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Labor of love: Captain No Eyes and the Protector of the Innocent children’s book now on sale

photo of Captain No Eyes, the children's book

Captain No Eyes children’s book series is debut of Richardson & Taylor collaboration

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

You may not have heard of Captain No Eyes and the Protector of the Innocent — but your kids are going to love it.

For Arizona native and Mesa resident Clint Richardson the story, book and tales of personal triumph has been nothing short of a labor of love that first started more than 10 years ago.

“I was inspired with my kids in mind 13 years ago,” he told the Arizona Digital Free Press just a day after Captain No Eyes and the Protector of the Innocent was made available for purchase at Amazon. “The original version of this story and the ones to come were bedtime stories for my young kids. Life was forced upon them at 7 and 5 and I was compelled to raise them with stories of hope, courage, and perseverance.”

The emergence of Captain No Eyes as the titular hero of a series of children’s books is ultimately meant to teach children and young adults to survive life’s challenges through a “Fearless, Strong, and Kind” approach to those challenges.

In each book, Mr. Richardson points out, Captain No Eyes recognizes a particular crew member for a core value they upheld by rewarding them a special gold challenge coin to serve as a daily reminder of how to successfully get through the trials and tribulations we all endure.

In addition to the book itself, each tale comes with the opportunity for a child to achieve a challenge coin of their own for displaying the attributes of fearlessness, strength and kindness. That’s up to the parents and guardians of course, Mr. Richardson points out.

Mr. Richardson explains he hopes children learn practical life lessons they can carry with them throughout their lives to help make better decisions after they experience the book series.

“I hope children take away the fact that whether they are a boy or girl, they can protect the innocent just like Captain No Eyes and his crew. It is not always easy, but doing the right thing in a lot of ways makes your life harder,” he said. “I hope this book series helps kids embrace that reality learning how to take their eyes off of themselves and to see what others need from them.”

There is a little Captain No Eyes in all of us

The character of Captain No Eyes is illustrated with the likeness of the author but not for the reasons one might suspect.

“I remember while writing it thinking about how we were going to develop Captain No Eyes as a person,” Mr. Richardson said.

“During the writing process, I had the idea to make me Captain No Eyes. It made sense and it was something unique to put in the story. Now when people figure it out, it is quite the fun fact. Out of that, I did not want to stop there. In future books there will be faces on the characters of people I deeply respect. The name of that character will typify who these people are in real life, like Mr. Persevere or Mr. Courage.”

But understanding concept and direction is only half the battle as Mr. Richardson explains one has to create a narrative another may enjoy through the illustration of universal themes and ideas.

“Writing it seemed like the easy part because I knew where the story was going,” he said.

“The hard part was deciding on concepts, asking for feedback on a story that was told 13 years ago, and wondering if my kids would love the story or not. There is a lot of time through this process to think about putting yourself out there that can make someone apprehensive about going through with it. But, when the end goal is to remind your older children of their childhood and to help parents teach their children, you have to go through with it.”

A key motivation for Mr. Richardson? Equipping parents with the tools to handle the tough situations life can throw at you.

“Now I can give parents a tool that I had to make up, but they can use to teach and have fun with their kids through storytelling,” he said. “I want them to know that this book and the many that come after it will model a sacrificial life that Captain No Eyes and his crew choose to embark on. There will be trials, hardships, and times when they fight sin in others and their own hearts and minds. Your kids will see that it will be totally worth it for them to do the same in their own lives.”

1ON1 with Apache Junction Artist David Scott Taylor, the illustrator of Captain No Eyes

No children’s book is complete without contemporary, one-of-kind illustrations geared to help children and young adults envision the themes and narrative itself.

That’s where Apache Junction Artist David Scott Taylor comes into the picture.

“It was great! I wrote it and we worked through the illustrations from there,” Mr. Richardson said of his experience working with an established artist.

“I had pictures in my mind for years about what each scene would look like, and Scott has an amazing ability to take what is in my head and show it to me in real time. Obviously, the illustrations show talent but being able take pictures from my mind that I described, and put it on paper matching the two means you are a good listener too.”

To better understand the process for Mr. Taylor, the Arizona Digital Free Press reached to get the inside scoop on the creative process and his motivation to create the Captain No Eyes and the Protector of the Innocent book series. This is what he had to say:

*What was the process like illustrating the book in collaboration with Mr. Richardson?

The first part of the process was meeting with him to get an idea of what style of illustration he had in mind for the book. And how he perceived Captain No Eyes, the main character. A cartoon character look, or a more realistic look, and what type of colors to use. Vivid, muted, simple flat color or shaded with depth and a 3-D look. Clint is a good storyteller, so he was able to communicate what he had in his mind visually. I did a couple of rough preliminary sketch ideas, and we discussed them and came up with a style he liked, and I did too. After we had the main character designed, I read the manuscript and came up with where it made sense to have the illustrations and text page placement. We discussed these and agreed on them and marked up the pages so I could then start developing the story images.

I start by doing a rough loose pencil thumbnail (small) sketch of the concept I like. We then would discuss it and if we decided to make any adjustments, I would amend the rough and do a fairly detailed line drawing in a larger size to work out the details. Clint was great to work with during this phase and was excited to see his book come to life visually.

After we went through this with all the pages, I began the final 18” x 24” finished detailed pencil drawings. Once he approved those, I painted over the drawing with watercolor to achieve the final image. Each illustration took between 15 and 30 hours to complete. As an illustrator I appreciate helping an author see their story come to life. Clint is very creative and had great input when we were developing the illustrations. It is a collaboration, and we both work well together on the creative part or the image development. He is a great business partner.

What do you hope children take away from experiencing the illustrations of the latest adventure of Captain No Eyes?

I hope children, and adults as well, have a sense of awe, excitement, and adventure when they see the illustrations. My job as a children’s book illustrator is to visually tell the story so it supports the written word. As well as keeping the reader or person having it read to them engaged in the story and not bore them.

*What are some of the challenges you faced while illustrating the book?

Being patient due to the amount of time it takes to complete each illustration is one. I have a certain level of a finished look I was going for and to risk missing that mark by rushing the process was always at the forefront of my mind. Both Clint and I also have full time jobs, so time is at a premium for working on the book(s). Staying focused on a project for an extended period of time can be hard. It took almost a year to complete the illustration

*What is your favorite part of being an illustrator of a real book that folks can hold in their hands that I would say is a very positive piece of content?

My favorite part would have to be the satisfaction of accomplishment of getting it done and seeing it in print. Seeing peoples’ reactions to my artwork in an actual book is also a great inspiration as an artist and illustrator. It validates that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing with my talents.

*What is the No 1 thing you want parents to know when they are considering purchasing this book for their child or relative?

Our No. 1 goal is to teach kids that having good character as a person is what will make life better for them in the long run. Our characters are good pirates, men of good character, not always perfect, but they know where they stand and who they are. All of our stories, and there are many more coming based on Captain No Eyes, are about character development as people. And that these stories are fun and adventurous timeless tales for everyone.

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