Artists Selected for Ratha Graphic Novel

A message from Clare Bell about the Ratha's Creature Graphic Novel:

The Ratha Graphic Novel is picking up speed, just like those rocketing 64 mph cheetahs in the Cincinnati Zoo video (gorgeous! ) . Sheila and I wanted to email thanks to all the artists who submitted samples, and invite them to be part of the "Many Faces of Ratha" artist showcase. Now that we have done that, we can now announce our final artist team.

Two of our chosen artists live or have lived in Colorado, which is known for its wildlife and spectacular back-country trails. I can't help but suspect that living there inspired a love for wild creatures that is reflected in their art. One is from Maryland, but will soon be moving to South Africa!

Dani Long

Dani came to our attention when she did the dramatic portrayal of "Ratha and the Three-horn" on Deviant Art.

( ). She also did some great Ratha expression sketches, so see the rest of her DA gallery.

She says:
"A little about me: I live near Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, USA, where I've worked for the last 12 years as an archaeologist, firefighter, and lookout. I've been a seasonal worker since 2004, meaning most of my work is done in the summer. I live with my husband, two cats, and too many musical instruments."

What a wonderful and adventurous life, and it also leaves time for art!

Apparently Dani and I lived less than 100 miles apart in the San Francisco Bay Area back in 1990. I was living in San Jose, CA, while she lived in the North Bay.

She writes:

"I first ran into Clare's books while living in Marin County around 1990. It was a great escape to imagine Ratha and Thakur running along the same trails, millions of years earlier!"

Dani will be the main penciller, using her skill with feline motion and expression to bring life and drama to the initial drawings of Named clan cats. She will be doing characters and foreground.

Tod Wills

Tod Wills' family also lives in Colorado, near Boulder. He later moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Tod writes:

“I saw the CBS Storybreak version of the book back when I was a kid, and found the series on the library shelves a couple years later, when I was in middle school, also early 90's. It had a big influence, and I'm still getting over my rambling gushing about being in on this project. I'm honored to get to help bring the story in a new format to old and new fans. “

He adds:

"I work full-time as a freelance illustrator, and am up in northern Washington with my fiancé, two cats, seven geckos, roommate and roommate's dog. My town is full of Eocene fossils, combined with rainforest ferns and whatnot, very fun."

Tod's watercolor technique and page layouts drew our attention. His work as a children's book illustrator gives him a real feel for story flow. Recently he combined his watercolor wash work with colored pencil to intensify colors, which shows how inventive and flexible he is.

Tod will be inking, coloring, and doing backgrounds. See his watercolor technique at

Even though they have defined areas, Dani and Tod have already been working back and forth, exchanging sketches and renderings to define the various characters. They also have suggested ideas for lettering. Sheila and I love what they are doing together.

Lew Lashmit

Readers who are familiar with the Imaginator Press Ratha series editions know Lew Lashmit's striking covers. I am happy to announce that he is the third member of the Ratha Graphic Novel Art Dream Team, using the same luminous colors, mastery of animal anatomy, and skill in paleoart.

Lew writes:

"I've been a fan of the Ratha books since I was nine - back in 1983 - so it was pretty darn amazing to get the chance to do the cover art on the new editions and to do paintings for the graphic novel. It's hard to really express how deeply the characters and story impress me."

Lew will be doing the covers and full-page interior paintings to heighten the critical parts of the story. He gets the wonderful chance to see the great African cats in the wild, (envy, envy!) since he is moving to South Africa from his present home in Maryland. He'll also be bringing his four cats, who have modeled for the book covers.

He says, "I've done some freelance artwork in the past of all kinds of different things - tattoo designs, dinosaur murals at a local high school, stuffed animal patterns, storyboards and promo art for a very low budget movie, but I've never really tried to make a steady career of it until recently. The only reason I've been able to do so is because of my absolutely wonderful partner, Piet, who is lucky enough that his hobby (computer programming) is one you can actually make a good living on! He's the calm, thoughtful, warm and accepting Thakur to my often hot-headed stubborn Ratha."

If you go on Deviant Art or Fur Affinity, you'll see his art, including an amazing portrait of Ratha that brought tears to my eyes when I first saw it many years ago.

Welcome to the graphic novel, Lew, and I am so glad to have you.

We chose these three not only on the basis of their skills, but also on the ability to match styles and back each other up, if needed. They have already shown how well they work together and with me. We four are already madly trading character descriptions and images on a digital whiteboard site.

When someone gets stuck, or has trouble, another jumps in with help and suggestions. I'm seeing an amazing creative synergy here that is unrestricted by boundaries, and I am encouraging this as much as I can. It has extended beyond the art itself to suggestions in other areas, including our upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

I believe that our philosophy on this project, choosing artists from the Ratha fan community via submissions, is proving itself via the enthusiasm, intensity, skill and just general amazing-ness shown so far. I don't know of any book-to-graphic novel adaptation that has been done this way. We may be blazing a new trail. Stay tuned for developments - I'm sure there will be exciting ones.

We wouldn't be at this point without our marketing/publishing/organizing/web-savvy/ wizard, Sheila Ruth of Imaginator Press. Http://

Kudos to my agent, Richard Curtis, who has been wonderful in supporting the idea and setting things up.

Please share this. Thanks!