I’m Looking For A Dinosaur!

It was 2007 and I was working on I’m Looking For a Monster!, I was pretty far along in the process. Since I was working with silhouette illustrations I started playing around with them. Since I had used solid colors in I’m Looking For a Monster! I decided to play with different backgrounds. I made a Halloween greeting using a silhouetted monster in front of the moon.

I was inspired by this image to draw some other monsters in front of the moon. After drawing 3 or 4 a story started to develop and I had They’re Coming! underway. But wait, isn’t this post about I’m Looking For A Dinosaur!?

Yes, it is, I’m getting there.

So I sent my editor a dummy of They’re Coming! She liked it a lot and said she would send it to acquisitions. After they met, Heidi came back to me with disappointing news. The marketing department didn’t want to follow one monster book with another. Then she said “They asked if you could do something with dragons or dinosaurs?” I said I’d get back to her shortly and I spent a few days brainstorming.

I knew Heidi liked silhouettes so I decided to do something with shadows. I remembered my childhood fear of the shadows on my bedroom wall from the cars and trucks driving by at night. So now I had the start of Shadows On My Wall.

I know, I know…patience.

I also wrote a piece called Twilight Dragonflight. The third idea I came up with was…I’m Looking For A Dinosaur!. I drew a few sample illustrations and sent them off to Random House.

Heidi liked Shadows On My Wall and I’m Looking For A Dinosaur!. The marketing department loved the sequel to Monster and sent me a contract. They wanted the book right away and scheduled it for Summer 2009 release.

The full front and back cover.

I wanted to do a combination of new mechanisms along with ones that were similar to the ones in Monster. The folks at Random House were especially fond of the wheel I had done in the first book, especially how it worked on two pages. I figured out a way to make the wheel turn and open and close the jaws of a T-Rex. It was a small element being turned by a large wheel but it was very effective. The other side changed three dinosaur heads on similar bodies.

Here is a gif replicating the T-Rex spread.

While designing the individual spreads I made a lot of prototypes to make sure they worked. There was a lot of tweaking, cutting, taping and glueing before everything worked. Here is the first spread mechanism on its own.

The first spread where the dinosaurs wish to be the chosen one, the perfect dinosaur.

The hardest spread had both a Triceratops and Styracosaurus with heads that popped off the page. It has to fold flat when the book is closed. and had tons that were slotted in from the back.

The background and elements from the horned-dinosaur page.

I finished the book in the fall of 2008 and it went to production. It was scheduled to go on press in February of 2009 and in the between time I showed a few other book ideas to Heidi. I had hoped Random House would pick up one of my picture books but I was told that marketing wanted more pop-ups. While I liked creating the pop-up books I also wanted to do picture books.

We were in discussions about another follow-up called “I’m Looking For A Bad-Guy!” around the beginning of 2009. I was given a press proof of the book, a fully assembled copy that had been printed from the prepress plates. The only difference between it and the finished books was the ink was not as saturated as the final print run so it looks a bit dull and faded. Here is the full prepress copy, enjoy.

The label on this proof is dated January 20, 2009.

Unfortunately the economy was tanking due to the housing crisis. Random House decided to cut half of the books they were planning on publishing that year. My book was about to be fully printed but it did not make the cut. Once they cancelled I’m Looking For A Dinosaur! they also turned back all of the other books I had submitted. It all looked pretty bleak.

Of course things eventually turned around or I wouldn’t be talking about this part of my journey as a published author. While I regret not having this one in my roster of books, I’ve moved on to other exciting projects. Soon I’ll tell the story of being turned out into the wilderness and finding my way back.


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