Saturday, February 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by stymie924.
Another image from this story book portfolio I am working on. I am attempting to drum up some work in children's publishing and I am hoping these images will help.

My wife, Mandy says that this is too scary--too dark for kids... I don't know, I always liked a little darkness in my stories as a kid. Somehow, the stories that scared me a little bit were always my favorites. "Where the Wild Things Are" and, when I was older, "James and the Giant Peach" were stories that had a real impact on me. I suppose that there is an argument to be made that there is so much in the world today that is frightening to children, why do we need to scare them with books? I would argue that a little scare is a good thing... It raises the stakes and pulls kids further in. Maybe, I just have too much of a dark side...


hyacinth said...

You know, two of the most popular books in our class right now are "A Night in the Dinosaur Graveyard" ( and "Frankenfrog" (, both of which are pretty dark. And Will and I have been reading a lot from "The Rainbow Fairy Book" -- the illustrations aren't especially scary but the stories are! "Jack & the Beanstalk" was creeepy! And, of course, Will loves it & asks to hear stories out of it all the time. One of Eli's current faves is "St. George & the Dragon" ( which has beautiful, gory illustrations of the dragon with blood spurting out of its severed hand. Good stuff!

Sounds like all those art agents & reps are really, really underestimating kids and/or have absolutely no experience with or understanding of what kids really like, only what they think kids should/could handle. I think your illustrations look great! If I ever get around to writing a children's book, it would be an amazing honor to have you illustrate it because I love the stuff you do!

Jazzy Justin said...

I know what you mean, I have a bit of a "darkside" that pops up in some of my illos, too. But, I think you're right in saying that a little bit of scare is a good thing. As I child, I also gravitated towards the books with a bit of an edge. It was thrilling! I don't think it's healthy to sugar-coat the world for kids. Because if you do, once they leave home, they're in for a shock!

I like this illo, and I would have loved its mystery as a kid!

By the way, I remember meeting you at Primal through Ward. Good to see you doing cool work.

Aunt Marg said...

james--remember the "not scary"
fairy tales your "elders" were
told. The mother goose rhymes
were fun and exciting. Thinking
back were we all weird to enjoy
Little Red Riding Hood getting eaten by the big bad wolf--or
Chicken Little getting eaten by
Foxy Loxy or even The Three Pigs
getting eaten by the whatever....
point is what i enjoyed the most
about them was mama reading them to me and looking at the pictures.
somehow i relate them to "home"
which gives me a nice feeling.
You have to admit though they were
downright scary and violent. We
all survived those tales as well as
all the violence in The Bible....
so don't worry--pour your heart out
on the pages--each child will feel
differently about what they read and what they see. you can't dictate that...Times have changed
so much that children are much more sophisticated and logical at much earlier ages. They will know.