Jenny Mannis

Photoshop

I am a costume designer turned author-illustrator. With over a decade of experience in professional theater, I have designed at theaters all over the country including The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, 2nd Stage, and Steppenwolf. I hold an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and am a member of Kids Comics Unite, SCBWI, and the Authors’ Guild.

As a costume designer, I practice visual storytelling, transforming the written words of a play into images. My writing and illustration are heavily influenced by character design, color story, historical research, and imaginative world building. My time in theater has also led me to value compelling dialogue, twisty plots and brisk pacing.

When I’m not planning and researching the next two books in the Escape Artist series, I can be found trying to keep up with my two teens and two rescue dogs and dodging the monsters that live in the basement.

Jenny Mannis

What was your favorite book as a child?

All of them? I read to escape, so I was going for quantity over quality. But anything where a fantasy or alternate world existed in tandem with ours was my jam: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, Grimm’s fairy tales, the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl (deep cut: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator), Edward Gorey, Charles Addams comics, The X-Men. I read Stephen King’s It on the eighth-grade ski trip and that book changed me.

Mediums:

Pencil and paper for roughs and doodles. Dip pen and ink wash if I’m feeling fancy. Nothing beats the hand feel of graphite and real ink but I’m in love with Photoshop for the infinite possibilities and speed. I like messiness and rough edges, so I use a chunky, jittery ink brush for inking and loose watercolor, pastel and marker brushes for texture. I draw my own panel borders and speech balloons. Overall, I’m trying for a quick, scribbly, hands-on feeling.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JENNY

Art Process:

I always start from research. A mysterious building, 1950s horror comics, a news clipping – anything that sparks my fancy. I’ll be a magpie for a while and gather ideas and images from books, movies or the internet. I let the new stuff knock around for a while until I’ve got a premise or a question, a group of characters, a visual vibe, a color scheme, an idea that spooks me.

My creativity comes from the process of collection and whatever gets cooked up in the basement of my subconscious – the rest is iteration. I use scene cards to track plot points, character development, and my favorite research images. I’ll make a detailed outline and, once I know the major beats and the characters’ journey, I fill in the dialogue and paneling. I pull images and color story from my research and lay in the art stepwise. This orderly process comes from my practice as a theater designer: a highly structured system of organization and routine that sets the conditions for creativity. Stephen King calls his muse a “basement guy.” The muse does his thing down below while you put the time in at your desk: just like in theater where the designers and crew work behind the scenes so the magic can happen on stage.

What is your favorite food?

Popcorn jellybeans, black licorice, Necco Wafers, candy corn, Smarties: I love an underdog!

Specialties:

Forthcoming books:

Published books:

Location:

Chicago, IL

Visit Jenny at:

Awards and honors:

Available for School Visits:


Lindsey Leigh

Photoshop

Lindsey Leigh is an illustrator and comic artist originally from Maryland. She has a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University as well as an MA in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In between, she also interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in the entomology department, diligently illustrating beetles.

Her work is inspired by mythology, folklore, and the natural world. Though her work ranges from the cozy and comforting to the unsettling and spooky, she aims to imbue even the scariest monster with a tender charm. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of weird animal facts and a passionate love for snails and slugs. She currently lives in Massachusetts.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I am endlessly inspired by the mysteries of our world, from the darkest depths of the sea to the furthest reaches of space.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love to go to art museums, natural history museums, and take long walks in the local cemetery.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT LINDSEY

Art Process:

I typically start the process doing research and gathering reference material. This part of the process really appeals to me because I love to learn everything I can about the subject I’m drawing. 

Then, I usually create very rough, small thumbnail drawings (that only I can really read!) to help me figure out the composition.

Once I start the final, I start with a pencil sketch, then inking with a range of tools such as nib pens, technical pens, and brush pens. Once that is completed, I will scan the drawing in, and then clean it up and color it with Photoshop. As a final step, I will overlay scanned ink wash textures that I have made into the final illustration to give it some extra dimension. (Occasionally, I will use a photo I’ve taken of something more unusual, like moss or lichen, to overlay into the illustration!) My favorite step of the process is definitely inking; it’s where I have the most fun.

Mediums:

Location:

Visit Lindsey at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes! I love to speak with students about the process of creating their own stories and comics.


Dave McDonald

Photoshop

Dave McDonald has worked as a television producer/director, a theme park entertainment show writer (Scooby Doo) and a puppet/costume (Rugrats, Angry Beavers, Richard Scarry) and mascot (NFL Panthers, NBA Hornets) designer and fabricator. He was a puppeteer for a kids TV series and for a touring school production.  He’s the author/illustrator of two humorous early reader graphic novels featuring his original character, Hamster Sam.

When he’s not freelance writing or illustrating, McDonald works as a visiting teaching artist in elementary schools throughout North and South Carolina. His teaching can be found online through the educational platform EPIC! as well as Professor Garfield and on Youtube.

Favorite food:

Steak, medium; with a local craft IPA.

Who were some of your influences growing up?

Silly, slapstick humor is at the heart of what I enjoy most, and so I consumed ample doses of comedy from television cartoons created by Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken), Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny), Jim Henson’s Muppet Show and from record albums featuring musical satire and parody by Stan Freberg and Spike Jones.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVE

Art Process:

The bulk of my work is black and white “comic strip” style illustration and spot art.  I work ‘old school’ using pencil, paper and ink pens. For contracted illustration work, I begin with pencil roughs; typically will send a pic or jpg to the client, and we’ll go back and forth until a “final rough” is approved.  I then ink the work and send along for approval. If color is desired, I’ll use Photoshop for a flat fill (I am not a colorist). Occasionally for puppet designs that include color costuming details, I’ll use Prismacolor markers to create a textured look.

Published books:

The Secret Adventures of Hamster SAM: Attack of the Evil Boll Weevils! (DM Creative) 2008
Hamster S.A.M.  Odd-ventures in Space! (DM Creative) 2013

Awards and honors:

Cartoonist in Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, 2011
Graphic novels panelist at the NYC School Librarians Conference, 2013
Featured guest author/illustrator and presenter at the South Carolina Book Festival, 2014

Location:

Visit Dave at:

Available for School Visits:

For over 10 years, “Mr. Dave” has presented education-based arts programming to schools, libraries and museums through his “Kids Make Comics!” assemblies, artist in residencies and workshops.  His programs have been accredited by several state and local arts agencies in North and South Carolina, where he works with hundreds of kids each year through grant-funded visits. His programs combine the best of a traditional author visit with dynamic interactive drawing and writing exercises.  School assemblies are 45 minutes long; students draw along step by step with Mr. Dave to create exciting and original characters, and discover that writing can be just as much fun as drawing!