I was given lots of time for the interior finals on the four books I wrote and illustrated for Rourke, but the covers had a tight deadline and were completed last December. When I began working on the interiors for Paul Bunyan, I noticed a problem. Other than Babe, the main characters were boys. I had a boy MC in Run…It’s a Bee! and Rumpelstiltskin, too. What was I thinking? I like girl heros. So, with permission, I altered the gender for the MC in Paul Bunyan. I just made the hair a little longer. I probably could have left it short, but that was our solution. While the original cover might be in some of the marketing material already, who’s going to notice?
I was tempted to show just a hint of surprise in Babe’s face, but I promised to keep the changes minor.
This reminded me of an incident when I was doing a drawing demonstration for a group of 1st and 2nd graders. We always create first as the writer of a single scene story, establishing the setting, characters, and plot. Then I draw, incorporating (most of) their suggestions. In this scene, a deer and an elephant were having a tea party; I forget the plot. I was just about done when a voice cried out, “Make the elephant a girl!”
Ut oh. So. Both animals were in the buff, and sitting with tummies out, legs dangling from the parlor stools. Too late for girlie clothes. I tried to think of a solution that honored our drawing. What do these kids know? Is this going to become more than a drawing demonstration? Where is the teacher when I need her???
Finally, I had a solution: I added thick false eyelashes to the elephants dot-eyes.
“Yayyyyyyy!!!!!” cried the entire group.
“Whew,” sighed the illustrator.