Many (Most?) of those who follow us on Facebook or on our mailing list would recognize the name, Susan Loeffler as the full-color illustrator of The Adirondack Kids® book series which my son, Justin, and I created 22 years ago with 20 volumes in the series to date.
Along with our book covers, Sue did all the artwork for our Story/Coloring Book, our Adirondack Kids Press logo, and for the wall poster that over the years has come to carry the iconic image identifying the brand.
When Justin and I were searching for an illustrator for our first book, we went on-line and literally poured over some 300 portfolios of freelance artists looking for a style we thought would fit the region we were writing about. I graduated high school with Sue and have known her my entire adult life. Being familiar with Sue’s work for years I knew she was capable of many styles and that she was also accomplished in several mediums. .And because of her love for the outdoors and great knowledge of our region’s flora and mammals and bird life we kept coming back to her. The search always came back to Sue!
It has been a perfect match in a multiplicity of ways, for how patient she was with me!
Once Justin and I had a good handle on a storyline for the next book, Sue and I would get together and I would scribble some stick figures on a piece of paper and describe the action and tell her what season it was and any landmark or creatures that might be key to the surroundings. She would nod, take a few notes and sometimes do a quick sketch right on the spot.
Returning to her home she brought the characters and scene to life – often with little incidentals of flowers or insects or animal life based on her experiential knowledge and love for the environment. She would then bring the finished piece to us, but always armed with her colored pencils for any last-minute modifications that might need to be made. (I’ve already told you how patient she was with me!)
None of us knew those several decades ago that there was going to be a second book, much less an entire series. Sue did the first piece of artwork understanding if the first book did not sell, none of us would get paid. But the first book did sell and a wonderful fan base emerged along with a body of work including illustrations that have not only educated, but brought joy to tens of thousands of children over two generations now, and counting.
Susan lost her battle with pancreatic cancer this summer, and I know I have been writing about her largely in the present tense here, and that is because of our shared faith based on the Bible that one day we will see one another again, never again to be separated.
Inlet, New York, is where the family camp is located that originally provided the inspiration for the book series. It is where the characters in our stories hail from and so is the epicenter for so many of their adventures.
Thanks to the generous reception of the librarian and board of the Inlet Public Library in the center of the hamlet, all of Sue’s original artwork for The Adirondack Kids® full wrap-around book covers will be on display at the library until further notice, along with many of the original black-and-white interior illustrations by Carol VanRiper, my wife and Justin’s mom.
That’s in Inlet, NY of the west-central Adirondacks, where mountains and memories meet.