Wednesday, September 19

Who drew that Rabbit?


I was a nervous wreck riding the escalator up to the children's book department. I was at my local Barnes & Noble. My stomach full of butterflies. I felt like I was about to commit a crime or something almost... which is really silly, considering I was in fact going to prove myself right about something.

I was going to take some pictures of this plywood rabbit cutout... which was, in fact, drawn by moi! Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

It's a funny story. I still remember the store's grand opening a decade ago. I was totally amazed at seeing one of my drawings used for the store display. Well, actually it's not my character... it's from a book by a well known children's book maker with the initials M.M. I did ghost illustrations for lots of his lesser known books back in the 90's. But still, I was amazed to see my drawing, all the same. It's funny how a drawing one creates is always instantly recognizable.


The funny part was when my son, a very talkative boy, who was so proud to see this drawing of mine, immediately went over to the woman in charge of the children's section and declared, "MY dad drew that picture! It's from a book he did the artwork for!".

This same matronly woman soon appeared before me... with a very quizzical look on her face... half glasses hanging from a beaded chain. She sort of smiled... looking me up and down in my ragged shorts & tee shirt & 2 day beard. "Oh yes!", I said, in a nervous voice as if I really didn't believe it. "I was the ghost illustrator on that book!".

I might as soon have been saying... "Oh yes, in fact I AM Napoleon!". lol! I thought it was one of the more poignant moments of being a ghost illustrator...

Here's the page of the book it was from... I notice they flopped the image, but I still knew I drew that rabbit!

And, No... in fact, I am NOT Napolean!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

How cool is that, John?! Thanks for sharing!! I'll have to look and see if this little character is at my local BN or is it Borders?

Best,
Phyllis Harris
http://www.phyllisharris.com

J. E. Morris said...

Hey that's cool. I think our B&N has that rabbit too. You should go around the country signing all the B&N bunnies ;-)

Paige Keiser said...

Oooooh, I'm going to go check my local B & N too, that is very neat John! BTW I got that exact same look recently when a librarian found out I had illustrated one of the books in their collection. I had my gym clothes on and had just gone for a jog. Bleh - bad timing. What are children's illustrators supposed to look like? Probably always neat and tidy with nary a hair out of place.

John Nez said...

LOL! Yes, we bookmakers probably never look quite appropriate...

I like that idea of traveling across the Malls of America, signing the Rabbits in the Barnes & Noble stores.

Very novel idea!

:0)

paula said...

Wow...Cool is right! I'd never heard of "ghost illustrating" before. Doesn't seem the same as ghost writing. Seems the illustrator should get credit. Interesting, though!

PG said...

Wow, that is some rabbit! How brilliant to see your work all big and on display~

Shennen said...

Wow, of all the millions of images B&N had to choose from - to pick your rabbit! How wonderful. I am especially delighted to hear how proud your son was of you!

diane greenseid said...

That is so funny, John. Maybe the saleswoman thought you were Mercer Mayer, who knows?

Sam said...

That is amazing - bravo! I've heard of ghost writers, I have a friend who is one, and a ghost singer - I have another friend who 'lends' his voice to some pretty famous rock stars. But you are the first ghost illustrator I've 'met'!
And yes, I went to Parsons, back in... *scratches head* 1990; I think. And I only went for 3 months as well!!! Too funny.

John Nez said...

Oh yes... I've been the ghost of a number of artists & characters... Rosemary Wells (she at least let me have credit on the titlepage), the Muppets and Sesame Street.

It's a tad scurrilous, of course... but one does what one must to survive in a glamour profession such as this!

lol!

tlc illustration said...

Your story made me laugh out loud (Napolean! Yes!). I always wondered how MM was able to churn out so many books in such a short period of time...

I've discovered one does not even need to be 'dressed down' to garner that same reaction. I was at a book event a few nights ago and asked one of the independant book sellers there if she knew if they carried the series that I'm currently illustrating... She looked at me completely blankly, and then kind of down her nose, and then informed me that it *could* be special ordered if it must be...

gail said...

Ghost illustrator for MM! Wow! This ghost illustrating is news to me. But now it all makes sense. Glad to see you rewarded with this great display!

gail

Nancy Bea said...

Oh wow, yes, that must have felt weird seeing your drawing "incarnate"! And not being able to claim it as your own. I have to admit I didn't even know there were such people as ghost illustrators until I saw it on your website. Makes sense, it just didn't occur to me.

What a world!

Ginger*:)* said...

What a wonderful story. I have to find a B*N up here someplace and find the RABBIT!

Tomie dePaola said illustrators are allowed to look like illustrators. I agree wholeheartedly, and took him at his word. Just because I have a little paint on my jeans, and on my shoes, and in my hair, shouldn't I still be allowed into the library, bookstore, wherever!

(uh oh...today it's on my face too... better get cleaned up)