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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 1, 2002

Author draws on classic TV characters for books, movies

By Jolie Jean Cotton

William Joyce is the author and illustrator of "Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures With the Family Lazardo." Joyce says his books, which appeal to kids and grownups, are influenced by cartoons, westerns and monster movies he watched as a child.

See the sketches

"Dream Worlds — Real Worlds: Children's Book Illustrations"

Sketches, proofs, final illustrations and art by William Joyce

10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays, through July 14

Honolulu Academy of Arts, Education Wing Gallery

$7 adults, $4 seniors and military, free for children 12 and younger


When Newsweek chose its "100 People to Watch in the New Century," writer-illustrator William Joyce was on their list.

"His elegant but anarchic children's books extend a grand tradition of kids' entertainment that embraces Beatrix Potter, King Kong and N.C. Wyeth," the magazine story said.

Joyce, who is headed Hawai'i way for the first time, is the award-winning author and exceptional illustrator of dozens of books for children, including "George Shrinks," "Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures With the Family Lazardo," and "A Day With Wilbur Robinson." Appealing equally to adults and children, Joyce's work is lavish, outrageously fun and profoundly influenced by the cartoons, Westerns and monster movies he watched as a child.

"George Shrinks is 'King Kong' in reverse," Joyce has written. "Nicholas Cricket is 'Casablanca' with bugs. 'A Day With Wilbur Robinson' is a cross between 'Leave It To Beaver,' Dr. Doolittle, 'The Absent-Minded Professor,' 'Invaders from Mars' and my own family."

As a child, Joyce owned few books. One of his favorites (filled with scary-looking monsters that somehow manage not to look too scary) was "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.

Joyce has two children's series on national TV, "William Joyce's Rolie Polie Olie" and "William Joyce's George Shrinks." He created characters for the films "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life," illustrated covers for the New Yorker magazine and co-written and produced the feature film Buddy, starring Rene Russo. He still lives in Shreveport, La., where he was born.

The artist will be one of the featured guests at this month's Children's Literature Hawai'i Conference at the University of Hawai'i from June 13 through 15. Last week,Joyce took time to answer a few questions for us.

Q. Are you bringing your wife and kids on your trip?

A. Yes, my wife Elizabeth and my children, Mary Katherine (10) and Jack (7).

Q. What are you most looking forward to during your visit to the Islands?

A. I want to go to a 'ukulele farm and hear the sweet sounds of the freshly picked 'ukuleles.

Q. Have you ever met Maurice Sendak?

A. Yes, a number of times and we talk on the phone occasionally. He's basically Yoda, and the rest of us are Jedi wannabes.

Q. You said your work is like "getting paid for recess."ÊWhat more do you hope to accomplish before the bell rings?

A. Something that will cause an entire civilization to collapse into uncontrollable fits of giggling for 1,000 years or 2,000,000 recesses.

Q: What projects are you working on?

A. "Humpty Trouble," an animated short film for Pixar Animation Studios and "Robots," an animated feature for Fox/Blue Sky Studios. "Rolie Polie Olie" for Disney Channel/Nelvana Ltd. and "George Shrinks" for PBS/Nelvana Ltd. In print — "Big Time Olie" will be released in the summer of 2002 by HarperCollins/Nelvana Ltd. and "Humpty Trouble" is coming from Pixar.

For more information on the Children's Literature Hawai'i workshops, call 956-7559 or e-mail CLH@hawaii.edu.