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. Thanks to all the friends who harassed me about getting back to blogging; it's nice to know I was missed.] 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. 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.] 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 mocked[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.] 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.