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 faster...so, 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.

21 comments:

miki said...

Fessing up to having followed you for a couple of weeks now, Nathan. I followed your link from the picture book marathon site and laughed out loud (with delight) to see the bar set so much higher by your cover image and Land of Doom comic. Thanks for your generosity and energy and for proving to me that just writing a story a day is a piece of cake. What illustration style do I prefer? I enjoy both and, having just looked at The Devil You Know on Amazon, I beg you to not only do the fast, easy style. Although for this month-long marathon, that seems to be plenty good enough. Thanks again for challenging yourself and the rest of us.

D. Cootey said...

Brandon Sanderson gave you a shout out on Facebook.

I want to see The Elephant of Surprise on the shelves!

Peter said...

Yeah, Brandon Sanderson sent me here. :-) I've added you to my RSS feed. Funny stuff! Thanks!

Mindy said...

Stealth Elephant!

R. Price said...

Just getting back on my chair, laughing so hard. Just seeing two wet spots on the ground in front of the elephant. LOL Love it.
As for the art work, I love your Jester series, but yes for the picture books, I think simple is great. Love you work.

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Not sure which I like better. Your more elaborate styles are beatuiful, but simple can be fun, too. So, yeah, I'm completely unhelpful.

Danielle said...

Simple. It's such a distinctive style, and I really love it. The ideas that are so creative like "The Elephant of Surprise" are seriously books that I would have loved to read as a child, and would totally read now.

I also really love The Land of Doom comic series. So interesting to see a comical insight to the book publishing world! (:

Nathan said...

Wow! Well, thanks, Brandon Sanderson! We were both presenters at the Life, the Universe, and Everything con last week. Nice to see so many new faces!

And thanks for the kind words everyone! I find myself liking the simpler style for the funny ones too. I wonder what RAPUNZEL and JACK would have been like, if I had done it in the simpler style of the LAND OF DOOM story. Interesting--I tell you what, this blog is highly educational for me. Every day something new.

edith said...

Well, I love your elaborate style so much, and I know some kids who like to ponder each page of The Devil You Know. But if I'm reading a book out loud to kids, I hate being stopped in the middle of the narrative while a kid finds each detail, or hidden mouse, or whatever. So simple is good, too.
Again, not helpful.
I love the Elephant of Surprise. It's like the Bluebird of Happiness, only for kids.

Sarah said...

Brandon Sanderson tweeted about you. I'll weigh in with my librarian's opinion, for whatever it's worth.

I think that for these one off, funny premise, basic outlines, the sketchy style works better. And for completed stories, by and large, the more painterly style works better. There are always exceptions to that rule, for instance, the Zombeans would look better sketchy when finished. I think it just depends on the style of the story.

I do, however, think illustrations are very important. I have problems purchasing a book, even with a good story, in the illustrations are bollocks.

Candi Criddle said...

Okay so I just went through your whole series with my 3 and 5 year olds to get their professional opinions.

The three year old, who is a girl, said her favorite is the mermaids fire brigade.

The five year old, who is a boy, is crazy about dinosaurs and spent awhile discussing which dinosaur that you have drawn was his favorite. The winner is the T-Rex, but the dimorphodon and the ankylosaurus were close runners up.

I think the best cover you have so far is Chuck the Lazy Isopod, they both really brightened up when they saw it.

SMiles said...

I saw Brandon Sanderson's note on Facebook and decided to stop by! I had so much fun looking at all the covers and the Land of Doom comic is great as well!

jw said...

I did not find you via Brandon Sanderson, though I did share a wall with his cubicle when we were both grad students at BYU.

The problem with your last post is that it had no bang to it. The illustration led, the story followed, and the story synopsis you provided didn't have any real drama to it. It would be like describing Goldilocks as "Girl goes for a walk in the woods, invades bears' cottage, gets caught, and survives." The story of Goldilocks is all about the tension -- and I think your jester story is, too. What's going to happen when the world figures out that she's funny and he isn't? That's what I want to know. I think that yesterday's title has more promise than most.

The Elephant of Surprise has the tension writ large on the very premise. And the cover is ripe with tension. It's a perfect frozen moment. For covers, this might be your best of the month. And the story has potential, too. If I were an editor, I'd have the Elephant and the Jester books on my shortlist.

But I don't know if either can beat Chuck. I'm tempted to start my own publishing house just to make you an offer so we can get Chuck the Lazy Isopod onto the market.

Sarah C. said...

I loved the premise of the Jester and his seamstress. And super loved the art. It sounds like it would have some great morals to it and I'm intrigued to see the antics of the seamstress. I really was going to comment. I just got lazy. Maybe it's a Wednesday thing?

Molly said...

Brandon Sanderson Tweeted/Facebooked about you! Love the Land of Doom

Anonymous said...

i found out about you yesterday because brandon sanderson linked to you on twitter and recommended to check your site out.

Greg and Leigh said...

This is my new favorite...I like both styles. Do we get to vote on our favorites at the end of the marathon...like the bird face-face off?

Emnia Elf said...

Followers gallor! (:
I personally love your embelished style, but manga is more popular because of it's simple style. Maybe the simple style has a certain element that attracks people! Either or. They're both awesome!
And, 'The Elephant of Suprise' could be a hit! *wink, wink* Like think about it. Everyone's looking for an April's Fools Day book of ideas, maybe Elephant is the new joker?
~Emnia Elf

Myrna Foster said...

I want to read this one to my kids.

Both styles are great. I love your work in the Rapunzel books, so I guess it depends on the story.

Lizzie said...

But the Seamstress is pulling such a funny face! And you used the word 'fancy'! It was great. I think the style was perfect for that one, but Vampoline, my personal favourite so far would not have been the same if it had been more complex. Do both! Carry on! And push for a box set!

Amanda Sorensen said...

I found out about your blog because I sat next to you on a couple of panels at LTUE...

I love the simple style but as a few people have said, the style should fit the story. Both are wonderful!