We’re always happy to share good news from our stubbled Italian fairy godfather, Sergio Ruzzier. He’s with us now to talk about the creation of his new book, Bear and Bee, which comes out today. And with that, we hand over the conch shell. Take it away, Sergio!
When my daughter Viola was in, I believe, third grade, I was asked by her school, P.S. 295 in Brooklyn, to come up with a bee character to use as a mascot. That’s how Bee was born.
Looking at little Bee all alone on that sheet of paper, I began thinking she needed a friend, and that’s when Bear came along. At that point, I thought those two needed a story. The people at Hyperion liked it and agreed to publish it, and even asked me for a second story, which will come out in the Spring of 2014 with the title Too Busy.
The sandals Bear wears were very popular in Italy in the Seventies. They were very uncomfortable and painful, made of wood and leather, or possibly faux leather. I want to write a story in which they are protagonist. Here are some sketches that might help me come up with future story ideas.
As always, the very first thing I do when I have a story idea, is to put it down on paper as a sequence of very rough sketches.
Once the story is approved, I start working on the final spreads. In Bear and Bee all the pictures are whole two-page spreads. For this book, instead of my usual pen&ink and watercolor, I digitally colored the black pen&ink drawings, after I had scanned them and put them together on the screen.
This is the spread with Bear’s morbid fantasy on how bees look like.
It’s nice to see the storyboard as it fills out as you finish each spread. Here’s the complete set.
For the starry sky in the last two spreads I clumsily appropriated Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel‘s vault.
To help spread the word about Bear and Bee, Hyperion produced this poster about reading, which will be given to schools, libraries and bookstores. On the back, there are four activity sheets, which are also available for free download on my website.
Weird shoes, architectural referencing, a morbid fantasy, a Maurice Sendak blurb, and lots of illustration process. What more could you ask for? Thanks, Sergio! And everyone, check out Bear and Bee!
Thanks for sharing this process. I like the story of Bee’s beginnings. Need to show this to my friend Michele (Mi-kay-leh) – who actually looks a bit like Sergio. Is he from Milano too?
Sì, son di Milano anch’io: https://penandoink.com/2012/12/07/a-pen-oink-interview-with-sergio-ruzzier/