‘G’day mate, it’s Anh Do’: How a Murray Bridge illustrator got his big break
Children's illustrator Dave Atze has been contracted to work on a series of superhero books with one of Australia's best-loved comedians.
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One of Australia’s most beloved comedians has partnered with a Murray Bridge illustrator for his latest children’s book.
Anh Do has written a number of adventure books for young readers in recent years, including Wolf Girl and Skydragon.
His latest character, drawn by Dave Atze, is The Champ: a schoolkid named Summer whose love of sport doesn’t match up with her clumsy body.
Until the day a meteor crashes into her house, that is.
After that, all she needs to do is picture a sporting superstar in her mind and she can deliver a footballer’s perfect kick or lift with the strength of a weightlifter.
She and her best friend Wilbur, who loves a snack, have to foil the schemes of their school’s evil librarian.
Summer always seemed to find a piece of sporting equipment that could help her solve any problem, Mr Atze said.
The author first phoned the illustrator out of the blue in November 2020.
“I get this phone call, I don’t know the number … it’s a guy in Anh’s voice who says ‘g’day mate, it’s Anh Do’,” he said.
“I started laughing – I thought it was a joke at first.”
Their chat led to a working relationship, which led to Mr Atze creating about 120 illustrations for the book.
It’s aimed at children who are old enough to read by themselves, but young enough that an ordinary novel would still be a bit boring.
Mr Atze said he and Mr Do talked quite often during the book’s early development.
“He’d send me photos of his toy collection – he’d say ‘I really like the cape on this’ – then I’d say ‘I really like that’,” he said.
“He’s totally down-to-earth, as funny and as nice as you see on TV.
“Some people have that voice where, as soon as you hear it, you can’t help but smile.
“He’s very passionate, he knows what he wants, and he knows comedy so well.”
Mr Atze’s contract with publishing house Allen and Unwin calls for him to do two Champ books per year, and pays well enough that he can focus solely on that project and on being a stay-at-home dad.
But he had to keep the project a secret until this month.
The Champ will be available online and in major book stores – including, potentially, Big W or Kmart in Murray Bridge, which would be a first for its local illustrator.
Mr Atze had previously freelanced for a number of other children’s authors, and published a book of his own – Belly Button Fluff – last year.
The Champ is due to be released next Tuesday, May 3.
More information: www.allenandunwin.com.
Disclosure: Mr Atze gave the author of this story a copy of the book, which the author’s six-year-old daughter is already devouring.