Thursday, November 13, 2008

writing for teenage boys / art vs. illustration

There were two online articles mentioned in the PW Children’s Bookshelf newsletter today, that I think are worth mentioning in case you didn’t see them.

The first article: read this b4 u publish :-)
A 13-year-old boy tells the industry what teens want
by Max Leone -- Publishers Weekly, 11/10/2008

Max tells it like it is, in the real world of teen boys and what they want to read or don’t want to read. The whole article is worth checking out, but this is my favorite quote:

“Vampires, simply put, are awesome. However, today's vampire stories are 100 pages of florid descriptions of romance and 100 pages of various people being emo. However much I mock the literature of yesteryear, it definitely had it right when it came to vampires. The vampire was always depicted as a menacing badass. That is the kind of book teenage boys want to read. Also good: books with videogame-style plots involving zombie attacks, alien attacks, robot attacks or any excuse to shoot something.”

The second article: Not just a pretty picture
Fiona Gruber | November 10, 2008 | Article from: The Australian

The article compares art and fine art, while at the same time talking with Graeme Base about his art for books and about the exhibit he’s about to hold at a gallery. They also talk about other children’s book art and fine art, as well as markets for art in different countries. My favorite quote from this article is a quote from Graeme Base:

“Their primary function might be as a commentary on accompanying text or as a book-framed visual narrative, he adds. But this does not cancel out their uniqueness. "Obviously they have to work as a sequence of pages or they're not doing their job properly, but I see every one as an individual piece of art," he says.”

What do you guys think? Anyone want to start a discussion in the comments section?


  1. I gotta agree with GB on the value of the art. I always tell students: I write one book, but the illustrator has to make a painting for every page. I feel exhausted at the end of my 600 words, and if one turns out to be wrong, I just cut and paste. But the illustrator has to do that 16 times.

    I loved the vampire quote too.

  2. I loved Max's article (a thirteen year old wrote that?) I finally started reading Twilight cause my daughter likes it, and we're looking forward to the movie, but I can't help wondering when vampires became the subject of chick lit/chick flicks.

    The other article brings to mind that when I reach for a kids' book with illustrations that are very painterly or abstract, more often than not it's not an American artist. So I have the impression that there's more of a distinction in the US between art for book illustration and gallery art. But there are always exceptions.

  3. As we all know, I know bupkus about art, but I'm all about the vampires. And yes, I am sick of vampire lite. Today's vampires spend a whole lot of time resisting their urges and feeling all angsty about it. What happened to tracking down the bad guy and kicking his booty?

    I think I might be a boy on some deep subliminal level. I like a little romance, but I like it even better when the romance is interrupted by raging monsters with big pointy teeth. :)

  4. Interesting. I"ll have to check out the articles.

    (P.S. You are the winner of the Katie Kazoo book on my blog! Yea! My e-mail address is on my blog so you can contact me. Congratulations!)

  5. Great articles....loved the 13 year old boys point of view!

  6. Jacqui, it's nice to hear an author say that! As an author/illustrator, I know both parts are a lot of work, but I sometimes feel like not everyone knows that. It's good to know that they know :)

    Adrienne, yep, a very wise 13 year old. Vampires became fodder for chick lit with Dracula. Seriously. Interesting thoughts about American PB art, thanks for sharing them.

    "I think I might be a boy on some deep subliminal level. I like a little romance, but I like it even better when the romance is interrupted by raging monsters with big pointy teeth. :)"

    Me too, Carrie, me too!

    Thanks Christy!!

    Kelly, glad you liked the articles; I loved his POV too.