Chike and the River is a story originally published as a children's book by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is now being released in the United States as a fable with a series of about 15 of my paintings published throughout the book. I spent much of last Fall working on this project with art director John Gall at Random House. It was great to see the entire book put together. It's now available through most stores or online here at Amazon or here at Barnes and Noble. Below is some info about the book along with the images found throughout the story. The paintings are acrylic on paper, about 12" x 16", some originals are available here through my illogator store.
“This light work by the boundlessly talented Achebe follows Chike, an 11-year-old boy whose adventures comprise neat little life lessons . . . . Rodriguez’s charming illustrations add texture to a classic children’s story.” –Publishers Weekly
"Eleven-year-old Chike longs to cross the Niger River to the city of Asaba, but he doesn’t have the sixpence he needs to pay for the ferry ride. With the help of his friend S.M.O.G., he embarks on a series of adventures to help him get there. Along the way, he is exposed to a range of new experiences that are both thrilling and terrifying, from eating his first skewer of suya under the shade of a mango tree, to visiting the village magician who promises to double the money in his pocket. Once he finally makes it across the river, Chike realizes that life on the other side is far different from his expectations, and he must find the courage within him to make it home. Chike and the River is a magical tale of boundaries, bravery, and growth, by Chinua Achebe, one of the world’s most beloved and admired storytellers."
I got a cover assignment for the San Francisco Weekly on the topic of bareback sex in the gay community. After years of safe sex education, it seems like some people in the community have reverted and embraced the dangerous practice of sex without condoms. The effectiveness of AIDS drugs and many other factors have created the idea that HIV is a 'manageable' disease. Some see bareback sex as a 'lifestyle choice' while others see the practice as a dangerous public health threat. This was a complicated topic to work on because there are so many different points of view. Below are a variety of ideas that delve into the danger of it all. The first sketch was a possible cover for a while but perhaps it went too far, who knows. Thanks to AD Andrew Nilsen for the assignment. The article is online here if you'd like to give it a read.
I was invited by book jacket designer John Gall to take part in a project called '30 Covers in 30 Days'. National Novel Writing Month is a project that challenges children and adults to write a 50,000-word novel, from scratch, in the month of November. In 2010, 200,500 people took part in National Novel Writing Month. To encourage authors to finish their novels, book jacket designers were brought in by John to create book covers, one cover a day for the entire month. We are each given a synopsis and asked to finish the book cover on the same day. I did this one on Saturday. It's now on their site here, along with other covers by Paul Sahre, Jessica Hische, Chris Silas Neal and many others that are taking part in the project.
The book is called 'Clash of the Pulps', and the writer, Nathan Cabaniss, is about halfway finished. Here is the synopsis: "947. The war is over, and the heroes are gone. Once shining and glorious and everything humanity aspired to be, the heroes of the 1930’s are now either retired, missing or dead; their golden age brought to a screeching halt with the advent of the Second World War. Now, three of the world’s greatest adventurers must return: There’s Alexander Steele, III, one of the smartest men in the world and an Olympic-level athlete, someone on whom the war has taken its toll. He spends his nights now alone - waiting, hoping for a chance to restart his glory days. Albrecht Engel, a German-born fighter pilot - some say the best in the world. He carries the burden of the destruction of the Phantom Legion, his own private army of pilots and airmen, for which he feels responsible. And Dusk, the masked vigilante who haunted Depression-era Manhattan, cleansing the mean streets of the dregs of society. But is he really who he claims to be? Just who exactly is it under that mask? Now, all three must put aside their personal demons and return to stop one of their oldest, most powerful foes…"
This is a painting for an upcoming book and group show in Chicago that is being put together by Monte Beauchamp from BLAB! The theme is Krampus, the mythical creature that accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children. The Chicago show will open on December 3, 7-10pm, Curly Tale Fine Art, 16 West Erie Street. Below are some process photos and details of the painting.
This is a series of seven of my images from the past year that were selected to be published in the American Illustration annual book. The AI book launch party will take place next Thursday, Nov 10th, at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, 172 Norfolk Street, NYC, 7-11pm.