In 1951, publisher Simon & Schuster's imprint for children, Little Golden Books, released another picture book in their long line of hundreds of little slim storybook gems entitled, PANTALOON, written by Kathryn Jackson and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard.
I think every kid in America, and millions of children in countries throughout the world as well, have owned or read one of these many Golden Books titles. Pokey Little Puppy, Taxi That Hurried, Tootle, and Saggy Baggy Elephant come to mind.
At the end of 2007 I was contacted by Roberta Ludlow, the children's book art director at Random House (Random now owns the rights to all those hundreds of Little Golden Book titles from the '40's, '50's, '60's, etc...) and was asked to illustrate their re-release of PANTALOON. (slated for release later in 2009 or possibly early 2010) This new version of PANTALOON will be a full-sized, hard cover edition. Random editor Diane Muldrow later informed me that their original intention was simply to re-release PANTALOON with the original Leonard Weisgard illustrations, but that Weisgard's estate could not locate the original art for digital scanning. So Random made the decision to have a contemporary illustrator give a new visual spin to the 1951 classic... me!
I was thrilled to have been chosen for the task to illustrate this tale about the baker and the over zealous poodle, Pantaloon. Who could pass up creating images about a baker, tons of pastries, and a dog who rides a bike? I also wanted to be a part of the Golden Books history!
In my earlier blog posts, you can view sketches and some additional spreads from this new book project. I also have images from the book on view on my own web site, in the children's book section.
I created all the images using brush and gouache, painted onto Arches 260 lb hot press watercolor paper, then scanned the paintings into Photoshop where I digitally enhanced some colors and moved some elements within the image to make it better fit the layout relative to the placement of text.
The text in PANTALOON is of course the same as it was in 1951... but my spin on it was to really bring out the nutty, frenetic character of the poodle Pantaloon, far more than in the original book. I did so by giving him a quirkier style bicycle, more animation to his movement (I love the original illustrations but they have a more static quality) and in one scene I combined his actions of playing the guitar, trying on hats, and taking a bath (which were all separate scenes in the original book) to purposely expose Pantaloon's goofy nature.
Posted at the top is my new cover art version and below it is the original cover art from the 1951 edition. Below the covers are spread illustrations I created for the new version of the book, with the corresponding illustrations from the 1951 edition just underneath.
I cannot wait to see the preliminary printing of the book!