The Watermelon Seed and an interview with Greg Pizzoli


by Greg Pizzoli

{published 2013, by Disney Hyperion}

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time, mostly because that cover is SPECTAZZLING. But also cause I follow Greg Pizzoli on Twitter, where he is clever and quippy and shares things like THE ENDPAPERS. And then this is what the publisher teased us with, so I was pretty much in love with this book right away:

With perfect comic pacing, Greg Pizzoli introduces us to one funny crocodile who has one big fear: swallowing a watermelon seed. What will he do when his greatest fear is realized? Will vines sprout out his ears? Will his skin turn pink? This crocodile has a wild imagination that kids will love.

Yeah. SO INTO THAT. The Watermelon Seed hits stores TOMORROW, May 14th, so you might want to go ahead and get in line. After you meet Greg, of course.

So I’ve also been looking forward to this post for almost as long. I’m thrilled to have Greg Pizzoli in for a visit. Welcome, Greg!

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I call him “Kroc”. Sometimes my editor calls him “K-Roc” or “The Krocster”. Boy, does he hate that. Greg2 My background is in printmaking, and I built a silkscreen shop in my studio, which is how I generate a lot of my work. I think my preference towards limited and deliberate colors comes from the printmaking. It could be laziness, but I’m going to say printmaking.

Even the first sketches of this book were in just a few colors. It just made sense to make the whole book feel like a watermelon. Plus, he’s a crocodile, so the green is already there.
Everyone at Disney*Hyperion was very supportive of my trying out different inks and paper choices to get the feel just right. We did CMYK v. Spot color tests and there was just no comparison. I think it would be tough to get that pink, and that green with CMYK. At least for me. We tried a few different paper stocks, too. I’m super picky.

Greg3 Basically you make a drawing in black and use that to make a stencil on a screen. Doesn’t matter how you make that drawing – by hand on tracing paper, with construction paper, in Photoshop – whatever you can use to get a drawing in black. Your screen, which is a frame of aluminum with a fine mesh stretched across it, is covered in photographic emulsion, and you expose the screen to light. Wherever the light hits the emulsion, it hardens and becomes water resistant.

BUT if you put your black drawing between the screen and the light source, the emulsion that is blocked by your drawing (which remember, is black, thus very light blocking-y), that emulsion stays soft. And you can wash it out with water. So everything that wasn’t blocked by your drawing is water resistant, and your drawing washes out of the screen, making a water resistant stencil in the shape of your drawing. You make one of those for each layer, or usually, color. WATERMELON was offset printed obviously, but I did a lot of screenprinting textures, etc to make it feel very printy. The spot colors definitely help there, too.

I’ve been teaching screenprinting for about 4 years at The University of the Arts in Philly. It’s where I met Brian Biggs. He took a continuing ed class I was teaching in 2009. He introduced me to my agent. I dedicated a book to him, but it hasn’t come out yet. I still owe him big time. I still teach! I love it.

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Humor usually keeps me interested in whatever I’m doing.

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I like to work with texture for sure, too. And shapes. Shapes, yeah, shapes are good. I know this is great interview material here. Breaking news, Greg Pizzoli “like shapes”. Today on Buzzfeed, 23 shapes Greg Pizzoli likes most.

Anyway . . . I was really into shapes and texture with THE WATERMELON SEED, and the next book I’m doing with Hyperion (NUMBER ONE SAM, Summer 2014) comes from a similar place. We’re doing spot colors for that one, too. But four this time, which opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of overlapping layers and colors.
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Like most people, I like lots of stuff. I never get tired of looking at Eduardo Munoz Bachs posters. He obviously had a lot of fun making his work. A lot of people you’d suspect probably, Sendak, Ed Emberly, Tove Jansson, Charles Schultz, etc.

Carter_007 text007 I’m really lucky to have so many talented buddies in the Philly area, too. I host occasional drink ‘n’ draws at my studio and Zach Ohora, Matt Phelan, Bob Shea, Tim Gough, Amy Ignatow, Brian Biggs, Lee Harper, Gene Baretta, Eric Wight, and several others have come by. It’s a good time. Sometimes we do this thing where we each draw for five minutes and then pass the paper to the right and draw on top of that drawing for five minutes, until we get all the way around the circle or run out of beer. You can imagine just how bad these things look. Joe Strummer, Iggy Pop, David Bowie. They’re my heroes.


No way! I love coffee. I think I quit for a while last year and it just floated around my online profile for a bit. I did stop drinking as much. I am down to like 2-3 cups a day which feels great for me. I was drinking like 8-10. Oh yeah. I’m nicer now.


Greg Pizzoli, people. Is he awesome or what?


So yeah. That’s pretty much my favorite thing on the internet right now. Did you catch the part where the period at the end of the sentence becomes a spotlight for good old K-Roc?! I love that detail.

The Watermelon Seed! Greg Pizzoli! Thanks for hanging out here! We love your book. And you are top notch, too.



  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink


    Thanks for this post. Makes the waiting easier. So excited about this book! And so fun to hear what Greg Pizzoli has to say in longer than 140 characters.

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink


  • Joanna
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I love spitting water melon seeds – okay, not very relevant… awesome interview, I’m drooling to get this book in my hands!

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Totally relevant. Gets you in the watermelon mood, right?

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Fun interview! I cannot wait to get my hands on my copy, either! Ever since I first spotted Kroc in Greg’s portfolio at SCBWI LA, I knew there was something special about him. Hurray for WATERMELON SEED! 😉

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It’s the chompers.

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I was a goner at the thought of the elite drink ‘n draw salon.

    Anticipating Kroc to chomp to the top of the charts!

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I’m in the library so I’ll watch later, but I love those get togethers, reminds me what we used to do in NZ, though ours were mostly about food lol. This book looks awesome!

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    This looks beautiful. It was interesting reading about the importance of choosing the right color and paper. Oh and shapes! Lovely interview, quirky cute trailer and exciting new book!

  • tinamcho
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Love the colors! OK, screen printing sounds very complicated! This will make a nice summery book!

  • Posted May 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    umummm! Watermelon! I just chomp right down through it. Love those seeds! This book trailer makes me drool! Can’t wait to see the real book! Thanks for an enlightening interview!

  • Posted May 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I love the “Messy Studio Shot.” It’s completely inspiring and exactly what a studio should be in my mind. Faye Lynn

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