Author/publisher’s note: I knew pretty quickly in my only face-to-face meeting with Jay Fuqua that he shared my vision for Ultimate Sibling Showdown. As we talked in the Starbucks on Capitol near Downtown in early March 2020, little did either of us realize the twists and turns ahead in possibly the craziest creation process ever – in the middle of a global pandemic, economic shutdown and upheaval everywhere we look.
Jay’s creativity, patience and positive attitude over the seven months has been the key to getting The Gameday Crew Presents, Ultimate SIbling Showdown to the finish line.
We may be different races and at opposite ends of the age and career experience spectrum, but through creating this book together, we’ve become teammates and share mutual respect and faith in each other’s abilities.
I am forever grateful to Jay because his illustrations have allowed me to see a long-held dream come true. The “What Makes A Legend” series is both homage to all star athletes of the past, and a teacher’s pride in her students’ accomplishments. Jay’s illustrations give this story heart. — D.G.
Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Jay Fuqua
- Why did you decide to become a part of this project?
I was intrigued by this project because I knew it would be a challenge for me with a beneficial outcome. I’m not into sports but I was interested in tackling a subject matter that used sports to showcase so many things we go through in life.
- Have you ever created a children’s book before and how did you get started with creating the characters of Portia and Jay?
This will be the second children’s book I’ve illustrated since getting my degree in fine art. I knew that Portia and Jay were modeled after two familiar characters in our history, and I wanted their appearance to have some of those features. But as an artist I wanted them to look a bit more fun with brick red hair, freckles and cute big eyes!
- What do you believe is the message of this book?
I believe the message of the book is that obstacles are meant to be taken on as opportunities to improve one’s self perception. We have all been given tests in life that we’re afraid we won’t pass, but nevertheless we thrive when we have no choice but to take it on headfirst. This is also a story about preparation and how it can make all the difference when trying to overcome an obstacle.
- What do you want readers to know about Jay and Portia?
I want readers to know that Jay and Portia love and respect each other above anything else. They are openly competitive, but because they both need a challenge, they motivate one another to battle for their respective titles.
- How important are stories and creating works of art to kids right now?
It is always super important to feed children with art. These key elements of growth help formulate a positive perspective on how life is and will be in the future. Art is the veggies baked into a cake that enlightens and nourishes a young mind. It’s my duty as an artist to give a child/person something appetizing and inspirational with all that I create.
- What do you want readers to know about this process and about the future?
It all starts with a thought and a conversation between two parties that want to create. The process is long and careful. Ideas and details are constantly exchanged bringing out the best of both creators and it makes for an incredible work that involves the passions of storytelling and artistic expression. The future is full of endless possibilities that provide a promise of incredible fulfillment when the books are in the hands of children and parents and teachers all over the world.
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The Gameday Crew Presents, Ultimate SIbling Showdown
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