Sunday, July 26, 2009

Man moons over pictures: Brian Floca succeeds as an author and artist

Telegram Staff Writer

Going to the moon wasn't his childhood dream.
But drawing it was.
And that's just what Brian Floca did when he grew up.
The 1987 graduate of Temple High School drew the big, bright moon on the cover of 'Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,' his most recent book as author and illustrator.
'I've been wanting to do that project for a long time,' Floca said. 'The first time I tried to put it together, it was too complicated for a picture book, but this time it worked.'
Critics are saying the Simon & Schuster children's book is a success.
'The main text is beautifully illustrated with line-and-wash artwork that provides technological details and visually stunning scenes,' said Carolyn Phelain of Booklist.
Her favorite scene in the book is the image of Earth as seen from the moon.
'Then there's picture of a lone astronaut looking up,' Ms. Phelain said. 'It shows the enormity of it, and the fine details.'
The perspective is dead-on, according to astronauts who've read the book.
'Reading it gave me the feeling I was back up in space,' said Michael Collins, command module pilot of Apollo 11. Alan Bean, lunar module pilot of Apollo 12 agreed.
'The art is very accurate,' Bean said. 'There is little that is not complex and confusing about space, but Floca got it right in 'Moonshot.''
Floca appreciates the warm feedback and has posted most of it on his Web site at
But the attention isn't what drives the artist to create his images. His inspiration comes from his love for shape, line and color.
'I've always been fascinated by drawing,' Floca said.
His parents, Ted and Kathy Floca of Temple, said he was practically born with a pencil in his hand.
'He was always working on a sketch or drawing when he was growing up,' Mrs. Floca said.
The lad's efforts were applauded, and as time went on, sketches turned into composite drawings and those turned into brightly colored illustrations.
'I got a lot of encouragement along the way from friends and teachers,' Floca said.
Mary Adams, his English teacher from Temple High, suggested that he apply to Brown University in Providence, R.I.
'I guess she thought I was good at something,' Floca said.
While at Brown, he studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design, which led him to first professional illustrating job. One of Floca's professors, David Macaulay, introduced him to Avi, a popular children's book author who was in need of an illustrator. (Avi's a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis.)
Macaulay recommended Floca for the job, and in 1993, Floca got his first illustrating credit with Avi's 'City of Light, City of Dark.'
Since then, Floca has illustrated several other books, including 'Hinky Pink' and 'Poppy.' He's also wrote (and illustrated) a few of his own, namely 'Moonshot,' 'Five Trucks' and 'Racecar Alphabet.'
The artist said he has a fondness for both pictures and words.
'So I can't tell you right now which is my favorite,' Floca said. 'Creating a book is an organic process. The words and images come together. They both develop the tale, and it's my job to determine what says it best, a word or a picture.'
As of yet, there aren't any 'Moonshot' programs or book-signings planned for the Temple area. But Floca said something might come up the next time he visits his parents.
Forty years after NASA's Apollo 11 mission first landed astronauts on the moon, this non-fiction picture book takes us along for the ride. The moon shines down on Earth, where three men don spacesuits, climb into Columbia, and wait for lift-off. On a nearby beach, people gather to watch the rocket blast the astronauts into space. The astronauts fly to the moon, circle it, land on it, walk on its surface, and see 'the good and lonely Earth, glowing in the sky.' After flying back to the orbiter, they return to Earth and splash down, 'home at last.' - Summary from Booklist

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