Proimos, James 1955-
Proimos, James 1955-
Home—Baltimore, MD. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt Children's Books, 15 E. 26th St., 15th Fl., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].
Author illustrator, animator, director, and designer. Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel Pictures (promotional agency), Los Angeles, CA, founder. Formerly worked in advertising; copywriter and art director for twenty years in Denver, CO, New York, NY, Cleveland, OH, Los Angeles, CA, and Baltimore, MD; creator of promotional characters; Generation O! (animated television program), creator and designer, 2000-01; director of animated commercials.
Several advertising awards, including Clio awards, Addy awards, and One-Show awards; Cannes Lion award, for short film.
FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILUSTRATED, EXCEPT AS NOTED
Joe's Wish, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1998.
The Loudness of Sam, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1999.
The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
If I Were in Charge, the Rules Would Be Different (poetry), Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Johnny Mutton, He's So Him!, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Cowboy Boy, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Mutton Soup: More Adventures of Johnny Mutton, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
(With Tom Amico) The Day the Dog Dressed like Dad, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Andy Rheingold) When Guinea Pigs Fly!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Tom Amico) Raisin and Grape, illustrated by Andy Snair, Dial (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of scripts for film shorts and animated television series, many based on his books, including Johnny Mutton, TV Loonland; Generation O!, Kids' WB!; The Switch-a-Roonies, Scholastic Entertainment; 99 Sisters and Larry Parka, Polar Pig, Nickelodeon; and Boiled Peas and Carrot, National Geographic Kids.
Jacquelyn Reinach, Little Raccoon, Here's Your Spoon!, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Jacquelyn Reinach, Little Owl, Here's Your Towel!, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Jacquelyn Reinach, Little Kangaroo, I Love You!, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Jacquelyn Reinach, Little Sheep, Time to Sleep!, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
The "Johnny Mutton" books and The Loudness of Sam were both adapted as animated television series.
More books and animated television programs.
Beginning his year as an advertising copywriter and art director, James Proimos has discovered that his particular talent—creating amusingly drawn, boldly colored animated cartoon characters—is also a perfect match with the picture-book medium. Among the books he has written and illustrated for young children—including The Loudness of Sam, Raisin and Grape, and TheMany Adventures of Johnny Mutton—are several characters that have made a similar leap between printed page and film, such as the woolly lamp Johnny Mutton. In addition to writing books, Proimos continues his dedicated efforts to populate the animated world via television cartoon programs such as Generation O!, Larry Parka, Polar Pig, and The Switch-a-Roonies.
Proimos began focusing on animated cartoons in the late 1990s, when he and a colleague worked together on an advertising campaign for the Taco Bell fast-food restaurant chain. The collaboration resulted in Nacho and Dog, an animated cat-and-dog duo that appeared in Taco Bell advertising for several years. From there, Proimos began devising more animated characters, among them a young rock singer named Molly O!, the star of Generation O!, on Kids' WB! beginning in 2000. A long list of other animated characters have followed from Proimos's imagination, and have found their way into books, television programming, and even commercials.
When Generation O! aired in 2000, Proimos was already a published author with two books to his credit: Joe's Wish and The Loudness of Sam. The first tells a quirky story about a grandfather and grandson who wish they could change places with one another, while The Loudness of Sam introduces an overindulged young boy who has never been taught that children should be seen and not heard. Praised as "refreshing" and "rambunctious" by a Publishers Weekly writer, the book features cartoon-style art with text balloons and high-energy colors.
Johnny Mutton, one of Proimos's most popular picture-book characters, makes his debut in The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton. Johnny is a woolly lamb who is taken in by a motherly but rather nearsighted woman and raised like the woman's own son. Living among humans, the good-natured sheep fits right in, except for his unusual sense of humor. Describing Proimos's poofy protagonist as "both a loving son and an extroverted classroom cutup," a Publishers Weekly reviewer enjoyed the author's use of the comic-book format in recounting four amusing sagas in Mutton's life. In Booklist, Ilene Cooper also enjoyed the book, praising the "wild, rowdy art" and the "high ratio of laughs to pages." Johnny reappears in Johnny Mutton, He's So Him! and Mutton Soup: More Adventures of Johnny Mutton, each of which contains five stories. In School Library Journal, Nancy A. Gifford praised the "slapstick humor and amusing art" in Johnny Mutton, He's So Him!, while Carol Schene noted in the same periodical that Mutton Soup features stories that are "upbeat and nonchalantly wise." Noting that Proimos's "jokey premise … serves as a kind of eccentric metaphor for embracing individuality," Jennifer Mattson added in a Booklist review that Mutton Soup showcases Johnny's "irrepressible spirit" through "zippy dialogue" and bright, cartoon drawings.
While Proimos writes and illustrates most of his books, he sometimes works with collaborators. Fellow advertising copywriter Tom Amico contributed his creative talents to both The Day the Dog Dressed like Dad and One Raisin, One Grape, while animator Andy Snair contributed the artwork to the latter volume. When Guinea Pigs Fly, a story of a pair of guinea pigs that find themselves in a series of trying circumstances after being purchased by an irresponsible pet lover, was the result of a collaboration between Proimos and Andy Rheingold. One Raisin, One Grape is the story of a grandfather (a shriveled raisin) and grandson (a plump raisin) who spend the day together, while The Day the Dog Dressed like Dad finds the family pet donning hat and tie and taking care of father-type business after the family patriarch leaves home on a business trip.
For Proimos, seeing characters like Johnny Mutton and the little boy from The Loudness of Sam in print has been only the first step; from books, these quirky creations have eventually won new fans in animated form. The author/illustrator/animator "likes to start out in books because they have faster turnaround times," Nancy Lees noted in Kidscreen, "and the publishing industry tends to give authors more creative control over the development of characters and stories." As Proimos explained to Lees: "Every other medium I've worked in—even though the audience is the same—has a totally different set of rules of operation. With books, it's easier to just sort of do what I do."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of The Loudness of Sam, p. 1953; June 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton, p. 1872; May 15, 2002, Susan Dove Lempke, review of If I Were in Charge the Rules Would Be Different, p. 1596; September 1, 2003, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Cowboy Boy, p. 121; March 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Mutton Soup: More Adventures of Johnny Mutton, p. 1198.
Horn Book, September, 2001, review of The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton; May-June, 2003, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Johnny Mutton, He's So Him!, p. 356.
Kidscreen, January 1, 2005, Nancy Lees, "Hot Talent: Mixing It up at Creative Co-op Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel," p. 16.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of If I Werein Charge the Rules Would Be Different, p. 49; March 1, 2003, review of Johnny Mutton, He's So Him!, p. 396; June 15, 2003, review of Cowboy Boy, p. 863; February 15, 2004, review of Mutton Soup, p. 184; August 15, 2004, review of The Day the Dog Dressed like Dad, p. 801.
Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1998, review of Joe's Wish, p. 77; March 1, 1999, review of The Loudness of Sam, p. 68; April 30, 2001, review of The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton p. 178; July 7, 2003, review of Cowboy Boy, p. 72; October 11, 2004, review of The Day the Dog Dressed like Dad, p. 79.
School Library Journal, May, 2001, Maura Bresnahan, review of The Many Adventures of Johnny Mutton, p. 131; March, 2002, Lee Bock, review of If I Werein Charge the Rules Would Be Different, p. 219; August, 2003, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Johnny Mutton, He's So Him!, p. 140; November, 2003, John Sigwald, review of Cowboy Boy, p. 144; April, 2004, Carol Schene, review of Mutton Soup, p. 120; November, 2005, Karen T. Bilton, review of When Guinea Pigs Fly!, p. 104; March, 2006, Maryann H. Owen, review of Raisin and Grape, p. 174.
Curious Pictures Web site, www.curiouspictues.com/ (September 20, 2006), "About James Proimos."