Joining me today is the author/illustrator of the brand new Moo Moo in a Tutu books, Tim Miller!
Hey Tim! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your new book and what else is going on for you!
Hi Dylan! Thanks so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to speak with you!
Tell us a little bit about Moo Moo in a Tutu.
Moo Moo in a Tutu stars Moo Moo, an enthusiastic cow who’s always looking for the next adventure, and Mr. Quackers, the most loyal duck a cow could ask for. They’re a pair of unlikely best friends who share different adventures together. This time around they’re heading to the ballet thanks to Moo Moo getting it in her head that she wants to be a ballerina even though she’s never taken ballet lessons before. With a somewhat skeptical yet supportive Mr. Quackers at her side, Moo Moo graces the stage with a performance that the ballet world will never forget. Although everything doesn’t go exactly as planned, Moo Moo prevails triumphantly thanks to the enthusiastic cheers of applause from her good buddy Mr. Quackers.
Will we see more of Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers?
Yes, Moo Moo & Mr. Quackers will be back! The follow-up to Moo Moo in a Tutu is called What’s Cooking Moo Moo? and will be published in Winter 2018. This time Moo Moo and Mr.Quackers team up and open a restaurant together with a few unexpected missteps along the way. It’s quite a feast that will leave readers quacking up.
Tell us a little bit about your illustration process.
My process can vary depending on what medium I’m working in, but for the most part it’s pretty straightforward. For Moo Moo in Tutu, I started by making sketches of the first visual impressions I had based on the manuscript. Next, I organized these into storyboards to see it all together, and then made a dummy book incorporating everything into the standard 32-page structure of a picture book. In doing so, I tried to find the best way to give emphasis to key moments and keep the page turns fun and exciting. Anything that wasn’t necessary, I cut.
Once the dummy book was settled, I started making the finished illustrations. I worked directly from the rough sketches on a light box and drew everything with brush and ink. I tightened things up so that they read clearly while also trying to keep the raw energy of the rough sketches. Instead of drawing each composition out in its entirety, I broke them down into fragments. Although it sounds complicated, this allowed me to ignore my mistakes because I could just redraw a piece of something if I needed to. After I had finished collecting the fragments for each composition, I scanned everything into the computer and pieced the images together in Photoshop. From there, I added color digitally and made some final tweaks and that was that.
Have you always been into writing and illustrating?
I’ve been drawing ever since I read my first Garfield book around the age of seven. It was a big revelation when I discovered how to copy the character because I could make it my own. I was living on a dairy farm and there wasn’t much to do besides milking cows, so drawing and reading comics was a welcome outlet. In middle school I got into stuff like Bloom County, The Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes, and started making my own comic strips (basically Bloom County, The Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes rip-offs). In high school my interest turned to the superhero stuff and my drawings got jacked up with bulging muscles and skintight attire. My seminal work from the period is a seven-page comic called The Samurai Schnoz and His Ninja Nose, the story about a not-too-bright Samurai with a big nose that has mystical ninja powers (imagine Opus the penguin meets Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meets Groo the Wanderer).
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Deadlines are a lot of fun, but I would have to say that connecting with readers gets the prize. I love the opportunity to engage kids and see their reactions.
What inspires your creativity?
A bad sense of humor and a love for pictures.
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
I used be in 4-H as a kid and showed sheep. I was actually pretty good at it (got the ribbons to prove it) until one day a bear paid our sheep a visit and that was the end of my sheep-showing career.
If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would continue teaching and paint full-time.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have three more installments of Tom O’Donnell’s Hamstersaurus Rex middle grade series (HarperCollins) on the way, and Snappsy the Alligator And His Best Friend Forever Probably by Julie Falatko is coming out in Fall 2017 (Viking), followed by What’s Cooking Moo Moo? in Winter 2018 (Balzer+Bray).
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Thank you everybody for stopping by! Feel free to visit me anytime at www.timmillerillustration.com I’m always happy to hear your thoughts and feedback.