Behind the Scenes: Where’s Walrus?
Where’s Walrus? cover
Last week we interviewed children’s book illustrator, Stephen Savage. Stephen sent me so many great images I couldn’t fit it all into one post!
Today, Stephen talks to us about his award-winning, wordless picture book Where’s Walrus? and takes us through his process, from the very first sketch to the final color comps for the cover. Stephen’s style is fresh, spare, and seems effortless, so it’s fascinating to see the amount of work and planning that goes into his finished pieces.
“The book was a long haul. I worked on it off and on for seven years. It ALMOST didn’t happen,” Stephen says. “Our creative objective—’make an exciting and funny wordless picture book about a walrus who is mistaken for a person’—seemed unattainable after years of drafts and sketches.” In fact, Stephen was almost ready to throw in the towel after a few years. But he persevered and we are glad he did!
Interior spreads from Where’s Walrus? The wordless book is about a walrus that escapes from the zoo and eludes his zookeeper.
“Don’t Frighten the Lion!, by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by H. A. Rey, was an early inspiration for Where’s Walrus? In this book, a dog dresses up as a child to get into the zoo.”
“This art school drawing was the real seed for the book…”
“…It had been inspired by a trip to the Coney Island Aquarium. I kept thinking during my visit how much walruses looked like old guys from Brooklyn.”
“Walrus has a little Babar and Buster in him.”
“Where’s Walrus? grew out of hundreds and hundreds of doodles in sketchbooks done over a 3 year period.” (Click to enlarge.)
“Lots of trial and effort goes into making the work look effortless and spontaneous.” (Click to enlarge.)
“Early drafts of Where’s Walrus? had words in them.”
“Where’s Walrus? is one long chase scene, told in sweeping diagonals.” [ed note: so freakin’ cool!]
“Another famous chase scene!”
“It took us 4 attempts before we figured out how to do the ending of the story.”
Lots of color comps for the Where’s Walrus? cover. (Click to enlarge.)
The final jacket design. Stephen did the typography as well. (Click to enlarge.)
“A letter from a young Walrus fan.”
For more of Stephen’s work check out last week’s interview and his website. His next book, Polar Bear Morning, with Lauren Thompson, comes out in January, 2013. Thanks again Stephen!