A pitch turned personal project

Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
edited March 2011 in Artist's Corner
Started this as a pitch a while back and it got turned down. I decided to continue with it anyway; it's a children's book about robots. Progress has been really slow but I'd appreciate any feedback you guys have.

wiki.jpg

(at this point in the story the hero (orange) escapes from the villan).

There's unplaced text to go on the right, and the text on the left is placeholder.

Jake! on

Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm diggin the robot horde. Kinda reminded of a whimsical Pikmin. :D

    My eye is drawn to the plant in the background over the characters in the foreground. Mostly because it's the only thing not in the same stylized form as the rest of the image (everything else is flat/single color, it has gradients and depth).

    Do you have more pages?

    Enc on
  • The FoolThe Fool Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Gonna start by saying I think it's cool, but as a children book this looks positively terrifying. The scissors, drill, sharp looking claws, and skinny limbs (reminds me of spiders! No kid likes spiders! lol) are all kinda scary concepts. I dunno how a kid would react to it all.

    The Fool on
  • Michael VoxMichael Vox Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I have to agree with first post, the robot 'horde' really catches my interest.

    Michael Vox on
  • PhthanoPhthano Registered User
    edited February 2011
    It's like if Pikmin and Loco Roco slammed into a pile of construction paper.

    Phthano on
  • TDevTDev Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Is there a reason their names are Hawaiian? It's an interesting choice anyway.

    TDev on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Thanks guys.

    Enc: There are pages which include more 'organic' elements, so I guess once you see more it may begin to look less out of place.

    TF: I think kids love that kind of thing actually...

    TDev: It's because the project is inspired by Wikileaks, so I wanted all the names to work together.

    Jake! on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Here's the first few spreads for feedback;

    (you can view in small here...


    1.jpg
    2.jpg
    3.jpg
    4.jpg
    5.jpg
    6.jpg
    7.jpg
    8.jpg

    Jake! on
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah, I think you need to make the black, spider-like death legs/arms a little less horrifying. When the drill-robot is drilling, it's also really hard to see what's going on. Simple shapes over complex ones, slightly softer angles as opposed to harsh ones. Aside from that I really like the look.

    NightDragon on
  • Dances With MagpiesDances With Magpies Registered User
    edited February 2011
    What age group are you going for on this?
    I read this to my boys, 3 (almost 4) and 6, and they enjoyed the story. Funny thing though, they liked the caterpillar and the spider more than the robots. But, they love Coraline, Adventure Time and Regular Show too, so they go for odd stuff. I agree with the others, the legs on Grumble seem a bit too complex, but I like that design on the little robots. Maybe with that many legs it becomes too much?
    Interesting that Wikileaks inspired you to do a children's book. My advice would be to not make it political, kids don't care, they just want something fun. I like what you have so far, the style is really colorful and eye-catching.

    Dances With Magpies on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Thanks for the feedback. The story isn't political per-se (although I'd say neither is Wikileaks), it's about saying outing the truth.

    Jake! on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Honestly I am in no place to really judge how well the artwork would go over with most children but I would guess not well. Personally I think you need to decide whether you are trying to appeal to children or twenty-something threadless wearers. Because right now, it looks like the latter.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • TDevTDev Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Jake! wrote: »
    TDev: It's because the project is inspired by Wikileaks, so I wanted all the names to work together.

    ok. are you trying to use real hawaiian words or just words that sound hawaiian? malma isn't a hawaiian-like word. no double consonants. malama is closest and most commonly heard.

    also, if this really is a children's book (not directed at people interested in hawaiian things) hawaiian words may not be the best to use because they are hard to pronounce and even harder to pronounce correctly.

    you have many contractions in your text. childrens books are usually more spelled out, it teaches them not to write that way.

    TDev on
  • EWomEWom Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I don't know man, you're using your political opinion to try and write a childrens book on something that's already irrelevant to most people, and that kids will most likely never know about. Wikileaks isn't some huge thing that's going to be taught in school, no high school kids are going to be like "Oh man I totally had that wikileaks book when I was 4!"

    I agree with whoever said you're trying more to appeal to threadless' demographic than to an actual childrens book. You say it's not political, well from where I sit it's pretty clear it's political commentary, which is 100% wasted on children. Kids aren't going to get the deeper message of what Grumble is doing, and why Wiki was thrown out of the barn.

    EWom on
    Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    TDev: Thanks, for the feedback on the text, I'll sort out the contractions. Malma is kind of a typo. Originally we had each character name repeated (Wikiwiki etc.) but it didn't read very well. MalamaMalama got changed to MalmaMalama because it sounded better, and I guess when we ditched the idea the name got shortened to Malma when it should be Malama.

    EWom: I don't even know where to start. The idea that freedom of information isn't a big issue is ridiculous. The issue is probably bigger (and more relevant) than ever.

    From your reply I feel like you haven't looked at any children's books for a long time; they're not all water-colour bunny rabbits. The most popular ones are often designed to appeal to adults (who after all will be the ones reading them). Even iconic children's shows Sesame Street include content that is engineered to appeal to adults.

    Jake! on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Jake! wrote: »
    TDev: Thanks, for the feedback on the text, I'll sort out the contractions. Malma is kind of a typo. Originally we had each character name repeated (Wikiwiki etc.) but it didn't read very well. MalamaMalama got changed to MalmaMalama because it sounded better, and I guess when we ditched the idea the name got shortened to Malma when it should be Malama.

    EWom: I don't even know where to start. The idea that freedom of information isn't a big issue is ridiculous. The issue is probably bigger (and more relevant) than ever.

    From your reply I feel like you haven't looked at any children's books for a long time; they're not all water-colour bunny rabbits. The most popular ones are often designed to appeal to adults (who after all will be the ones reading them). Even iconic children's shows Sesame Street include content that is engineered to appeal to adults.

    Yea--you have to appeal to the parent who will be buying / reading this to kids. Cute illustrations and simple text are for the kids--subtext is for the parent. I think it is coming along well. I'm excited to see the rest.

    streever on
  • squidbunnysquidbunny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm not sold on that font. It's too heavy and condensed to be super readable. Have you looked at how something rounder and lighter might look, like one of the bold Avant Gardes or Gill Sans? Or even Calibri?

    squidbunny on
    header_image_sm.jpg
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    squidbunny wrote: »
    I'm not sold on that font. It's too heavy and condensed to be super readable. Have you looked at how something rounder and lighter might look, like one of the bold Avant Gardes or Gill Sans? Or even Calibri?

    I'll second that--the font is definitely a little heavy.

    streever on
  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I love the color choices in this book.

    I don't know that I would make the target demographic specifically for children, I think it would probably work better as a parody book targeted specifically at that "threadless demographic." Just my thoughts though.

    I love the little robot guys, they are visually appealing (to a 26-year-old in the aforementioned threadless demographic) but I dunno that I would buy a book like this for my nephew; it'd be more likely to go on the shelf with my glow-in-the-dark Munny and my custom knitted dolls.

    tapeslinger on
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    This whole project is just to set up a horrible "Wiki's leeks" pun, isn't it?
    Come on, you can tell us.

    Seriously though, I think kids would enjoy it. I'd like to mention the Butter Battle Book when it comes to subtext in kids books. At the time I was in it's target demographic, I enjoyed it because it was silly with bizarre weapon systems that just kept getting more and more bizarre and more and more dangerous, fighting a battle over the stupidest thing I could imagine until they developed weapons that would end the world. Reading it now, I see the cold war escalation/nuclear M.A.D. thing going on that I missed as a 6 year old (hey, it was a choice between cartoons or the News, what were you watching at in '86?). What I'm trying to say is that subtext isn't just for the parents, even if the kid doesn't recognize it as reflecting on current events, they're still hearing the message. The same thing fables and fairy tales have been doing for ages.

    I'd recommend keeping the current font on the sound effects, at least on the mechanical ones. (It really works well for the "*CLANG CLANG CLANG* Metal feet are bad for sneaking" bit) but look for something else for the rest of the text.

    see317 on
    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    see317: yep, basically :)

    I've updated the web version with new fonts and the full story. What do you think?

    Jake! on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Jake! wrote: »
    see317: yep, basically :)

    I've updated the web version with new fonts and the full story. What do you think?

    It looks good!

    You made the classic typo I always make: misspelled your html title. (congagious)

    I like the new font choice. What is your next step?

    I'd definitely email it to the wikileaks folks (and a NYTimes feature writer!)

    streever on
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I like the new type better.

    I'm going to have to agree with Cake and the others that this doesn't feel like a children's book, it feels like a book for adults stylized to be sort of like a children's book. All of the children's books that I can think of off the top of my head that I still own have a clear, defined message. Believe in yourself. Be happy. If your message is about courage, you need to distill that message, and give a clear message that focuses on that. You don't even mention courage until almost the end. Is the book about bullying and how to stand up for yourself? Focus on that!

    I think there's too much type on each page and not enough visual cues to go along with it. For example, the first page gives an explanation about what the story is about with no illustrations. Does a kid even know/care what a conspiracy is? Then the next page talks about a van, but there's no picture of the van. I think you need to slow things down and explain things more clearly for kids. One idea and illustration per page would be more ideal. There's just too much stuff that is not explained. What is a leek? "They will come and shut us down." Who is they? Why is Grumble swapping the flowers for leeks? I wouldn't read this book to a kid and I can't see any adult buying it for their kid. I certainly wouldn't purchase it for any of the kids I know.

    You obviously have talent. I couldn't say for sure that the art would appeal to kids, it certainly might. But the story is the real problem for me. If your objective is to make a story about Wikileaks that kind of resembles a children's book, then you have succeeded. But if your objective is to make a book that will appeal to children and to the adults that will be buying the books for the children, I think you need to rewrite your script. Simplify, distill and slow down the story. And to be honest, I think you're going to have a tough time making Wikileaks or any political story appeal to children, no matter how much you stylize it.

    Also, the title on your link says, "Courage is Congagious".

    NibCrom on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I think NibCrom is making some great points.

    You have a really good first draft / start, but I agree that you should slow it down a little, and add more courage examples. Maybe have Wiki try to break it out, through other avenues, and be caught. His robot friends feel badly but are too afraid to help.

    Maybe he eventually puts a "message in a bottle" and gets it in the van, or thrown over the fence into the next farm, and that brings the rest of the robot community to his aid. Seeing the other robots dismantling the fence to let them escape, his robot pals join in.

    Sorry--hope that helps.

    streever on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback. I agree that my children's writing leaves a lot to be desired but that said there are some things that are conscious decisions in there that are supposed to mirror the real world (such as the ambiguous nature of threat). Maybe it doesn't work, but I want to write a book about the morals surrounding Wikileaks specifically; I'm not interested in making something more general.

    Jake! on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Jake,
    We are not saying that you need to do something more general, but suggesting that you tailor the message so it can appeal to children. I think Nibcrom made some excellent suggestions that would improve the books appeal to children, without hurting your vision. I think there is more than enough room to accommodate both--a simplified message that children can appreciate & a more clever, subtle story for the adults. I don't think it would substantially change the nature of your work, or eliminate the goal you've stated. In fact, my advice is tailored to what you've stated as a goal: I'm not trying to suggest you do anything counter to your own stated goal.

    streever on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Sorry, I think I got the wrong end of what nibcrom was saying.

    Jake! on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    No worries--crit online can be hard.

    My reading of his crit was that you should add some more along the theme of courage is contagious--obviously don't drop the wikileaks angle--but flesh out the courage portion. My suggestion is to expand the part of the story dealing with the conflict. Right now, I think the conflict portion isn't as long as the preamble, which I don't think is ideal. Flesh out the conflict a little--you can keep the nature of the threat ambiguous--but I would definitely make Wiki a more courageous character, who tries a few things until he gets others to join him.

    I think that is more of the real wikileaks story too--julian asange was a step above homeless, working in solitude, until he sent out his message. Why not have Wiki go through a similar transformation, working on his own with no support, until he sends a message to the other robots?

    streever on
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Sorry if my critique was harsh. D:

    NibCrom on
  • HeartlashHeartlash Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I like the silhouette style a lot.

    A quick pacing point, though. You may want to consider changing "I think you've already guessed the answer is robots." to "I think you've already guessed the answer." then add new reveal page with a wide, establishing picture of the robots working and the text "Robots."

    Younger audiences tend to like playing with reveals like that.

    Heartlash on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    A trick we used when teaching youth fiction was to read everything like William Shatter. If you had more than two or three breaks per sentence, it was too long.

    Short attention spans require... short... sentence structure.

    Joking aside, it actually works quite well.

    Enc on
  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    NibCrom: I think it was fine, I just misread what you were saying.

    Jake! on
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