With this month's debut of the first two issues of Highlights Eagle Eye Hidden Pictures debuting online at Highlights Hidden Picture Club, it's hard to believe that I've been working on Heidi & Zeke for just shy of a year now. In fact, I just submitted book 17 and 18's sketch last week. I've been doing my best to quietly contain my excitement but, if you know me, it hasn't been easy. It has been a tremendous pleasure to consistently work on and develop the characters of Heidi and Zeke. I confess, it wasn't until I finished book 8's hidden picture that I realized Heidi and Zeke's names were a play off of Hide and Seek. Hoo-boy! I'm swift!
Unlike the hidden pictures you may be familiar with, the ones in Eagle Eye are accompanied by puzzles, stickers, games or, as with Heidi and Zeke, a story! Join Heidi and Zeke twice a month as they help their friends find their many lost objects. As the tag line says: "No object is too hard to find when detective Heidi Hamilton & her trusty dog, Zeke, are on the case."
I created the back cover What's Wrong? illustration for this November's Highlights. As many of you know I stargaze quite often. Staying up late or waking before dawn to view astronomical events is fun for me, much to my wife's chagrin. I'm not entirely sure when my love of astronomy began. Honestly, I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated with the skies. I have a very vivid memory of seeing Saturn's Rings for the first time through my telescope and just how much of an impact that had on me.
So you can see why I was thrilled to create this What's Wrong? illustration. I did extensive research to make sure that the sky was as accurate as possible For mid-November at about 4am. However, I did use a little artistic license by adding a very bright comet ISON which is visible starting this month. After the comet passes the sun (which will happen this November) it could become extremely bright or completely fall apart. I'm praying it will survive and give us a great show.
If I ever go rogue and you need to get information out of me this is the way to successfully torture me:
Make me brush my daughter's teeth while force feeding me black licorice and drink a root beer, while listening to an ensemble of the Indigo Girls, Neil Young and the cast of Rent while watching CSI whatever. I will tell you everything.
When Highlights asked me to make a What's Wrong? of a City Market I could think of no other than Philadelphia's Italian Market. I've only been there once in my life, during the off peak time, but I did a lot of research (see below) to make it look authentic minus the trash and fire barrels. If you've ever been to the Italian Market in South Philadelphia, or saw the scene in Rocky when he is jogging through it (starts at :23) one thing comes to mind, "this is so beautiful and yet, totally disgusting." Honestly, it smells, there's trash all over the place, and most of the merchants are rude. Ah, Philadelphia! City of Brotherly Love. That's what makes this city so great- everyone wears their hearts on their sleeve and we don't apologize for it or care if you're offended- much like you would speak to a close family member. Ha!
I finished this piece the week my Dad went into the hospital before he passed away. Good friend and designer, Drew Phillips, helped me out with doing some flat coloring for me. All I had to do was make some adjustments, then add textures and shadows. Thanks, Drew!
Things to look for in this piece: Adrian Balboa ironing a sock, myself, wife and daughter driving a row home, and my personal favorite, a girl mouse being serenaded with her concerned Father reacting in a nearby window.
The original sketch is below. One thing I was sad to see go was Adrian Balboa carrying Rocky's two turtles known as Cuff and Link.