This week was the release of my new book, HOGG, HOGG, & HOG. Creating those three pigs and working on this book was so much fun. I’m very thankful to my editor David Gale, at Simon and Schuster, for giving me the opportunity to illustrate one of my own manuscripts.
Of course, like every story, there is always a backstory of how it all came to be. (If you want some giggles on the ‘hows’, just take a look at my ‘Inspirations’ for some of my other books.) As I mentioned in my previous post, these Big City Swine actually started out as ducks. OINK was QUACK. However, while my editor loved the story and loved the art, he asked if I could change the ducks to another animal. (Oh, duck.) Yeah. It happens. But, you know what they say … sometimes, change is good. The thing was … nothing sounded quite as funny as QUACK, which I felt was essential to the book’s read-aloud humor. I tried ‘humanizing’ a couple of chickens, then cats, dogs, but none really worked as well as those bald duck heads. (I really loved those ducks.) Then my husband said …OINK! Yup. Pigs were definitely it! (And, I do have a history with pigs too.) Here are some of the original duck sketches: (The ducks on the ends, were great inspiration to Duck who appears in HHH.)
While each of the ducks had a specific ‘look,’ the pigs really allowed me to develop more distinct and individual personalities for the three characters. This was especially true of ‘Hog’, who gobbles his way through the book eating one fast food goodie after another, and also wearing it on his chinny-chin-chin.
The ducks’ office digs of grays, blues and bright yellows changed to the pig palette of purples and browns. (Mud, maybe?) I thank my art director, Lucy Cummins for suggesting I try a darker palette. I did loads of color sketches with the pigs being pink, but unfortunately, that did not work AT ALL! What-to-do-what-to-do? … Didn’t know. I did know the pigs were the right substitute for the ducks, but how to get them to work as well visually? I had no clue! Then, my good friend — the fabulously talented and clever, Diane Goode, suggested – why not treat the pigs just as I had been doing with the ducks: Keep them white and define them with a variety of pinks, which was totally the answer. The pigs ‘popped’ on their new palette, in fact, they popped right out of the page. Super advice. A huge thanks to Diane for sharing her insight with a pic book illustration novice.
Interested in a bit more ‘backstory’ on these pigs and the concept? Here’s an interview I did discussing the beginnings of HOGG, HOGG, & HOG.