Children’s Literature’s Dynamic Duo

 Michelle Houts is blogging this week from The Mazza Museum’s Summer Conference. The Mazza Museum is located in Findlay, Ohio and houses one of the largest collections of original art from children’s literature. The museum also hosts authors and illustrators throughout the year. Stick around to see who shows up this week. You won’t be disappointed!

I can think of a few married couples who create children’s picture books together. But I don’t think I know of another who actually create the illustrations together, both painting on the same picture (just not at the same time, as Lou Fancher is quick to point out!)

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher have collaborated for many years, creating more than forty books together. What strikes me about their repertoire of books is the diversity of their style. (Sophie Blackall challenged me to be able to talk about style, even though I’m not an artist, but a writer who feels completely inept when it comes to illustration commentary. So, here we go, Sophie. I’m going to try to find my vocabulary!)

As Steve and Lou’s dozens of book covers flashed on the big screen I noticed simple lines, cartoon drawings, fine art, collage, highly stylized drawings, and highly detailed paintings. Unlike other artists, whose work I can identify before the name is revealed, Steve and Lou are so diverse in their talent, I’m delightfully surprised these pieces were created by the same two artists!

See for yourself.

j and f casey j and f cheese j and f henson j and f king j and f seuss j and f star

Likewise, I can’t separate Steve’s contribution from Lou’s, which means their art is truly as married as they are.

When Steve and Lou receive a manuscript, they choose to illustrate the ones that resonate with them, that feel true, and then they decide what style best serves the story. I am in awe of this talented couple’s versatility.

Thank you, Mazza, for bringing Steve and Lou to the Summer Conference! What a Wednesday we’ve had.

See you Thursday!


The Wednesday Team: (left to right) Sherri Duskey Rinker, Rafael Lopez, Me!, Shutta Crum, Sophie Blackall, David Hyde Costello, Kevin Cordi, Steve Johnson, and Lou Fancher

mazza Weds crowd

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