Friday, January 14, 2011


Spoiler Alert! As you can see by the final panel of Big City Otto,
neither of the principle characters is knocked off in
Book One.
Not to say it isn't touch and go at times!

I coloured the last of eighty pages yesterday. That’s eleven months of steady work doing the final art, almost three years of planning, months of thumbnails and editing. Or, to put it in a more visual way…

Not that it’s all done. I have a cover still to work out, and a title page, and text and art have to be married in InDesign. Things need to be proofed and corrected. But as of today, the book, for all intents and purposes, is done.
Looking at the stack of boards that comprise the inked portion of a project this size, I find it’s a formidable pile of art. When I go to schools and speak to the kids, this is something I always do, show them the physical evidence, the stack of thumbnails, pencil roughs and final art that comprise this thing we call a book. Try to make it real for them. Because for a lot of kids, and adults, too, they’ve never really made that connection between the labour involved, the creation of art, and how that translates into a pile of paintings.
There will never be a coloured version of this book to show kids, at least not as finished art. And I think, as I now struggle to find the room in my ever dwindling studio for yet another stack of art, that a lot of young illustrators and those of my generation who have made the switch to digital don’t have to deal with this space issue. They also won’t have that stack of art to show aspiring artists, that opportunity to wow them with the sheer volume of what you have produced, and in a way, I think that’s too bad. In fact, as more and more books are delivered digitally, that physical manifestation of the artist’s work continues to dwindle. And I wonder, when there is no original art anymore, no books as we have known them, how will we continue to value something that has become so abstracted? But maybe I worry too much.
In the meantime, I’m going to revel in the pleasure of a job well done, and start to ruminate about Book 2 in the Otto and Crackers saga. And on the upside, as my sister in Saskatoon has helpfully suggested, “Esperan├ža will be glad to see the end of this project too so you don't have to make elephant jokes together all the time.” At least not for a while!

Available now while quantities last! Your very own Otto bookmark. Lovingly printed on Coated Two-side 90 lb. Cover Stock and accepted as legal tender in Pugganooga, this remarkable piece of memorabilia can be yours for only
$19.95 (+ shipping and handling) 

Offer not valid in Pugganooga.


  1. Hey Bill, congrats! I've wondered about the 'evidence' and 'final art' thing too - any time I have an image half hands-on, half digital, there's no finished art to lean on the book-case, to catch a glimpse of in passing and say to myself: well done! Some of my favourite pieces are just a bunch of 1010001010001111 on a disk somewhere and a postcard sample I come across occasionally. I assume the $19.95 bookmark is priced in Pugganooga $$?? Aino

  2. Ah, yes. At the standard exchange rate, of course.

  3. Fabulous work, Bill! I wish there were more hours in the day to keep up with all the amazing work you post! Cheers!
    Mrs. D.

  4. Thanks, Gianna. I have slowed down a bit lately (a lot) but hope to put something up shortly around book covers.