San Francisco ABC

Just finishing up San Francisco ABC. The cover is still in progress but here’s a peek at the interior pages in the meantime.

Because the ABC books are a more simple narrative than the Larry Gets Lost books, I like to play with the design in a bolder way. Every spread is an opportunity for a different poster-like graphic. With this book I tried to evoke the feel of vintage 2- or 3-color printing.





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Arya and the Hound Golden Book (MINOR SPOILERS, Game of Thrones Season 4)

arya_and_the_houndI’m obsessed with Game of Thrones and eagerly awaiting season 5. Here’s a Little Golden Book tribute to my favorite duo (and favorite scene). Since this is season 4 specific  I thought I’d better get it out before the new season starts.

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Clementine Wants to Know…

IMG_0380I’m pleased to announce an exciting new project I’ve been working on for the past year. It’s an interactive storybook app called Clementine Wants to Know… available now for iPad and iPhone (Android any day now). I’ve been working with the people at Puddle Tap and we plan to do a series of Clementine apps. For the first one we tackle the Big Question: Where do babies come from? (Warning: this tells the whole story of conception in medical detail with words and pictures. If you’re not sure where babies come from you’d better look through the app before showing it to your child!) Content was developed with sex education specialist Meg Hickling, RN.

clemClementine is a curious girl with a magical talking camera, Zoom Zoom. Using her camera she (and you, the viewer) can zoom in to a microscopic level, see through walls and inside a human.

momClementine’s mom is having a baby. In this scene Zoom Zoom can see inside her body and scroll through the 9 months of fetal development to watch the baby grow.

streetThis scene is the frantic drive to the hospital. I illustrated the elements on different layers so everything can whiz by just like the chase scenes in old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It’s been a blast to see the people at Puddle Tap animate my artwork, some of the best animation I’ve seen done specifically for an app.

babyAt the hospital you get to cut the umbilical cord. (Spoiler: It’s a boy!)


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Getting Lost with Larry

IMG 0117 225x300 Looking for Larry in Seattle

A really interesting blog post from a “road schooling” family that travels the U.S. continuously. They used Larry Gets Lost in Seattle as a guide when they visited Seattle. We don’t endorse Larry books for the purpose of navigation, unless you really do want top get lost.



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Story Tellers at The Works

image2Unfortunately I only have cell phone photos from the Story Tellers show at The Works Gallery in Newark, Ohio. The show was like a virtual reunion for me because so many people from my days at Disney Consumer Products were represented. (Show ends on October 11.)

image15A renown local illustrator of the early 1900s, Mary Sherwood Wright Jones, was represented. This rendering of a public execution caught my eye.

image9My old boss, George McClements.

image11Antoinette Portis (who hired me at Disney), author of the award-winning Not a Box, among other books. She shared a lot of interesting development art.

image14The terrific Tim Bowers, an Ohio native.

image8One of Carlo LoRaso amazing Disney bronzes. Carlo, aside from being another DCP alum, also curated the show.

image5image6Some of my art along with development and research.

image1This is a sketch I did for The Works’ fundraiser. It features a local Newark, OH landmark. The First National Bank has a carved face over the doorway that is actually a likeness of Civil War veteran and alleged arsonist who burned down the previous building at that location.

And what visit to Newark would be complete without a visit to the giant basket?



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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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