Friday, October 8, 2010

Those Wacky Writer/Illustrators

I am noticing a trend in the picture books I really enjoy.  I am finding that I am really drawn to picture books by writer/illustrators.  These overly talented people are churning out some of the funniest and most clever books.  This is upsetting because my drawing talent is limited to proportionally challenged stick figures and this squiggly line thing I used to draw in high school on all my folders.

The writer/illustrator has an awesome humor advantage in my mind.  They can create a book where the pictures and words play off of one another beautifully.  They can be even more sparse in their word count and let the pictures do the talking.  They can be funny in two ways at once.

So far my picture book writing has not been overly funny and that troubles me.  You may have picked up by now that I'm big on the funny.  I am a strong advocate of laughter and laughter shared between child and parent is of special interest to me.  So, writing a picture book that would be funny to both parent and child would be a total dream come true for me.

But as a writer only, I almost feel my hands are a little tied.  I have to hope that an editor can see the potential comedy in just my words and then pray that an illustrator is chosen that also gets it (or has even better funny ideas of their own).  It is really a tremendous leap of faith to put your sense of humor out there with no supporting visual for someone else to build on.

Oh, to be an illustrator!  I lament!  You hysterical talented bums!  : )

P.S. Picture Books Only will be having a chat related to this topic this weekend!  Click here to get the info and join in!


  1. I'd just love to be able to draw, period. Not even because of PBs - I've never tried my hand on picture books and I don't think I will in the foreseeable future. But I'm very image minded and I would love to be able to commit those images to paper in drawings too :)

  2. I'm going to self-publish picture books in Iceland next year. My writing skills are that of a five year old, so I'm going to hire an illustrator. I haven't decided if I'm going to use an Icelandic one or a foreign one (I know a girl who draws great pictures, I'm going to see if she is interested).

    How come some people are born with the ability to draw? I'm not born with the ability to write! I'm born with the love of writing, but I have to learn the skills as I go.

    Anyway, I'll be gulping up blogs and sites about picture books in two months or so - good to have yours to look at ^.^

  3. Me too! Most of my fave PBs are author/illustrator specials. Want want want to illustrate. But that talent seems to elude me.... :(

    Btw - thanks for the link to #pblitchat. That was a nice tie-in at the end. :) Really looking forward to that chat. Hope to have heaps of Qs emailed through in advance.

  4. I'm awed by people who can complete a quality picture book - and that goes for authors just as much as illustrators. It would be wonderful to do both, but don't discourage yourself. Some people think in words, some people think in pictures! (but, oh, to do both!)

  5. When you say "this squiggly line thing", is it the sort of squiggly line thing that makes passersby stop and ask, "Hey, cool! Are you drawing a maze?"

  6. OH SNAP!!! The Pagoda's very own Den Mother up & started her own fu ... [looks around, thinks better of it] dging blog! Good stuff, Bickelmom. Get your Shel Silverstein on!

  7. Kat - No problem! Even though I usually can't be there at chat time, I LOVE it and read the transcripts each week. Lots of good info there!

    Su - Nope, not a maze. It was literally just these bubbly squiggly things. Very abstract and useless!

    Roy - Thanks so much for checking out my blog! I'm proud to be the Pagoda's Den Mother. Someone has to keep all those hooligans in line over there!

  8. I feel the same way. So envious of those who can both write and illustrate - oh, the freedom!

  9. It is interesting to hear this from a writer's perspective. I'm an illustrator *hoping* to become a writer/illustrator, and that has a challenge all on its own.

    And glad you like the funny stuff! I like the funny stuff's too short not to have a good laugh with a child :-)

  10. What fun! I love this post. Darn I missed the discussion! If anything was brought up on what to do if you are not an author/illustrator (two birds with one stone). By this I mean, to add illustration notes or to not add them in a submission? That is the question. Know of any posts on this subject matter? I have not found any yet, but have heard it depends on the publisher, editor, agent you are submitting to....
    Oh...and I LOVE and ADORE the funny and quirky in PB's!

  11. "I am a strong advocate of laughter and laughter shared between child and parent is of special interest to me. So, writing a picture book that would be funny to both parent and child would be a total dream come true for me."

    We share the same dream!!! Squee!

  12. Angela - I haven't had time to read it yet, but the transcript of the discussion is up at

    Go check it out! I'm sure they touch on those things!! : )