Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Scariest food I ate" contest for "The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra"

The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra is about fear. And food.

So illustrator Ana Aranda and I, with the support of our publisher, Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen Books, ran a little contest giving kids the chance to reveal the scariest food they ate for a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

Ana designed an adorable template (in both English and Spanish).

A winning entry:

That there's some terrifying eggs.

Thank you to all participants and congrats to the winners!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Renaming a Bronx street "Bill Finger Way"

On 6/23/17, after years and years of proposing the installation of a memorial to Bill Finger in New York, I learned that this fall, the city will be renaming 192nd Street "Bill Finger Way." 

It is the stretch along the southern end of Poe Park, in which Bill and Bob brainstormed Batman stories in the early 1940s.

Stay tuned here for details (including the date).

And for news of another memorial plan I have...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why we don't hear from Bob Kane's side in "Batman & Bill"

Because some have asked: there is no statement from the Bob Kane estate in Batman & Bill (or in Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman) not for lack of trying but rather for lack of response.

The only time I've heard from anyone in Kane's family was indirectly (for some reason, the comments I quote have since been removed).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mazza Museum Summer Conference 2017

In 2008, mere months after Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman came out, I had the privilege of speaking at the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio, a wonderful place dedicated to the art of the picture book.

It was then and there where I met fellow creators-turned-friends including Tad Hills and Marla Frazee.

Thanks to the grand marshal of Mazza, Ben Sapp, I returned on 7/17/17 to kick off the three-day 2017 Summer Institute. This time, I again met a fun group including
Jane Dyer, Jeff Ebbeler, and Sherri Rinker:

Special thanks to teacher and professional storyteller Kevin Cordi for one of the most dynamic introductions I've ever had—ever heard.

Alas, I was looking forward to seeing friends Barbara McClintock, Drew Daywalt, and Matt Phelan, but all were speaking on days 2 or 3, after I was gone (I could not linger because I had to present at the Scholastic Summit in Virginia the following day).

Two kind volunteers, Catherine and Karen, picked me up at the Dayton airport—but didn't take me straight to the hotel as I was expecting. First they surprised me with a visit to the nearby business of Katherine's husband Doug. He builds Batmobiles. As one does.

Yes, that's his job. He takes orders for either the 1966 TV show version or the 1989 movie version. It takes about a year to build one (over the body of another car).

I did not order one. I can't pull off Batmobile.

Part of the lovely care package waiting for authors in our rooms included boxes of local chocolates wrapped to look like our books.

Another highlight of the whirlwind trip: since late 2015, thanks to an enterprising fellow named Dan (shown below), the Mazza makes molds of the hands of their visiting authors and artists. Which hand? The hand we create with, of course. (Yes, writers type with both hands so we go with whichever hand is dominant.)

Renata Liwska and I went into the goo at the same time and both lived to tell the tale.

I can't explain what the goo is but it a) doesn't smell, b) doesn't stick to your skin, and c) feels like thick yogurt. We had to keep our hands in the goo for eight minutes. 

Mazza will display the hand molds alongside our work.

Let's see if they follow through on either of my suggestions: face molds or ice sculptures.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Batman & Bill" & Ron & Andy & Judy

Three friends have connections to the documentary Batman & Bill and those connections have nothing to do with me.

My college friend Ron West works for Thruline Entertainment, one of the companies involved in the production.

My former neighbor Andy Singer works for Alkemy X, the company that created the evocative animation for the film.

My fellow children's book author Judy Schachner is married to Bob Schachner, the audio mixer on the film.

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Batman & Bill" in "Penny Arcade" webcomic

It was called to my attention that Batman & Bill was the topic of the 5/31/17 Penny Arcade, which I then learned is "among the most popular and longest running gaming webcomics" (Wikipedia). It debuted in 1998 and as of 2010 claimed to have 3.5 million readers.

Thank you, PA!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Departure from chupacabra legend: drinking blood vs. eating

Before The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra came out, we received a comment worth addressing: why doesn't our chupacabra's signature act go according to legend?

In other words, chupacabras reportedly don't eat flesh but rather drink blood. (In Spanish, "chupacabra" means "goat sucker.")

My three goats, however, are not afraid of being drained of blood; they live in fear of being eaten. And my chupacabra is indeed more hungry than thirsty.

So why did I mythologize the myth?

It is simply a tweak to make the concept more appropriate for the picture book set (similar to the way picture books that tell the origin of Batman don't explicitly mention that his parents were shot to death). Odd as it may sound, it is less grotesque to talk of being eaten than to talk of having your blood sucked out.

Besides, either way, the goats would die.

Which (spoiler) they don't.

Friday, July 14, 2017

"Batman & Bill" documentary: the public response, part 2

Part 1.

I remain in happy shock at the continued outpouring of kindness for Batman & Bill. More hand-picked reactions from the past two months: 

The "best":

For your consideration:

Here come the waterworks:

Here you are:


Strong language:

Singing for the unsung:

Two times a charm:

I don't like Batman:









People you may know:




Foam fingers:

The other side: