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18 September 2014

A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz - Giveaway!


A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz is sort of like Richard Scarry for the more mature set. It's a series of stories of adorable and endearing characters such as "Doug & Mouse, Connie (a girl with big glasses), Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock," and of course, "Tim" - all in one book. It also reminds me a bit of Hello, Mr. Hulot in it's mini-story, yet graphic style approach. John stopped by to tell us more about it...

Q. John, Congratulations on A CAT NAMED TIM! How did the book come to be?
A.
Thanks! I have illustrated a handful of picture books for kids, and Annie at Koyama Press told me she was interested in publishing comics for kids and young readers, and asked if I’d be interested in something like that. My kids books up to this point have all been written by someone other than myself, so I jumped at the chance to do a book for kids in which I was both the author and illustrator.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. Koyama Press does funky graphic novels and artsy books for a wide age-range. Some of their work is definitely not for kids, while other works are for the kids at heart - like yours. How did you hook up with Koyama Press?
A.
I first met Annie at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We had emailed a few times before then, but hadn’t met. She expressed interest in my comics, and we’ve since worked on a few projects together, including The Big Team Society League Book of Answers, which is a collection of jam comics, and certainly not for young children. My style is heavily influenced by picture books and newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, and while I don’t always do kid-friendly work, I do think I come somewhat naturally to it, and working with Annie and Ed Kanerva has been a joy.

Q. Who do you consider your target audience?
A.
I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I began working on the book. I wanted primarily to take the improvisational process I learned from working on both Team Society League and my comic strip Machine Gum, and apply it to a kid-friendly cast of characters. As the book took shape I saw potential to accommodate children who can’t yet read or are just learning; the scenarios and gags are fairly uncomplicated, and it’s mostly wordless. The minimal dialogue there is is more textural than textual, and I hope that the illustrations and scenes allow children to make up their own stories and explanations for what’s going on.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. There are very few words in A CAT NAMED TIM, mostly series of illustrations with very clever twists. Can you describe your format?
A.
The book is primarily a series of double-page spreads, each one an independent gag or scenario. I don’t know if I can easily sum up the format other than to say that I enjoy playing with the formal elements of comics, and trying different panel layouts and different ways of directing the reader through an image or a series of images. I’m particularly drawn to the idea that comics don’t need to be read solely panel-by-panel, and that inviting a reader to examine the page as a whole, and see different moments in time simultaneously, is something unique to comics and illustration, and a fun thing to exploit.

Q. What is your illustration method and how do you conceptualize the stories behind your narratives?
A.
Each scenario started in my sketchbook as super-rough barely-legible-to-anyone-but-me thumbnail drawing. A sketchbook allows me to get ideas out my head quickly and with minimal fuss. These thumbnails are often only a starting point, and I like to save some of the final problem-solving, details, and specifics for when I’m working on the finished art.
      The illustrations for this book were drawn digitally in Photoshop. The process is similar to the way I learned to draw comics, in which I start with a “pencilled” line drawing of the page that acts as the skeleton of the finished artwork. I put together a palette of colours for the entire book, and I do a quick low-res colour study for each page before starting the final art so that the painting/colouring process itself, which is mostly done on a single layer, involves little to no thinking as all the planning has been taken care of.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. It's truly an unusual book, and yet one that I think will really grow on people. Kids will love studying all the fun things you include in your illustrations. What were your influences with all the little details going on?
A.
You mention Richard Scarry in your introduction, and his books were a huge influence, of course. I loved his books as a kid, and I could spend hours poring over all the little details and miniature dramas in his busy pages. I have so many other influences, but for this book a short list would have to include Richard Scarry, Jim Henson, vintage Sesame Street, Sergio AragonĂ©s, Where’s Waldo? books, Hanna-Barbera, Super Mario games, and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Q. How are you getting the word out about A CAT NAMED TIM?
A.
The book debuts/debuted at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, and I’m doing a joint launch party with Britt Wilson for her Koyama book Cat Dad, King of the Goblins at the kids comic store Little Island in Toronto on October 25.
      I’m grateful to be published by Koyama Press. Annie has fostered a lot of community and good will in the comics world, and that sort of thing (in addition to putting out good books) goes a long way in terms of generating buzz and support.
      You can also follow me on Twitter, @johnmartz, which is my social media platform of choice.

Q. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
A.
Thanks!

Enjoy this great video about John and his work (or CLICK HERE if the video gives you any issues):

John has also been very active with the TD Summer Reading Club in Canada.

GIVEAWAY!
Koyama Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of A CAT NAMED TIM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:

4 comments :

apple blossom said...

This looks like a cool book I'd love to share with my students. thanks for the chance to win

apple blossom said...

thanks for posting about this book

Scattered Brain said...

What a fun book. I am sure my children will loving reading and looking at the illustrations.
Regardless, I will be on the look out for it now.

bn100 said...

Fun interview

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