Christopher Bing

Welcome

Welcome to my website. This website is divided into three parts:

Editorial, Op-Editorial, and Picture Books.

Biography

Christopher Bing won a 2001 Caldecott Honor Award for his picture book interpretation of the classic 1888 poem Casey at the Bat. His 2nd. book, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere also an ALA Notable Children's Book as well as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Called “an impressive volume” by Publishers' Weekly. In a starred review, Booklist termed it “a remarkable visual interpretation of Longfellow’s classic poem.” Mr. Bing lives in Massachusetts where he works on picture books, op-editorials, humor and more. He also holds workshops, talks, and residencies.



The Biography below was originally written by Christopher Bing for the Ninth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators Edited by Connie C. Rockman. H. W. Wilson Co.


“My two earliest memories from childhood (when I was around 3-4 years old) are: 1) the excitement of my grandfather reading to me at bedtime and 2) drawing with my grandmother for hours. This was before there were cartoon cable channels, movies on videotapes, DVDs, blu-rays, video games, home computers, smartphones or huge warehouse toy stores. While I was growing up my passions were reading comic books and the adventure strips on the comic pages in the newspaper, and spending hours trying to imitate the art. When I was old enough I had a paper route and would ask some of my customers who read the other local paper, which ran different comics, to cut them out and save them for me. At the end of each week when I collected the pay envelopes I also collected the strips they saved for me.

“I spent all the money I earned on comic books, books, pens, pencils, and drawing paper. When I was around 11 or 12 a local museum had a night class in 'comic book' and 'comic strip' art, and my mother signed me up. I lived for that class. I was the only kid in the class; everyone else was 18 or older. It made my dreams of becoming an artist seem more attainable. These people also introduced me to alternative (underground) comics, and how comics could be about social issues, not just adventure and superheroes. So I started looking at the political cartoons on the editorial pages and discovered the art of editorial illustration (a cartoon uses words to help convey its idea, but an illustration makes its point through the image alone). I had found a way of saying things, powerful things, through images alone. I had found my place in the world, the place I wanted to be.

“As I got older, I was somewhat solitary. I think this was because, in part, I was not a very good student. I loved to read but couldn't write or spell well, and found school very hard – even the art classes, because I didn't get to draw what I wanted, comics. I spent most of my time in my regular classes daydreaming and drawing, and I got into a lot of trouble for doing that. Drawing was my way of communicating with the world, but it was unacceptable as a way to do English papers. Even as an adult I find it embarrassing and hard to write unless I can do it on a computer where I have tools like spell-check and grammar-check.

“My favorite time of the week was Saturday, when I would draw while watching cartoons; then after I finished my Saturday chores the local UHF channel would show a sci-fi or monster movie, and I would sit and draw some more. I also loved climbing trees, going exploring in the nearby woods, and doing all the stuff kids like to do. But when sitting quietly alone, my fingers would itch to hold a pencil and draw all the visions that endlessly raced through my head. When I graduated high school I took a year off before going on to college. Actually, I wasn't sure that I could get into college with my grades from high school. Thanks to the efforts of a family friend, who applied for me, and has remained unidentified to this day, I found myself the next year at Rhode Island School of Design.

“Today I consider myself a conceptual editorial and political illustrator (I do drawings for the editorial pages of newspapers and magazines) who has joyously stumbled into the world of children's books. I have over 65 original ideas (and still counting) for books I am currently working on plus at least 30 public-domain works that I would like to do. The kind of children's books I love best are not only well illustrated but have a good idea with a little Twilight Zone-style twist to it. One of my daughters saw the list of book Ideas I have typed up and asked me how long it would take to complete all of them. After a little calculating we found that if I do only one a year I will need to live to be over 110 years old – and that's only the books I have in my head at the moment. Something tells me that I'm going to have more ideas.

So, in the future, if you come across one of my books or political illustrations, and you have any questions or something to say about it, send me a letter via my publisher. I would love to hear from you! May you have many wonderful imaginative visions and dreams and find your own place in the world to share them with the rest of us.”

Good Luck and Great Life

Sincerely

ChristopherBing



The story of how Christopher Bing, a political and editorial illustrator, came to illustrate books for children is a fascinating one. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983, he immediately began work as a freelance artist; his first published illustration appeared in the Boston Globe in the spring of his senior year. Looking for a personal art project, one to stretch his own perceptions beyond the confines of the editorial page, Bing started working – with no thought of publication – on illustrations for his favorite childhood story, Helen Bannerman's Little Black Sambo, which had been read aloud to him many times by his grandfather. Receiving positive feedback on the drawings from friends and fellow artists, and notably from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Bing encountered editor and publisher Christopher Franceschelli, who agreed to publish his illustrated version of the old story on one condition: that he publish two other books first. Bannerman's story seemed to controversial for a first book because of the many versions that had appeared over the years with racist and derogatory images.

Casting about for another illustration idea for a children's book, Bing remembered a gift his parents had given him when hew as in high school – Wallace Tripp's newly illustrated version of “Casey at the Bat.” At the time he was most interested in a note in the back of the book stating that the poem had originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888. He wondered why no one had ever illustrated the poem as if they were reading it in a newspaper, but the idea seemed so obvious he assumed it had been done. Over time, he would look up different versions of “Casey at the Bat” in various libraries but never did find one that matched his vision. When asked by Franceschelli to come up with another idea, he says that his own version of Casey “sprang to the front of the line and started knocking on the inside of my skull shouting 'Let me out.'” Seven years later, the book was finished and met with instant success. It was named a Blue Ribbon book by the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and an ALA Notable Children's Book and captured a Caldecott Honor Award, a remarkable achievement for a first book. The intricate illustrations – created in pen and ink on scratchboard and overlaid with baseball memorabilia, newspaper ads, box scores, and vintage photographs – create the sensation of reading clippings in an old scrapbook found in a family attic. With its startling perspectives and historically accurate settings and clothing, the book appeared both innovative and “classic.”

For Bing's second book, he illustrated Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” again including layered images that enhance understanding of this famous episode in the early years of our country and reflect the meticulous research in Bing's artwork. This book was also named an ALA Notable Children's Book as well as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. And that paved the way, after a 20-year labor of love, for the publication in 2003 of Little Black Sambo. Creating a vibrant black child wandering through a mythic Indian landscape, Bing gave his protagonist a larger-than-life feel in a book that has an unusually large trim size. The boy seems to be leaping off the pages as he confronts the bullying tigers and eventually triumphs over them, winning back his elegant clothes. Bing has called Little Black Sambo the “perfect story for pre-school age boys: a brave, smart hero who is loved and has the independence to explore the world alone.”

Ever mindful of the importance of friends, mentors, and teachers in his life, Bing includes their names in his books where an old-time engraver's signature would appear. The illustrator Chris Van Allsburg's name appears in Casey because as a teacher at RISD, Van Allsburg introduced Bing to the scratchboard technique, which has given depth and texture to his pen-and-ink work. Christopher Bing lives today in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Aesthetic and Process

Op-Ed and Editorial commissions for Hardcopy (Print) and E-Press editions;


Contact

You can reach Christopher via email at chrisbing59@hotmail.com.