Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mr. Pig Visits . . . Ethan Long!

Whew! It is SIZZLING here in Orlando, Florida. Perhaps I should have arranged to tour award-winning illustrator Ethan Long's studio in the winter? But I just couldn't wait!

Ethan Long is the popular children's book author-illustrator of more than seventy books. He wrote and illustrated the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winning Up! Tall! And High! and the Scribble and Ink books; and he illustrates the Stick Dog series by Tom Watson. Ethan is also the creator of the Emmy-nominated television series, "Tasty Time with Ze Fronk."

Oh, here we are at his house! 

<<knock, knock>>

Hmm. Nobody is answering, but the door is open. I'll just peek inside. . . .

EL: All I need to do is add one more layer to this illustration and I’ll be . . .

EL: Hey, who are you? And how did you get in here? 

Mr. Pig: Um, I'm here for the tour of your studio, Mr. Long?

EL: Oh, right. Normally, I would make my wife and kids show you around, but they went to the movies. I guess I’ll do it this one time.

EL: This is the entry to my home. It is also my studio. Surprised? A lot of artists use their home for a studio. I like it because it eliminates driving time and gives me lots of access to the refrigerator.

MP: I like how you think.

EL: And it also gives me access to our gumball machine, which I have currently filled with a mixture of mm’s, jelly bellies and skittles. It only takes pennies but sometimes a dime will slip through.

MP: Yum! The Cottage needs one of those. Hey, what's in that shelf by the wall?

EL: This shelf? Glad you asked. I know it’s weird, but I can’t give you a tour of my home/studio without showing you my animal skull collection. I have over 40 skulls which range from the very small (rat) to the very large (bison). They are amazing and although I haven’t added many new ones in the past couple of years, I am always on the lookout. 

(Note: No animals were harmed directly or indirectly by Ethan Long in the making of this skull collection.)

EL: Our meals are eaten here. Sometimes it holds placemats, and sometimes we eat on top of a bare table, but the food we serve is usually exquisite. We prepare a lot of our own foods, which includes homemade pizza, sushi, white chicken chili and enchiladas. We also use it as a homework desk, craft table and a gift cutting area.  It has many uses and many scratches.

MP: Mmm, this tour is making me hungry. Is this where you work?

EL: No. This is where I do all of my “talented and world-famous Ethan Long” book writing and illustrating. The desk I use was the same desk I had when I was little. It can be a wee bit small when I feel like spreading out, but overall it is very compact. I use a Mac laptop and have all of the necessary features to be a productive and efficient author/illustrator and business man. Adobe Suite, Dropbox, Microsoft Word products, Crashplan. Sometimes I hook up a scanner. What more do I need? (Don’t answer that.)

EL: This is an illustration from the wildly popular Stick Dog books, written by Tom Watson. I labeled Stick Dog with an arrow so you will know who Stick Dog is. Tom sends me sketches and I draw over them as only I can. My style is simple, fun, and quirky, which is a perfect fit for this book series. I also do a lot of other kinds of art. Go to my website to see all of that. (

EL: This is a mixed media painting that hangs in my studio. It is of Scribbles and Ink. My Scribbles and Ink books are being developed into a web/TV series with WGBH and PBS. But until I get the papers to sign I have to wait and see. Animation is fun, but it takes a L-O-N-G time to get things going.

MP: Scribbles and Ink on TV? Wow! Hey, what's on that shelf above your head? 

EL: As part of my contracts, I get 20-25 free books from the publisher for each book that I write. I have a lot of publishers, so . . . I get a lot of books. This is where I keep most of them – up and out of the way. We use them for donations to schools and gifts for teachers, students and friends.

EL: Our mailbox is one of my favorite places. I can’t fit inside or I would spend a lot of my time there. It is where I receive fan mail, magazines, paychecks, birthday cards, and of course, bills. Which reminds me, it’s probably time to get back to work. Those Stick Dogs aren’t going to draw themselves!

EL: Oh, and I also do fine art on the side. This is one of my hand-crafted birds. I call them “Whittle Birds.” Get it? They’re “little” and I “whittle” them, so they’re called “Whittle Birds”. I think the name is funny and I love making them.

MP: Aww. I whove, er . . . love them. 

EL:  Ok. You’ve seen enough. Plus, it’s nap time. Give me a few minutes to catch a snooze.

MP:  Thanks for having me, Mr. Long! Um . . . Mr. Long?

EL: Zzzz. . . . huh? What? . . . Oh! I'm up, I'm up!

EL: And that’s a wrap! Next time please call or email before barging into my studio unannounced. This will give me time to put together a proper tour, complete with a walk-through of my guest cottage, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and the garage where I park my fleet of Rolls Royces. Have a nice day!

MP: You, too! Thanks for the grand tour! I think I'll take some Skittles for the road if you don't mind. It's a L-O-N-G way back to the Cottage.

Ethan Long is a popular, award-winning and internationally recognized children's book author and illustrator with over 70 children's books, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and an Emmy-nominated television series to his credit. Just about all of his awake time is spent writing stories, drawing pictures and spending time with his family. Born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, his childhood memories serve as inspiration for many of his drawings and stories. He is good at walking, eating ice cream, and wearing glasses. He currently lives with his wife and three children in beautiful Orlando, Florida.

by Ethan Long
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (2012)
ISBN 978-0399256110

Winner of the 2013 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

"A clever cast of avian characters conveys the meaning of several directional terms in this innovative lift-the-flap book that will appeal to babies and toddlers as well as children just beginning to read." 


"Doubling as a baby book and an early reader, this book about the ups and downs of avian rivalry succeeds abundantly on both fronts."
—The New York Times

by Ethan Long
Abrams Appleseed (May 2015)
ISBN 978-1419713651

* "A clever, deceptively simple board book introduces animal sounds. Long's board-book debut proves again that he understands children and what appeals to them. With just one animal per page, each with a one-word salutation, this is a board book that will speak to very young children. . . . A completely satisfying, age-appropriate package." —Kirkus (starred review)
by Ethan Long
Blue Apple Books (March 2014)
ISBN 978-1609053666
"Cardboard boxes may never seem dull again. Back from their last high-energy artistic adventure (The Contest, 2013), best friends Scribbles and Ink go to town with imaginative play, fighting and reconciling along the way. . . . Corrugated cardboard has never looked so alluring. The perfect choice for after a move or whenever boxes are handy." —Kirkus

Watch TASTY TIME WITH ZEFRONK weekdays 9:25 AM and 3:25 PM EST Mon-Fri and 10:55 AM EST Sat on The Disney Channel!

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