Friday, November 17, 2006

Add the JJK Blog to your LiveJournal.

I just figured out how one could add the JJK Blog to their LiveJournal feed.

Just visit and click 'add'.

Who knew it would be that simple?!

Cartel and Ok Go

Surprisingly enough, I haven't talked about music too much on this blog. At any rate - I'm a music geek. I'm lucky enough to have a job in which I can listen to music all day long. (Though as of late, I've been listening to a lot of NPR podcasts...) Anyhow, in the past few days I've had the chance to see some great shows here in Boston. And while I need to get these paintings finished, concert-going very much inspires my current project. The lighting, the theatrics, the noise - I thrive on it.

The first show I saw was Cartel. Now, I'm a huge fan of punk covers of songs (surprising, right?). This past summer, I got my hands on a CD called Punk Goes the 90's. Lots of inspired covers from the decade that was my coming-of-age. One of the tracks that rose above the rest was a take on Oasis' Wonderwall. Cartel's version was one of the few versions that, in my opinion, was far better than the original. I looked them up, bought their CD and couldn't stop listening to their debut album Chroma. Now Cartel was the opening, opening act for another band, but I went to see them and it was worth it. They put on a stellar show.

And last night was OK Go. If you don't know about Ok Go's genius, choreographed youtube video phenomenon, then please - see below! I first saw OK Go when they were the opening, opening act for Coldplay 4 years ago. I wasn't into Coldplay, but OK Go's debut album had been on constant repeat in the studio. That show was awesome, tons of energy and the lead singer even had a broken leg. And what I was most impressed by - after the show, each band member was out front, each with a notebook and pen, waiting for the hordes of concert goers to exit, and ready to collect emails for their email list. They could easily be described as the hardest working band in rockdom. Last night, they put on an explosive, jump-in-the-air-with-guitars kind of show. And now that they are the headliners, they have an artful video display behind the band and have cameras located on microphones, keyboards, drums, etc to project up on the screen. After harnessing the power of youtube and receiving gabillions of hits on their videos and appearing on countless talk shows, playing show after show - this band deserves every ounce of success they have achieved and more.

Over and out for now - back to painting!

Nothing, NOTHING is funnier than choreography....

The 'Get This Book' Series

I know, it's been a while, but the 'Get This Book Series' is back from hiatus. Ugly Fish, written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Scott Magoon, is brilliant. The pacing, the writing and the illustrations are all top notch. You should totally get this book.

I found it in at the Union Sq B&N in New York City this past fall. Being that I was traveling, I didn't want to buy the book then and there because the book would get all messed up in my travels. So I took out my phone and emailed myself the website of the illustrator. Of course for me, I am always attracted to the illustrations first. But when I read the book, I was equally amused and entertained by this clever story. Scott Magoon, the illustrator, is a talented guy and from what I see on his website he has some great books coming out on the horizon. Be on the look-out! And - he's also a fellow Massachusetts-ite. I think there's something in the water up here...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Foster Gallery - reception 11/30

I'm in an upcoming exhibit! And I don't know for sure yet - but I should be at the opening reception. I can't make any commitments yet, because I need to finish the paintings that I'm currently working on for my next book.

One thing I can guarantee - paintings from Punk Farm will be there, along with work from these amazing artists - Ann P. Smith, Peter Reynolds, Paul Olson, Fred Lynch, Grace Lin, and Kelly Murphy.

Illustration Strange Turns of the Mind's Road
November 27, 2006 - January 5th, 2007
Foster Gallery
10 Campus Drive Dedham, MA

Opening reception - November 30th, 2006

Back That Thang Up

No, I'm not talking about the seminal track from rapper Juvenile, I'm talking about your computer files. Back them up!!! I'm sure as heck glad that I do and did - before my computer died. Yes, my trusty laptop's hard drive is fried and all of my info is gone! But everything (all my music, all my photos, all my website files) are sitting safely in my external hard drive!


Oh - and I'm also glad that when I bought my laptop, I also bought Apple Care. As hard as I am trying right now, I can't think of any rapper who has a song about Apple Care....

Monday, November 13, 2006

the SLUG tour is OVAH!

It's a journey that began in the fall of '97 and continued on in November of '05 as I handed in the final art for Slug. And over the past year, I have documented in real time the journey that one takes from handing in the artwork and waiting for the book's release to then celebrating and touring. But the time has come and gone now - my final event for the My Buddy, Slug book tour has happened and my tour is over. And the last event was fantastic - which I knew it would be, because it was at Curious City's Lunch Box Series in Portland, Maine! Their events are out of this world, if you ever get the invitation, jump at the chance - it's worth the trip. You may remember the guy in the Sheep costume playing guitar last year during the Punk Farm Book Tour. Well, this year, they billed it as "Slug Fest" and Kirsten and Kelly were in Slug colors, there was Slug music playing and kids got to make their own slugs, their own slug homes and they also got to make and play with their own slug slime. Slug was there himself and kids could climb into the giant Slug costume and get their pictures taken. It really was the perfect way to end my tour.
I read My Buddy, Slug one last time (for this tour), for a total of (drum roll please).....

70 readings! 70 readings in 2 months!
And now the cycle starts all over again. Well, soon enough at least. I need to get painting!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who knew Monkey Boy was from Jersey?

I love signing books that are slightly tattered and have clearly been read and loved. Matthew not only looks like Monkey Boy, but he's been holding on to this book since he was 3!

Baghead drawing

Look for Tommy's books in stores everywhere in a few years...

phenomenon of kids shouting book titles

My school presentation/slide show is on DVD. And to get kids excited about my visit, the title menu of the DVD flashes my book covers as they are getting settled into their seats. And an odd phenomenon has been start shouting the titles. It gets me every time...

give this kid his own talk show!

KID: Remember your book Punk Farm?

JJK: Uh..yes.

KID: you remember that part where he goes, "OLD MACDONALD!"

JJK: Yes.

KID: Oh. Well that was my favorite part.

Northampton, Jersey and one more to go....SLUG FEST!

Northampton, MA was great! It was a HUGE signing with a gazillion authors at the Smith Campus School. Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Grace Lin, Anna Alter, Patricia MacLachlan, Mordicai Gerstein, Scott Fischer...the list goes on and on! And on!

It was then down to New Jersey for Liberty Corner's Wizards of Words program. It was unreal! I think I may have autographed 300 books that day and that was just one school! I had the chance to meet some great teachers and some great students, one who was the spitting image of Monkey Boy. I mean, if Monkey Boy was older, he'd look just like this kid!

And of course, I have pictures of all of these events, but I have too many illustrations that need to be painted to spend time on flickr right now. I'm in the home stretch. I'm beyond the part of painting where I get frustrated and nothing is coming out the way that I want and have slipped into zen mode. The final few weeks of painting is actually the most enjoyable, though it can be stressful at times. I am loving the way these paintings are coming out and I think that it is going to be a killer book!

I have.....ONE LAST BOOK EVENT FOR SLUG!!!!!!!! It's this Saturday - 11/11 @ 11 AM at the Space Gallery in Portland, ME. The Lunch Box Series is becoming SLUG FEST!

This is what is going down at Slug Fest (according to the good people at the Lunch Box Series):
At SLUG FEST kids can--

-BE the slug

-SLIME like a slug

-CREATE their own buddy slug

-Lay about on the floor feeling SLUGGISH -And take home their very own SLUG iron on

I've been looking forward to this one all year! See you there!
Until then - I'll be painting!

Friday, November 03, 2006

ETC's Author of the Month

Check out Embracing the Child's website to read a nifty interview they conducted with me.

And while you are on their site, read up on all of the cool things that ETC is doing to give books to much needed young readers! After you are done reading up on this amazing program, check out the archive of authors interviews on their site.

Thanks ETC!

Worcester's Pulse Magazine...

published a very nice article on my work.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Texas was great! There are a million stories to tell, but I only have time for a few. First off, I won't tell you about a lunch with Cypress Fairbanks librarians where the waiter thought that one of the librarians was my mother. Because that would probably embarrass Leslie way too much. But I will tell you that I had another great year with all of the librarians down in the Cy-Fair district in Houston. They are true rock stars. This district knows how to do author visits right! They've been doing it for so long and they are so good at hosting. This marked my 4th year down to their district and it really is like a reunion with old friends. A HUGE thank you goes to Heather Jankowski who organizes my visit year after year and who ensures that each visit is a big success through her impeccable organizational skills and energy! Another big thank you goes to the Texas Book Festival for having me. It was a blast. There were a few really cool things that they did, which I didn't realize going in. 1) They bring picture book authors in a day early and send them into underprivileged schools. They then GIVE 100 books out to the kids who hear the authors read and speak! That is amazing! Aces all around! 2) They have a local kid introduce the picture book authors at he festival. There was Mitchell, who had read every single book of mine, dressed in shirt and tie with shiny shoes, ready to read a page long introduction that he had written himself! Amazing! And a complete honor! I had the chance to see a great panel on YA literature and saw some old friends and new friends read their work and discuss their books. Not for Required Reading was nothing short of entertaining. I'm home now and painting. I'm under a tight deadline! I have but 3 more book events for SLUG and then it will all be over! I'm in the final stretch here....