Working with an Illustrator, Ed Roxburgh

Tonton Jim is not sure when or how the idea popped into his mind for what was to become the Hound’s Glenn series. He’d mentioned the concept to Ed, his longtime friend, who liked it well enough to enlist the help of a professional editor, Linnea Dayton. She, as good fortune would have it, was about to start a print-on-demand publishing business.

So, Tonton began to write the first book and Ed began thinking about doing the illustrations. As soon as Tonton completed the first draft, Linnea would work with Ed on how many water-colors to do. Because it was to be a chapter book, there had to be a set amount of full page illustrations and so many partial page illustrations. Ed and Linnea both being experienced in the publishing business, the completion of the book, Max and the Low-rider Car, occurred smoothly.

Now, Tonton can’t recall exactly how much effort went into the composition of the text. But whimsical storytelling seems to just bubble out of the non-entity, so we suspect that regardless of how many hours it took, no sweat ever beaded his forehead. Besides, with a professional editor guiding him, re-writing parts of the text must’ve been a breeze.

It was in the creation of the first book Tonton learned that in many respects the illustrator has the more daunting task. Evidently, this is news to the many writers who think all that needs to be done is to hatch a great idea for a children’s chapter book, write the simple and usually short story, and have an artist friend do a few dozen oils, water-colors, or what-have-you. To begin with, publishing houses don’t want writers to submit a work with illustrations, unless your name is Maurice Sendak. They prefer to hire their own illustrators.

Secondly, and most importantly, illustrating a chapter book is a lot of work for the artist. Ed never complained to Tonton about the work, but the writer did witness first hand the amount of labor that went into bringing to life the characters and the situations of the text. And he very much appreciated it. It is an almost magical experience to see one’s characters visually displayed. It’s like sharing a vision. Thank you, Ed.