Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mr. Pig Visits. . . Debbie Ridpath Ohi!

Well, I'll tell you, folks, this has been an ALL-STAR week in the The Little Crooked Cottage. I don't mean to brag, but I've outdone myself!

I know what you're thinking. . . you're thinking: What's that Mr. Pig going to do next? Or you're thinking: Who's he wearing? That suit is fabulous! Answers: I'm visiting the studio of the one and only Debbie Ridpath Ohi! And: Armani Kids. (Well, what do you expect? I'm 2' 3" and it's not like they have a pigswear collection.) *snort*

But enough about me! Time to visit one of my favorite author/artists! Debbie Ohi is the illustrator of Michael Ian Black's NAKED! and I'M BORED and the hilarious INKYGIRL comics, among dozens of other exciting projects, including a slew of new books she has both written and illustrated releasing soon from Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Random House.

Honestly, I wonder how she does it all! Let's see if we can find out. . .

<<knock, knock>>
Photo: Jeff Ridpath

Hello, Debbie!

So excited to have you visit, Mr. Pig! Please, do come in. Watch your step; my office is here down in the basement. Be warned that it's not nearly as airy and spacious as the other offices you've visited.

Trust me, I'm used to small spaces. The cottage where I live is very cozy (and a little crooked). I'll be right at home.

I painted that odd-looking grass when we first moved in:

Not odd. . .  Mysterious. <grin>

I also painted a tree in the corner. . .

but I realized I needed more places to put my things, so covered most of it up with shelves:

Oh dear, hold on while I tidy up those folders on the floor. When I'm working on sketches for my book projects, I keep all the sketches for each page in a separate folder.

Here, let me make you some peppermint tea. . .

How did you know peppermint was my favorite? You are too kind. Mmmm, delicious!

My, Mr. Pig, you do look quite dapper.

Why, thank you. You look lovely, too, Debbie. Red is your color. 

Thank you! Anyway, as you may have noticed already, I have quite a LOT of books in my office. Here are some of my favourites:

and some of my published book projects:

If you look behind us, you'll see my book project shelf:

Whoa! So that's how you keep it all straight!

In each cubbyhole, I keep all the sketches and notes for each book. After they've been published, I also keep any props I use for school presentations. 

Here's a closer look at my NAKED! cubbyhole: You can see my superhero cape on top, which was modeled after the top that the little boy in the story wore. Would you like it try it on?

Well, I wasn't going to ask, but now that you mention it. . . Yes. Yes, I would. (I can't resist a good accessory.)

Oh, Mr. Pig! You look wonderful. Would you be willing to pose for a picture?

Did somebody say POSE? Ta-da!!! (Sorry, I'm a bit of a ham.)

Oh dear, watch your step. I've had a tight deadline so didn't have a chance to properly tidy up. But let me continue the tour.

Here, let me give you a boost so you can take a look at what I keep on top of my project shelves:

The potato puppet you see is the same one that starred in the I'M BORED music video:

I'm Bored Music Video (inspired by the new picture book from Simon & Schuster BFYR) from Debs & Errol on Vimeo.

Behind all that is one of my two windows. As you can tell, I don't look outside that much, but the views of both windows are fairly covered up with bushes and a deck anyway. When I want to look outside, I go upstairs. My husband and I nicknamed my workspace my "Office Cave." I love it!

Everyone needs an office cave. And a reading cave. And a taking-a-nap-in-the-middle-of-the-day cave. 

Here's my Craft/Photography corner:

It's where I keep all my paints, brushes, rubber stamps and stickers. It's also where I do my found object photography, where I take photos like this one:

Although I experiment with real-life inks and paints, my book project illustration work is all done on my computer with my Wacom artpad. Here's a video showing how I draw:

That was great!

I have a giant corkboard where I pin up notes and pictures that make me happy:

One of my hobbies is writing and playing music. Here are just a few of my instruments, some of which I've used in children's concerts with my music group:

Wonderful! I play the kazoo from time to time, myself. Until the Cottagers ask me to stop. You know authors and their "quiet time."

I do. Let's see. . . what else can I show you? Oh! I have all kinds of interesting things hanging from my office ceiling:

Including sketches from one of my current book projects. Sorry I can't show the sketches to you right now, but they're for a book that hasn't yet come out! Behind the sketches, you can see a decal I put up in my office because I love this Rose Tremain quote so much.

But speaking of book projects, I'd better get back to work now.

Understood. Don't let me keep you. Thanks so much for the tour! And the tea! And the cape! I can't remember when I've had so much fun. Can I give you a hug, Debbie?

Of course, Mr. Pig. Thank you so much for visiting! Please do come back anytime.


Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people in Toronto, Canada. Recent illustration projects include NAKED! by Michael Ian Black and Judy Blume classics reissued in chapter book and middle grade format by Atheneum Books For Young Readers/Simon & Schuster. Her illustrations also appear in NY Times Notable Children's Book, I'M BORED (author: Michael Ian Black, Simon & Schuster BFYR). Launching 2015: WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? (her debut as author AND illustrator) and SEA MONKEY AND BOB (author: Aaron Reynolds, Simon & Schuster BFYR).  For Debbie's other current and upcoming book projects with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Random House: Her blog for writers/illustrators: Twitter: @inkyelbows.

The New York Times on NAKED!
“A pint-size streaker emerges from his bath and frolics in the altogether, reveling in his natural state as he runs through the house. 'Sliding down the stairs naked! Eating a cookie totally and completely naked!' Pants? Thanks anyway. But capes! Capes are a game changer. Black, a comedian as well as a writer, brings great comic timing to this riff. Ohi, who worked with Black on I’m Bored, makes sure readers get the joke.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review) on NAKED!:
-"“Naked!” It’s fun to say and fun to be, as the team behind 2012’s I’m Bored proves with this tribute to the (temporarily) clothes-free life." ... "Ohi, working in more fully (ahem) fleshed out scenes than in I’m Bored, is an inventive, irreverent portraitist of domestic life—readers won’t be able to anticipate where her comic sense of composition will take them next (spoiler: one perspective is a bird’s-eye view of a naked Hokey Pokey, complete with dance steps diagram). Certain to inspire gleeful mimicry—not that some kids need much of an excuse to ditch their duds."

New York Times Notable Children's Book *
* Junior Library Guild Selection *

Praise for I'M BORED
-"Sometimes a picture book gets it just right...Inspiring and stimulating, it's a must-see picture book, particularly if you're a teacher or librarian looking for good story-time reads." - Julie Danielson, Kirkus Reviews blog.
"Black (A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea) keeps this simple concept funny all the way through its final, LOL zinger. Debut illustrator Ohi’s minimalist, scraggly digital drawings are anything but boring, and speak volumes about irritation, desperation, and disdain." - Publishers Weekly(starred review)
"...Beautifully written by Michael Ian Black and gorgeously illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi...It has the courage to go unfashionably old-school and suggest that our imagination, not our gadgets, is the only cure [for boredom]"...Both the writing and the illustrations are fearless." - The Globe & Mail


  1. Thank you SO much for visiting, Mr. Pig! You are such wonderful company. *hugs*

    1. Thank you for inviting me to tour studio, Debbie. It's the best office cave EVER. *Hugs back* --Mr. P.

  2. (Sorry, I'm a bit of a ham.) made me choke a little on my coffee! LOL

    1. Punny stuff. Thanks for reading/ commenting, Cathy. Cheers! --Mr. P.