Today I’m participating in a blog tour with author-illustrator (or is it illustrator-author?) Jon Klassen. I personally loved his picture book Where Is My Hat, and my 4-year-old twin daughters loved it as well. And they seem to peel off a new layer each time we read it.
First, some links, and then to the interview:
Chris: When you were working on I Want My Hat Back, was there anything you missed about illustrating other people’s stories as opposed to your own?
Jon: I’d never done my own story for a book before, so I think the novelty of it rode over anything I would’ve missed. Since then I’ve been putting together other ones of my own, and you really do start to miss the collaborative part, if only because the starting point comes from somewhere else and it’s more of a problem to solve. With your own stories you’re second guessing everything a bit.
Chris: Do you have a philosophical position on being subtle versus over-the-top when it comes to character expressions?
Jon: I don’t disagree with over-the-top, when someone feels like it fits. I do have a harder time drawing it, but with this book I also really enjoyed trying to load the context of the character just standing there. Books give you that extra tool to tell what that character is doing and feeling, so it’s fun to try and push that. I also think that people can relate to characters not being over the top. A lot of times you can be having huge emotions, but you’re standing still and looking blank.
Chris: Do you have a philosophical position on the ethics of rabbits?
Jon: This rabbit I think could’ve used a lesson in the concept. I guess he does get one. I didn’t want to make him evil or, again, over the top, but instead he comes off sort of indifferent when he’s found out, and I think that makes the bear even more upset than he was.
Chris: A wise man once said, there’s “nothing more foolish than a man chasin’ his hat.” What’s your response?
Jon: I might be wrong, but I think there’s a whole paragraph given to that in The Pickwick Papers, and I almost made a student film out of it. It really is such a weird thing to find yourself doing, but if you’re used to wearing a hat, there isn’t a lot that can make you panic in quite the same way that losing your hat does.
Jon: Yes! I’m flattered you know of him! I’m never very prone to drawing characters, but the cards were a nice place to try out an idea like that. I wanted to do animals that looked like someone had come and put party hats on them and they had no idea what they were doing there. I liked that way of presenting a character a lot – like they had been shipped there for your purposes but that doesn’t mean they’re really going to get into it. That tone carried into the book a lot, too. I like to think most of the animals in the book just punched the clock once they said their lines and went back
to doing whatever it is they do.
Chris: Has Cormac McCarthy commented on your illustration inspired by The Road?
Jon: He never has. I’m kind of offended. I’ve heard he’s such a chatty guy.
Chris: What are you working on now?
Jon: I’m working on other stories with animals in them. The animals are being tricky, though.
Chris: Last question: have you seen my hat?
Jon: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I’m the last stop on the blog tour, but be sure to check out all the previous stops:
Tuesday, Sept. 20 – UK: Playing by the Book
Wednesday, Sept. 21 – AUS: Kids’ Book Capers
Thursday, Sept. 22 – US: Not Just for Kids
Friday, Sept. 23 – UK: Bringing Up Charlie
Saturday, Sept. 24 – AUS: My Book Corner
Sunday, Sept. 25 – UK: Wham Bham
Monday, Sept. 26 – Canada: Pickle Me This
Tuesday, Sept. 27 – US: There’s a Book
Wednesday, Sept. 28 – AUS: My Little Bookcase