Thursday, September 29, 2005

Martha Stewart? No, Paul Meisel!

Guess what? I came this *click* close to interviewing Martha Stewart here on my blog. But, I got one step better. I got Paul Meisel, the illustrator for the book Jack and the Beanstalk: A fairy tale adapted by Primarius Corporation. This corporation was born out of the hit TV show The Apprentice starring Martha Stewart.

Now, I didn't see the show, and I haven't read the book. For that reason, I won't make any snide comments regarding the Primarius Corporation's attempt to retell a children's fable. And since I've been writing for children myself, I know it isn't as easy as it might seem.

The Apprentice contestants were charged with retelling a fairy tale using the best resources Random House Publishing had at hand. One of those resources was children's book illustrator Paul Meisel. I was more interested in Paul, who describes his illustration style as humorous or whimsical, than Primarius or Martha. Paul was kinda busy, but he did give me a minute to answer a question.

Devas T.: I've read so many negative articles about Hollywood celebrity children's books. I've often wondered about the fortunate, or maybe unfortunate illustrator behind the books. What was your experience?

Paul: The job came through Random House. I've done a few books with them. The first children's book that I illustrated was Monkey Monkey's Trick, published by Random House in 1988. I don't really consider this [Jack and the Beanstalk] a typical "celebrity book". It was written by the contestants in 24 hours, and my art was of course done in the same amount of time. As to my experience, it was interesting to see how these shows are made behind the scenes. There were very specific rules though- as the work had to be the product of the team I really wasn't allowed to offer my opinions or insights. A little bit different from how I normally work.

I worked directly with Carrie and Dawna mostly, and occasionally a few of the other members of Primarius. If you've seen the show, the way they appear is exactly how they were- professional and a pleasure to work with. I'm not surprised they won that task and won again in the second task that aired tonight.

Devas T.: Yes-yes-yes, but what about Martha! Was she still wearing that cute little ankle bracelet we heard so much about, and was she offering any promising under-the-table stock tips?

Paul: I never saw Martha.

Devas T: Lol!...Thank you Paul. I love your art work, and although I will probably pass on this Apprentice book, I will be picking up Mooove Over! the book you illustrated, written by Karen Magnuson Beil. That looks absolutely cool. Thanks for your time.

Paul: Thanks for your interest. Your work looks great. Continued success with your career.


Kim said...

Nice job, Don! Fun interview.

Rose said...

Good for you. That was kind of him to respond.....

rindambyers said...

WOW! Don! You get around! I thought this book was neither really good or really bad, just a usual, run-of-the-mill children's picturebook, hundreds of which get published every year. I DON'T understand the fuss about it in the world of children's books either. Critique group work is collaborative work, willy nilly, I mean you are getting help from other people on that manuscript at bottom line, and rare is the manuscript like mine these days that enters a publishing house without it (as I am a very private writer). Besides, once a manuscript is bought, it really becomes collaborative work, so I don't, again, see the fuss over it all.

Paul does sweet-sweet animal illustrations, gently funny, but too gently funny for me. I like yours much better, Don, more edgy humor. That being said, sometimes edgy doesn't work in the marketplace even though I wish more of it did, so don't go by me!

NICE interview, timely, you really got on that one! I was so pleased to see it. I'll be blogging on my blog on the subject of this particular Martha Stewart show in a bit. Being self employed as I have been, I'm a huge fan of Donald Trump's show (my real heroine, though, there is Caroline, though! I love Caroline!) and I am a convicted, unabashed Survivor fan as well (love to wathc Jeff the most)...though I don't go in for Amazing Race or Big Brother or any of the others at all. I know, I know...I'm DIFFERENT!