"Just because you might be a monster, that doesn’t mean life is going to be all terrified villagers and biting. There’s a down side—monsters have problems, too
." You may not know illustrator and author Adam Rex, but if you enjoy the idea of The Creature from the Black Lagoon ignoring perfectly sensible advice on eating and swimming
, of Hulk at the Tropicana, 1965
, or of Frankenstein sitting down with a Dagwood sandwich
, you might want to get to know his work."Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Other Stories You’re Sure to Like Because They’re All About Monsters and Some of Them Are Also About Food"
features 19 poems, each richly illustrated, about the trials and tribulations of various classic monsters: "Yeti Does Not Appreciate Being Called Bigfoot," for example, "The Mummy Won’t Go to His Eternal Rest Without a Story and Some Cookies," and "Count Dracula Doesn’t Know He’s Been Walking Around All Night With Spinach in His Teeth."
The monsters -- some of whom Rex made from Sculpey
so he could paint from models ("Frank's sweater is the toe of an old gym sock," admits Rex
) -- just can't catch a break.* You can see more of the book here.
Its companion volume, "Frankenstein Takes the Cake,” (trailer)
brought even more monstrous hilarity, including the prospect of Frank's wedding to (of course) the Bride, whose mother has serious reservations about the match.
Though both books are packed with references to cultural icons that children might or might not get, Rex has pitched the books firmly at kids and their sense of humor. He himself was not an avid reader of children's literature, and he talks about his embarrassing early reading habits (officially licensed D&D books, and not-very-good fantasy**) over at the Books4Boyz podcast.
He credits Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which he read at age 11, with changing his view of writing and the possibilities of language. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was the year he started painting.
He also illustrated Amy Timberlake's "The Dirty Cowboy,"
a children's picture book about a cowboy's annual bath and a clothes-thieving dog. Despite Rex's having depicted the cowboy's nudity strategically, the book was (and remains
by one school district in Central Pennsylvania, despite protests from local residents
. More on the ban from Rex and Timberlake.
More recently, he has collaborated with Neil Gaiman on "Chu's Day,"
a soon-to-be-released picture book about a sneezing panda.
He is also the author of several novels, including "The True Meaning of Smekday,"
"Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story" and "Cold Cereal." A fuller list of his work is available here
Interviews and other silliness:
* The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Adam Rex
* Wired: "Interview With King of the Monster Illustrators Adam Rex"
with Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
* Adam Rex interviewed by kids
* From the bookflap, "A Haiku about Adam Rex": "He knows Frankenstein’s / the doctor, not the monster. / Enough already."
** He would later go on to illustrate Magic: The Gathering cards