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Posts Tagged ‘Gabby and Gator’

It’s that time again here in San Diego when Batman and Superman hang out with Princess Leia and the Black Widow. Yes, it’s time once again for Comic Con, and I’m happy to report that two people we have featured here on the Sidewalk will be in attendance.

James Burks, author of Gabby and Gator and Beep and Bah will be at table E1 at the end of row 700 with his friend and fellow children’s book author/illustrator Mike Boldt.

Terry Naughton, illustrator of My Personal Panther will be  in the autograph area Thurs., Fri., Sat., and Sun.  He will also be at A32 from 10:00 am till 2:30 pm everyday.  

**Special Bonus** Terry has a special gift for anyone who stops by and says “Suzanne sent me,” so be sure to stop by and say “Hi.”

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

 

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Friend of the blog, James Burks, shared some fantastic news last week. About a year ago he was contacted by a studio in the UK called Studio Distract. They were interested in developing his book Gabby and Gator as a television show. Here is demo for the show:

I am so thrilled for James. While I can’t speak for everyone, I think most authors would agree, that having a television show based on your characters would be a dream come true.

Congratulations  James, we wish you all the best,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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I just recently learned that Gabby and Gator has been selected by the California Teachers Association as one of two books to represent the 2012 Read Across America Program! The theme for next year’s program is, “Sink your teeth into a good book” – a perfect theme for hungry Gator. Gabby and Gator is written by friend of the blog James Burks, who we featured in an Author Spotlight  back in January.

James will be visiting schools and various California state wide teachers conferences starting in January. There will be more info on those events as they get closer. He’s planning on releasing some new, exclusive material for Gabby and Gator fans everywhere through his blog and Facebook in conjunction with each event.

For more information about the Read Across America program and the CTA please visit www.cta.org.

Congratulations James.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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Thank you to all the enthusiastic participants for our Author Spotlight and Book Giveaway from James Burks! Even though it’s a bit backwards to have the birthday boy giving presents, that’s the way this contest rolls…

According to random.org generator…

Congratulations to Margo Dill, the winner of your very own signed copy of Gabby and Gator! Now everyone else rush out and buy your own!

Thanks again to James and to everyone who stopped by and wrote on the sidewalk.

Sarah Wones Tomp

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Our newest author spotlight is James Burks. James has written and illustrated Gabby and Gator a graphic novel for children. It also happens to be his birthday today so we wish him a very happy birthday.

Here is a brief bio:

James Burks works in storyboarding for TV animation and has worked in feature animation on movies including The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis, Treasure Planet and The Iron Giant. His first graphic novel for kids, GABBY AND GATOR, was published by Yen Press and is a Junior Library Guild selection. James also has an upcoming picture book with Lerner/Carolrhoda entitled BEEP AND BAH, a new graphic novel with Scholastic/Graphix, and will be illustrating a picture book for Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. James is represented by Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

James Burks Author Spotlight:

WOTS: What was your road to publication?

JB: My road to publication started at Disney Feature Animation back when they were still doing hand drawn features. I spent my days working as an assistant animator and at night, as an outlet for my creativity, I started drawing an online comic strip about a magician and his talking rabbit called, Martin’s Misdirection.

I drew Martin’s Misdirection for about five years, putting a new strip up once or twice a week on my website. Every year I would take the strips I had finished and self publish them into a 32 page comic book that I would sell at the San Diego Comic Con.  I think I sold maybe a hundred books a year, it wasn’t that much, but it was enough to cover my costs.

After about five years I decided to end Martin’s Misdirection and try something else. That something else ended up being a minimal word, 48 page book called, The Adventures of Gabby and Gator. The book was super simple, just a series of rough sketches about this little girl who befriends an alligator. I had a 100 copies printed at Lulu and I took them with me on my annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic Con. The book was well received.  Everyone seemed to like it, including a literary agent by the name of Kelly Sonnack. She thought the book had great potential and asked if I would be interested in trying to get it published. I said sure.

I worked with Kelly for about six months revising and expanding the story, before it was ready to be sent out to publishers. This was inevitably followed by a handful of rejections before eventually getting an offer from Yen Press (an imprint of Hachette Book Group). I spent the next eighteen months finishing Gabby and Gator and it was released in September 2010.

WOTS: Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?

JB: My writing process has evolved over time. When I did Gabby and Gator, I wrote the story as I drew the book. This really wasn’t a very efficient way of working and resulted in hundreds of drawings being cut from the book. Now, to save time and do less drawing, I try to outline the story first. Once I have the story structure worked out, then I’ll start drawing and writing the dialogue. If I come with better ideas as I’m drawing or if something isn’t working visually, I’ll make changes.

WOTS: Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

JB: I just recently finished my first picture book that I wrote and illustrated for Lerner/Carolrhoda entitled BEEP AND BAH, due out in 2012. It’s about a goat and a robot who go on an adventure to find a missing sock. I’m currently working on my next graphic novel for Scholastic/Graphix entitled ACORNS TO OAKS, also due out in 2012. It’s about a neurotic squirrel and a free-spirited bird who are forced to journey south together for the winter.  I’m also getting ready to start illustrating Tara Lazar’s debut picture book for Simon & Schuster entitled THE MONSTORE, due sometime in 2013.

WOTS: Describe your studio or usual work space for us.

JB: Currently my workspace is the dining room table. My wife recently picked up some freelance animation work and booted me out of my studio. Usually, my workspace is a small room upstairs. I have an old Warner Brothers Animation desk (that my wife is currently using) that I used to animate on, but now it lays flat, and holds my computer. I tend to do most of my work digitally using a Wacom Cintiq monitor. This allows me to draw right on the screen with a stylus. I have three book shelves loaded with books that I can go to for inspiration if needed. Sometimes, for a change of scenery and to get away from the computer, I’ll go work at Starbucks where I can drink lots of coffee and write/sketch out ideas in my sketchbook.

WOTS: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

JB: I’m not sure if this is a profession per say, but I’d want to be one of those people that stay at the campground all season in the big RV. I think they are supposed to be the host or camp greeter. If that doesn’t count, then I’d like to own my own bed and breakfast like on Newhart.

WOTS: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

JB: Most people probably don’t know that I used to play the saxophone in junior high. Oh, and I’m also a magician, although, I’m a bit rusty due to being too busy. I hope to get back into it one day. My kids are the only ones that get to see it these days, you be amazed at the things I’ve pulled out of their ears.

WOTS: What was your inspiration for the story Gabby and Gator?

JB: Gabby and Gator started with a sketch I did of a goofy looking alligator with a plaid pattern. From there I just started to fill in the missing pieces. First, I gave him a friend, an odd little girl named Gabby, who was all about the environment and recycling. Then, I just started drawing them having fun together, and eventually a larger story began to take shape. I took these initial drawings and self published them into a little 48 page, 8” square book, with a single illustration on each page.  I took that down to the San Diego Comic Con where I ended up finding my literary agent and things took off from there.

WOTS: Based on your previous animation experience was it easier or more difficult to adjust to the graphic novel format?

JB: I’d say mostly easier. Doing storyboards for TV and drawing graphic novels are almost the same thing. They’re both telling stories with pictures. The hardest thing for me coming from animation into graphic novels is editing the amount of drawings and poses I can use to describe an action. In an animated storyboard I can have an infinite amount of panels to show an action, where in graphic novels, I have to get my point across with as few panels as possible. Otherwise, the book ends up being way too long. I usually end up having to go back through my stories and edit things down. The one thing I love about doing graphic novels is that it’s like making a movie but in book format. It’s great because you get to do everything; You get to be the screenwriter, the actors, the director, and even the caterer (Mmmm, tacos!).

WOTS: We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?

JB: I tend to do my fair share of procrastination at the beginning of a book project. It’s hard for me sometimes to make myself sit down in front of the computer and work, but once I do, then I can’t stop.

Thanks for visiting with us James. You can find out more about James and his upcoming books on his website at: jamesburks.com.

As a special treat, birthday boy James has agreed to give an autographed copy of “Gabby and Gator” to one of our followers. Simply leave James a birthday wish in our comments section in the next week and we will select a winner at random. Remember you need to make your post before January 27th, the winner will be announced on January 28th.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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Alyson Beecher loves books. Alyson is an educator, writing mentor and blogger and I love her taste in books. She recently posted her list of favorite books for 2010 on her Kid Lit Frenzy blog.

Here are Alyson’s picks for Best Mid Grade Novels:

LULU & THE BRONTOSAURUS

by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith

 

BINK & GOLLIE

by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

 

GABBY & GATOR

by James Burks

 

THE CLOUD SEARCHERS (AMULET BOOK #3)

by Kazu Kibuishi

 

THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA

by Tom Angleberger

 

A TALE DARK AND GRIMM

by Adam Gidwitz

 

TORTILLA SUN

by Jennifer Cervantes

 

OUT OF MY MIND

by Sharon M. Draper

 

ONE CRAZY SUMMER

by Rita Williams-Garcia

 

THE KNEEBONE BOY

by Ellen Potter

 

IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES

by Lisa Schroeder

 

SPILLING INK: A YOUNG WRITER’S HANDBOOK

by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter

 

I have read several on this list and even featured them here on the blog, I agree with Alyson that they are great books. I have made it my goal to read all of the books on this list that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Alyson has also compiled a list of the best Picture Books and YA for 2010 as well, be sure to check those out as well.

I will have an opportunity to meet Alyson next month  when I visit her school for an author visit to share my book “Grandma’s Pear Tree.”  I hope during the visit we will have time to discuss books, she really knows her stuff.

Happy reading,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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