When we made the decision (as Jonathan puts it) to “turn his life into a cartoon,” I set upon the task to find an artist who could capture his spirit as an illustration. JMan, the protagonist in our storybook app, had to be adorkable—quirky, endearing, and witty—just like the real Jonathan.
The Multi-faceted Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson is an artist who is quite accomplished in so many creative areas of design—illustration, textile design, painting, photography and graphic design. She connected with our mission to help others embrace their own uniqueness by sharing how our son on the spectrum overcomes obstacles, triumphs over social anxieties, and thrives.
Using images of 10-year old Jonathan and a few notes from us, she created JMan and Mr. Redge, our two main characters. My heart leapt when I opened the attachment to see those two smiling at me! Kim “got” our vision and used her talent with her (virtual) pen and paper to morph the real into an endearing illustration. Kim is also responsible for our Geek Club Books logo and the Mighty League logo—I’m not sure how she does it, but both have such charm and they reflect the character and heart of our family…and this ad(venture).
The Artistry of P-Scott
Philip S. Boyd worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation for 14 years in Orlando, Florida until the company closed the studios. While there he worked as an animation artist for over a dozen feature films including The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, The Lion King…I could go on and on.
Phil does freelance work and he joined the team with the task of illustrating the manuscript. We want our app to have a comic book feel and a vibrant style that will appeal to 8 to 10 year olds. With the two main characters established (thanks to Kim), Phil focused on telling the story though animation.
First, he’d send over a penciled “ruff” or “rough” where I could visualize the position and poses of the characters. For some pages, I’d get a colored ruff too. At these stages, I gave input for changes (which I rarely had to do because he was so spot on). And then the final illustrations! Each page comes as its own individual art file but in layers so, like film animation, our developers can add the movements and cool interactivity into our app.
I cannot begin to explain how incredible the process has been—to see Jonathan’s 10 year old self turned into a cartoon…to see the story come to life…and to work with talented artists who are such good people. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!
I came across this two-part video interview of Phil. I thought you might enjoy finding out more about him and the animation of The Lion King. Enjoy!