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History comix for the iPad

Written on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 [permanent link]

When Apple announced last month that it will push to make digital textbooks more available, many bloggers noted just how few titles are available. Well, now there are eight more titles.

Converting some of the most popular Chester Comix titles from printed book to e-book was one of my big projects in 2011. It feels fantastic to look into Apple’s iTunes store today and now see eight of my books ready for download: American Symbols, Founding Fathers, Moving and Grooving, The Jamestown Journey, Go West Young Crab!, World War 2 Tales, GOVERNMENT, and Revolutionary Rumblings.

If you do a search for “Chester Comix” in the iTunes store, you’ll find these books AND the three apps I published in 2010. The books are clearly for the iPad (much too big to be viewed on the iPhone) and the apps were drawings that I cut specifically to be easily readable on the iPhone and iTouch. Those apps can be viewed on an iPad, but they don’t fill the iPad screen. The commercial success of the iPad meant I could present my Chester adventures in their original vertical design. With even MORE vertical-ness! Part of the process over the past few months was making the page layouts that I drew 10 years ago stretch out to fit the iPad screen’s dimensions. For most readers on most pages, the differences between the print version and iPad version aren’t noticeable. But I as the author got more and more excited to see how the added space gave the drawings more room to breathe. I think these iPad versions are more readable for young people, and the history lessons within them flow more easily. The format has helped the storytelling! (By the end of the five-year run of Chester in the Daily Press newspaper in Newport News, VA, I was clearly trying to tell too much story and cramming too many words and detailed images into the space I was given on the page. You could see that I knew the project was coming to an end, and I was trying to say as much as I could in the pages I had left. Some of the Chester pages make me claustrophobic when I view them now 😉

Please help me share this great news about Chester for the iPad. The goal is to get all 27 titles into the iTunes store this year!

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Posted in Author's Purpose, Comix Creation, literacy | No Comments »

George and Bentley

Written on Friday, February 25th, 2011 [permanent link]

Washington Cover

President’s Day was the release party for my new George Washington biography! Mount Vernon was fee free that day and had more than 15,000 visitors. My booksigning table was positioned right where the crowds came up from their new underground museum — so this was the first signing I’ve ever had where I was in real danger of being trampled!!!! It was a steady view of torsos for 4 hours, and I signed a LOT of comix . . .

This is the cover of the book — I’m glad Mount Vernon’s staff chose this idea. It was FUN to draw. I think this and the “Revolutionary City” comic I did for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation are the best history comix I’ve made so far (the GW book is my 29th title!). Can you tell which of the soldiers going in to battle with George is supposed to look like me?? That’s one of the fun things about making your own story — you get to sneak in guest appearances. 😉

For fun, my friend Wendy suggested I also take a picture of all the research I use to make a comic. So here is a look at MOST of the material that informed my writing and drawing of “George Washington Leads the Way” — I did use Internet resources as well, and the historians at Mount Vernon added some important points as they reviewed the drafts. But this pile of paper gives you a good sense of the second step of the author’s process: RESEARCH!

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Posted in Author's Purpose, Comix Creation | 1 Comment »

George Washington Leads the Way!

Written on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 [permanent link]

GWcoverdraft1 GWcoverdraft2

GWcoverdraft3 GWcoverdraft5

My George Washington biography for Mount Vernon is being printed RIGHT NOW! As we wait for its release during his birthday celebration in February, I thought you’d like to see some of my rough sketches for the cover.

You see that my sketches don’t get too detailed. They are mainly a guide to location and layout. I’m using a simple, over-the-counter black felt pen to make the lines on a regular piece of typing paper. Look at how I scratched just a few lines for the background troops. I don’t need to draw the details of their uniforms — I’ve got that in my head and will make sure the details get drawn with a nicer pen on nicer paper when I do the final draft.

You can see the main idea that spreads across the different proposals: to show Washington as a MAN OF ACTION. Having the action come right at the reader is a tried-and-true practice to pump up the sense of motion and drama. Of course you see the difference between my head-on view of Washington crossing the Delaware with the famous oil painting showing him in a boat from the side. And the cannon shot of the third sketch seemed the most daring! And hard to pull off, because who has ever really seen a cannon shot from that point-of-view THAT CLOSE? How would I really draw and color that?!?! (And then I started to really miss Martha — and most Americans don’t know that she spent time with George during the harsh Valley Forge winter. So I thought I’d try a cover that combined the drama of Valley Forge with the close relationship the two of them had.)

Which cover do you think the Mount Vernon folks picked?? You can go to Chester’s Facebook page to see; I’ll also post it here in a week. 😉

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Posted in Author's Purpose, Comix Creation | 2 Comments »


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