Manders, John 1957-

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Manders, John 1957-


Born August 7, 1957, in Albany, NY; son of Eric (a graphic designer) and Nancy (a dollhouse crafter) Manders; married April 30, 2005; wife's name Lisa (a print broker). Education: Art Institute of Pittsburgh, A.A.; attended School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, and Community College of Allegheny County. Hobbies and other interests: History, architectural restoration, cooking, volunteer work.


Home—Pittsburgh, PA. Agent—Mela Bolinao, HK Portfolio, 10 E. 29th St., Ste. 40G, New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected].


Illustrator. Public speaker at schools and libraries. Cicero Amateur Summer Theater, set designer; Upstate New York Renaissance Festival, puppeteer; Fan-Sy Productions, paste-up artist; Ballantine Books, graphic de- signer for book-promotion art department; Prokell Design and Communications, art director; Pittsburgh Technical Institute, instructor in graphic design. BowWowMeow (benefit art auction), organizer, 2003. Exhibitions: Work exhibited at Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators, Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Children's Museum, and Art Institute of Chicago; curator of exhibition "Illustration: The Process," 2003.


Society of Illustrators, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators (founding member; past president).



Wendy Slotboom, King Snake, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Cheynne Cisco, The Lion and the Mouse, Sadlier-Oxford (New York, NY), 1997.

Irene Trimble, Mommy's Monster, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Catherine McCafferty, Pirate Candy Treasure, Nibble Me Books (Akron, OH), 1998.

Laura Rossiter, Jelly Belly Princess, Nibble Me Books (Akron, OH), 1998.

Craig Strasshofer, Peanut Butter and Worms?, Nibble Me Books (Akron, OH), 1998.

Patricia Lauber, What You Never Knew about Fingers, Forks, and Chopsticks, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

Merrily Kutner, Z Is for Zombie, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1999.

Sarah Albee, Monkey Business, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Sarah Albee, Dragon's Scales, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Margaret Allen, Dave and Jane's Band, Sagebrush Education Resources (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.

Erik Jon Slangerup, Dirt Boy, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2000.

Sarah Albee, Me, Myself, and I, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Patricia Lauber, What You Never Knew about Tubs, Toilets, and Showers, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

Tracey West, Windy Won't Practice, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

Tracey West, Jasper and the Mixed-Up Dragon, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

Jack Silbert, Santa in Space, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Shar Levine, The Incredible Secret Formula Book, Troll (New York, NY), 2001.

Keith Hernandez, First-Base Hero, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Marilyn Singer, Quiet Night, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Patricia Lakin, Clarence the Copy Cat, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2002.

Shirley-Raye Redmond, Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Señor Don Gato: A Traditional Song, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Kathryn Lasky, Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

Dayle Ann Dodds, Minnie's Diner, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Marsha Diane Arnold, Prancing Dancing Lily, Dial (New York, NY), 2004.

Carolyn Crimi, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Patricia Lauber, What You Never Knew about Beds, Bedrooms, and Pajamas, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.

Also illustrator of Cricket and the Excitable Egg by Tracey West, Golden Books (New York, NY). Illustrator of book covers. Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Cricket, Spider, Baby Bug, American Girl, Humpty Dumpty, Disney Adventure, and Kid City.


John Manders commented of his career in book illustration: "I am a life-long devoté of novels by Raphael Sabatini, Robert Louis Stevenson, Daniel Defoe, C.S. Forester, Patrick O'Brian, and—rousing trumpets—the great George MacDonald Fraser (to whom I dedicated the illustrations); historical costume movies with Errol Flynn and soundtracks by Eric Wolfgang Korngold (whose work seems to be enjoying a comeback lately).

"The palette I chose for [my illustrations in Carolyn Crimi's] Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies mimics that used by the painters of the Baroque era—particularly two of my favorites, Velázquez and Rembrandt—with heavy emphasis on neutrals (browns and grays) complemented by creamy golden yellows, dusky oranges, and livid reds.

"Being an illustrator is like being a movie director on steroids: I get to cast all the characters, design the costumes, design the sets, and stage all the action. I even choose the camera angles. For Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, I designed many of the characters with actors from sea-going movies in mind. For Black Ear, I cast Robert Newton, who starred in a movie about Blackbeard and unforgettably played Long John Silver in the Disney version of Treasure Island. From the same movie, child actor Bobby Driscoll supplied the look and costume for Henry (with spectacles added!). Jean LeHare is the bunny incarnation of Basil Rathbone in Captain Blood, and Calico Jack recalls Kirk Douglas in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. The dread Salty Carrot is a caricature of Captain Kidd's ship, the Adventure Galley—a three-masted square-rigger that I embellished with peeling paint, cannonball holes, debris-littered decks, and some tastefully carved bunny mermaids. The smaller sloop design was more effective for raiding and smuggling, but I felt the big square-rigger would be visually funnier—especially when crewed by bunnies. The two-storey hut is a memory of that wonderful set from Swiss Family Robinson.

"I always wanted to do a pirate book. I'm grateful to Carolyn Crimi for having written this one with so much humor. I feel that her words and my pictures mesh perfectly."

About his decision to illustrate Señor Don Gato: A Traditional Song, Manders wrote: "What I found to be the most attractive aspect of the book was its simplicity. Just as Shakespeare's curt stage directions leave nearly everything up to the actor, this Spanish folk song tells you a richly detailed story by what is left out of the lyrics. For example, the lyrics don't specifically describe Don Gato's character or physical appearance, yet you know he must be a cat of passionate appetites—for pretty majas, for delicious sardines—and so I had the wonderful task of imagining his larger-than-life character in pencil and paint. He is a small-town cavalier, all shabby finery and a swaggering style that's just pompous enough to be funny when he trips up. The economy of description also made it possible for me to inject some irony. When the text tells us that doctors show up ‘on the run,’ I chose instead to show them aloof, unconcerned, checking their watches, eager to move on to a more profitable patient.

"My research for this book led me to many images of Spanish ritual celebrations. It is indeed a culture that embraces death as part of life. Costumes worn by the mice in Don Gato's funeral procession are typical of those worn in Spanish festival processions. Clowns and fools march side by side with Death and the saints.

"Anyone familiar with the works of Diego Velázquez will instantly recognize how shamelessly I've used his palette, subjects, and costumes. Before he became a court painter, he made his reputation painting bodegones, scenes of everyday life. His subjects were peasants, water-vendors, scullery maids, old men and women shown on the street or in their humble homes. Many of these folk inhabit Don Gato's little town; I simply changed them into cats."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Señor Don Gato: A Traditional Song, p. 126.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Señor Don Gato, p. 966.

Publishers Weekly, August 25, 2003, review of Señor Don Gato, p. 62.

School Library Journal, November, 2003, Ann Welton, review of Señor Don Gato, p. 130.