Kentucky Librarian Conference

Last fall, I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Kentucky Librarian Conference in Louisville.  While authors usually speak at the year-end business brunch, President Tara Arnold Griffith thought it would interesting to have me share my experiences as an illustrator.  Many of the librarians work in elementary schools, so it was great to hear that kids are still enjoying the Warriors Manga series.

I really enjoyed my time in Louisville and was honored to be made a real Kentucky Colonel!  Thanks to Tara and all the school librarians who instill a love of reading in their students.

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Special Effects

Been busy making tons of art but unfortunately, it’s nothing that can be posted online yet. A couple of children’s picture books are coming soon and  I’ve been doing a lot storyboard work which is awesome.  Storyboarding is a lot of fun as it combines my interest in film technique with illustration. The ad work is all very “top secret” but a short film has already been shot so hopefully I can share that soon.

The school year is wrapping up so I’m also busy with my after-school cartooning class. Below is a handout for a lesson on “special effects”.  There are some really talented cartoonists this year and several of them have utilized these techniques to make some awesome comics.  I thought I’d share the handout for other artists (and fans of cat fights).

Speed Lines

SFX, Emanata, Breaking the Panel

Credit goes to Mort Walker (creator of Beetle Bailey) for coining the term “Emanata”.

Warriors: Skyclan & The Stranger – After the Flood

The last book in the Skyclan trilogy is out today!  Will Skyclan recover from the flood and will Leafstar finally recognize Sol’s true nature?

When Tokyopop went under last year, I was a was in the middle of illustrating the second book in this trilogy.  I was a little worried about the conclusion of this trilogy but thankfully Harper Collins took over publication of the Warriors manga.  Very glad to have worked on the series and thanks to Lillian Diaz-Przybyl at Tokyopop and Erica Sussman at Harper for being such great editors!

Nigel

Nigel

I made this little drawing for my friend John. He has a very  cool and fearless cat named Nigel. They live on the top floor of a building in Long Island City and Nigel paces the edge of the balcony without a worry!  I guess he would be a member of Skyclan if he was a Warrior.

The illustration was done on a trading card size piece of Bristol. You can buy them in packages but I usually cut my own.  When I give them as gifts, I put the cards in those plastic sleeves and attach some magnets on the back so they can be put on the refrigerator.

I took some photos of Nigel last time we visited, so you can see the reference.

And here’s the view from John’s terrace. Imagine Nigel patroling the guard rail!

Manhattan view from Long Island City.

If anyone is interested in commissioning an illustration of their cat, contact me for details. james@jlbarry.com

Warriors: Skyclan and the Stranger

In addition to the short comic in  Crookedstar’s Promise, a whole new manga has also been released today called Skyclan and the Stranger. This graphic novel follows the cats of Skyclan and the fierce warrior Leafstar, as she struggles to balance motherhood with her leadership duties.  I had a blast developing these new characters, the rocky gorge they call home and their exciting story.  Hope you’ll all check it out!

Skyclan and the Stranger: The Rescue

Crookedstar’s Promise

The newest Warriors novel, Crookedstar’s Promise will be released next Tuesday, July 5th and it features an exclusive manga that I illustrated. This was a fun project that gave me a short break from working on the Skyclan trilogy. It was cool to design the look of Crookedstar as well as revisit some old characters like Graystripe and Silverstream. Portraits of Crookedstar have already appeared in Cats of the Clans and on the cover of the upcoming novel, both illustrated by the amazing Wayne McLoughlin so I was able to use those as a starting point when designing the character. However, for the comic, my version of the Warrior cats must be a little more expressive than a real feline and slightly anthropomorphic.  Below are the paintings by McLoughlin as well as my first take on the leader of Riverclan.

Inset from Crookedstar's Promise, painted by Wayne McLouglin.

Crookedstar as he appears in Cats of the Clans.

Crookedstar, first design.

After submitting this version of Crookedstar to my editor, I was asked to emphasize his deformed jaw even more. Sometimes, it’s easier to show the “grotesque” in a cartoon than in a more realistic painting. Below is the final character design. As you see, I kept the same markings as in the portraits but added the protruding tooth and a more “fatherly” expression. I wasn’t sure how everyone would feel about the tooth but the editors at Harper liked the addition!

Revised character designs for Crookedstar.

Crookedstar, as he appears in the manga.

It takes a while to get a character “right” but I think Crookedstar ended up with a lot of personality. Here are a few panels from the comic (minus the text) that show the process from thumbnail sketch, to tighter pencils, to hand inked and digitally toned illustration.

Thumbnail sketch

Pencil drawing

Hand inked and digitally toned.