Aaaaand, I’m back!

After weeks of being chained to my drafting table, I’m finally finished with the art for Peter Nimble! In the coming days, I’ll be leaking some previews of the art and a bit about my process.  I’ll also resume putting up marginalia quotes and blog posts again.1  Please accept this first meager offering, a scan of a blotter sheet left over from the illustrations …

The last six weeks have been absolutely grueling.  I drew thirty-one pen-and-ink pictures, and each one took me approximately twenty hours to complete.  Do the math, and you’ll see that sleep was not really an option.  I’ve heard that marathon runners’ bodies start to shut down as they round the last mile — that might explain why in the last two days of drawing I couldn’t hold a pen, eat, or walk straight.

Luckily, I was not alone.  I had the advice and guidance of the Abrams’ designer Chad Beckerman as well as valuable input from my mother and sister, both of whom are artists.  And, most importantly, I had Mary who (other than briefly deserting me to attend a Dickens conference in Houston) was more supportive than I can say.

I’ve experienced my share of deadline-induced fatigue, but nothing like this.  Literally, the day after I handed in the final art, my eyes started acting strange.  I couldn’t open them, and when I did, my eye muscles would start to spasm uncontrollably.  How ironic that after completing a book about a blind boy, I became effectively blind.  Hilarious!

A trip to the doctor informed me that all my time staring without blinking had given me an ulcer in my left eye.2  Apparently this isn’t a big deal, though it has forced me to take a longer rest than I originally planned.

When the doctor told me about this, I laughed out loud.  Firstly, because I was glad to hear I wasn’t going blind.  Secondly, because just a few weeks before I had mocked3 author Lisa Yee over lunch when she told me she had that very same ailment.

What’s the moral of this story?  Don’t mess with Lisa Yee.


  1. Thanks to all the friends who harassed me about getting back to blogging; it’s nice to know I was missed.
  2. I say “in” because an ulcer, as I learned from the doctor, is when a chunk is missing … basically, I have a cut in the white of my eye.
  3. For any of you questioning why I would mock the suffering of a relative stranger, I would respond that you clearly don’t know me very well.

6 Comments Leave a Comment

  • Fuse #8 says:

    Welcome back! And yes, your advice about Lisa Yee is correct. The woman has powers. . . such vast powers . . .

  • Lisa Yee says:

    See, Auxier. You mock me, I transfer my eyeball ailment to you. That’s right.

  • Consider me warned! Looking forward to seeing you at the LA Times Festival of Books … I’ll be the one wearing hockey pads and a crucifix.

  • Tara says:

    Do you listen to Radio Lab? There is an interesting episode about testing one’s limits that your entry reminded me of (http://www.radiolab.org/2010/apr/05/). One segment, in particular, was about a race called The Ride Across America, where people bike across the country stopping only about 1 hour every day. They literally tie their heads up so that their heads don’t fall down, and the lack of sleep causes hallucinations and other stuff (that segment is here: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/apr/05/limits-of-the-body/).

    Anyway, sounds like you had a crazy taste of that! But great work, Jonathan! I’m impressed and yeah, the eye ulcer is pretty ironic and sounds weird to say (“eye ulcer”), but no fun I’m sure. Glad it’s not serious, but hope it goes away quickly!

  • James says:

    what is a blotter sheet, and why is it covered with drawings of sperm?

  • James,
    It’s funny you say that. My mother (the artist) has always called marks like that “little sperms”





  • Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

    Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS