Q. Why do I love Jon Muth, Matt Phelan and Helen Oxenbury?
A. Because their characters are so lively and endearing.
Q. What is perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve taken from the SCBWI conference?
A. That I need to work on my characters.
I’ve been aware that this is something I should do- creating studies that show a character doing a variety of things. I was thinking of it as a great portfolio builder, just to prove that I can draw characters. But now I’m becoming aware that this is a much deeper challenge, and a visual character should be given as much thought and dimension as a written character.
And my final realization before I climb down off this soapbox: Stories that aren’t character driven in terms of text, can still be driven by lively and endearing characters. So my next step is to study books like Il Sung Na’s A Book of Sleep and Renata Liwska’s The Quiet Book to see how their characters bring these stories to life.