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Posts Tagged ‘Mount Vernon’




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 »

George Washington’s Dung House

Written on Sunday, August 1st, 2010 [permanent link]

Mount Vernon Dung House

I love the smell of History in the morning!

When I visited last week, I discovered that less than 100 yards  from George Washington’s mansion — one of the most famous and beautiful homes in America — is his OPEN-AIR DUNG SHED!!!! Archaeologists found the brick foundation, so we KNOW it was there, a safe place to keep old crap for later use as fertilizer on one of Washington’s five farms. This is the best proof I know that Washington considered himself a serious and innovative farmer.

This is the kind of lively detail I’ll put in a new biography of the nation’s first president. The folks at Mount Vernon called me up for meetings this past week to discuss how I can help them update their materials for teachers and students, and I’m excited — but not because I will start from scratch.

I’ve certainly drawn a lot about Washington already, and parts of his story are among the most well-known pieces of American history covered in the nation’s classrooms. What excites me specifically is the chance to build on what Mount Vernon already did in 2006 when it opened a state-of-the-art education center. At the time I covered the opening as a reporter, and the center got a lot of attention for three lifelike statues of GW created by CSI techniques. But every time I go back I see more details and bolder storytelling than I noticed before. It’s an amazing achievement for a historical figure that everyone thinks they know.

I hope to live up to those high standards as I embark on The Definitive George Washington Biography Comic Book!!

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Posted in Historical Travel | No Comments »


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