Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Who is Schmook?

Who in the world is Schmook?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jamming at the Graphic Novel Workshop at the Summer SCBWI

Next month, aspiring graphic novel writers and artists will get together to learn the ins and outs of the craft and the business of graphic novles for kids at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference in Los Angeles. I'll lead them through exercises in writing a comics script, creating and designing characters, picking angles and shots, and organizing fluid and dramatic page layouts. We're going to work together and have fun! One hour, for each of the four days of the conference, we'll bring our brains and passions together to create graphic novels. The conference schedule lists the full description of the workshop. The assignments for writers and artists, consisting of four exercises and one completed graphic novel page, are also public. I even heard there are a handful of open seats! Interested?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome Home, Abby Sunderland!

Living Life! That’s what Abby Sunderland's bold attempt to sail around the Earth brings to mind. And for that alone, in my book, she's a role-model.

I caught the news of her departure back in January. Having sailed some years ago, I felt a twist of envy. Just feeling the boat -- that frail shell, alternately protecting you from the whims of the waves and wind or joining the sailor and Nature's elements in a perfect grace and movement – is both exhilarating and tantalizing.

Weeks later, I stumbled onto her blog when she neared the Equator, and it became my first-read every day.

Though she came close to being lost, we're blessed that she's fine and back home today. She and her brother, as well as a handful of mature teenagers who have planned and built their way into achieving their dreams remind us that not living life to the fullest is perhaps the greatest tragedy.

And to my friends, the storytellers out there, these young people's examples remind me of what animation director, Brad Bird, once said: "how can you create the illusion of life if you haven't lived life yourself?"

Thank you, Abby, and welcome home!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why is This a Comic Book?

Blogger Douglas Wolk asks eight great questions for comics creators. To some degree, they apply to children's picture books too. They set up a nice "reality check" before you embark on the big journey leading to the creation of your opus.

Here are the first three:

1. Why is this a comic book?
2. What is it going to look like?
3. What is it going to read like?

Read the other five questions and Wolk's insight here.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Wild Encounters in the Hills

Just days after almost stepping on a scorpio during a hike -- the very first time I ever saw a scorpio in the hills, I encountered for the first time a doe in the wild.

I know they're around. If you look down on the dusty trails, you'll easily spot their hoof prints. Yet, it's such fun to actually catch a glimpse of one.

Luckily, I had my camera with me this time.

Amazingly, it wasn't alone!

However, after a few minutes, these beautiful creatures trotted off. And the last photo makes them seem like a mirage!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Children's Graphic Novels at the 2009 Comic-Con

This year, more children’s book publishers, such as Cobblestone Books, Hyperion, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, had booths at the Comic-Con, and for once had enough graphic novels to spotlight that part of their catalogue. Notably, Random House showcased five series (the on-going Babymouse, the brand new Lunch Lady, and the upcoming Uglydolls, Stone Rabbit, and Kit Feeny). Other “traditional” comics publishers, such as Oni Press, are targeting younger audiences with titles such as Crogan’s Vengeance by Chris Schweizer (who drew a funny comics of his San Diego experiences at his blog) – a move similar to Top Shelf’s past success with Owly. Hybrid comics, such as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, continue to do well, as does Eric Wight’s Frankie Pickle, which is hooking readers with addictive adventure lines presented in alternating comics and text pages. Some series have become industry leaders, such as Jeff Smith’s Bone, Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet, and Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia Rules! Two panels on Sunday centered on children’s graphic novels, and by the quantity of librarians attending them, it’s clear they continue to be some of our biggest supporters. Another key development this year: webcomics and mobile comics are a force in the industry. For instance, readers can now get Bone on their iPhones through UClick. So in a nutshell, kids graphic novels continue to expand and to excite, even if they remain lost in the shadows of superheroes, TV shows, and blockbusters at the Comic-Con!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Skipped Lunch at the Comic-Con, but not the Lunch Lady!

Just got back from the yearly trip to the Comic-Con where I got to see the terrific Jarrett Krosoczka and get the two first volumes of his brand new kids graphic novel... Lunch Lady: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute and Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians! I haven't read them yet, but they smell good!

Have a taste for yourself with this video!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Monday, July 20, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream in a Canyon

As a comic artist who draws settings populated with characters acting out emotions , I love seeing a good play. This weekend, a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream stole my heart! It exploded with energy, creativity, fun, and intelligence. The actors were athletic, bold, and versatile. They gave heart to their lines. One minute they made you think, the next they made you laugh. And the setting for this play couldn’t have been better: a theater in a canyon, where the hillside merges with the stage, with trees everywhere, even center-stage. A 10-year old girl sitting nearby told me that it was her first Shakespeare’s play and that she had loved it. If you’re in the Los Angeles region, go see it! It’s at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum (schedule) and tickets start at $10. Totally worth it for great fun and greater inspiration!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Plucked from the Sketchbook

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Happy Fourth!

Happy Independence Day to you!

When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? How'bout today!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Back from Orbiting Florida

What a blast, that trip to Florida! And I’m not calling it a blast just because I got to see the take-off of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched aboard an Atlas V rocket (though that was AWESOME, even from 10 miles out, standing on top of my rental car!). The conference was a blast in its own right. The organizers had a ton of energy and good-will! The participants in the Graphic Novel workshop had the perfect combo of perspectives: agent (and former editor) Mark McVeigh provided professional insight and anecdotes from the editorial and business side, Jarrett Krosoczka, who previewed his first kids GN, Lunch Lady (very funny and action-packed!) broke-down his process and journey as an artist, and I demystified the big concepts of the medium. A big thank you goes to Linda Bernfeld, Gaby Triana, Janeen Mason, Christina Gonzalez, Pascale Mackey, and all the other volunteers who worked their hearts out to make this celebration of children’s books so fun and productive!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Graphic Novel Workshop in Sub-Tropical Florida

Want to learn about creating graphic novels for kids? Next week, I’ll pack up to join Jarrett Krosoczka and a long-time publishing pro in a day-long workshop on graphic novels in Orlando, FL, as part of the SCBWI Mid-Year Workshop. I don’t know that I’m at liberty to tell you who the mystery publishing pro is, but let’s just say he’s been editing for years at Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Scholastic, and that he’s now an agent looking for great material! This fun-packed conference includes a merry group of writers, editors, and agents such as funny-writer, Lin Oliver (who’s got a new website!), Bruce Coville, Bonnie, Bader, and Michael Stearns. My presentation colleague, Jarrett Krosoczka, creator of Punk Farm, will talk about his new graphic novel series, Lunch Lady! So come and join the fun!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Friends Doing Good Deeds!

Some of my great art school buddies, who are now with Dreamworks, MTV, LucasFilms, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, have organized this awesome auction to benefit art programs in schools. You can place your bids now on some beautiful art or during the showing of The Goonies this Saturday at the Rialto Theater at 7pm in Pasadena! I'm planning on being there and bidding on some waaaay cool art for a great cause!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

SCBWI So Cal Illustrator's Day 2008

Along with ultra snazzy illustrators Erin Eitter Kono, Wilson Swain, and Brenda Sexton, I'll be part of the panel "The Real Life of a Working Illustrator" at the Saturday Nov. 8 Illustrator's Day! This year's Illustrator's Day will provide great insight into the business venues for illustrators. Lorena Siminovich will address the opportunities to license your art, while Steve Myhre will talk about the need for illustrations in the educational publishing market. Joann Hill, Creative Director at Clarion Books, will detail the work of art directors and do some live portfolio reviews. The adorable Mary Peterson will show how to put your art online in 20 minutes! So this is an Illustrator's Day that will pay off big time for attendees! We'll see you there!

Friday, October 17, 2008

East Coast Mugs and Memories

Caught in a whirlwind of activities between New York City, Georgia, and L.A., I hardly had a chance to pause! Yet, what a thrill to attend Jo Kittinger's session on voice at the Chattahoochee Valley Writers' Conference (Jo has an awesome collection of quotes about "voice" from editors, writers, and other fine folks). What fun it was to hang out with fellow illustrators at the New York Society of Illustrators' Educators Symposium, where I got to meet "neighbor" Michael Savas (Laguna College of Art & Design), Ed Murr (who's at F.I.T. in NYC, and who's had lots of experience with comics companies), George Pratt (who made an excellent presentation on teaching sequential art), and many more. Unfortunately, my stay in NYC was too short, so I'll have to return! Meanwhile, here are some of the NYC subway faces from my sketchbook.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Ledger-Enquirer Interview on Writing Graphic Novels

In advance of the Chattahoochee Writers' Conference this weekend, the Ledger-Enquirer from Columbus, GA, has interviewed me about writing graphic novels. The article, "Learn how to create graphic novels at writers' conference," now appears online. Journalist Sonya Sorich asked a thorough set of questions about the history of comics in the U.S.A. and about prospects in graphic novels for writers who come from a different background. A big thanks to Sorich and her newspaper for giving the art of graphic novels more visibility. And I'm particularly happy about the article's conclusion (it's such important advice for aspiring graphic novel writers):
McCool's advice for anyone considering that route?

"They need to read a lot of graphic novels to educate themselves," he said.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Workshopping at the Chattahoochee Valley Writers' Conference

I'm thrilled to fly out this morning to Georgia (my first time there -- yeah!) for the Chattahoochee Valley Writer's Conference. Folks in my workshop will get to learn how to adjust and grow their existing writing skills in order to compose solid graphic novel manuscripts. Many more great workshops will go on during the entire weekend, covering mystery writing, playwriting, children's book literature, industry marketing, and more!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Varian Fry: American Journalist, Frontline Hero

At the last two SCBWI summer conferences, my friend, writer Carla Killough McClafferty, has shared with me her passion for the subject of her latest manuscript: Varian Fry. Fry, an American journalist in France, answered the call of human nobility during World War II. He formed his own version of an Underground Railroad that helped thousands escape misery or death at Hitler's hands. In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry is now out, and I'll tell you more about this inspiring story of adventure and bravery when I finish my copy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Terrific Children's Book Illustration Exhibit at L.A. Public Library

A group of L.A. illustrators got together today at the Los Angeles Public Library to see the exhibit, "Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art." It contains an amazing group of original paintings and drawings from such classics as The Cat in the Hat, Flotsam, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Altogether, art from more than 80 illustrators appears on the walls of this impressive exhibit. Check it out before it closes (Sept. 14).