This past Saturday, Tom McDermott and I had a book release party for Otis Steele and the Taileebone: A Southern Tall Tale. Tom is a traveling storyteller and has been telling this tall tale for many years. Finally, he put it down on paper and got Pelican Publishing Company to publish it. He asked if I might come on board and create the illustrations for the book. I jumped at the chance to draw a creepy swamp critter and so Pelican hired me to do the art.
I created squirrel-skin caps, a taileebone red velvet cake, and some foam taileebones for the kids to wear, but Tom was the real attraction. He had the kids howling like hounds, chanting like beasties, and jumping out of their seats with a sudden TWANG of his guitar.
It was a spooky fun campfire story to get us all in the mood for Halloween!
I did a quick slide presentation at the beginning showing how I came up with the design of the creature. I explained that I borrowed the parts from several different East Texas (the setting of the book) animals and combined them into one creepy critter. He’s got the ears and sharp claws of a bobcat, the whiskers of a catfish, the body of a gator, the eyes and mouth of a bullfrog, and the big fat pink tail of a possum! We had an activity for the kids to create their own creature from different animals by playing the classic drawing game, Exquisite Corpse. Fun was had by all!
T-a-a-a-a-i-i-i-l-e-e-e-b-o-n-e. Don’t take what ain’t yours. You should have known.
Speaking of which, photo credits to Shelley Ann Jackson.