Sometimes Punkin comes home from the library with stacks of books. A lot of times lately these are either repeats or another entry from familiar franchises like Pinkalicious. A while back, maybe as long as a year ago, she had this odd book about a panda who teaches philosophical lessons to the neighborhood kids. The first time I read it with her, something seemed oddly familiar. Then we got to one specific page and I thought “Is this book painted by Jon J. Muth?” Turns out the answer was yes.
The book was Zen Ties. We have since checked out his work in other series as well as others in the Zen series. In 1984 I was reading the comic book he did with J. M. DeMatteis, Moonshadow. What I didn’t realize at the time is that he isn’t that much older than me. He’s 7 years older but looking at those paintings from back then – when I was 17 and he was 24 – I would have assumed he was much older. The polish and craftsmanship he brings now isn’t radically different from what those comic pages looked like 30 years ago.
Nowadays it is pretty commonplace to see fully painted comic books. Back then it was completely novel. Moonshadow is the very first one I ever experienced. Every time we read a Stillwater book to Punkin, I have all of this in the back of my mind.