My first book contained some very special thanks for two wonderful people: Brian and Ute. Just who are Brian and Ute? A few have surely wondered and one lady actually asked. So, for those few and that one it would be my honor to answer as to both and presently. Oddly enough, the “one lady” will never see this reply as she refuses to have the internet in her house lest “they” gain access to her personal information or sock drawer or something. I don’t know. She barely operates anything more technologically advanced than a microwave so I can’t blame her and I’ll write this response hoping that someone, somewhere, can somehow convey the message to her.
Now, on to those two be-thanked individuals from “A Far Off Light”!
Ute Vaughn might have been born in Deutschland but her heart belongs to the American Southwest. I met her a few years back at the White Stallion Ranch outside of Tucson where she hosts a weekly art class for all the guests. Regardless of anyone’s painting proficiency Ute always manages to show everyone the creativity they hold inside and that, with a little bit of trust and a little bit of effort, their own unique visions can spring to life on the canvas. She challenges you to be better than you think you can be and that’s exactly how, on a little 5x7 piece of paper, my traditionally simple black and white Ohno ended up running through a modestly realistic and colorful desert scape. During my second trip to the ranch Ute encouraged me to never stop creating and that my certain style (basic/juvenile/is this guy blind?) was wonderful even if I have a hard time seeing it as such. I was moved by her words and more by the smile that came across her face as she surveyed my daffy drawings. I promised her right then and there that I’d bring her a copy of my book the following year. A book that was currently written but not yet illustrated nor headed in any publicatorial direction.
Just like that, I had tons of work to do and quickly realized how much assistance I’d need to do it.
Enter Disney. Not the man as much as the place. Disney’s Hollywood Studios to be specific. The Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to be even more specific. Brunch with friends at The Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to be even more frustratingly, point avoidingly specific. But this detail is very important, for it was right there and right then that Brian Frey overheard me lamenting the fact that I would soon be in need of massive editorial skills (of which I possess very little) and nonchalantly offered his expertise to make sure that little Ohno’s first amazing adventure would come to see the light of day. Over the course of the next few months Brian poured his prowess onto my pages creating in the process something more outstanding than I could have ever even hoped to possibly imagine. From the big picture to the smallest, maybe almost overlooked element, Brian went out of his way well into the above and beyond by lending his talented hands to my endeavor. His technical skills are flabbergasting in scope. His heart, gentle and huge. I could not have found a more perfect person to help me bring Ohno to life.
Ute and Brian…one was a necessary kick in my butt, the other a fine determined grit to refine what then I produced. That’s a “polished turd” joke right there. No joke though how much these two have meant to me. Ohno was trapped inside my bumbling body but with encouragement and artistry all around he’s now free to run the whole wide world.