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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Jeff Weigel

This week’s FIVE ON FRIDAY guest is Jeff Weigel, the illustrator of my upcoming It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies. When not busy drawing the undead, Jeff is a talented illustrator in his own right.

Check out his website at www.jeffweigel.com.

When did you know that you first wanted to be an illustrator?

Around the age of twelve was when I first seriously entertained the idea of becoming a graphic storyteller (i.e.- a comic book artist). The brilliant work done during the Silver Age of comics hooked me for good.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

If I had to pick one figure whose work has inspired me most consistently through all the phases of my life, it would have to be Hal Foster, the creator, writer and illustrator of the Prince Valiant comic strip for some forty years. His work seemed brilliant when I was a teenager, and it seems just as brilliant now that I’m fifty. Some of the artists I loved as a kid haven’t retained my high regard over time. Foster is the exception.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

From the world of comics I recommend Dark Horse Comics archive collection of artist/writer/editor Joe Kubert’s Tarzan comics, particularly volume one. These pages were originally done for DC in the early 1970s. Kubert is a master storyteller and one of the finest comic book artists of all time. For a children’s picture book, I recommend Patrick McDonnell’s The Gift of Nothing. McDonnell tells a very simple, sweet and moving story for young kids, and he does it so economically it inspires deep admiration in those of us who love graphic storytelling.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring illustrators, what would it be?

Work to please yourself first. The gratification you get from the act of creating a book should trump the experience of holding a finished, printed copy in your hands.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

I just finished illustrating a book of zombie Christmas carols written by some twisted nut named Spradlin. It’s called It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies, and it should be out in October of this year from Harper Collins. It’s more fun than a stocking full of spleens.

In the Spring of 2010, G.P. Putnam & Sons will publish my full color graphic novel for kids: On Board The Defender. It’s an historical adventure story about a twelve year old boy in the British Navy during the Napoleonic War. Can one lone kid save Great Britain from Napoleon’s invasion forces and change the course of world events? There’s only one way to find out-look for On Board The Defender next year!

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