Remember Moose and his motley crew? He’s hard to forget with that superhuman (supermoosian?) determination and antlers tuned toward mischief. Let me turn the reigns over to Tom Lichtenheld himself, so he can give you a look at his process, sketches, and creative problem solving. It’s a fascinating look at how an illustrator responds to an author’s manuscript, and a glimpse at the evolution of a picture book.
Welcome back, Tom!When I receive a manuscript and like it, the first thing I do is start doodling. That initial moment of inspiration only comes once, so I try to capture the first images that pop into my head.Then I start refining and exploring options.The director was initially a raccoon, but a duck felt more manic.I spent a lot of time on film sets during my career in advertising, so I know it’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.No, giraffe don’t live in the woods, but I like to draw them, so a giraffe it is.Lots of gags get left on the cutting-room floor, but it’s all part of the process.Boom!An idea revealing that the movie was actually made, which makes no sense.First crack at a title page. (click to enlarge)
First version of the opening scene. The narrator was a monkey, and part of the scene. We quickly realized that the director had to be “off-camera” until the end.First version of the spread where Director Duck realizes none of the animals are playing by the rules. I liked the simplicity of having only his eyes move, but it was a bit too subtle, so I changed it to his entire head looking from side to side.(click to enlarge)
Turning this marvelously manic manuscript into a logical sequence of pictures required complete immersion, so I made a foamcore enclosure around my desk, with only Moose material within my sight lines, and dubbed it The Moosenest. It sounds like a joke, but there’s a point in sketching out a book where you need to have the entire book suspended in your mind at once, so you can mentally move the pieces around without losing sight of any elements. It’s challenging, but one of my favorite parts of the process and I don’t think I could have done it for This Is A Moose without The Moosenest.
(I love that moose-like alien. I’m glad he got his day here.)