We at the burger love to trot the globe...even in these times, when the globe's not exactly a cozy place. So maybe that's why we fell instantly in love with Mo Willem's latest book, You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day, a visual diary of a worldwide tour he took just after graduating from college in 1990, when a person could hitchhike in Malaysia and not have to worry about ending up as the star of some fuzzy, scary video ransom note. We really, really love Mo's record of his travels. You can see some cartoons from the book here...and you can meet the man himself right now:
Visiting Goreme in Turkish Anatolia was transformative. The caves, the paintings, the kilims, and the desert landscape grabbed the romantic in me; I’m still under its spell.
And is there anyplace you definitely don't want to go back to?
It would be impolitic of me to single out one terrible place, like Singapore, and make some derogatory comment like “it’s Mall of America without gum chewing,”so I will refrain from such inflammatory talk and save myself a well-deserved caning.
If you could do an animated film version of any book, which book would you do?
Every time I look at my The Art of Monsters Inc. book, I think, “That would make a great film.”
If that’s been taken, I’ll go with Paul Collins’ Banvard’s Folly. 13 stories of people’s glorious failures would make a smashing cartoon.
As for my work, production is just finishing up on a short cartoon adaptation of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. What makes this one especially cool is that the part of Trixie was performed by the real Trixie; Mommy, her real Mom; and Daddy by yours truly. It was a real fun recording session.
How about a music video? Any song you'd love to illustrate?
I’ve dreamed of animating Dizzy Gillespie’s version of Bang Bang! for over a decade. I’d also animate
any Yann Tierson tune.
If by ‘most people’ you mean anyone who isn’t Dutch: Fiep Westendorp. I grew up with her books: spectacular, simple tomes that made me want to draw and draw and draw.
Others who I dig (and lift from) include: Anatol Kovarsky, Andre Francois, Virgil Partch, and the ‘3 S’s’ (Stieg, Steinberg, and Searle).
What kid or teen books rocked your world growing up?
As a kid I was as lonely as Charlie Brown, as philosophical as Linus, as self-centered as Lucy, and as coordinated as Woodstock, so those Peanuts collections that I picked up at the local K&B drugstore and lunch counter for 75 cents were a perfect fit.
I also dug Spiderman in the mid and late 70’s. It was like reading about Charlie Brown with superpowers.
Burger-flippers want to know: have you ever had a job that required you to wear a geeky uniform? Details, please!
During high school I bartended at Mardi Gras Balls (this was ‘Nawlins after all). This involved me wearing a polyester waiter’s uniform and fending off advances and tips from overly lubricated, lonely, blue-haired, ex-debutant grannies.
You really don’t want any further details…
We'd like to name a burger in your honor. What kind of fixins should it have?
A good burger should be like my daughter: fresh and well grounded.
PS from dj...congratulations to b-list members Liz, Heather, CeNedra, Heather (a different one from the first!) and Christy...we away copies of Mo's Rickshaw to all of them. How did these lovelies get so lucky? They simply joined the b-list (see the sign-up form at right) and were automatically entered to win. Easier than pie! Free too.