October. My favorite month of the year. The weather is pretty ideal here in the Midwest. It’s not New England, but we do have hills with trees that erupt in beautiful colors. I watch some football as long as the Chicago Bears are playing. Not rabid, but I’m a fan although disgusted by the news out of the NFL recently. Letterman had a darkly humorous take on it a few Late Nights ago: Essentially he reminded us that the inept Secret Service unwittingly allowed a felon with a gun to ride an elevator with Obama. “What could be scarier than that? Answer: Riding an elevator with Ray Rice.” Not funny but still funny. I’m gonna miss Dave when he retires.
Also, in October, my favorite holiday. Halloween! I’ll re-read (again) “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” sometime before the end of the month. Nobody could set a mood or create an atmosphere for the season like Washington Irving. There is, of course, a headless horseman, but thank God no aliens or zombies! Speaking of “Sleepy Hollow”, that was the first major picture book I illustrated, way back in 1991. I’ve been lobbying the publisher to let me revisit the story today, so far to no avail. My work has changed dramatically since the original and I would absolutely LOVE to re-imagine Ichabod Crane in a more edgy, gnarly way … but still true to Irving’s lush detail.
Anyway, as picture books go, my latest is generating a really good vibe so far this Fall. “Harlem Hellfighters” has been an Editors’ Choice and a short feature in the NY Times Book Review, a starred review in Publishers Weekly, received very positive reviews from Kirkus and The Boston Globe and won a medal in The Original Art Exhibition at the Society of Illustrators in New York. I’m pretty geeked about all that. Going to NY to collect my hardware at the Exhibition opening October 23. The following evening Friday the 24th, I’ll be giving a presentation on the “Hellfighters” project at the Society. Stay tuned.