Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 28/28

Cue the soundtrack to "Chariots of Fire," I have finished the marathon!

This Chapter of THE LAND OF DOOM is complete. As you can see, there is still a lot to cover. Don't worry, YB and me will take up our journey again sometime in the future. But for now, we'll be going back to our regular weekday posting schedule (thank heavens!) and bringing you some new comic stories.

Book #28--the final book:

Title: AMBULOCETUS: The Walking Whale

Synopsis: Remember the craze for "Mixed Up Fairy Tale" books like The Stinky Cheese Man? Well, I want to do a "Mixed Up Non-Fiction" book. Non-fiction has always been more appealing to me than fairy tales. I think messing around with the genre could be a lot of fun.

So, this is a book about the Ambulocetus, a real animal from the Eocene era (and yes, I am on a pre-historic mammal kick, thanks for asking.) This was an early ancestor of the whale, but it lived the life of an otter/alligator, in Pakistan. This would be a dry, informative, natural history book, but with a twist; the ambulocetus talks back. He's a sassy ambulocetus who constantly argues with the narrator and tells jokes, slowly taking the book over and making it his own.

Here is a phrase that has never been typed in human history: "Sassy Pakistani Whale-Otter-Gator."

And with that, I'm stumbling off the the finishers corral, to pour water on my head and maybe enjoy a Blue Bunny ice cream treat.

We'll do a post-race summary on Tuesday, and take a look back at the highlights. I'm taking Monday off.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 27/28

Here we are, the eve of the final day of the marathon! This is exciting--we're almost there!

Book #27:

Title: The Last of the Scrubbing Bubbles

Synopsis: An adventure story starring licensed cleaning company mascots. The Scrubbing Bubbles take on the world's filthiest bathroom, and only one survives to tell the tale--sorta like the graphic novel 300, but with Scrubbing Bubbles instead of Spartans. Cameos are made by Mr. Clean and the Foaming Pipe Snake.

Hey, this is my marathon, I can break some rules!

Of course nobody could (or should) publish a book starring characters from advertising. But I've always enjoyed the Scrubbing Bubbles--I loved them as a kid. They are so neat, so determined. They are a team, they cruise around churning out bubbles--what's not to like? They are also one of the few cartoon characters to survive the 2-D to 3-D transition gracefully.

Maybe I should contact SC Johnson, or whoever, see if they are interested in a book tie-in...

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 26/28

The LAND OF DOOM will be back tomorrow--I've got a nice page of it, it just needs coloring. Sorry for the gaps! But the marathon's the thing!

And here's today's--#26:

Title: One Trick Ponies

Synopsis: Three Miocene Era ponies (three-toed Hypohippus, to be exact) are being chased by a giant Terror Bird (Titunis walleri.) To escape, they must use their "tricks," one can jump super high, one can run very fast, and one can bite.

Kinda like "The Seven Chinese Brothers," only during the Pleistocene.

At what point did ponies become GIRLS ONLY territory? If kids are around a real pony, EVERYONE'S excited--but as soon as the pony moves out of reality and into entertainment--BOOM--just for girls. Here's a shot at making ponies fun for girls and boys. Are there any other animals with such a one-sided gender fanbase?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 25/28

Mile 25! Oh, this is brutal! Feel the burn! Feel the BURRRRN!

Title: Lumberjack Troopers

Synopsis: A mysterious seed falls to earth and begins a plague of "Space Weeds!" It's up to a team of elite lumberjacks to put a stop to the invasive species. With the help of a genetically resurrected Castoroides beaver and a jar of weapons-grade termites, our team will face the ultimate killer-plant threat! Prepare for TREEMAGEDDON!

Ah-ha! It's the long awaited answer to last October's SPACE WEED story a.k.a. "My Idea For a Saturday Morning Cartoon." See it here (scroll down a ways) this is the prologue to LUMBERJACK TROOPERS!

Mark my words, Lumberjacks are the next big thing! I predict they'll be bigger than Vampires! (and more useful!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 24/28

Picture book #24...oh this is soooo cheating.

Title: Lewis and Clark in the Bottle of Thunder

Synopsis: A historically accurate cartoon adventure starring Lewis and Clark. This book focuses on the start of the journey, as well as some strange medicinal practices, i.e. the bottle of thunder.

Sure, I did this story last year on the blog--scroll back a ways, you'll find it. You can read the whole story, find out about the bottle of thunder and everything.

It's cheating, I know, but I've got soooo much on my table right now. I have several paintings due today, as well as a certain robot/holiday book due right around the corner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 23/28

Book #23:

Title: World War Bun

Synopsis: World War One with Bunnies.

Let me tell you about one of my favorite scenes in all of children's media: it's Halloween, Charlie Brown is dressed as a ghost, Snoopy is dressed as the World War I Flying Ace, as Snoopy exits the door, ghost-Charlie Brown gives him a rigid salute, then Snoopy goes out and has a "Dogfight" with the Red Baron. He crashes, shakes his fist at the sky, then wanders the bombed-out French countryside to some cool clarinet music (or is it an oboe?) he sneaks past signs that say things like, "Pont-a-Mousson 3km." Then he goes into a house and marches to Schroeder playing, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" then gets weepy during the sad part of the song, but shoulders through it bravely. Gosh, what a great scene. Nobody, nobody was as cool as Snoopy.

This is at least six, seven minutes of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" which is, what, 22 minutes long. What modern tv programmer would allow such a strange, slow scene? Anyway, I love it. I loved it as a kid and I had no idea what on earth it was. It was World War I--and it was soooooo cool.

So that's a little of what I'm trying to capture here. Plus, there aren't a lot of kid's books about WWI, let's explore it--with bunnies.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 22/28

Monday, mile 22--phew, these last miles are hitting hard. Once again, to stay on top of the marathon, I'm skipping today's LAND OF DOOM. I've got one in sketch form, it'll be up tomorrow--the LAND OF DOOM may stretch out longer than the Picture Book Marathon--I've got a lot of material, and only a few more days. We'll see how it goes.

Book #22:

Title: "No Touch the Ground"

Synopsis: The picture book version of one of my favorite games as a kid, "No Touch the Ground" a.k.a. "Hot Lava" a.k.a. "Climbing on the Furniture." This one would be a wordless book. Each page featuring a room in a house, with a different reason why you can't touch the ground; 10,000 foot drop (seen here on the cover) pools of lava, snake pit, etc.

What did you call this game? Anyone else call it "No Touch the Ground?"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 21/28

Mile marker 21 everybody. Phew, this marathon's flying by! Here is my wordiest-yet LAND OF DOOM strip.

Picture book #21

Title: "Boating With Credit Card Bill"

Synopsis: Sure, buying a boat is fun, but not when you have to take Credit Card Bill on all of your trips. He gets bigger and bigger, making it nearly impossible to enjoy your boat.

Credit Card Bill could have his own series, Building a House With Credit Card Bill, Watching TV With Credit Card Bill, Off to College With Credit Card Bill. He's got loads of potential.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 20/28

Book number 20:

Title: "Old School New School"

Synopsis: Near my house there is an old elementary school, Farrer Elementary. It's slowly falling apart, it's several decades old, old enough to have some really nice stone masonry on it. Anyway, this year, they are building a new school--right in the playground of the old school. So the kids are all watching the construction day by day. This book is about that scenario. We'll see the construction progress, and compare the school kids' day to the construction workers.' At the end, we'll get to see the old school demolished and the new building opened.

Hey, they don't all have to be funny do they?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 19/28

Book #19:

Title: "The Twelve Days of Robo-Christmas"

Synopsis: You know, wrench hens, turbo doves, it's the traditional song with a robot twist!

Announcement time everybody! Robo-Christmas is getting published by Walker Books for Young Readers (the same Walker mentioned above.) And here's the kicker, are you ready? It's coming out THIS YEAR! That's right, we're fast-tracking it for Christmas 2010! Pretty cool, huh? Technically, I didn't, um, write this during the Picture Book Marathon. But you get a free day if you get a book picked up by a publisher. That's the rule, I just made it up.

If you are new to the site, Robo-Christmas was my project over the holidays, I'd tell you to scroll back to December to check it out, but the original posts are no longer there. I can't be giving them away for free now can I?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 18/28

Today's Picture Book (#18) is:

Title: "The Elephant of Surprise"

Synopsis: A naughty zoo elephant spends all day surprising people by playing pranks on them. He is "The Elephant of Surprise!" Is there anyone at the zoo who can stop him?

Yesterday's book, "The Jester and the Seamstress" had the most complex cover illustration of the whole run--it also only got two comments (one was my own.) Which leads me to believe that maybe for picture books, I should stick to the simplest style possible. The most simple cover so far was "The Line King" and it got 18 comments. This is all very interesting to me. What do you like more? Cartoony, like today's book, or more elaborate work? I'll tell you what--the cartoony stuff is so much, SO much faster.

Also, the Station got a whole bunch of new followers yesterday, ten or so. Did somebody post a nice link to me? Speak up, new folks, how did you find us? And welcome to the Station.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shannon and Dean go to California

Hey southern California readers, Shannon and Dean Hale are coming your way! Here's a chance to get your CALAMITIES JACK and RAPUNZEL'S REVENGES signed by the authors! Here is a list of where and when.

If you tell them Space Station Nathan sent you, they will perform an interpretive dance just for you!

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 17/28

Picture Book Marathon #17:

Title: "The Jester and the Seamstress"

Synopsis: A jester is so funny that he becomes rich. He begins spending money on more and more elaborate costumes. Each costume makes him look fancier, but makes him less funny. The seamstress gets funnier, though, because she is paid for each costume.

As you can probably guess, I didn't create this artwork for the Picture Book Marathon. This is a painting I just finished for the HCTO (Hale Center Theater Orem) if you've been following the blog long enough, you've seen the yearly jester artwork (scroll down past Chuck for the jesters.) Anyway, while painting this year's program cover, I made up a little story about the characters. Two birds with one stone, eh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 16/28

Book #16:

Title: "I'm a Fungi!"

Synopsis: A little cartoon book about mushrooms. Not quite non-fiction, but plenty of facts about different kinds of fungi.

I was surprised that the old "Hey, I'm a fungi!" punch-line has not been used as a title before. I found t-shirts that used it, but no picture books.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 15/28

THE LAND OF DOOM returns! What have we missed over the last two days? Just some waiting around--there's a lot of that in publishing.

Picture book number 15:

Title: "The Vacuum Dreams About Styrofoam Dots"

Synopsis: This is a quiet bedtime story, talking about household appliances and the dreams they have.

Happy President's Day! What are you getting Lincoln this year? I got him a Snuggee, hope he likes it!

Oh, also, I got a question a few days back about the custom avatars. They ARE going out, I'm about halfway through them. If you haven't gotten yours yet, just wait. I'll have them finished before the month is through. Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 14/28

Halfway point!

No LAND OF DOOM again, today--I swear they'll start up again tomorrow. At this point, I'm asking myself why I decided to do a really ambitious post (the picture book marathon) while simultaneously doing a really, REALLY ambitious post (THE LAND OF DOOM.)

Seriously, why didn't somebody stop me? I could have spread this material out over two and a half months.

Anyway, we're in it now, and there's no going back.

Picture book #14--the hump-day book is:

Title: The Ugly Pterodactylus

Synopsis: It's the Ugly Duckling story with flying reptiles. The ugly one turns out to be, not a beautiful swan, but a giant-headed Dimorphodon--who ends the story by eating his adopted family.

I was pretty happy with this idea. Flying reptiles don't get the attention their dinosaur counterparts usually get. My wife walked by and saw me working on it, and mentioned this song from the PBS show "Dinosaur Train."

Bam! It's like Hibernation Station all over again! Although this time, I was too far along to stop. Stupid Dinosaur Train.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 13/28

Another break from the LAND OF DOOM today. You'll have to stand in the shadow of "the very gates of publishing" for one more day.

On Thursday, I found myself giving the illustration keynote speech at the "Life, the Universe, and Everything" sci-fi/fantasy convention. The speaker was supposed to be the fantasy artist, James C. Christensen, but he couldn't make it. I was the last minute replacement. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Since I spoke, I was given a "Guest of Honor" badge, and have been put in a bunch of lectures and panels; four so far, with two more on Saturday. It's thrown my schedule way off. I haven't been commenting on the comments, and I didn't have time to put together today's LAND OF DOOM. Don't worry, though, I'll be back on track soon.

On the other hand, I refuse to miss a day in the picture book marathon. So, here is book #13:

Title: TOP SECRET. Codename: STAIR-COW

Synopsis: TOP SECRET. It may, or may not have anything to do with stairs or cows.

Before I started the picture book marathon posts, I was working on a concept for a book. This book (we'll call it "CODENAME: STAIR-COW" or just "STAIR-COW" for short) was something I was very excited about. In fact, I had trouble sleeping for a few nights--I was that hyped by it, I was pretty sure it was the best idea for a book I had ever had.

I dummied out the first half of the book, I started work on a sample page, but then I hit the wall. I couldn't figure out where to go with it--it was too complex. I set it aside and started work on the marathon, hoping for some inspiration to strike. Tonight, when I was trying to figure out book#13, inspiration struck. IT STRUCK BABY!

STAIR-COW is go! I can't tell you anything about this book, I have to keep it under wraps. I'll only share it here when it is safely under contract somewhere. Yeah, I think it's that good.

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 12/28

Picture Book #12:

Title: "Chuck: The Lazy Isopod"

Synopsis: Chuck is an isopod who lives at the bottom of the ocean. Every day he has to search for food and he is tired of it. He wants the food to come to him for a change. He sets out to find the perfect, lazy job. The ending features a disgusting (but science-based) twist.

Chuck's another visiter from an earlier blog comic story--my first blog comic story, really. Most of the books in the marathon so far have been made up/written the day they were posted. But this one, and Alpha Centaur both have roots in past stories.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 11/28

Picture Book Marathon book #11:

Title: "Mermaid Fire Brigade"

Synopsis: A bunch of mermaids discover their talent for putting out fires. Soon they are on call, putting out fires all over town. The local fire department worries about keeping busy, will they fight back, join the mermaids, or find something else to do?

My four-year-old daughter is crazy for mermaids. We're always checking out mermaid books--I have to say, mermaid life looks pretty boring. You can swim around, comb your hair, maybe pet a dolphin, but that's about it. I thought I'd try something where the mermaids actually do something.

I like the idea of mashing fire engines (traditional boy book territory) with mermaids (girl book territory.) I gotta say, out of everything I've done in the marathon so far, this strikes me as the most marketable. Publishers, gimme a call on this baby.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 10/28

Picture book #10:

Title: "ZOMBEANS: Terror at the Taco Hut!"

Synopsis: Fried beans are good, refried beans are delicious, but re-refried beans are deadly. When the lone cook at the Taco Hut accidentally re-refries the beans, Zombeans are born. And they unleash terror on the small desert town. Can anything stop them?

After yesterday's vampire post, I figured I might as well stick to the horror trend.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vote Now on the Rapunzel's Revenge Trailer Contest!

As I'm sure you know, our good friend Shannon Hale has been running a Rapunzel's Revenge trailer contest. Well the entries are in, and it is now voting time.

Jump over to her site to see the amazing entries and vote on your favorite!

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 9/28

Okay, back to the LAND OF DOOM, sorry for the lapse yesterday. Here we go:

Book #9: "Vampoline"

This is the story of a boy vampire and his trampoline.

Now, I didn't have a lot of time to think this one through. In fact, to be honest, there's really not much of a story here. But if I understand current publishing trends, if there's a vampire (or zombie) on the cover, you don't really need a story. In fact, the dumber the story is, the more it will sell. Guaranteed!

Publishers, I will start the bidding for full rights to "Vampoline" (movie, book, merch, eventual retelling of the book in graphic novel form) at 1.1 billion dollars.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I was just sitting down to write my story for the day; "Next Stop, Hibernation Station!" It was going to be a bedtime story about a cute little train full of animals on their way to hibernate--what can I say, I still had bears on the brain. I had pulled up a few lists of which animals hibernate. And then checked Amazon, just to see what children's books were out on the topic.

Check. This. Out.
Now, it's not unusual to find a book that parallels your idea. You get a cool idea, then find out that someone did a similar book in 1974. This one is crazy, it comes out summer 2010! Yeah, brand new book--almost the exact title--and with a train on the front! What are the odds, I've never seen this book before, was just playing with the word "hibernation" this afternoon, feeling pretty clever. Wow, just goes to show you, there are no new ideas under the sun.

Anyway, best of luck to Michelle and Kurt, this looks like an adorable book. Now I need to think up a fresh idea. Quick.

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 8/28

No LAND OF DOOM comic today--there are two good ones you may have missed over the weekend. Scroll on down for those.

I'm still going strong on the Picture Book marathon though, here's today's, #8:

Title-less covers are so hot right now. Can you guess this story by the cover?

"Goldilocks and the 300 Bears"

This is a wordless story, with a wordless cover.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 7/28

Story #7

"PALEO-BOWL: Prehistoric Monsters of the Grid Iron"

The Jurassic Giants vs. the Cretaceous Crushers in the dino bowl of the geological epoch!

I thought I'd do a Superbowl Sunday appropriate book. This seems like an easy idea to me--I thought for sure someone would have already tackled it. But all I could find on Amazon was dinosaurs playing hockey--which is totally different.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Authorpalooza Today in Sandy!

Woops, I should have announced this earlier. I'll be one of thirty authors at the South Towne Marketplace Barnes and Noble in Sandy, UT today, from 1-3 this afternoon. Yowza! I bet there will be more authors than customers. Prove me wrong.

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 6/28

Picture Book Marathon Book #6 is:

"WEX-5: Giant Robot Dwarf"

This is the companion book to "Alpha Centaur." See, the inter-dimensional exchange that brought Chester into the land of Science Fiction, also put a giant space construction robot into a Fantasy world. Chester and WEX-5 are essentially exchange students, swapping cultures and locations.

Since WEX-5 is a digging robot, he is co-opted by some dwarves, and spends all his time digging holes for them. His story is substantially less interesting than Chester's. Still, there are 38 sequels, to match the "Alpha Centaur" series.

Phew, this is my first post in the marathon where I'm posting on a day I usually don't. Friday night is weekend territory. I'm starting to feel the burn.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 5/28

Today's LAND OF DOOM episode is a little on the weak side--but hey, with 28 of these in a row, there's bound to be some filler. We'll get on to some more exciting stuff soon. Trust me, there are monsters ahead!

And today's Picture Book Marathon Book (#5) is:

"Alpha Centaur"

Why, look who it is--it's Chester the NaNoWriMo substitute monster! I knew he'd be back! Now he's in his own story.

It's inter-dimensional exchange time! Chester's been pulled from his land of dwarves and wizards and dropped into a space opera. This one's less a picture book, and more of an early reader comic book...with potential for a 38 book series.

Wow! The record's been broken again! Even more followers joined yesterday than the day before--thanks for clicking! Welcome to the station!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 4/28

And the fourth book in the marathon is:

Title: "Pick Up Your Toys or Garbage Ben Will Eat Them"

Synopsis: Pick up your toys or Garbage Ben will eat them.

Thanks for clicking on that "Follow" button everyone--yesterday was the single biggest follower leap I've had in one day! Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 3/28

Just like in real life, the outskirts of publishing are pretty boring.

Picture Book #3

"Caveman Chopper Rescue"

Caveman no like watch friend get eat by dino. Caveman make chopper. Rescue friend from dino.

Pretty self-explanatory. I love it when a caveman refers to himself in the first person as "Caveman," that makes me laugh. There is a whole new generation of children for whom a "Flintstone" is just a chewable vitamin. And I don't think anybody under 30 remembers Captain Caveman. I think the caveman is absent from the childhood entertainment landscape right now. I really like the caveman.

Had a big day yesterday. Two major milestones: first of all, I got my 50th follower! Thanks Abby! (I wish following a blog were as easy as "friending" someone on Facebook--then I'd have a zillion followers. Unfortunately, the Google Friend Connect thing is kind of a drag. Click on that, if you haven't, I'd feel so much cooler if I had lots of followers.)

Second, I finally performed "The Turtle Trick" in New Super Mario Bros. You know, where you bounce on the turtle on the stairs and get 99 extra lives. I could never do that in the original game--I tried SO hard as a kid. But I finally pulled it off in the new game. Big moment. It's pretty neat, in NSMB, if you have 99 lives, Mario loses his hat.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Land of Doom/Picture Book Marathon 2/28

Here is Picture Book Marathon Book #2:

"Brick Town Cop"

A crime story set in a (not-quite-LEGO-wink-wink) brick built town. A Class 3 "Brickocide" has been committed, and the Brick Town Cop is on the trail. He has to deal with many of the unsavory citizens of Brick Town, Pirates, Ninjas, Aliens, etc. in search of the perpetrator.

Yes, this story is entirely fueled by my desire to purchase LEGO for work purposes. I don't know what would be more difficult; building the entire book out of bricks and photographing it (ala JACK vs. the Vikings) or illustrating the book and PAINTING all those brick scenes. Phew, I get tired thinking about either option.