This week’s cover artist, Michael Paraskevas, started doing covers for Dan’s Papers in 1988. The Southampton-based artist is the illustrator and originator of comic strip The Green Monkeys, the animated series Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, Marvin the Tap Dancing Horse and The Kids from Room 402, as well as 21 children’s books. Paraskevas discusses his new cover illustration, his new project and the inspiration behind Candy Corn Man (who is, in fact, real).
There’s great texture in this cover picture–especially in the swirling night sky and grassy hill—What medium do you use?
I learned to paint studying ancient masters from Italy and Greece. Years and years spent in the mountains in Tibet working with them and learning to mix my own paint has helped me become a better painter. I spent some time on a remote island that moved around from time to time, so don’t attempt to look for it. On the island a tribe of wild monkeys took me in and taught me how to draw. It’s all true.
How did you get the idea for this big candy-corn guy? What a character!
Candy Corn Man is real. A while back my wife’s father told me a story about his great grandfather and how, when he was a child, planted a single piece of candy corn in an empty field out beyond those willow trees. Under the light of the full moon a small strange tree grew…and from that tree…grew a single piece of candy corn… a full month later Candy Corn Man was born, and he haunted the countryside every Halloween. chasing children and stealing their candy. I think he might have been working for the American Dental Association but I cannot track down any information about him. If you wait until Halloween and leave a pile of candy corn on your doorstep, you might just see him stomping around town.
There’s a lightheartedness to this “spooky” cover—are you a fan of Halloween?
Actually, I can’t stand Halloween. The costumes never look that good. There’s always an argument about what movie is the scariest, when we all know that the scariest movie ever made was The Exorcist. The runner-up to that one is The Shining. Try watching that at two o’clock in the morning.
I like candy but I don’t share [well] with others. That part of Halloween is fun but I have to cut back. One too many candy bars and I won’t be able to fit into the chair that I use in my studio. Wait. What’s that noise. I think Candy Corn Man is at the door… Nope, it wasn’t him. It was just a homeless squirrel.
What new projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a new comic. Lili and Derek is running online at liliandderek.com. You can see it over at gocomics.com. Lili and Derek is the story about Lili, a very self-absorbed Westie and her BFF, Derek, a mild-mannered German Shepherd. There’s a cat that lives across the street, Meeko. Sometimes he’s a nice cat but sometimes he is very, very evil. He’s a complicated cat. We’re working on a movie, too, but that’s a sort of secret.
The Green Monkeys continues in Dan’s Papers. I love those guys. Actually Lili and Derek is a spin-off from The Green Monkeys since Lili was a character that moved in with Spider and Flytrap. I’m also working on a television show that is in development. I’m writing a novel and hoping someday to walk on the moon. I also planted some candy corn.
Where can East Enders go to see your artwork?
You can try to call me. I don’t bark. Only Derek barks. And sometimes Lili. Best way to contact me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t knock on my door during Halloween. I’ll be hiding in the cellar hoping Candy Corn Man will not find me. I think he’s there now.