Friday, December 5, 2014

Framed Art and Coffee

I guess this post is particularly for my more local friends:

Tomorrow (Saturday the 6th) a big batch of my original art, including a good number of the watercolors from Julia's House, will find a place on the walls of Happy Creek Coffee and Tea in Front Royal. Some of it will be for sale! I just brought some of the pieces home from the frame shop (Sun Studio Framing in Front Royal) and they look very fine. Here's a little peek:

The art will be on display for the rest of December, but if you come by Happy Creek tomorrow, from 3 to 5pm you can catch me giving a little presentation about the work and an showing a small sneak peek at some of my upcoming projects. Click this link here for more information.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Goblin and the Queen

I've had my head down at my desk lately working on some of the final edits to Little Robot and trying to get a solid start on my next book (which I don't have much to say about yet). So I haven't had a lot of extra art to share, beyond the watercolor above, which I hope you like. Last month I thought a lot about wizards. This month I seem to be thinking a lot about goblins...

Later this week I will be traveling to Miami for the Miami Book Fair International. This will be my second time attending the Miami book fair, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's a very fun event, and this time I'll be catching up with Dave Roman and Kazu Kibuishi. Yay!

One other bit of news: I know I've been posting a lot about the Goodreads Choice Awards. Well, Julia's House has made the final rounds in the picture book category. If you want to take a look at this last round just click this link right here.

Okay! Next time: pictures from Miami (I hope).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Few Zitas More, Plus Twitter and Goodreads

Tomorrow afternoon (that is, Wednesday the 5th of November), from 4:00 to 4:30pm, I will be participating in a live twitter chat on behalf of the Miami Book Fair (which I'll be attending, and you can find more information about that RIGHT HERE). The idea is that you can use the hashtag #MBFIBenHatke to ask me questions. And I will try to answer those questions. I've not done this type of thing before, so I'm a tiny bit nervous. I feel like I'm co-hosting a text-only party. Please feel free to come! Bring chips!

On twitter, I am @BenHatke.

And another bit of social media news: I just found out that Julia's House for Lost Creatures is a finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards for picture books. If you use goodreads, please consider voting for your favorite picture book (they are all good choices).

And now, here's a few more of my favorite Zita the Spacegirl costumes from Halloween:

This Zita had a screed candy pail!

This little Zita had an impressive Robot One candy collector. Here's a closer look:

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Post with a Trick and a Treat

Happy Halloween! (oh man, I love Halloween so much).

I'll start with some news about Julia's House for Lost Creatures. This is the "trick."

The first printing of Julia's House has SOLD OUT. This is, overall, really good news. But unfortunately the first print run of the book sold out much more quickly than anyone expected and as a result, here on All Hallow's Eve, finding a copy of the book is a bit of a trick (see? see what I did?).

If you are looking for a copy of Julia's House, perhaps to give to a special someone for "All Hallow's Read", I'd suggest looking at Barnes and Noble. I've heard they still had copies in stock.

...And now some Zita the Spacegirl costumes! (I'm counting this as the treat). I've received so many pictures of kids in Zita costumes this year. Here are a few of my favorites (all pictures posted with permission but, parents and guardians, if you find I've made a mistake or would like a picture taken down let me know):

(These are book blogger Julie Danielson's kids, Ava and Piper. That's right. Piper is dressed as Piper.)

More costumes after the jump...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Few More Wizards

Well, here we are. Inktober is winding to a close and I think I'm squeaking in with about 15 drawings. I may be able to do a couple more but I have a huge backlog of pictures of kids in Zita costumes to post, now that Halloween is immanent.

For now here are a few drawings:

The Dripping Barrel is the most terrifying thing in this world of wizards. It floats silently about 3 feet off the ground, dripping a poison black ichor as it drifts across the countryside. Most of the time it seems aimless, but occasionally whole villages have perished,practically dissolved, in the Barrel's path. Is is a spell gone terribly wrong? Or is it the still sentient liquid remains of a powerful magic user? Few are brave enough to attempt to find out...

And of course on the other end of the fear spectrum we have Arborus the Branchy, a gentle wizard with a tree grwoing out of his head. Young lovers keep carving their initials into his branches when he sleeps too close to a farm.

And finally, this guy. He's not a wizard at all. Just a tacky performer who often does a little song and dance for the nobility about the dangers of magic. It's a living.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inktober: A Wellspring of Wizards

Well, it's become apparent that I am not going to end the month with 31 wizards, but this has been a very invigorating process nonetheless. I feel like, with this inktober wizard project, I've been stretching my creative muscles a bit. It's a good thing because all my book projects right now are in the writing and development phase -it's all text files and notebooks full of scribbles. So it's good to be pushing in different directions.

Here's the latest batch of characters from my world of Outlaw Wizards:

Crowquill isn't really a wizard at all. He's a government agent in a ludicrous disguise, sent by the nobility to spread dissent among the wizards. For if there's one thing the nobles fear it's that the exiled magic users will begin working together.

Mighty Rael isn't a wizard either. She was a contented ex-soldier-turned-farmwife until the day her husband was killed by crab-like mage. Now she wanders the Outlands hunting down magic users, and wearing the claws of the wizard that took her true love... (so dramatic!)

Emelia the All-Seeing is a professional treasure hunter and dungeon delver.

And finally there is Emerit the Handsome who is a very powerful wizard, but regrets ever starting down the path of magic because every time he casts a spell he becomes just a little bit smaller.

And that's all for this batch.

In other news, here is a link to a fun photo interview that I did with a book club at the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle.

And here is an illustrated column in the New Yorker, titled The Endangered Bookstores of New York which has stories from the bookstores across the city and makes a brief mention of me at the very end.

Okay! That's all for now.

UPDATE: Oh! I meant to leave you with a link to this crazy video about the Great Martian War. Discovered via Michael Gagne. It's crazy in the best possible way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Home From Comic Con

(this view of the New York Comic Con main show floor pulled from the First Second tumblr).

So Comic Con was a whirlwind, as usual. But it was a very encouraging and productive whirlwind this year.

I got to meet up and share a meal in Pennsylvania with Matt Phelan, go on a road trip through Massachusetts with my pal Zack Giallongo, catch up with Cory Doctorow at the First Second table (and thanks to him I ended up buying a Very Dramatic Coat), and have my day saved (or at least one of my events saved) by the amazing Jerzy Drozd. And those were just a few of my weekend adventures.

And of course all this has put me a little behind in my Inktober drawing. But I have one wizard for you. And there are more to come:

This wizard has been practicing magic for so long that he had to grow a homunculus to push him around in a wheelbarrow. Was it worth it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Big NYCC Weekend

Well, as it turns out, I'll be doing quite a lot over this busy Comic Con weekend. More than I mentioned in my last post anyway. Here are a few of the places you'll be able to find me over the next few days:

(this post has been edited).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Inktober Batch 2 and NYCC14!

Here is the latest batch of Inkober drawings. Four new magicians with stories of their own and a world growing out around them...

It is a world on the brink of industrialization and magic is forbidden inside the walls of cities or towns. Magicians are outlaws in the traditional sense -not hunted as criminals, but neither are they protected by the law. Magicians are exiles banished to the fringes of civilization.

Additionally, the practice of magic has a disfiguring effect, making practitioners easy to spot. Older, experienced wizards appear barely human. Here are four Magicians with different levels of experience:

Reynard the Retired: A crafty old illusionist who has since abandoned magic and now lives as a hunter in the wild lands.

The Clockwork Conjurer: A strange wandering automaton that is widely assumed to be all the remains of a once mighty wizard. (in fact the wizard, what is left of him, lives on inside the automaton, powering it with the last of his magic).

The Widow of the Outlands: a young enchantress who was exiled upon the birth of her first child, born with a telltale tail.

The Witch of the Walls: A potions master that is tolerated to live on the outer walls of a great city. She scrapes together an existence mixing love potions, healing concoctions, and political poisons.

More Inktober coming soon...

New York Comic Con News: I will be at NYCC 2014 on Sunday, October 12th! I'll be doing a couple panels but the best time to stop by and say hello will be from 11:30 to 12:30 at the First Second booth (number 2237). Feel free to leave a comment if you'll be attending NYCC this year, and I'll be sure to look for you.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


A few years ago the illustrious Jake Parker came up with the idea of InkTober, a month long celebration of the fine art of drawing in ink and a challenge to artists to try their hand at producing 31 ink drawings in 31 days. (Jake has posted a nice bit of information here).

This year I'm going to give it a shot.

I don't know how successful I'll be. I've got a lot going on in October, including a trip to New York Comic Con next weekend. But I'll do the best I can. Maybe not the full 31, but something. I'll post the drawings on my twitter and here on the blog, in batches, about once a week.

Oh, and I've given myself a theme: Outlaw Wizards. They are Magic users banned from walled cities, scraping together a life for themselves on the raggedy edge of civilization. Here are the first two (for today and tomorrow), the Vagabond Sorceress of the Northern Roads, and the Patchwork Wizard.

Oh! and the other thing to keep a lookout for this month is Zita costumes. I have a pretty big backlog of Zita cosplay photos to share, so I'm planning to start posting those in the weeks leading up to Halloween...

So ...excelsior?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fighter 8

This is a post about a project that never came to be. It's called:

Last year, after doing a freelance job for a small division of a pretty well-known animation company, I was invited to pitch a short animated web series to them. It was a fun, sort of open ended project. Ultimately, though, what I came up with didn't quite fit with the house style and the other things they were producing, and so we parted ways. And that was fine. Not every story, or project comes to full fruition. Life would be too crazy if that happened.

Still, the pitch has been sitting on my hard drive collecting dust ever since. I'm happy with a lot of the art, and the character designs in particular, so I thought, here on the first day of autumn, I would share them in one big post.

Briefly, Fighter 8 is an arena fighting story about a group of middle schoolers with weird super powers. Sort of Pokemon meets kid X-men. The story follows Douglas the Multiple boy as he helps his best friend Jason (the Spin Doctor) form a Battle Stars league for their school. Of course, in so doing they begin to uncover an unsettling mystery surrounding the school's principal.

There's a lot more to it of course, including a ten-episode story arc, but because I want the art to sort of take center stage in this post, I'm not going to include the full synopsis or character bios or anything -though I may paste some of those things into the comments for anyone interested.

And so, without further preamble, here's the art from Fighter 8:

Main cast:

Douglas the Multiple Boy

Jason the Spin Doctor, and the Elephantom

Tracker and Dino-Tail

Big cat and the Rainbowler

(you can click the one above for a larger version)

Some additional characters from opposing teams:

And here's a short comic:

And there you have it. It feels good to finally share some of this with the world. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Missed Events and Whispers of a Short Film

I apologize to anyone who missed seeing me this last weekend at either the Princeton Book Festival or the Baltimore Book Festival. I seem to have run myself into the ground a bit.

The past few weeks have been crowded. A road trip to Indiana to visit my family was followed by the Baltimore Comic Con, which was followed by a whirlwind 3 days of shooting a short film (more on that in a bit), which was followed by SPX. I missed the first day of SPX to something like food poisoning, but I pulled myself together for the second day (and what a second day it was. It reminded me just how nice a show is SPX). After SPX we had some awesome guests for a few days and then I had a day of school visits and car trouble.

Then I just couldn't get out of bed.

The little cough I'd been trying to ignore finally blossomed into Something Terrible and I have nothing but gratitude for the dead car battery that kept me from going to New York this weekend. And now, thanks to a nice doctor and a round of antibiotics, I am just starting to feel like me again. I've made promises to rest a lot this week. Because this weekend is the beautiful Baltimore Book Festival. I'll be speaking there at 2pm (info here) and probably doing a reading of Julia's House for Lost Creatures.

But what's this about a short film? I hear you asking. Well...

My friends over at Mirandum Pictures have been putting together a series of scary shorts for Halloween. I helped them with a couple of the shorts and then, somehow ...I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I found myself writing my own short. And then I found myself directing the short.

It's a small thing, only a touch over 3 minutes long, but it was an absolute blast to make. As you'd expect it leans heavily toward fantasy, and I hope it catches the flavor of Halloween. I ought to be able to share it here in early November so stay tuned for that. But for now here's the title treatment and a production still:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Julia's House Bonus Art

Now that the Julia's House Blog tour has wound down, I thought I'd post the whole little creature collection online in one place, right here. I was thinking of making these into a little collection of prints.