Author & Artist Corner: Artist

Carolyn Digby Conahan

Carolyn Digby Conahan

I am illustrating the September 2009 cover of Cricket. Click here to see my sketches for this month's Cricket!

How did I get to be the staff illustrator (bug artist) for Cricket? As a child I was not favored by bugs. Mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies, and deerflies all preferred my sister. I was not the choice of honeybees, either. Once I happened upon a swarm buzz-buzz-buzzing amongst themselves in the tree branches and tall grasses at the edge of a field. Despite my obvious advantages of size and strength, they did not choose me to be queen when they flew off to their new home.

I'm sure the Cricket Country bugs were perfectly happy in the hands of the very talented Jean Gralley (bug artist from 1987-2002), who learned their little ways from the great Trina Schart Hyman, who created them in 1973 and drew them until passing the pen to Jean. The Cricket folks didn't exactly choose me, either. Sure, there was a selection process and it was long, long, long. But at the end there were two of us, and they couldn't decide. So they put the choice (in the form of sample strips) before some kids. The kids chose me. (I don't know why, the other guy is really good! But they did.) Thanks, kids.

Carolyn with her daughters and husband in their treehouse


I see that nobuggy has said anything to you yet, which I find a shame (unless the commenting thingy just started withen the last week!).  You draw just about the cutest little buggies I've ever seen!!! :):):) Soo, I just wanted to say thanks for all of your work sketching my favorite parts of the magazine. :):) Do you ever sketch cartoon animals just for fun??  If you do, do you draw animals other than bugs and birds, such as mammals??  You rock!! :D

submitted by Paige
(April 23, 2009 - 4:32 pm)

Oh, wait!  It did start within the last week!! :):):) Hee, hee!! :D My mistake! :D

submitted by Paige
(April 23, 2009 - 9:14 pm)

I just wanted to say, Thanks for all your hard work! This is really neat! Not a lot of people really said anything... oh well! I'm the 2nd one! hehehe! I can't really compare you to the old artists, but it's ok right? I only just started getting Cricket! What's it like? Do you have to go through a whole bunch of stuff before you get your art published? It must be pretty neat! 

submitted by Maggie S. ∞ , age 13, St. Paul, MN :D
(April 24, 2009 - 3:11 pm)

Hi Maggie,

I wrote you a note, too, but it seems to have disappeared. Sorry! I'm just learning how to use this format. But anyway–-thanks for your note. I sketch out lots of rough ideas for every story. Some work out, some don't. Sometimes it takes a long time to get everything right. So YES, it's very exciting when it all comes together and the story (or artwork, or whatever) gets published so that people all over can see it.

submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 25, 2009 - 7:19 pm)

Hi Paige!

I have a great time with the bugs here in Cricket Country. I'm glad you enjoy them, too. And yes, I DO draw other animals, too. Real animals, made-up animals, and lots of other things. Anything, really. I doodle and draw and sketch all the time. It's fun.




submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 24, 2009 - 2:11 pm)

Cool!! :):) There's these zoo animals that I draw all the time!!!  I think I normally draw a lion, a bongo (my favorite animal!), a tiger, a giraffe, and a hippo.  They're very cute!! :):)

submitted by Paige
(April 25, 2009 - 9:20 am)

Hi!:) You are such an amazing artist!!!!:) For the March contest, you had to draw a drive-in movie poster. I drew one of the buggies!:) I fit a lot of them on that one sheet of paper!:) It was so much fun to draw! You must really love you job!:) I'm really glad that you're the artist for the buggies-you do such a great job!:) Thanks for the wonderful drawings!:):):)

submitted by Kimberly B, age 13!:), California
(April 24, 2009 - 12:15 pm)

Hi Kimberly,

Yes! I DO love my job. I'm glad you had fun with the contest... A big part of the fun is hearing from young readers, writers, and artists. You're super!


submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 25, 2009 - 1:22 pm)


submitted by Kimberly B, age 13!:), California
(May 15, 2009 - 10:39 am)

Hi, Kimberly,

Yes, I DO love my job! I'm glad you had fun with the contest, and I'm glad you like how I draw the bugs. They don't make it easy. Ladybug keeps telling me I don't do her justice, and Cricket won't hold still!

submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 25, 2009 - 2:00 pm)

I love your drawings! They have such personality! Do you write the words to the strip too?

submitted by Grace♥, age 13, SC
(April 24, 2009 - 2:42 pm)

Hi, Grace,

I do write the words for the strip, but lucky for you, I send my first first-round sketches (which are very messy and scribble-y and hard to read) to a whole team of editors and art directors. They help me make sure everything works, and makes sense, more or less. Sometimes I give them a lot of work to do. They deserve medals. 

submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 25, 2009 - 1:42 pm)

I just wanted to say that I'm going to enter the May/June Cricket web contest, Draw Cricket Country!!! :):):) I spent a long time working on it, and the buggies look pretty similar to your's!!!  It was SO fun!!! :D

submitted by Paige
(April 27, 2009 - 4:47 pm)

Cool! Can't wait to see your bugs. What fun.

submitted by Carolyn, Cricket Country
(April 28, 2009 - 2:18 pm)

I love all of the buggies that you draw! 

submitted by Meadow, age 11, IL
(May 1, 2009 - 8:41 am)