The Spider and the Fly
The Spider and the Fly title page illustration,
Acryla gouache on Bristol board
Collection of the artist
I remember he faxed it, that’s how long ago this was, he faxed the entire poem. I remember reading it upside down as it came out of the fax machine. It got to the end of the book, and the spider eats the fly, and she’s dead. I thought,”Well wait, there’s gonna be another page of story coming out of here.”, and nope, that was the whole story.
Immediately I thought,”How do I tell this for children and not scare them or terrify them?” I don’t mind spooking a kid, but I don’t ever want to terrify them. I immediately thought of Chaz Adams. I immediately thought of Edward Gory, and I approached the illustrations for The Spider and the Fly with those guys in the back of my mind.
The paintings were all done in two colors, a tube of black gouache, and a tube of white gouache, which I primarily use for fixing, repairing parts of the illustration. When we did the final printing, we actually printed the book in two colors. We used a black ink, and we replaced all the grays with a silver ink to give it that shine from an old silent movie.
To be totally honest, I really thought that The Spider and the Fly was one of those stories that only a niche group would enjoy and adore, and to my great surprise and delight, not only did it become a New York Times bestseller, but it won a Caldecott Honor in 2003.