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Sneak peek at original watercolor art for Matt Davies first picture book

Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Matt Davies is taking a new set of critics – children. He has a picture book due out next spring entitled Ben Rides On. The book is about a boy and his love for his bike, but when a bully takes it away the boy must find a way to get it back. The book has much deeper meaning to Matt. It was written shortly after Matt was laid off from his job with the The Journal News – a job he truly loved. “Getting laid off was like being thrown out of the airplane with a bunch of handkerchiefs and needles and you have to sew yourself a parachute on the way down. “Ben Rides On” is a story about having to deal with something being taken away that means something to you.”

The resulting story was story boarded and presented to 18 major publishers though Matt’s new agent. Interest was high and the book went into an auction process where it was finally snatched up by a MacMillan publishing company, Roaring Brook Press.

Here are three sneak peaks at the original watercolor art Matt created for the book. He tells me that while he’s comfortable coloring on the computer, he wanted to do the original art in watercolor. There’s more spontaneity and what Matt called “fabulous accidents” that makes the art more interesting and visually appealing than something created in a pixel perfect controlled environment of Photoshop.

It took eight weeks to do the final illustrations – about 42 of them.

Ben Rides On 1
Ben Rides On 2
Ben Rides On 3

Here’s a look at the final cover:

Ben Rides On by Matt Davies

Matt is working on his second book – due to his publisher this fall. Picture books are not replacing editorial cartooning for him. As he tells me, he’s just expanding the meaning of “cartoonist” for him to include

I’ll post news when the book comes available.

Community Comments

#1 Eddie Pittman
@ 1:24 pm

Wow! This is beautiful work! Look forward to seeing the book.

#2 Stacy Curtis
@ 2:14 am

Sounds like a familiar story. ;-)
Congratulations, Matt!

#3 Stacy Curtis
@ 2:17 am

Just to clarify, I meant the editorial cartoonist loses his job and does a children’s book, not the actual story itself.

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