I am so happy to think that today I will launch my book to NYC. The book started as a comic that I wrote and illustrated in 2016, spending days at the kitchen table in my mom's house drawing it as I recovered from a major, devastating surgery. It calmed my mind and helped my body to rest.
Fast forward a year to a talk with the editor at The RoadRunner Press. She loved the short comic, and in the course of the conversation brought it up 4 times...she told me to imagine my perfect first book. Living in NYC, this felt like the one. I think her hints were none too subtle, haha!
I wrote this story to help me feel more at home in the City. It'd been a hard adjustment, even after living in Philadelphia and Rome for the previous six years, and I needed to feel some connection, just like the drawing of the Delacorte animals had done for me when I first arrived. I wanted to tell a story that centered on New York.
The story didn't start with Patience and Fortitude, but with a lion that I imagined interacting with a boy as nobody else noticed it. Somehow, and I don't remember how, it morphed into the library lions. I imagined New Yorkers, distracted by their phones or books or music, not paying any attention...perhaps deliberately. My students have since informed me that this is how I show I'm not a native. I still LOOK at what I see in the city.
I was pleased to be able to include some reference in the book to the sculptors of the lions, Mr. Edward Clark Potter, who modeled and designed them, (and who lives on through his descendant, Mr. Potter III, in the book) and to the Piccirilli Brothers, who carved the lions. As an art historian by training with a focus in sculptural history, this seemed appropriate, and I hid some references to them--and to my own life--in the book.
I imagine this story to be not just a late night adventure of two large cats who act more like dogs, but a story about selfless love and friendship.
Tonight I will launch the book in the bookstore, Books of Wonder, that made me want to become an illustrator again after those many years of grad school. I imagined it, I put it out into the universe, I pictured myself there. I guess the Universe was listening.
I hope you enjoy my first book that I've put out into the it.
"A Books of Wonder Birthday" colored pencil, pencil, and digital.
Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations is the name of Jessica Boehman's blog and illustration shop. It is named after her favorite fairy tale about a hedgehog boy who becomes king of the forest. All other pages redirect to: