The Most Terrible of All

Written by Muon Thi Van • Margaret McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster, 2018

There’s a new baby in the neighborhood, and she’s a real beast. Game on, Smugg thinks, determined to prove he is still the most terrible.

 

Terrible Art

I never liked characters that were too cute, especially monsters. Monsters are supposed to be disturbing, after all. Of course in a picture book, the monsters can’t be truly frightening, so I try to create beasts that are hideous, yet also goofy. Ferocious, but not very clever. Making them colorful helps, too. Who can be truly afraid of a pink swamp creature?

Scroll down for early sketches from the book.   Click on any image to enlarge it. 

Monster on My Back • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

Stinky Baby • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

   All Wrapped Up and Nowhere to Go     • Acrylic and oil on illustration board.

All Wrapped Up and Nowhere to Go • Acrylic and oil on illustration board.

Mirror, Mirror • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

Cover Art • Acrylic and oil on illustration board. My favorite is the monster with braces.

The Big Spill • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

The Neighbor’s House • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

   Tug of War   • Acrylic and oil on illustration board. Since dogs and kids have a total disregard for household objects, I figured monsters would be just as unruly.

Tug of War • Acrylic and oil on illustration board. Since dogs and kids have a total disregard for household objects, I figured monsters would be just as unruly.

Who’s the Most Terrible?" • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

Diaper Change • Acrylic and oil on illustration board. I originally painted a yellow puddle, but it just felt too gross. Farts, somehow, are visually more acceptable. (See Stinky Baby)

Out the Window • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

Not So Terrible • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

   It’s All About Me   • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

It’s All About Me • Acrylic and oil on illustration board

 

Sketch of the baby drawing on the wall, for a spot illustration.

Sketch for The Neighbor’s House. Totally unsupervised chaos.

 Sketch for  All Wrapped Up and Nowhere to Go.

Sketch for All Wrapped Up and Nowhere to Go.

Detail from The Neighbor’s House.

 Sketch of Smugg, the main character. I drew all sorts of slithering monsters before deciding Smugg needed to have fur, to keep him relatively cuddly.

Sketch of Smugg, the main character. I drew all sorts of slithering monsters before deciding Smugg needed to have fur, to keep him relatively cuddly.

Sketch for Out the Window.

An early sketch for the cover. The idea was always to have a crowd of monsters, with no clue as to which one is the most terrible, but this was too crowded.

Detail from All Wrapped Up and Nowhere to Go. The author suggested adding a monster version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so I included a few more classic books.

An alternate background for the cover. We went with the white background (shown above) because it felt fresher, more like a bunch of kids assembled for a class portrait than monsters lurking in a dark room.

 Sketch for  The Big Spill.

Sketch for The Big Spill.