Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blockheads...



If you’re ever in the Western Hemisphere you really should drop by Santa Rosa, California’s Schulz Museum.

I was lucky enough to have a chance to drop by the temple of all things Peanuts during my recent tour. The lovely, enthusiastic museum director Karen Johnson was quite generous with her time guiding me past oodles of incredible original strips, Charles Schulz’s drawing desk, work of other cartoonists, Snoopy’s doghouse wrapped by Schulz’s pal Cristo, even a real, live kite-eating tree.

And that was jus the public stuff currently on view.

Lunch was at Schulz’s ice-rink (a large affair which he built for the community years back) where we were joined by Jeanne Schulz (Schulz’s effervescent widow and prime mover behind the museum) and Creative Associate’s Paige Braddock and Justin Thompson. Three very cool things about Creative Associates (which deals with Peanuts licensing): 1) Their offices are in Schulz’s old studio. 2) The staff seems to be made up entirely of cartoonists. 3) The collection of original cartoons sent to Schulz by cartoonist fans, including a hand water-colored Calvin and Hobbes.

I even met Schulz’s son, the inspiration for Snoopy’s Joe Cool persona. He’d curated a cool show of Joe Cool sculptures fiddled with by local artists.





Charles Schulz’s pals all called him Sparky, a nickname based on an early cartoon strip character, Spark Plug. In all my years of near obsessive Peanuts fandom, I’d never felt that I could call my hero Sparky. But amongst all of these cool folks who worked with him day in and day out, the Sparkies started flying.

But it gets better…

After lunch, I dropped by the archives. My excuse was to chat about an original 1953 Sunday strip in my collection, but in reality it was a chance for me to run amuck in their vault.




We opened boxes filled with original strips, or drawings given to Sparky by Bill Maudlin and others. Literally, hopping up and down with excitement, I was allowed to dig through a box that Sparky kept in his desk filled with unfinished strips.



Some he inked the text, some he merely penciled, others he inked the gag panel. I found a few that were hilarious, and a few that I wouldn’t have finished either, but it was amazing to see the process at work.



I was sad never to have availed myself the opportunity to meet the master when he was alive, but thrilled to dive so deeply into his work. Good Grief, indeed.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mo’ Pix…



As a general rule, I heartily dislike having my picture taken, which is why I’m usually scowling in all of my publicity pictures.

But, authors have to have pictures, so the fine folks at Hyperion set me up with Marty Umans for a morning of picture taking.

The cool thing is that I got to draw all over his studio, which significantly reduced scowling on my part.

Here are a few results.





While I’m quite happy with them, nothing can top the photographic abilities of capturing my soul that pal Eoin Colfer recently displayed. Now, THAT’S me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quick Pix…



Here are some shots from the KB2 tour. Unfortunately, I forgot to pull out my camera for most of my visits, but I got a few shots…

I visited with old pals.



Got to take a quick tour of Pixar.



(And had a fun signing for the animators and Pixar staff)



Oh, and here’s an event where the kids were out on the parking lot with a bright yellow caution tape surrounding them. I’m not sure if the tape was a warning for the adults (like a matchbook cover that warns grown up to “keep away from children”), but it was fun anyway…



The tour’s not quite over, either. I’ll be in Brooklyn next Thursday at 4pm, and live on the radio tomorrow morning at 9:20 AM EST.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm Done...!

The KB2 tour is over!

I'll be flying back home tomorrow to get back to work.

Stay tuned for more pix and reports of some very cool side trips and adventures that took place over the past week and a half.

Until then, a big shout-out to all the kids and grown-ups who took the time to drop by and say 'hi'.

(Not to mention the stores that let me doodle on their walls and doors)


This was the most fun tour yet!

Now to put my signing hand on ice.

Mo

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Off!


The Knuffle Bunny Too Tour starts off with a BANG! today: the Times list is out and KB2 is officially a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Gasp.

That rocks.

Thanks to everyone who picked up the book this week from me, my family, and Trixie’s dentist (who has just noticed the need for some braces…)!

I’ll try to post from the road about the events and some of my cool, top secret plans. But, if I can’t here’s an article in the Brooklyn Eagle to tide you over.

If you’re near one of my visits, do drop by and say, “hi”.

Mo

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Off-Beats Beats!



After we finished the Off-Beats Valentines special in 1999, Curious Pictures produced a mock album for the crew. It featured all kinds of music clips from the special, including:

The Off-Beats theme.


The haunting music as August's dog, September, tells the tale of February, the cat he loved and the war that tore them apart.


And my favorite bit, a (purposefully) terrible love song that played in the background while September was morosely DJing the Valentine's dance . We played it very low in the mix, so no one could hear the terrible lyrics sung in off-key bliss by, uh, me. So, brace yourselves, here it is:


Rock on to the sooper-talented Louis Lino for making the Off-Beats so jazzy (and keeping a straight face during the records)...

(PS: you can find the script here)

In the PEN...



This Sunday after pal Jon Scieszka and I joke around in the Children’s tent at the Brooklyn Book Fest, I’m scheduled to drop by the PEN table where I’ve been asked to ‘chat about what PEN means to me’.

Besides sounding like a sophomore homework assignment, I’m somewhat nervous because I thought PEN was a writing utensil appreciation society.

Turns out they fight censorship at home and abroad and are behind efforts to encourage all writers to write in a free environment. The group also includes some heavy hitters in both grown-up and kids books.

In fact the group is so prestigious, that when I received an invitation for Ms. Mo Willems, I happily signed up for a sex-change operation. Turned out, simply adding a letter 'r' was more efficient.

The sum total of my work helping free expression was writing this sketch about updating classics (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to see my entry).

Here’s hoping I don’t goof.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cartoon Festivals...


I’ve written about my love for Saul Steinberg. Well, obviously, I’m not the only animator to dig his work as animation legend George Griffin well knows. He’s moderating a cool screening entitled “Saul Steinberg and Animation” at the prestigious Ottawa Animation Festival on September 21st :& 22nd. George asked me to include my most Steinbergian short “Another Bad Day For Philip Jenkins” (which you can see here, although the Ottawa screening will have a pristine print).

I’ve attended many of the festivals (screening work, on panels, and one year judging), which are always great fun. But I’ll have just come back from the road touring Knuffle Bunny Too that week, so I'll miss the parties.

As long as we're talking about screenings, the Carnegie Medal winning cartoon version of Knuffle Bunny, will be playing on September 30th in Queens at the Jackson Heights Film & Food Fest.



If you miss that, Knuffle Bunny will be available to the general public on a new DVD release at the end of next month.

Cartoons rock.

As a side note: it was George Griffin who jump started my career back in 1991 when he included "The Man Who Yelled" in a program of the best NYC animation of the last 25 years at the Cardiff Animation Festival. That screening led me to getting called by Spike and Mike, which led to Iddy Biddy Beat, which led to Sesame Street…. Thanks, George.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 years ago...

If you what to know where I was six years ago today, visit your library for a copy of this.



It is not a light read.

Peace.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

"I Have Rabes And I Like It!" (Yay Fan Mail, Pigeon Edition)

The Postman dropped some gems by the Marcraft Novelty MFG Corp.

Here are some Pigeon sequels:




(notice the dapper tie)




(Man, they both look terrified.)



As an added bonus some Leonardo love:


And the best monter/boy comic EVER:


Fan Mail is Fun Mail.

Drop yours in your postbox addressed to:

My Pal, Mo Willems
c/o Christian Trimmer
Hyperion Books for Children
114 5th Ave, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10011

Please be patient as it takes a while to get the mail forwarded .

Friday, September 7, 2007

Reflecting...

We've got the computer blues here at the Marcraft Novelty MGF Corp., so just a quick doodle today...


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Interview-Mo-Rama!

All the Mo-fo you could want (complete with links to tons of past interviews) has been posted along with a brand new interview at 7 Impossible Things .

Check it out, you might learn something new about me; I did.

Pigeon in Scotland!

The Pigeon has just finished her run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, ending the second season of the musical production of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (she even had a blog!)

Photographer Stewart Slavicky caught her on as she wandered about:



Got a hotdog:



And was asked to leave the country:



More Pigeon-y fun on both sides of the pond next year!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Jump To It (two)...

A few months back I showed some stills from some live-action films I made featuring pals dressed as giant letters cavorting around Coney Island.

Someone seems to have posted some of the Sesame Street Shorts for your pleasure.

Enjoy.







(fyi: the letter W was played by Ken Schatz--better known in Sheep in the Big City as Ben Plotz, the narrator. Spunky, ain't he?)