Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 1/28

Welcome to February, month of the Picture Book Marathon!

As I mentioned in the last post, the marathon will also include the serial story, "Yellowbelly and Nate Visit Children's Publishing a.k.a. THE LAND OF DOOM." Which starts now:

And here is Picture Book #1:

"The Line King"

This story is about a little guy who's first in line, so he's the king. He's followed by the Line Queen, the Line Prince, all the way down through the kingdom. They go on an adventure, all in a line.

I'll be honest here, I got caught up in the LAND OF DOOM story, and totally neglected thinking about day 1's picture book. So...kind of a weak idea to kick off the first day with, but I wrote the whole thing down, and I like the title. Day 1-down!

Friday, January 29, 2010


That's right gang, I'm going to write a book a day in February! I won't be posting the full manuscripts, but I will be posting the title, cover sketch and synopsis for each book. So it's like NaNoWriMo times TWENTY EIGHT!

This isn't my idea, there is a company, like NaNoWriMo, hosting this crazy event. In fact, if you want to play along at home, you can join here, it's free--today's the final day to join! They have some handy tracking tools, as well as support for picture book writers.

I have no clue how this will turn out. I may have HORRIBLE ideas some days (maybe most days) but I'm confident that something will turn up, you write 28 picture books, at least one should have potential, right?

To give the marathon a narrative thread, Yellowbelly and I will be going on an epic quest, into the nightmare landscape of picture book publishing itself. February is going to be pretty heavy duty. Better rest up.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Tomorrow the mystery "February MEGA-PROJECT" will be unveiled. It's a project, it's MEGA, and it will take all of February to do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

February has a MEGA PROJECT?

Thanks for all the LEGO compliments! Soon I really will be able to write them off as a work expense! I gotta say, though, I'm happy to be back to drawing. I'm no photographer, and those little LEGO tableaus took forever. I'm glad they were such a hit with everyone though, they'll be back.

Watch your inbox for your cartoon/avatar pics. I've been sending out the first few, I'll keep them trickling out over the next few days.

And, yes, February is going to be a month long MEGA-project thing. What could it possibly be?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010


So I guess since Jack, Rapunzel and Freddy beat the Vikings, they will now move on to the SUPERBOWL! (See, Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings were beaten and... oh never mind.)

Let me correct Rapunzel, I know she called it a "Tractor," and it's obviously a "Combine Harvester." But she's from the past, she doesn't understand the finer points of modern farming machinery.

I think I have everyone's avatar/cartoon photo now--make sure to send yours in if you haven't yet (and you qualify.) I'm going to try and get them all drawn this week.

Just for kicks, there will be one more LEGO post tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Oh no! A cliff-hanger ending just before the weekend! What will happen to our heroes?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Phew. I thought these would be easier than the drawn comics--after all, it's just taking pictures right? Yikes, I never, EVER, EVER want to try my hand at stop-motion animation. Just setting these guys up without knocking them all down was tricky. I have a whole new appreciation for the work that goes into a Wallace and Gromit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Oh boy, now you've done it. You seemed to enjoy the LEGO it is continuing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Since Monday was a holiday, and last week was Deadline-a-palooza. I thought I'd take it easy for a bit and get out the LEGO.

You remember LEGO Yellowbelly, and LEGO Rapunzel, well, here's LEGO Calamity Jack.

That sky uses just about all the light blue bricks I have--light blue's hard to come by.

The challenge with LEGO is using only existing pieces, no painting or customizing is allowed, you have to use legitimate factory pieces. For example, Freddy's head and torso are from a Doc Ock minifig--Rapunzel's head is a reverse Catwoman. Jack's bag and Rapunzel's pants both belong to Indiana Jones. There is no LEGO bowler hat--so Jack had to go hatless. One day they'll figure out how to put a hat on top of LEGO hair (Playmobil does it, c'mon LEGO!) I did have to fudge the color on two items with Photoshop, can you guess what?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cartoon Portrait/Avatar Update

To everyone who sent in their photo of CALAMITY JACK last week: Check your mailbox--you should have a followup letter from me. I just sent out the last of them today. Did you get one? Shoot me a message if you haven't gotten your letter:

Next step: Drawing all those avatars!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Hey everyone--everyone living in TOOELE, UTAH, that is: Calamity Jack signing event today! Al three Hales will be there, Me, Shannon and Dean! 2:00 at the Purple Cow Bookstore. See you there!

If you are reading this from OUTSIDE of Utah, here's a contest. Spell for me the phonetic pronunciation of Tooele and win a prize!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random File Day!

Holy smokes folks! I am smack in the middle of a perfect storm of deadlines! I have something in the area of 16 finished paintings due this week, for three different clients (all textbooks.) I survived Wednesday, hung on through Thursday, and have only the handful of Friday (today!) deadlines to survive!

I'm not going to be able to letter and prep Yellowbelly's next snow page. Instead, I'm dipping into the Totally Random Art File!

Here it is:

This was for an event called THE BIG SHOW! Put on by my younger brother, Ben, who has more bands than I have book ideas. Random File Day! Enjoy! Yellowbelly will be back Monday.

Oh, and also, I hate to keep pushing this back, but the remaining emails for the avatars will be going out this weekend--bad week, or good week, depending on how you look at it. Busy week, that's fo' sho.'

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yellowbelly and Plum in the Snow 4

Sorry for the late post, gang. Computer troubles. Ya know. But at least YB and P warmed up.

Also, I'm still sending out follow up emails for the avatar/pic contest (is it a contest?) if you haven't gotten yours yet you should soon (sometime today.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yellowbelly and Plum in the Snow 2

I'm trying to get Yellowbelly and Plum to make the jump from picture books to early reader books--that's why the language here is so simple. Let me know what you think.

By the way--today's the final day to send in pics of your CALAMITY JACKs!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tomorrow's the Last Day for Custom Avatar/Book Pics!

I just got a CALAMITY JACK book photo from Qatar! WOW! They have it in Qatar, but they don't have it at my hometown Barnes and Noble? Anyway, keep them coming!

To everyone who's sent me a pic already, I'll be sending out an email response on Wednesday. Thanks again!

Yellowbelly and Plum in the Snow 1

I announced earlier that I was starting a new comic this week, and here it is: Yellowbelly and Plum in the Snow. You may have to stretch your window wider to see it--it's a little wide.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Case You Missed the JACK Launch

Here are some of the highlights:

We had a great turn out--even bigger than the RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE launch two years ago. Hardcover CALAMITY JACKs were on hand (the first I've seen!) and everyone had a good time. Shannon and Dean really did do an interpretive dance, which you will have to request if you see them at another signing (they'll do it! They really will!) And I did a Powerpoint presentation on illustration (only terrifying a few children...)

Thanks to everyone who came!
Double thanks to everyone who came in costume!!
Triple thanks to Jessica Day George, Jenn Mattson and Amy Finnegan who made home-made Plum T-shirts, forming, as far as I know, the world's first Plum Fan Club. (Hooray!)
And a special thanks to The King's English bookstore for setting it up and hauling all the books!

I'll let you know about any other signings coming up--I know we'll be at The Purple Cow Bookstore in Tooele, UT (a place I've never been) this Saturday, the 16th.

CALAMITY JACK is officially launched! (Two more days to get those book pics to me for an avatar--Tuesday's the deadline!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

CALAMITY JACK Launch Week! Paper Dolls #4

Remember we're having a CALAMITY JACK launch party tomorrow at the Foothill-Anderson Library in Salt Lake City (Saturday, January 9) at 2 pm. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CALAMITY JACK Launch Week! Paper Dolls #3

Here he is--the Jack Paper Doll, er, Paper Action Figure. What cool outfits will be available for him tomorrow? Sushi Chef? Dog Catcher? Fireman? You'll have to wait and see.

I'm starting to get a bunch of launch week book photos. If you want your custom portrait, send in your photo before I come to my senses. If you've already sent one in, thanks, I'll get an email reply out to you soon, with portrait instructions.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CALAMITY JACK Launch Week! Paper Dolls #2

CALAMITY JACK climbed the Amazon rankings yesterday, all the way to the #12 spot in Children's Comics! I've been told numerous times that Amazon rankings mean nothing--but hey--the #12 spot! That's BONE and Wimpy Kid territory! Thanks to everyone who ordered a copy on launch day.

Yesterday I announced that I would draw a custom, cartoon portrait of anyone who sends me a photo of their copy of CALAMITY JACK during launch week--I'm sticking to it, so send those pics! This isn't like those silly "Cartoon Yourself" ads you see advertised on website banners, this is a professional custom illustration by me--if you were a publisher, this would cost you several hundreds of dollars! Well, several tens of dollars anyway. Keep them coming!

Tomorrow we start on Jack's outfits.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spotted in the Wild: A CALAMITY JACK!

Take a look at this:
That's a CALAMITY JACK launch day purchase!

Last month I said I'd do a custom blog banner for the first person to send me a photo of Jack in a retail setting. Which means Juliana is our winner! Congratulations Juliana! Be thinking of what you'd like, and we'll put it together.

As an added bonus, to celebrate the launch, I'll happily do an avatar spot for everyone who sends me a photo of their copy of Calamity Jack this week. From now til' next Tuesday, I'll do a custom spot illa-ma-stration of you for online avatar use (or any other use!) Send your Calamity Jack photos to

CALAMITY JACK Launch Week! Paper Dolls #1

Here it is, CALAMITY JACK Launch Day!

First, here are some nice things reviewers are saying about JACK:

"...a charming update of Jack and Beanstalk... The dynamic artwork fits well with Jack and Rapunzel's quick tongues, as they flirt their way through numerous hair-raising situations. " --Publishers Weekly

“Nathan Hale’s artwork again places the action in a fairy-tale version of the American West, now with the city as backdrop. His character sketches are delightfully expressive, and the book has the same rich palette as the previous story. It should satisfy readers who enjoy adventure, fairy tales, and anyone who loves a rogue.”School Library Journal

“Nathan Hale’s art gives it a steampunk twist, and the addition of fairy-tale creatures like giants and pixies is natural and convincing. Shannon and Dean Hale have done an excellent job stretching the bones of the traditional fable into a high-action coming-of-age story that will keep young teen readers excited and engaged.” - Booklist

“...the Hales provide a truly refreshing and fun version of the rascal. This Jack has American Indian roots and is roguish without the cruel or arrogant undertones sometimes present in other stories. Also, unlike in Rapunzel's single and well-defined traditional story, the Hales have more leeway here with Jack's beanstalk tale, keeping the giants and widowed mother but ditching the cow and adding a more flavorful background better in keeping with the setting. Nathan Hale (no relation) continues to draw in a clear and energetic style equally suited to the steampunk city as to the Wild West. Fans of the previous book will be happy to see this new installment, which should handily garner new fans as well.”—VOYA

Pretty cool huh? I condensed these reviews and made sure to take any spoilers out. But very nice reviews all around!

When RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE launched, I built some paper dolls featuring Rapunzel and her many action outfits from the book (as well as a few extra suits for fun--you can get them by clicking the Rapunzel Paper Doll link, on under the Activities bar on the right--they are pdf files you can print and color.)

To continue the tradition, I've now got a set of CALAMITY JACK paper dolls. I'll kick it off with a new Rapunzel outfit (don't worry, this time we'll do Jack's outfits too) I'll post two a day until the release party this Saturday. Click and print (or wait until I post them as PDFs on the sidebar.)

Happy CALAMITY JACK Launch Day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lazy 2010

January 4th is here at last! To be honest, I don't think I enjoyed taking such a long break from the comics. Well, I enjoyed it, but I didn't enjoy it, you know? I don't know if I'll take such a long holiday break next year. If you missed it, I did do a long-winded "Year in Review" post on New Year's Eve. Scroll down to see that.

So, CALAMITY JACK, the sequel to RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE hits stores tomorrow! Or ships tomorrow if you pre-ordered. We'll be having a big launch party for it this weekend, are you ready? Here are the details:

Foothill-Anderson Library in Salt Lake City, Saturday, January 9, at 2 pm. Shannon and Dean will be there, I'll be doing a special presentation on the creation of the CALAMITY JACK illustrations--it should be very exciting. This is one of those few times you can get the ultra-rare TRIPLE SIGNED copy of Rapunzel and/or Calamity Jack.

Okay, back in the webcomicking saddle! Feels good! The CALAMITY JACK material starts tomorrow!