You Can't Keep a Good Book Down
so maybe try some Pepto and Saltines for a while and take it easy
This is my first ever newsletter! Everyone likes newsletters, don’t they? How else would you learn every December what your cousins have been up to.
This distant cousin of yours has been busy. I’m writing this in a Chuck E. Cheese, because I’m multitasking. My son is somewhere spending forty dollars an hour, which is about the rate at which I make it. A lot has been written about Chuck E. Cheese’s full name, and I’m not going to rehash that here, but did you know one of his puppet costars is named Helen?
Chuck and Helen’s costars appear to be a bunny, a hound dog, a purple monster like Grimace but legally distinct from Grimace, and a human pizza chef.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that human pizza chef. I wonder if his life is going the way he thought it would.
Earlier today we were at the zoo, and I drew some animals. I don’t tell you all these things to make you jealous of my life like one of those Instagram influencers. They’re just real things that happened.
Another real thing that happened is that late last year I had a new picture book come out with illustrator Laura Park:
It’s one of those stories about a plucky small-town kid who just wants to make it on Broadway, except it’s set in the alimentary canal.
“Adam! Why would you write such a thing,” I hear you asking. That is what the free market has also been asking. Regardless, I love it. Here’s my favorite bit.
Twenty-five years ago I was a working illustrator of fantasy games who wanted nothing more than to make it
on Broadway in children’s publishing, but I had not yet figured out how to write a good picture book. Many of my best ideas were more plans for future ideas than actual ideas themselves: I’ll write a collection of poems about monsters, I thought, and eventually I did. Or about space. Or the human body. That last idea lingered in the back of my mind for a long time.
Then, nine years ago, we adopted our son. And I went from being a man who never used the word “potty” to a man who used it every day, all the time. Our new 22-month-old only understood Korean but there I was saying potty anyway, like it was baby Esperanto.
Incidentally, the adoption agency in South Korea long ago expressed interest in me writing and illustrating a picture book about adoption for them. I wasn’t sure about that, but I did create this sketch for a painting I proposed to make them, that they could use as they liked.
I have to assume they didn’t like it, because they never spoke to me again.
Anyway—DIGESTION. Because of the kind of person I am, it wasn’t long before I was making potty puns. “Let’s get this potty started,” that sort of thing. So of course I began thinking about a potty-dance-dance-party picture book. Over time that idea, and my old idea to make poems about the body, kind of mashed together into this.
It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made.
In closing, here are the last three files I opened in Photoshop, presented without context:
How was that? Too long? Not long enough? I’d appreciate your suggestions on how to make this something you’re likely to keep reading, if you care to comment.
And of course I’d love it if you recommended this newsletter to a friend.
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THIS IS FUN. I don't know why I'm yelling.
Just the right length and frankly, I love how it bounces around. More!