Friend Friday

CeCe & Tom.. . .sort of

Remember those old Doublemint gum ads: “Two, two, two mints in one”? Well, today’s post features two, two, two gems in one: author Tom Angleberger and illustrator CeCe Bell. They are lovely people who happened to be married to one another. And they do wonderful books. Take it away, Tom and CeCe:
CeCe Bell
Tom Angleberger
Tom: Crankee Doodle is a great example of the easy, cushy life we writers have … compared to illustrators, that is.

Cece and I concocted this story together during the long long drive from BEA in New York City to our home in the mountains of Virginia.
We have “this would make a great book” conversations all the time that go nowhere. But this one took off right away! We got serious about it long before we got home. As I recall it, I was driving and Cece was actually working out a page layout dummy… to make sure we had the right number of pages/spreads/story beats…

The story still seemed like a good idea even after the road trip was done. And Google didn’t turn up any books with the name, which would have been disastrous. We had already put so much work into it, that it was pretty easy for me to sit down and type it all up. (And trust me, it’s VERY VERY easy for me to summon up the Crankee voice!)

And then I was done! 

Cece, however, was just getting started. The work she put into this project is just unbelievable. Those are real paintings, folks! Months and months of work! On top of all that, she wrestled my words into shape and even added some of her own. (A reviewer actually quoted one of Cece’s lines as an example of the book’s humor.)

But the payoff of the story is not in the words. After all of Crankee’s yakking, the book actually relies on a wild action spread for its punchline. And Cece nailed that, too!

And after all that… my name gets listed first on the book cover! 

Normally, I’d never admit that writing is easy… but compared to the other “half” of the process, it sure beats working!

Cece: Crankee was actually the most fun I ever had illustrating any book, including my own. Plus, I convinced the editors to let me hand-letter the text, which is something I love to do…even though that ends up being more work, too. The kind of work I like, though.

I have to admit that I sometimes do get jealous of the fact that Tom’s books have been more successful than mine (hence the fact that his name is listed first on the book, which is totally deserved, by the way). I remind myself that it’s his success that allows me to keep doing what I love best, which is not just drawing and telling stories, but getting to talk to the real-live Tom Angleberger about all kinds of ideas, both the ones for books, and the ones that are just yakkity yak. That’s a terribly constructed sentence, but it was written with love!

We’ll be doing more books together soon, and I am excited!

I am excited, too, CeCe. Of course, my not-so-secret hope is that there will be more Horton Halfpott books, but second best would be many, many more Angleberger-Bell collaborations. 

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