Tony Diterlizzi (1969-) Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1969. Education: Attended Florida School of the Arts; graduate of Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, 1992.
Writer and illustrator.
The Spider and the Fly, illustrated by DiTerlizzi and written by Mary Howitt, was named a Caldecott Honor Book, 2003.
Ted, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.
Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
Peter S. Beagle, Giant Bones, Roc (New York, NY), 1997.
Greg Bear, editor, Dinosaur Summer, Aspect (New York, NY), 1998.
Nancy Springer, editor, Ribbiting Tales: Original Stories about Frogs, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Tony Johnston, Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.
Doug Cooney, The Beloved Dearly, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Tony Johnston, Alien and Possum Hanging Out, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
Mary Howitt, The Spider and the Fly, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
Holly Black, The Goblin Camp, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Holly Black, The Warren in the Walls, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Holly Black, Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1: The Field Guide, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Holly Black, Spiderwick Chronicles Book 2: The Seeing Stone, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Holly Black, Spiderwick Chronicles Book 3: Lucinda's Secret, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Holly Black, Spiderwick Chronicles Book 4: The Ironwood Tree, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of art to fantasy role-playing manuals and materials such as Monstrous Manual, White Wolf's Changeling, and White Wolf's Werewolf. Illustrator for Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.
Contributor of art to a variety of periodicals, including Cricket, Cicada, Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, Casus Belli, and Dragon.
Artist Tony DiTerlizzi is an illustrator of children's books, role-playing materials, and fantasy books. His work is populated by fantastic creatures of the imagination, from dangerous beasts in fantasy and science fiction worlds to gentle, whimsical characters from children's wildly creative adventures.
Born in 1969, DiTerlizzi was the first of three children in an artistically inclined household, according to the Tony DiTerlizzi Web site. He grew up in southern Florida, and although he enjoyed activities such as insect collecting, camping, and swimming, he was also deeply interested in drawing and reading. He attended the Florida School of the Arts and later received a degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
After graduating from college in 1992, DiTerlizzi worked for TSR on the company's Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. Throughout most of the 1990s, he illustrated gaming materials and character guides, worked on other games such as Planescape and Change-ling, and contributed to role-playing magazines such as Dragon. His distinctive style garnered fans almost immediately—"From TSR's Monstrous Manual to White Wolf's Werewolf, 2nd edition, he has started to build a following with his dark and dirty drawing style," wrote an interviewer for Scrye: Guide to Collectible Card Games. DiTerlizzi also illustrated a number of items in the wildly popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, published by Wizards of the Coast. His work in the gaming industry firmly established DiTerlizzi as an artist in the fantasy field.
In the late 1990s, DiTerlizzi expanded his repertoire and started illustrating books, including Peter S. Beagle's Giant Bones, Doug Cooney's The Beloved Dearly, and Greg Bear's Dinosaur Summer. He has also contributed covers to a number of novels.
Tony Johnston's Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What and Alien and Possum Hanging Out, both illustrated by DiTerlizzi, are about the friendship between Alien, all metal and unhappy at his difference from the other animals in the forest, and Possum, a furry and soft creature who reassures Alien that he is special no matter his differences. In the first book, Alien and Possum consider that they are not the same colors, realize the benefits of friendships, and enjoy the ability to have things in common while treasuring the things that make them different. DiTerlizzi's "copious watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations enhance both the humor and the warmth of the caper," wrote a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, "and help recommend it for readers" who are ready to advance to the next reading level after picture books. Maura Bresnahan, writing in School Library Journal, remarked, "the appealing illustrations reinforce the mood and provide visual clues. There is a whimsical charm to the story that is perfectly captured by the sweet expressions of the protagonists."
In Alien and Possum Hanging Out, the two protagonists continue to develop their friendship and learn about the world while recognizing their differences, celebrating their birthdays, and simply "hanging out" on a tree branch in unique and individual ways. "The plots are gentle expressions of friendship and acceptance," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. The "cheerful, cartoonlike illustrations nicely complement and enhance the slight stories with a spirit of fun," the reviewer continued. Kristin de Lacoste, writing in School Library Journal, remarked favorably on the "amusing illustrations of these two pals and their antics."
The Spider and the Fly, Mary Howitt's classic tale, was republished with illustrations by DiTerlizzi in 2002. DiTerlizzi's "camera," his perspective, "never rests, zooming in, out, up, and down in a dazzling series of perspectives as a top-hatted and bespatted spider romances a naive flapper fly," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked on the "Charles Addams-esque humor" of the art and observed that "DiTerlizzi has spun a visual treat that young sophisticates and adults alike will enjoy." The Spider and the Fly was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2003.
DiTerlizzi is also the author of two self-illustrated books, Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure and Ted. The first follows precocious and adventurous child-inventor Jimmy Zangwow as he undertakes a mission to find Moon Pies, his favorite snack. When his mother refuses to let him eat a Moon Pie before dinner (because, of course, it would ruin his appetite), Jimmy rockets to the moon in search of his beloved treat. On the moon, Jimmy gets 1,000 pies from Mr. Moon, but later he shares all but one of them with 999 hungry Mars Men. He saves himself and his Martian friends by giving the dreaded Grimble Grinder his last Moon Pie. Jimmy returns to Earth on a Moon Pie wrapper balloon made by the Mars Men. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "a delightful romp," and remarked, "DiTerlizzi gets the details just right in his debut book." Linda M. Kenton, writing in School Library Journal, remarked that "With its repetitive text and large illustrations, the story is great fun for group sharing."
In Ted, a young boy is visited by his imaginary playmate, Ted, who has lots of great ideas for fun but little appreciation of the consequences of his outrageous acts. The boy's father finally banishes Ted from the house. When the boy finds Ted at an old playground, he learns that his father was, like him, a lonely boy in search of companionship and attention from his own father. Ted has also been around before; the boy's father knew him as Ned during his own troubled youth. The father ultimately finds the boy at the playground and reunites with Ned. "DiTerlizzi has created a warm and loving character in Ted, and his gouache, watercolor, and colored-pencil artwork brings the creature to life," wrote Lisa Gangemi Krapp in School Library Journal.
DiTerlizzi cites a diverse range of influences on his art, from noted fantasy artists Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo to painters Hieronymus Bosch and Leonardo da Vinci, early magazines artists Maxfield Parrish and Heinrich Kley, and children's book illustrators such as Arthur Rackham and John Tenniel, wrote Allen Varney in an interview with DiTerlizzi in Dragon magazine. He also finds inspiration in modern fantasy artists such as Brian Froud, Moebius, and William Stout. In an America Online chat transcript posted on his Web site, DiTerlizzi also names as influences "The 3 S's": Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Dr. Seuss.
Despite his success, DiTerlizzi has not lost the perspective of being a fan. DiTerlizzi's presence on his own Web site is chatty, enthusiastic, and forthcoming; he invites fans to contact him, interact, ask questions, and send items to him to be autographed. In the Dragon interview, he told Varney, "I really appreciate my fans. I am a big fan myself. I get googley over the newest Brian Froud book, I sweat bullets when I met Moebius, and I still can't believe I know someone like Brom." Keeping his own fan attitude alive helps him understand the position of hopeful artists and his own fans. "I think that perspective helps fans see that I understand where they are coming from," DiTerlizzi said in the Dragon interview. "If it were not for their appreciation, I do not think I would be where I am today. It really is a big energy circle—you only receive what you have given."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of The Beloved Dearly, p. 858.
Brandweek, May 8, 2000, "To the Moon and Beyond, with a Marshmallow Twist," review of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, p. 74.
Dragon, September, 1998, Allen Varney, interview with Tony DiTerlizzi.
Kartefakt, May-June 1998, interview with Tony DiTerlizzi.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What, p. 1126; December 1, 2001, review of The Beloved Dearly, p. 1683; April 1, 2002, review of Alien and Possum Hanging Out, p. 494; July 1, 2002, review of The Spider and the Fly, p. 956.
New Orleans Times, February 27, 2000, "Moon Pies and Mardi Gras," review of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure.
Palm Beach Post, June 21, 2000, "Author Uses Childhood Memories for Stories."
Publishers Weekly, April 17, 2000, review of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, p. 80; March 5, 2001, review of Ted, p. 79; September 24, 2001, review of Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What, p. 93; July 1, 2002, review of The Spider and the Fly, pp. 79-80.
School Library Journal, April, 2000, Linda M. Kenton, review of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, p. 103; April, 2001, Lisa Gangemi Krapp, review of Ted, p. 105; September, 2001, Maura Bresnahan, review of Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What, p. 191; January, 2002, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of The Beloved Dearly, p. 132; August, 2002, Kristin de Lacoste, review of Alien and Possum Hanging Out, pp. 158-159.
Scrye: Guide to Collectible Card Games, April-May, 1995, interview with Tony DiTerlizzi.
Tony DiTerlizzi Web site, http://www.diterlizzi.com/ (May 26, 2003).*