“BigFoot Spectacular Seek and Find” is a new children’s book series that prompts children to find a Big Foot amid a busy scene. Inspired by “Where’s Waldo,” debut artist D. L. Miller created the books which feature a friendly and adventurous BigFoot. On each page, BigFoot travels around the world and the challenge is to find him in the sea of activity. Along the way, fun facts are included about the special places BigFoot visits. Children of all ages will be entertained and educated with BigFoot.
Recently D. L. Miller granted an exclusive interview discussing the experience of creating the books series and hopes for the future of the brand.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in seek and find books and why did you decide to create your own, especially starring Big Foot?
D.L. Miller (DLM): I’ve drawn and painted since I was very young and always admired the artwork found in highly detailed seek and find books, mostly from an artistic perspective. Finding whatever the hidden person or object was when I was young was important, but not as fun for me as just spending hours admiring the art and appreciating the time an artist spent creating the illustration. For me as an artist today, I like the challenge of creating very detailed scenes that are mostly based on real places but still invite you to get lost in the details.
As far as Bigfoot, I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland with my three brothers. We spent every spare moment we had exploring the mountains right outside our back door. We would always take long hikes early in the morning and not returning until late afternoon or evening, very much away from the local town. It was easy to start believing that creatures such as BigFoot could live in these areas and never or rarely be seen since few people ever venture deeps into the woods like we did when we were young. All in all, it was a lot of fun to believe that there could be something else out there! I still take long hikes when I have time and still wonder what else could be out there…
As far as why Bigfoot for a seek and find book. The idea came to me about ten years ago. I had always played around with very detailed seek and find type illustrations but knew I needed a main character or object. I was watching a show on TV one day about BigFoot and it just struck me that BigFoot was the obvious character I was looking for to feature in my own version of seek and find books. He was the perfect character since he’s known for being elusive and hard to see. I was honestly very surprised when I had done a little research to find out that no one had ever done a seek and find book featuring BigFoot.
I started sketching my own version of BigFoot when I had time and started doing more detailed drawings over time but not really setting out to do a collection of books until about a year ago when the stars aligned with Fox Chapel Publishing.
MM: What was the process of designing these books like from start to finish—including gathering up the facts?
DLM: The process for each book starts with an overall theme; i.e. BigFoot visits the Big Cities. It’s important to me that the scenes and activities in these books are based on real places and events. So, I try to come up with themes that set the foundation for real places and events, such Big Cities, Goes Back in Time, Famous Landmarks.
After deciding the overall theme, I do research on the actual locations and gather as many images as I can from the internet and books. The biggest challenge I have is creating a perspective that works with the scale I try to keep, meaning everything I do is based on real life proportions of people and places.
I believe it’s important for young readers when looking at the Eiffel Tower art in Big Cities to get a real perspective versus an abstract design or generic art. It’s an opportunity to not only test the mind by searching but also visually learn about the world.
MM: Why did you decide to include so much educational information?
DLM: Adding the fun facts was important to me from the very beginning. Coming from a very depressed part of the country, I understand how hard it can be to motivate yourself to learn, especially when you don’t have much visibility to world outside your local area. I saw a great opportunity with BigFoot to become a fun “ambassador” for kids to learn at very young age about places and events that may be covered in school but in a less interactive and fun manner. I’m a true believer in understanding that kids simply learn and absorb more when smiling. That’s my goal with these books, bring a smile to their face while they learn!
MM: Of all the pages, do you have any special favorite scenes?
DLM: Out of all the books I’m completed so far, “BigFoot Visits the Big Cities” and “BigFoot Goes on Vacation,” favorite scene would be BigFoot Goes Deep Sea Diving. It was a lot of fun to draw this scene, but more importantly, the absolute last place you’d ever expect to find BigFoot. It’s a lot of fun to see kids react when they turn to these pages. A very close second is BigFoot Appears in London. I’ve not made it to London yet, but the streets filled the iconic red buses and ravens perched around the various structures are how I see the streets surrounding Big Ben.
MM: Why did you not make the pages full color and how did toy decide which elements to include?
DLM: My own style if very much rooted in black and white line art. For seek and find, I found the puzzles much more challenging when I methodically don’t include color on the entire background as well as some of the people, animals or objects you need to find. Keeping BigFoot black and white was an easy decision. He blends in very quickly, as well as his footprint to the background. Making him brown would definitely make it a lot easier to quickly spot him. Plus, I do like to create things that are a little different and very true to my own style. There are a lot seek and find books as well as children books on the market today that are beautiful but also feature computer generated art, which is certainly a skill but I guess I’m a big old school and love to sit down and do it the old fashion way!
MM: How did you find Happy Fox Books (which is the children’s division of Fox Chapel Publishing) and what were your experiences publishing with them like?
DLM: The interesting thing about Fox Chapel Publishing is that I’m also an employee. I accepted a position with the company in November 2016 as their new Marketing Director. I had worked in publishing many years ago and the opportunity came up with Fox to get back in the publishing business. After being with the company for a couple of short months, I approached the company founder and publisher about the idea of doing a BigFoot seek and find book. Fortunately for me, he loved the art and concept, but wanted to get feedback from our sales team as well as a few outside folks before we moved forward. Without the staff knowing I was the artist, Alan shared my art and concept and asked for honest criticism. Everyone loved the idea and art. So, we set out a goal of creating a series of books, the first two releasing this Spring, the next two will release this summer. And then we’ll continue with two more new BigFoot search books every six months, exploring new places, events and important times in history.
MM: What are you working on right now?
DLM: As far as right now, just completed a new BigFoot Activity Fun Book that will also come out later this year. The book will be 128 pages and have a lot of other type puzzles and fun facts from BigFoot mazes and word search to Riddles and Coloring Pages. We received a lot requests already for new books and ideas. An activity-based book for a little younger reader was top of the list. I started working on it over the New Year’s break and finished the last of the art this past weekend. We’re planning to have out by August of this year, same time we’ll release “BigFoot Goes Back in Time” and “BigFoot Visits Famous Landmarks.”
MM: Overall, what are your biggest goals for the future and the Big Foot series?
DLM: Without a doubt, I want to see the books and related products we’ll do become fun learning tools for kids. We’re working closely with the largest library associations in the country, book fairs and schools, as well as independent book sellers and retailers to help bring these books to young readers as a new and fun way to learn and discover the world we live in.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
DLM: Sincerely, Thank You for the opportunity to answer a few questions. There’s much more to come with our BigFoot program!
* * * * *
To learn more, visit the official website of Fox Chapel Publishing.
Also Read: Review: Sweetlings by ALEX Brands
Also Read: All About “Scribfolio”
Also Read: Review: BB-8 Hero Droid by Spin Master
Also Read: Review: “Dr. Panda Restaurant 3”