I think that it would be safe to say that for most nerdy youth services librarians, the announcement of 2015’s CSLP theme sent shivers down our spines: Every Hero Has a Story.™ I also think that it’d be safe to say that it was a bit of a letdown when the official artwork arrived. Ummmm…I mean, the artist did a great job, BUT jellyfish and police officer platypuses are not what I had in mind.
Immediately I told my team that we weren’t going to use the artwork, and that I’d ask/beg/bribe my artist fiancé to make something else. In my mind I wanted him to put fun superhero costumes on our dragon mascot. It wasn’t until the fantabulous Erin from Erinisinire emailed me to see if it was cool to use my superhero mashups instead of the provided CSLP artwork. Naturally I replied “heck yeah!” I then also told her of my plans to work with Bruce (aforementioned fiancé) to make fun dragon logos that she could use as well.
Later that night, I had a SHAZAM! moment when I realized that instead of using our library’s mascot – we should have children dressing up as superheroes, and that way, any and all libraries that would like to, could use our artwork! AWW YISS!!!!!
Needless to say, my mind went into overdrive. The very next day I sat down and sketched out ideas with lots of notes for Bruce to use. Basically, and this blows my mind, I got to be his art director (eep! ME – an art director for a professional artist). But, I mean, we’ve worked on artsy projects together before, and it’s been a blast. However, this was quite the task, and I knew that I was going to be pushing Bruce out of his comfort zone (and into the land of cutesy chibis. Heh.
Bruce took my rough sketches and made them magical. He spent three days on this labor of love, and it’s been pure joy collaborating and watching our ideas come to life. He’s one of my heroes.
Oh yeah – you might like to know the concept: I wanted it to be children who are cosplaying their favorite superhero characters with things that they find around the house. Also, I really wanted kids represented who are hardly ever featured as leading superheroes both in books and film. To riff on a wonderful book movement: #WeNeedDiverseHeroes. And because of the chibi eyes, most of the children are ambiguous in terms of gender (and do cause some uncertainty in race as well). I’ll write the intention (not set in stone by any means) that Bruce and I had with each character. But if you see someone else being represented, then that’s totally cool too!
Finally, I wanted to work in the concept of LIBRARIES into the art. That has driven me nuts with the CSLP: it’s a big library thing, right? But it usually only focuses on reading. Not even libraries. And for the love of Jibbers: libraries are so much more than books (and yet, the CSLP marketing seems to push that pretty hard). ::gets down off of soapbox::
Without further ado, here is what resulted from Bruce and my collaboration:
An African-American child cosplaying as Superman showing off the awesome power of his/her/their library card.
A Latino child dressed as Thor – carrying his/her library tote that just happens to resemble Thor’s hammer.
Asian child who wants to be Spider-Man.
White girl who wants to be Batman. She’ll punch you if you try and call her Batgirl (at least in my mind).
Middle Eastern girl cosplaying Ms. Marvel. I love that she uses an over-sized glove to represent how Ms. Marvel can morph shapes.
An African-American girl cosplaying as The Flash. If someone’s silly enough to make fun of her for her love of The Flash, then she’ll point out that you can’t run 74 miles per second either.
Click on any of the images above to get the high-res version for your own use.
PLEASE feel free to use any/all of these images at any time! Modifying them is completely fine too. The outline images are perfect for coloring sheets (just sayin’). And it’s so very very sweet when librarians email me to make 100% sure that it’s okay to use the images, but I promise that my answer will be “yes.”
Also please don’t feel that you need to give either Bruce or I credit in whatever you’re putting our artwork on! If someone wants to know, then you can tell them, or I’d like to think that they’d be able to track the source online pretty darn easily.
This “leaving off credit thing” especially applies to pretty much all of my work. I actually really dislike seeing credit given to me on calendars or brochures because I think it takes away from the striking/simple art. So know that we’re totally cool with credit being left off. Pinkie promise!
One other thing I did that I thought might help librarians out there for this summer: I went through Dafont’s comic fonts and picked out ones that I thought would work best. Honestly, this was also a selfish act of mine to try and stop a proliferation of flyers being created using Comic Sans. ::shudders::
In case you were curious why I picked the fonts that I did – it really comes down to readability and characters. When I’m looking for a font, I ALWAYS use then preview option. I may type what I want the flyer’s headline to be (both upper and lowercase), a special character, and a number. What I’m doing is making sure that lowercase is an option (because you can always use caps lock), and that the font maker has made both special characters and numbers. It took me several heartbreaking times where I found the perfect font, downloaded it, and then realized that I couldn’t use it because I couldn’t type event times.
Anywho! Click on any of the fonts down below to be taken to their download page where you can see the rest of the characters and even type in your own preview.
Okay, I think that about covers it! If you end up using any or all of our artwork, then know that we’d love to see what you did with it. Think of it as payment. OR, if you feel weird about using the artwork for free, then do something special for someone or some organization in your community. Pay it forward. After all – each and every one of you working with and for families in library-land are the heroes I refer to in this post’s title. (I betcha thought it referred to the artwork, but nope! I’m talking about YOU).
Some of y’all actually did send pictures or even a banner after the summer was over – here’s just a few that I received:
If you recognize any of these photos as your own, and would like to be credited, then please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It’s been a few years and I’ve lost where they came from – I’m not intentionally leaving the credit off.