Creating the artwork for the children's book by Janet Lawler
The Prehistoric Games is an amusing look at at imaginary past world in which the dinosaurs of the past age enjoyed their own 'Olympic games'. The book is conceived and written by Janet Lawler and illustrated by Martin Davey.
Janet began writing the book several years ago. An early draft, Jurassic Gymnasium, morphed into The Prehistoric Games shortly before the 2012 Olympics, but not in time for Janet to find a publisher. She felt the many different dinosaurs in her story might be viewed as an obstacle by a publisher (or an illustrator!). During April 2014 she contacted Martin about creating artwork for the proposed book. She had come across some of his cartoon dinosaur illustrations on the internet and felt that Martin would be the ideal choice to provide illustrations to bring her imaginative writings to life. Martin was very impressed by Janet’s manuscript and her previous literary output, and various accolades for her writing in the difficult market of children’s publishing. Martin liked the project very much seeing what he could bring to the table in interpreting Janet’s wonderful ideas and adding some of his own imagination in to the mix.
Janet asked Martin to create a demonstration piece of art that would suggest the visual style and angle that Janet wanted and would also demonstrate how Martin would tackle the subject. It was important that it should not frighten children! The dinosaurs are quite tame versions of their real life counterparts, and also some humour would be injected in to the mix. In Janet's manuscript a number of dinosaurs, some of the actual species, are described competing in various Olympic sports. The Tyrannosaurus was often mentioned and being such a famous creature, and a figure head of sorts for the dinosaur world, was featured as the athlete to hold the lit Olympic flame, a clear and famous symbol of the event. Around him would be pictured various other dinosaurs, some based on incidents within the text, competing in different sports. Martin added the extra element of shifting the event out of a prehistoric world in to a more conventional world to 21st century eyes. The action would take place in a stadium building, designed to hold lots of dinosaurs looking on to a conventional sports track, filled with the every day paraphernalia of the event, including photographers and TV cameras. The dinosaurs would also be dressed in versions of typical 21st century clothing too!
Janet and Martin were hopeful that the picture book would be published before the summer 2016 Olympics in Brazil. They were both pleased when during late 2014 the project was picked up by Pelican Publishing and work was started on the initial pencil layouts, which were done within photoshop rather than use an actual pencil, for delivery during Spring. After approval from the publisher, the art was done in colour for a delivery at the beginning of August 2015.
The book contains 17 interior illustrations plus a cover. The initial rough layouts were drawn within photoshop very roughly. One the positioning of the elements for each illustration was settled upon the drawings were then refined enough so that the publishers and author could understand them and make suggestions. The subject within each page was largely dictated by Janet's manuscript and Martin then 'filled the gaps' with his own take on the subject to provide entertaining cameos to support the main subject. It was undecided initially if to have a mix of single and double spreads, but as the subject matter was always of a large landscape filled with large creatures it seemed to work naturally that a double page spread would appear the best way to layout the book.
The book was published by Pelican in the US during the spring of 2016, with the author and illustrator delighted with the final publication and hope that many readers will also be.