Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pirates on the High Seas

Two weeks ago I posted about the Japanese versions of my Pirate School series and talked about the new illustrations. Now that there are three different sets of illustrations for this series, I thought it would be fun to take a look at them side-by-side.

The styles are all very much in keeping with the current trends for chapter books published in each country. The American illustrations are cute, funny, and mildly cartoonish. The German art is much quieter and proper. The kids are rarely seen being as wild as they are in other version. The Japanese version ramps up the wildness and fills the pages with a frantic energy that leaps off the page. It's also interesting for me to see which scenes were illustrated in each as not every illustrator chose the same moments to capture. Naturally, the different illustrators seemed to pick moments that fit their style best.

Above is scene which all three books illustrated. In this scene, the two pirate siblings, Vicky and Aaron, have made their favorite family recipe, Sea Slug Cereal, for the rest of the gang. Needless to say, it isn't a hit. It smells rotten and tastes worse. The different approach in overall attitude is pretty clear in these illustrations.

As an author writing a book you know will be illustrated, it can be quite a nervous adventure waiting to see what those pictures will look like. The tone of the pictures can very well alter the tone of the story in the readers mind. And given that an author has very little say or control over the direction of the art, it's always a point of worry. I was extremely lucky with this series that all three versions do the stories a great service.

(Peter, Aaron, Vicky, Gary, Inna - U.S. version)

(Vicky, Aaron, Gary, Inna, Peter - German version)

(Gary, Inna, Peter, Vicky, Aaron - Japanese version)
(Gary, Vicky, Peter, Inna, Aaron - My original sketch)


  1. Wow, how cool is that to see your work illustrated by three different artists! They're all great, my fave being the German take.

  2. Yeah, it's been exciting, especially since they've come out in two year spans. I love them all. What's interesting is that I think the German ones are the least geared to the stories, but in a way their subtle nature creates an interesting balance with the text.

  3. I think I like the Jap version best but they are all good -including your original sketch.

  4. I'm loving the German version.