Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Disco Mermaids...At Work -- Robin

What you’re looking at is the newest “gig” Jay and I have been working on. Jay was asked by UCLA’s education research department to write entertaining assessments to test middle school students about algebra concepts. He brought me onboard because I used to teach algebra and I actually understand this thing called “math.” We hired Eve as our official cheerleader because she's always looking for an excuse to shake her pom-poms.

Then the folks at UCLA said, "Could you have your illustrator do it in a comic book style?” Our first reaction was…our illustrator!? I mean, Eve is a great artist, but she’s too busy jumping around yelling cheers. So who did we turn to? Our good friends at SCBWI. We got on the message board and sent out a holler for any illustrator who might be interested in illustrating algebraic equations with comic book characters. “We’re doomed,” we said to ourselves, often and repeatedly.

But we weren’t. By some miracle, that little query found its way to the eyes of one Mr. Bob McLeod. The dude has illustrated for Spider-Man and X-Men and, coincidentally, just published his first children’s book called SuperHero ABC (which also happens to be my four-year-old’s newest favorite book…it’s totally wonderful). Mr. McLeod is a new member of SCBWI and was glad to take on the project.

“Ohmagod, Ohmagod, Ohmagod,” we said often and repeatedly. Once we got over being star struck, we were able to move on to the task of creating a visual and fun way for kids to learn algebra. “So how did that go?” you may be wondering. Here’s my answer:

  • Good because Jay is an Idea Man and I am a Reasonable Woman.
  • Bad because sometimes Jay’s ideas are not reasonable.
  • Good because, since I’m a girl and he’s a guy, we were comfortable saying things like: "That sucks. You can do better than that. What are you thinking!? Shut up. Seriously, shut…up." You just can’t say those things when it’s two women working together. Feelings would get hurt and hair would get pulled. I don’t know how it would work with two men. Not at all, I presume.
  • Bad because Jay likes to look over my shoulder when I’m typing. And I hate that!! Sorry for that elbow to the nose, Jay.
  • Good because Jay let me have a dog as one of the lead characters. It worked out mainly because Jay came up with a great mathematical name for the dog (Rexagon) but also because we made him interact directly with the reader.
  • Good, again, because I think we came up with a great product. I love it, I’m proud of it, and I was so happy to work with you on it, Jay. One down and only 45 more to go, my friend!
Eve is in the background right now jumping into splits and spelling out D-I-S-C-O-M-E-R-M-A-I-D-S! We love your enthusiasm, Eve.

- Robin

(Check this out! It's our first 3-page installment of The Adventures of Half-N-Half and Their Dog Rexagon!)


Anonymous said...

Very cool all around, Mermaids! Nice work!

SilberBook-Blog said...

After looking at the finished pages - now I want cupcakes - and it's not even lunch time! Congrats on the project . It's not easy mixing humor with the learnin stuff - but by the looks of things you aced it. Rexagon - a sense spinoff!

And two guys can work together really well - after they come back from lunch.


Alison Ashley Formento said...

Looks fantastic! I abhor math and the story and artwork kept me reading.

Hint for future project: Graphic novels are HUGE!

Nancy said...

Too cool!

Disco Mermaids said...

Nice, fellow DM's. Very nice. I like how you include me in the blog post even though I had nothing to do with the project. But you know I'm always shaking my pom-poms (Fergie-style) for the two of you. I'm your biggest fan!

Congrats on that and don't forget your roots when you are big and famous in the Manga world. How 'bout using some Disco Mermaids as your next characters?? We could solve equations about, um, how many dance moves we need to win the costume contests and stuff.

Just sayin'.


Greg Pincus said...

Fab + oo + x = Faboo!!!!!

x = !!!!!

Disco Mermaids said...

Robin, HELP!!! What in the world did Greg just say!?!?!?

- Jay

Disco Mermaids said...

Oh, dear, Jay. Greg says that if you take some Fab laundry detergent and sprinkle two 0's in it you'll get five exclamation marks on your pants.
At least, that's what happened to me.

Lisa Yee said...

Wow, totally cool!!!

saraclaradara said...

Wow! If they'd had this when I was a kid I might have actually understood and enjoyed math...

But alas...instead I had to become an author...

Rita said...

This is so fantastic. I love it!!!

Anonymous said...

Robin, when I first read this post last week (at the end of a long workday), I had a really funny response/comment. However, for reasons that are totally unclear to me, the I.T. department at my (tax-payer-funded, Freedom of Information Act-subject) office had BLOCKED my ability to comment on blogs! Can you believe it? Anyways, I steamed out of the office and went straight to a conference (which was not nearly as fun as the SCBWI one, 'cuz, you know, it was about the death penalty), where I did not have internet access, and promptly forgot my response. All that to say, I got nothin' for you except I remember I laughed when I read it! Pretend I posted a great comment that inspired you and Jay to kick some more ass on your collaborative projects. Lamy