The Works, Ohio

Basic RGBLarry Gets Lost is part of “Story Tellers, the Art of the Story Book” a show currently running at the Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology, ”The Works” Gallery.

The building has a recognizable red brick facade based on its previous location in an old factory. They asked me to design one of the posters for the show so I incorporated the facade as a bookend. behind it I stacked some books that were important to me as a child (and happened to still be on my bookshelf). The books are The Story of Ferdinand (illustrated by the incomparable Robert Lawson), The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz illustrated by W. W. Denslow.

109292Here is the illustration in the finished poster.

John Skewes Story Tellers Poster

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Rocketboy Takes Flight at Last

coverYears ago, while still working at Disney, Michael Mullin and I collaborated on an idea for an animated TV show. Neither of us had worked in television animation before. After several months of feverish late night work we had produced an intensively illustrated, full color, highly polished, 15-page booklet (including a foldout!), known in TV speak as a “show bible”: character bios, storyboard sequences, background designs, character poses and sample scripts. Then we showed it to the networks.

After two or three meetings in which very junior production assistants blankly told us it didn’t seem to be precisely identical to everything else they were doing that season we realized that all those months of work had resulted in exactly zero. Although one of the companies we pitched later did a strikingly similar show called “Atomic Betty.” A knock-off? I can’t say for sure. Judge for yourself. Both concepts are retro pastiches so true provenance is murky at best.

It was after this experience that I realized if I’d just done a children’s book instead there might be a potential audience of more than two or three production assistants. At least that insight proved valuable.

But now, thanks to Michael’s Gemiknight Press, Rocketboy has been rescued from obscurity. The first Rocketboy novel for middle grade readers (ages 7-10 basically), Rocketboy: the Return of Dr. Megaton, is now available. It is a prose novel with art pulled from our ill-fated TV pitch and a new cover illustration.

Enter to win a giveaway of Rocketboy: the Return of Dr. Megaton at Goodreads.

Below are some of the pages from the TV show that never was.

Untitled-1RB’s origin: a nerdy schoolboy becomes an intergalactic superhero by mistake.

Untitled-2His robot friends Snipe and Twidget’s names come from unofficial terms for mechanics and technicians, respectively, in the US Navy. Hayley Comet is RB’s alien mentor (and crush). Dr. Megaton is the resident evil genius bent on galactic domination.Untitled-3RB’s two worlds. His secret hero hideout, the Pad, hidden in an abandoned toy factory. And school, where he’s seen as a bit less than a hero.

You can catch a brief glimpse of Rocketboy in flight on coming-soon website. Or buy the book!


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Book Signings in Portland This Saturday


For the release of Portland ABC I’ll be doing two signings in Portland this Saturday. I will also be signing Larry Gets Lost in Portland and Larry Loves Portland! Bring your already-read Larry books and I’ll sign those too. A drawing demonstration and free Larry sketches.

Powell’s Books:  Saturday, June 14th at 11:00am in The 3rd floor Pearl Room, 1005 W Burnside St.

Green Bean Books: Saturday, June 14th at 2:00pm, 1600 NE Alberta St.


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Larry Loves SF! Wins SF Book Fest Award

LLSFcovLarry Loves San Francisco!, one the first of our Larry board books for young readers, has won Best Children’s Book at the San Francisco Book Festival. On behalf of everyone at Sasquatch Books I want to thank the Festival for this honor.

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Under the Sea

Between Elliott the Otter and Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea I haven’t spent so much time under water since my days on a navy submarine. I just delivered final art for Larry so here are a couple of teasers.

The story begins with a day at the beach…

2_3Then, predictably, Larry gets lost and begins to explore the ocean. Even though the book is a general introduction to the ocean environments, this scene is based on the Pacific Coast. All these fish are from sketches I did at the big tank at the Seattle Aquarium where I’ve been a fixture lately.

8_9_1He encounters a deep sea expedition and stows away on a bathyscaphe.



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The Blue Dart and the 8th Dwarf

imageThe following is from my forward for the comic book 8, The Untold Story (available for purchase),an original comic written by Larry co-author Michael Mullin and drawn by me.

Comic books captured me at an early age. My father passed down to me his golden treasure chest toy box. How could anyone resist the enticing contents of such a glorious vessel? It contained 1950s-era Dell, Disney, and –best of all– DC superhero comics. I read and re-read those comics, significantly reducing their resale value with each grubby interaction. I learned to draw by copying them and probably learned to read from them.

Soon I was creating my own superheroes. The earliest (age 9) was the mysterious Blue Dart. Now you might be thinking that he sounds a little like Green Arrow but let me disabuse you of that notion right now. Green Arrow uses trick arrows, whereas Blue Dart uses trick darts. And green is a secondary color while blue is primary. I hope that’s been laid that to rest.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to draw a lot of things but somehow never got back to comics. So I want to thank Mike Mullin for the chance to work on this. I have so much more respect for the pros that produce books like these month after month. Especially those team books with dozens of characters like Justice League and Avengers. I mean, EIGHT dwarfs? What, seven weren’t enough? You only need three, max. One tall, one fat, one short, like the Chipmunks. Bam.

bluedart1P.S. I can’t help but notice that, despite the originality of a character that uses trick darts, the Blue Dart uses no darts in this story and he barely appears. I’m sure the scene of him holding onto the cables was supposed to be the big action sequence, but I spent so much time setting up the conflict that he got crowded out of his own story. (I also wonder if I harbor subconscious hostility toward my brother?)

And here are some pages from my second attempt at a comic book, 8, The Untold Story.


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Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea

Seacov1Hot on the tail of Elliott the Otter I’m pleased to announce the latest Larry book, Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea.

Between these two books I’ve been a fixture at the #SeattleAquarium doing research. Below are some of fish portraits I used for the book (the perch made it on the cover!) as well as some otter sketches. Even though the art on Elliott is finished, it’s hard to resist spending some time at the sea otter pool. It’s always good for a laugh. Don’t miss feeding time if you visit.

fish otters


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