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Mark Pett to release first picture book in September

Mr. Lowe and Lucky Cow creator Mark Pett will be releasing his first picture book this fall. The book is entitled The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes and was a collaboration with Gary Rubinstein.

Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about his book and whether illustration will be his new career direction.

AG: How did this book come about?

MP: Whenever I taught cartooning to children, I was struck by how many kids became frustrated that they couldn’t draw perfectly the first time. I began focusing on the sketch process and teaching the importance of making mistakes in your drawing process.

This led me to think about what a child’s life would be like if they could do EVERYthing perfectly the first time. Aspects of it would be awesome, certainly. Ultimately, though, it would be an awful existence. THE GIRL WHO NEVER MADE MISTAKES tells the story of Beatrice Bottomwell, celebrated in her town for never ever having made mistakes. Slowly, though, her world falls apart as she discovers the paralyzing untenability of maintaining it.

My friend Gary and I both have daughters about the same age and we’d talked about writing a children’s book together. THE GIRL WHO NEVER MADE MISTAKES is the happy result.

AG: You mentioned your daughters, what influence did they have on the book?

MP: When we wrote this book, I only had one daughter, Millie. She appears in the book as a character, as does Gary’s daughter Sarah. Millie’s the perfect test audience. She gets highly involved in the books that she reads, often acting out her favorite parts of the book, and quickly lets you know when she’s bored.

In writing THE GIRL WHO NEVER MADE MISTAKES, I wanted a book that I could read to my own children one day. I also wanted to write the book that I would have wanted to read as a kid.

AG: Aside from Millie and Sarah, I noticed that a certain hamster shows up in the book as well. You had a developmental strip between Mr. Lowe and Lucky Cow that featured a hamster. Did you purposely include the hamster? Are there other Easter Eggs in the book?

MP: Wow, that’s an obscure reference! Not many know about my talking hamster strip (and for good reason!). I suppose, now that you’re putting me on the couch, I’ve always had a fascination with hamsters. Perhaps it goes back to my childhood, when I found Furball eating his lifelong partner Thurber in an aquarium on my dresser. Eating him! Hamsters are some cold mofos.

Other than that, you’ll find myself and my cowriter Gary hiding in the backgrounds. Of course, we’re in disguise.

AG: Do you see yourself doing more books and illustrations in the future? Any plans to do another strip?

MP: I’ve loved doing this book. I’ve found that my comic strip experience has been excellent preparation for this kind of work. I’m comfortable telling stories using words and pictures in tandem. In a way, picture books are like extra long Sunday comic strips.

In doing comic strips, I sometimes became frustrated that I couldn’t begin a new project and work with new characters. After all, if you have a successful comic strip, you end up drawing the same characters and scenarios for up to 40 or 50 years! Picture books give me the opportunity to constantly explore new themes and characters. That said, everyone and their grandma wants to do children’s books, so it’s a tough and crowded industry to crack.

I love the medium of the comic strip. There is no other like it. You publish each and every day of the year and what readers see/read is what the artist wrote and drew a couple of weeks earlier. It’s highly personal. That said, I also have no illusions about what it takes to produce a successful comic strip. Were I to do another comic strip, it would be because I thought I’d stumbled upon something really wonderful that needed to be out in the world.

AG: Tell me a little about your collaboration with Gary Rubinstein?

MP: In doing comic strips, I’d grown accustomed to (and weary of) working alone in a studio. I was eager to collaborate with someone else on a project. Gary had given me feedback on LUCKY COW sketches for years and we were eager to work together on a project.

After Gary and I settled on our concept, we each took turns writing drafts, which the other would rewrite in his next draft. It had its challenges because I tend to think visually about a story and Gary tends to think more literally. In the end, though, we had what we thought was an excellent story. I then mocked it up with sketches into a book and we presented it to a literary agent. Our agent then hooked us up with Sourcebooks, who really understood our vision and has been superb to work with.

You can order (and see inside the book) the book over on Amazon.

Community Comments

#1 C. Hart
August/1/2011
@ 11:08 am

These drawings look wonderful!

#2 Stacy Curtis
August/1/2011
@ 3:43 pm

Congratulations, Mark!

#3 Alex Hallatt
August/7/2011
@ 11:23 pm

I really hope Mark gets the success with this book that he deserved with his comics. He is such a talent (and nice chap).

#4 Margaret Richardson
October/18/2011
@ 7:29 am

My daughter and I had a lot of fun, on Sunday, 16th October, at Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.
Mark presented and discussed his book, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.
Kids AND adults learn a lesson not to be afraid of making mistakes and it is okay to laugh at yourself!
I loved this book and the illustrations! I collected books, in the UK, so this is my first American one!
I look forward to reading it to my 4year old grand daughter who is
not happy when she makes an error!
Look forward to the next book!

Congratulations!

Margaret Richardson

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