, Lisa Powers, had the art direction of the Op-Ed page for a week. A piece on The Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster came across her desk and I wanted to call Andy Warhol to illustrate it (hey, why not? it is the Times...) She called Keith instead. He came up with a beautiful set of nuclear themed drawings- something that he was very concerned about. At the Times, photostats were made and the originals returned. Later, the stats were discarded. I kept them. I shared these with the foundation, and the originals, sadly, are lost. I never knew Keith, but I saw him often, and in doing this book, I am absolutely amazed at the quality, breadth and depth of his output in only ten short years. What a treasure he left the world, I hope this book will introduce a whole new audience to it. That's it. I'll get in trouble with the publishers for posting too many spreads, but this is "to the trade", so there. The book comes out Valentine's Day, as a tribute to Keith (Kay's idea.) Robert Neubecker,Park City