the Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field

Media for Gophers!

Hey Hey, I hope everyone is enjoying their July so far.  I sure am.  The weather is fantastic and I am busy busy gearing up for SDCC and two other cons this summer in late August.

It's been a fun last few weeks as well.  I was asked to come on Breakfast TV again and did a little "bit" on encouraging creativity in kids with some drawing.  It was pretty stressful as my first appearance on live tv, and then moments before we go live I get the advice to "make sure your hands keep drawing while you answer the questions"... bit.  "Oh no".  If anyone knows me I'm not great at the more than one thing at a time.  The bad news is the car I drew on live TV was not exactly good (downright embarrassing - even my wife confessed), Good news was that at least all the words coming out of my mouth sounded good - even with the strange facial expressions I made trying to focus on drawing and answering questions at the same time.  Ahh good times.  I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of the video, but if I do I'll put it up here for some comic relief!

The Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field has also been picking up some more reviews and good press in the media.  Laurie Greenwood did a very nice review of my book on Global TV in her book review segment on the 24th of June.  Here is a link if you're interested (Gophers is the second book):

Click here for Gophers Book Review

There's rumors of other videos and reviews out there and so I'll be on the hunt to find them.

Until then Take care!

-Mike

Three School Visits and a Tub

Hellllllo everyone!  May is almost done for me and June is upon us, but what an amazing May it has been!  I have 3 school visits to blog about so lets get to it! Well the Scribblers for Life Tour starting this month quite a ways north from where I live in a small community called Kinuso (which is close to Slave Lake).  I zipped up there the night before and I must have seen at least 20+ white tailed road hazards (Deer).  After the first 3 I was very glad the sun was setting much later.  I also saw more beaver lodges and dams than I have ever seen before in my life, which gave me a whole new appreciation for their hard work after seeing some of their amazing constructions (and how much it changed the land!!).  Finally, Slave Lake was like a small sea, you could see across it one way fairly easily, but length was it looked like it was the ocean looking out on it.  MOST OF ALL  Kinuso Elementary School was just amazing and we even created a new first - a Double Decker Stacktastic - Officially the tallest STACKTASTIC yet!!!  Here's some of the carnage:

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What was a nice surprise about a week after my visit to Kinuso was when I received a whole pile of notes and letters from the Students in Grade  5:

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Makes it all worth while!

Next stop on the tour was Ermineskin Elementary!  Now this school was cooooool.  When I first arrived I saw this amazing banner that the students had made for me (As seen in photo below) with cool drawing of my own pictures and it said "Tatawaw" which means "Welcome" in Cree!  I did a number of readings of my Gophers in Farmer Burrows Field book and they all informed me they knew ALL about gophers (though they handled them differently than Farmer Burrows did).  They had also made some amazing 3D paper scenes from my book!  It was ultra awesome and so much fun!  "Hai Hai" Ermineskin Elementary ( which I believe is Thank you in Cree).

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This month has taken me all over small town Alberta and shown me just how diverse and beautiful this province is.  Last week I had the pleasure to visit Alder Flats Elementary School which is between Drayton Valley and Rocky Mountain House, a few hours to the west of my home.  I was once again blown away (as I have been with all the schools I've been to) by their hospitality of the staff and by how great the students were.  We made a couple of books together using the BBF (Boldt Book Formula) a STACKTASTIC, and I was able to teach one class all about digital illustration.  These grade 5s and 6s are fortunate enough to get to dabble in photoshop and learn about digital mediums at a very young age.  Awesome!  I shared a bit of how I work and lent some tips to them, and then gave as many as I had time for a whirl on my own wacom tablet that I packed along.  I even created a quick sketch (that they donated the ideas for - a Dr. Crocodile with a beard) for them to color at a later date.  I look forward to seeing their own creations some day!  Thank you Alder Flats Elementary, you rock!  Here's that creation:

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If you feel like coloring Crazy Croc PHD and sending it to me too, go right ahead!  I'll post them on my blog with all the others that come in!!!

My final blurb of this marathon post is a recent illustration I did that I may have in print (in my store) at some point in the future.  I think I'm calling it "Bathtime".

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Take care everyone!

-Mike

Rosebrier Community School and the Calgary Comic Expo!!!

Hey Hey!  How's everyone enjoying their Spring so far?  Mine has been great!  I've just finished my second picture book (stay tuned for some sneak peeks soon) as well as some more school visits and a Comic Expo.  I cannot believe how much fun this has been.  I know I am saying it a lot these days, but honestly, these school visits are just an awesome time for me (I hope the students are enjoying it too haha).  So back at the end of April I visited Rosebrier Community School just out side Wetaskiwin.  Rosebrier is located in some just beautiful country that really describes the prairies well.  The sky just felt so huge out there, as you can see from my pictures.  The school itself is super cool not just because of the fantastic students and staff, but they have the original Rosebrier school that was at least 100 years old right there on the property.  I was fortunate enough to even be given a tour of it!  Talk about history, though I didn't see any computer desks in that old building, made me wonder how they sent their emails....   Another really cool aspect of this visit was the fact that I finally got to sling out my Digital Illustration session on some Grade 8 and students.  I let them take a ride with my wacom tablet too once we were done.  Naturally, as all kids these days, they took to it like a duck to water.  They were also very familiar with the gophers from my Farmer Burrows book, though they confessed they took care of them in a different way... rosebriervisit1

Over all it was a great time and it took me back a ways to my own childhood and going to a small country school.  Thanks again Rosebrier!

My weekend didn't end there however.  The very next two days I had managed to get a last minute table at the Calgary Comic Expo.  My first experience with a table at a comic show too, and so I was a little worried how it would go with my "kidsy" stuff.  Well, I am happy to say it was a blast!  The place was packed, an estimated 15,000 people cruised the expo that weekend and I sold out of almost all my prints!  I also was selling my book, The Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field, and my new sketchbook (as well as trading a ton of them with the surrounding artists I marveled at all weekend.  Also, being located in the Artist's Alley of this event I finally braved my fears and did some "con comishes", as in drawings on the spot for people.  Did a few Chuck Chances and his characters, a Jackalope from my Legendary Anthology comic, and a Batman, a Thor, and a Captain Marvel (Shazam!).  It also just so happened to be one of Leonard Nimoy's last public appearances, and I was able to see his session (via bigscreen) while grabbing a bite to eat.  Really cool.

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One of the huge highlights on top of having a great time with my own table, was meeting the other amazing people and talents at the con.  Doug TenNapel, creator of one of my all time favorite characters (Earthworm Jim), came over and was talking to me on the last day!  IN fact he seemed so genuine and natural I didn't even recognize him until I saw his name tag.  Then I almost fell over.  A super cool guy with who I was able to get some original art from his Catscratch show.  Awesome!

I also almost always have my eye out for other comics for kids (being that I am looking to make one myself next in Chuck Chance) and came upon two super cool dudes, Chris and Marv, the creators of the comic "The Misadventures of Mal and Lot" of Powie Studios.  A really wild and exciting comic for kids that is high action.  Kids are going to love this book.  I'm looking forward to running into these guys again!  I also snagged a commish'd sketch of one of my favorite xmen - nightcrawler done by Marcio Takara!  Met and talked (and exchanged some prints) with two cool dudes of the Udon Crew, Eric Vedder and Joe Viens!!!  This post could probably be many lines longer.  Quick last shout outs to David, Holly and Autumn for being fantastic table neighbors and amazing artists to boot!!!

Needless to say, I'll be going back.

Take care,

-Mike

Fun in February!

Hello out there!  So aside from turning yet another year older February has been a great month.  It started with another school visit.  Kathy Schoepp, the librarian arranged for me to visit her wonderful Elementary school right in my home town.  Brookwood School was a blast.  I was there for TWO FULL DAYS of presentations and readings.  We did a pile of STACKTASTICs with the different classes and grades that I saw.  They were a blast!  I should really start to take more pictures of them as I'm done as I like to leave the drawings there for the classes that helped me create them.  There were piles of hilarious moments too.  Here's one example.  We had started a STACKTASTIC (where I draw anything the kids can come up with in a stack like the gophers from my book make) which is generally a lot of fun.  There are definitely some steady requests for any stack I do - TRex, Giraffe, Barns, farm animals of any kind - but this was a new request.  I knew one day someone would ask for him, but I still was not prepared.  Spiderman.  Basically my all time favorite hero, just above Batman.  Though, as much as I love Spidey, I've never been able to draw him well.  But I had these kids ask for him, and so I had to give it a go.  As if I wasn't nervous enough, as soon as I started, one of the kids in the front said to his friend "Now we'll see if he's any good.  My brother can draw Spiderman perfectly, so I am going to judge this one against his."  Thankfully no one took a picture of that one, and I didn't hear it, but I'm sure I didn't make the grade - though it made me laugh for quite a while. Here are a few shots from the visit:

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While I've known for quite a while that these school visits were going to be a part of my future in doing kid's books, they were something I used to sweat bullets about doing.  I've never been much of a public speaker, always feared having to read out loud in class, and basically dreaded being in front of an audience at anytime in general.  However, these visits I've had so far have been just outstanding times.  I hope I can continue to do more in the future... and on that note ~transition~

February also had me at my first convention as an exhibitor.  The Teacher's Convention for the greater Edmonton area of Northern Alberta was also around the beginning of the month.  After my first school visit last month, my wife (who's an amazing teacher) spotted a brochure while she was subbing one day, and suggested that I could go and have the chance to meet a lot of schools and teachers.  Long story short - I got in at the last minute and had an amazing time - even if my booth looked a bit vacant.  I met so many great teachers who were very interested in having me come out to their schools, it was fantastic.  I also learned a few tips for the next time.  Make sure I have a sign saying "I DO AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR SCHOOL VISITS!!!"  Anyways, here are a couple shots from the floor:

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Like I said.  It was a great experience.  I sold enough Gophers books to pay for it too!  Plus I had a draw for 10 free books, 5 prints, and one original drawing and so my draw box became more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey.

This month also had my book, The Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field, start to get some publicity.  I got a great review from CM magazine which is a resource for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents.  You can check it out here:

http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol16/no21/gopher.html

I also had a couple places in some magazines this month.  Here is one sample in the Mumsense, a UK publication:

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Pretty cool stuff.

So finally, this month I have a little workshop coming up at the Young Author's Conference in Sherwood Park AB that I am extremely excited about.  I was asked if I could teach a few short lessons on creating a graphic novel or comics.  Seeing as how I've had my heart in comics for most of my life and Bill Watterson is one of my original influences, AND I just so happen to have a certain character called Chuck Chance who's been very patient with me - I jumped at the opportunity.  I created this little sketchbook too (which is just at the printers at the moment):

sketchbook-cover

I wanted to have something available for the students at this conference to pick up that not only had something to do with comics, but also a bit of a "How to/my process" type thing for them to take home.  I've been a fan of sketchbooks from artists I admire for a number of years and my collection is growing constantly.  I love seeing how people create and start off with their work.  So this sketchbook, which I'll have in my store soon, is mostly my comic stuff from the last few years.  It has my short comic from the Legendary Anthology that is still seeking a publisher, as well as a process section from that contribution, and then other odd comic bits and sketches.  I excluded the picture book stuff on purpose as I may do a different sketchbook or something with those works at another time.

So that's all for now.  I probably could have posted 4 times this month for each of these topics, but once is better than never eh?  So take care everyone and I hope you're enjoying the Winter Olympics as much as I am.

-Mike

Hello 2010

Hello everyone!  I hope the new year has treated you well so far.  I admit it's been extremely busy so far for me, but fantastic.  I am extremely excited about this next year, mostly because of the projects I'm working on but also because of some of the opportunities that are presenting themselves.  I am mostly working on getting some legs under the Gophers book and that eats up most of my hours these days.  I used to think that I was done with the book when I finished coloring the last page and putting it together, but now I realize that is only the first half of getting a book published.  Actually it's probably way less than half of it and a job that will probably carry on indefinitely.  That may sound a bit ominous, and I admit, doing sales was not a part of my dream when I started this, but it has brought me to an entirely new opportunity that I just love.  That being school visits and other public appearances of that sort. Last week I had my first school visit.  I cannot say enough how much fun it was.  Queen Elizabeth School in Lloydminster (the very same school who's entire 4th grade class participated in the Stacktastic contest in November) was the host, and they did an amazing job.  They invited me out for TWO FULL DAYS of presentations and readings to many of the different grades and classes!  Together we made around 7 books together that the students are going to finish off, as well as a number of hilarious Stacktastic stacks.  I cannot wait to see what these amazing kids come up with for their final books.  There was one about a Alien Cow that jumps the sun on a motorbike, one about an Orange Gorilla who wants to join a ballet, one about a Ninja Chicken named Mr. Chucky Cluckers who rode a flying banana, and a number of others!!!  What a privilege it was to meet them, and the staff was just as amazing.  Special thanks to my friend Andrea who went way above and beyond to set this up and made sure everything ran smoothly.

Here are a few pictures from the event!

Here we are getting ideas, drawing a storyboard of their ideas and showing them the process I use to create a book from beginning to end.

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Many of the kids also bought a copy of my book which I was more than happy to sign for them.  This was one of my favorite times, as I was able to meet with so many of these fantastic kids!  I also drew more gophers on binders, books, and scraps of paper than I could possibly remember!

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Massive THANK YOUs once again to Q.E. School, Andrea, and all the students for a fantastic experience.

This month also had me participate in another extremely awesome collaboration of talent that I was, and am, just floored and humbled to be asked to be a part of.  Vicki Saulls, of Blue Sky Studios sent me this invitation:

Two colleagues at Blue Sky Studios, David LaMattina and Chad Walker, have created a feature-length documentary about a pen pal program between a group of at-risk sixth graders living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and orphans from the war living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This Postcard Art project is an extension of the their film "Brownstones To Red Dirt" which features children from both schools. The kids in both places have inspired us all to want to do more and so we're putting together an art auction of original postcards based around the same central theme of the film in a fundraising effort to build a school for the orphans in Freetown, Sierra Leone and create a library for the youth at their school in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

The documentary referred to can be seen at this site: http://www.brownstonestoreddirt.com.  Please go see it.  Vicki has done an amazing job organizing all of this and the idea was so cool.  With a rough theme of "Pen Pals" or really anything else this idea or film may inspire, create some art on these really cool wooden postcards that will be auctioned off.  Here is my contribution that I hope can aid this incredibly worthy cause.  I called it "Far off Friends" and the characters are from my next book.

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Many many many of the other contributors of this project have been artists that I've looked up to, idolized and been inspired by for years.  This was such an honor.  Please to not pass this up, go see the other postcards for this Brownstones to Red Dirt Postcard Art Benefit. Not all the contributions have come in yet, but the names of the other artists involved are all on the side.  Big thank you to Vicki Saulls for not only opening my eyes to this and the invitation, but over all and getting everyone involved in this!  I cannot wait to see the end result!

So there are a few things of the main things that have been keeping me busy, but other than that I am still working hard on my second picture book and what I am going to do when I'm done that!  I also am busy planning for another couple days of school visits in February, a local teachers convention, and a graphic novel workshop for a young author's conference!  As well, I am planning some special for February that goes along with my next book.

So take care everyone, I'll have news and new stuff again soon!

-Mike

Old man '09 has (almost) left the building!

I hope everyone had a fantastic and blessed Christmas!  Mine was an amazing time with family and friends.  It was so nice to relax and enjoy time together as a family and just eat a lot of very good food. So a new year is almost upon us.  So far around 300 copies of The Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field have sold!  So we're ramping up for the new year and getting more sales done across the country.  The new year will also have some school visits and presentations as well as some workshops which I am very excited about.  I did a reading at a local Starbucks to a few children before Christmas and it was a blast.  Stacktastic was a lot more fun to do with the kids than I had even imagined.  My second children's picture book is nearly done and I am going to start to trickle out info and tidbits on it in the weeks coming up.

So a really good friend of mine alerted me to the fact that the iphone app I did last year is/was featured in almost every mac store in the world!  Well, at least every one that had the Christmas App tree display.  Not only that, but it was featured twice in the same display!!  Once at the largest size and another smaller one.  Jingle Jumble is the app, and it's free!  So go ahead and go get it here!

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This is the App Tree display in the mac stores (photo not by me)

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So we had to take a trip down to the mall to see if it was true and in our own mac store.  This was taken by my sister in law.  In our local mac store this was in the front window!

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And there I am with it.  The mac "guru's" and mac fanatics were all looking at me like I was crazy - and they didn't really believe me when I said that was the one I did haha.  Oh well.  Still sorta surreal to see it.

Lastly, I am still catching up with some long over due prizes for the winners of STACKTASTIC!  So here are what two of the original sketches that I will soon be shipping out to a pair of the winners!

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The character in both of these sketches is from the new book too!  I'm keeping the name on the down low as I will soon be having another contest and prizes that fall closely in line with the "name" of this fella.

Well take care all!  Thank you for a wonderful first year (or half of one) here at Boldtman Studios!  I cannot wait to get this new year rolling!

-Mike

A Gopher's Book Trailer!

Hello everyone!  Been a really busy month so far and extremely cold around here ta boot!  Just the other day there was only one place on the PLANET that was colder - a little weather station in Siberia!  Anywho, I see some people have started to vote for their "Mostest Fan Favorite" in Stacktastic!  Once it's decided then I'll get on getting those prizes out!  Don't worry, I haven't forgotten! On to the NEWS!  The other day I noticed a comment about how new books are often having "trailers" done for them and released on the internet.  Book trailers?  I've never heard of such a thing.  So after a short time on Youtube I found some amazing works!  So today I did up a little trailer for "The Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field" .

Check it out here and let me know what you think of it!

Take care everyone!

-Mike