A Very Fuddles Christmas and an interview with Frans Vischer

FuddlesCover by Frans Vischer

(published 2013, by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon and Schuster)I’ve said in public and in writing that I’m not a huge fan of cats. I’ve also admitted to not being a fan of Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.But then I met Fuddles. His misguided glory and chubby rump bowled me over. What a fabulous feline. Frans Vischer created this sly cat, inspired by his own ginormous kitty.

breakerHow loveable is that guy? This book is gorgeous. Its pages are sleek and the endpapers a lush, rich, wintry green. Such a warm contrast to the ivory cover and jacket!

My favorite page turn plays with the shape and direction of a chimney catastrophe. And thanks to the verso, I know that the typeface is Wade Sans Light. (You font-o-philes can purchase it here.) It’s a gentle and restrained choice, a fantastic foil to Fuddles’s antics.  I asked Frans a few questions about his art and inspiration. What an honor!

Your bio tells us that you arrived in America at the age of 11! How did you stumble on cartoons and can you tell us a little about their inspiration on your childhood?

In Holland there were only three TV channels at the time, and they rarely showed animation. Arriving in America, I was blown away by all the channels- cartoons were everywhere! I was introduced to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tom & Jerry, Droopy, as well as all the Disney stuff. I didn’t speak English then, but the cartoons communicated visually, and I was instantly hooked!

What types of stories were you telling as an animation obsessed teenager?

I took a creative writing class in high school where I wrote very silly, Monty Python-inspired stories. Characters would make appearances without any intro or lead-in, and I would go off on tangents with entirely new story-threads, and just as abruptly drop them to return to my earlier story. I also did a number of school projects with my high school friend, Dave Waters, (also a Monty Python fan,) doing absurd story lines. We made 8 mm films together, poking fun at TV commercials, and shows like “The Waltons.”

Who are your artistic and literary heroes?

Growing up I always loved Disney. Michaelangelo’s sculptures had a great effect on me for their strength and subtlety. I read and drew from many European comics, such as Lucky Luke, Asterix and Obelix, Tin Tin. In high school I admired, (and still do,) the editorial cartoons of Pat Olyphant and Jeff MacNelley. When I attended Cal Arts I was introduced to Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, and A.B. Frost, among many others. Bill Peet’s transition from Disney story-artist to children’s book author/illustrator was a true inspiration, and Roald Dahl’s books and short stories made me want to write my own stories. Currently, I love David Small’s draftsmanship, David Catrow’s humorous drawings, and Holly Hobbie’s color. I could go on and on, but I won’t.

Are there any easter eggs or hidden trivia we should know about in your books?

There aren’t any hidden items, but I did include furniture from our home in Fuddles’ house. Being a big soccer fan, I had to have a soccer ball in both Fuddles books. And on the last page in A Very Fuddles Christmas, Fuddles sits by the fireplace on Christmas Eve beside a note from the kids to Santa. If you hold a magnifying glass over the note you can read it!

I see we are quasi-neighbors! Do you have a go-to takeout joint? (I could infuse some fresh tastebuds into my delivery rotation.)

We support our local places as much as we can. In Montrose, we love the Star Café and Zeke’s.

Thanks, Frans! There you go, friends. An irresistible addition to your Christmas canon.
Need more? I wrote this list last holiday season for Design Mom!
ch

11 Comments

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Lovely book and interview! I appreciated the shout-out to Bill Peet, one of my personal heroes. And as a certified font geek, I especially appreciated the link for Wade Sans. 😀

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Love the humor and how the illustrations jump off the page.
    Another font geek appreciating the link for Wade Sans!

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    This is a great post Carter. Do you mind if I link it to my review of the book?

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Please do, Margie! An honor.

  • loveofxena
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Sheesh! I am honored to have your post linked to mine. :)

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    No! You!

  • leandrajwallace
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    It looks terrific! I always love getting to see peeks inside of all these great pb’s you find. =)

  • Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Cute book — my granddaughter loves cat books. Will have to check this one out.

  • tinamcho
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Great interview! I like the colors of this book, too!

  • Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I love cats! I want to read this book!!! The chimney spread is awsome! Meow!

  • Posted February 15, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Make sense, great tips and really informative! Thanks for sharing.

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