Coffee Break Confidential: My Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Don Tate’s Amazing Age Illustrations
Katherine here, writing from a secluded mountain village somewhere in Nepal. (How I got here is a long story, which I will happily share with you. Just as soon as you get clearance.)
I apologize for not blogging in the past month, but you know how it is — places to go, people to see, government facilities to infiltrate. Plus, we’ve been busy finalizing our upcoming books and sending the files off to the printer. So there’s that.
Speaking of upcoming books, I recently got my hands on an advance copy of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch from Chris Barton and Don Tate, which will be hitting the shelves in early April. I’d tell you how I came to possess this rare document, but then I’d have to . . . well. Let’s just say I found it.
The thing about spies: we’re great at uncovering secrets, horrible at keeping them. So of course I showed my advance copy to Ahna Ziegler, internet marketing manager/fellow spy/intelligence asset. Ahna decided that we couldn’t keep the information to ourselves, so we made a Coffee Break video featuring The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. And then we broadcasted it to the world. Wikileaks, eat your heart out.
The details we shared in the video were mid-level security, which on their own provide a nice sneak peek at things to come. But a good spy never stops questioning. Or stealing. The advance copy wasn’t enough for me; I wanted more. I wanted the top secret, highly classified information.
So I did what any normal person would do. I broke into the company vault.
One perfectly executed smash-and-grab job later, I came away with Don Tate’s original dummy for The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. For those of you who missed the Coffee Break video covering the illustration process, the artist’s dummy shows the layout of the book with revised (but not finalized) text and illustrations.
Another thing about spies: we love tracking things. Cell phones, members of organized crime rings . . . you name it, we’re keeping tabs on it. So I was particularly excited about obtaining the dummy, because I could compare it to the advance copy and track the progress of the illustrations. Here’s a debriefing of my findings.
Some of the dummy illustrations were virtually identical to the final artwork, such as this spread, where John Roy Lynch leaves the steamboat Altamont to make a life for himself in Natchez, Mississippi:
In other places, the scenes depicted in the art stayed the same, but the perspective changed, as shown in these illustrations:
Personally, I was most intrigued by this spread:
As you can see, the artwork in the dummy focuses on the second paragraph, which mentions John Roy Lynch’s house on Homochitto Street. But the final illustration depicts the first paragraph of the text, with him giving a speech at the Natchez Republican club. While I love the proud smile John Roy is sporting in the dummy, I think the scene in the advance copy is more inspirational because it shows him getting involved and making a difference. Looking at it almost makes me want to get up on a stage myself and talk about something that I love, like coffee or the smell of old books. But then, people in my line of work don’t tend to enjoy attracting attention.
Speaking of which, I think it’s time I slip into the shadows again. Until next time.
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About Coffee Break Confidential:
This monthly column is where EBYR editorial assistant/vlogger/superspy Katherine Gibson divulges extra information from Coffee Break with EBYR that would otherwise be kept off the record. She’s researching topics related to children’s literature, posting her findings — and taking down some powerful militarized governments in the process. Just kidding about that last one. (Or are we?)