My Name is Bob

Gerald Kelley is an American children's book illustrator. He works in an elaborate style with lots of water colour and very precise detail. In the field of children's books he is best known for his work on James Bowen's 'Bob the Cat' series. Under the pseudonym E.G. Keller he also illustrated Jill Twiss' children's book 'A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo' (2018), which is a parody of 'Marlon Bundo's: A Day in the Life of the Vice President' (2018), written by Charlotte Spence, daughter of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The book was launched during an episode of the satirical talk show 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' and intended to satirize Pence's homophobic opinions and policies.

Gerald Kelley received his artistic education from a local artist who worked in a small art supply store. Mostly self-taught, he ranks Albert Uderzo, Peter de Seve, Rien Poortvliet, Jon J. Muth, John Pike, Victor Ambrus, Lisbeth Zwerger, Brian Wildsmith and John Burningham as his graphic influences. In 2011 he illustrated the book 'That Noise!' in Penny Dolan's 'Leapfrog' children's book series and Stella Gurney's 'Puss in Boots' (2011). Afterwards he worked on Trinka Hakes Noble's children's book 'The Legend of the Jersey Devil' (2013), based on the urban legend of the same name. Kelley still regards this project as his favorite to work on, since he always had an interest in folk tales. His next book was therefore completely up his sleeve. J. Patrick Lewis' 'M Is For Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet' (2014) spends attention to all kinds of legendary creatures from all over the world and all historical periods. The same year Kelley contributed to James Bowen's 'My Name Is Bob' (2014). This book is a prequel to Bowen's previous book 'Bob the Streetcat' (2012), a story about a London street musician and drug addict who finds a wounded street cat whom he takes care of. In 'My Name Is Bob' we find out how Bob the cat ended up in the street.


Please Please the Bees

The artist delved into fantasy again with Kaye Umansky's 'The Wickedest Witch in the World' (2013). In 2015 Kelley gave his graphic interpretation of Charles Dickens' classic novel 'A Christmas Carol'. Another tale about felines illustrated by Kelley was Cylin Busby's 'The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs' (2016). Set in 1837, it tells the story of a cat, Jacob, who sails along on a ship despite the captain's initial objections. The same year Kelley livened up the pages of Ken Burns' educational book 'Grover Cleveland, Again! A Treasury of American Presidents' (2016), which tells fun facts and trivia about all U.S. Presidents. In April 2017 Kelley wrote and illustrated his next book, 'Please Please The Bees' (2017), in which a bear tries to become a bee keeper.

In 2016 businessman and former reality TV show host Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. He selected Mike Pence as his Vice President, a controversial politician because of his opposition against gay rights. Pence has often voiced support for the anti-LGBT organisation Focus on the Family too. As it so happened the politician owns a pet rabbit named "Marlon Bundo", a pun on Hollywood actor Marlon Brando (who happened to be bisexual, but it's not clear whether Pence is aware of this irony?). Pence's wife and daughter published an official children's book about their rabbit, 'Marlon Bundo's: A Day in the Life of the Vice President' (2018). The story was written by Pence's daughter Charlotte and illustrated by his wife Karen.


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

As a satirical counter-attack British comedian and TV presenter John Oliver, host of 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver', secretly created a children's book of his own, specifically designed to resemble Pence's book but with different content. His book, 'A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo' (2018) was written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by Kelley under the pseudonym E.G. Keller. It also features Marlon Bundo but in this story he falls in love with another male rabbit named Wesley. Wesley (who is a caricature of John Oliver) agrees to marry Marlon but their plans meet with opposition from a homophobic stink bug politician (an obvious parody of Mike Pence). But all animals in the forest voice rise against the bug and vote him out of office, whereupon the bunnies can get married after all.

John Oliver and his staff published their parody several hours before the official release date of Pence's original. A website was created ridiculing the 'Focus on the Family' group as 'Focusonthefurmily.com'. They also released an audio book version read with the voices of Jim Parsons (who plays Sheldon in the sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory'), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell in the sitcom 'Modern Family'), Jeff Garlin (Jeff Greene in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'), Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon in the U.S. version of 'The Office'), John Lithgow (Dick Solomon in '3rd Rock From The Sun'), voice actor Jack McBrayer and drag queen RuPaul. All profits from the book go to The Trevor Project (an organisation for suicide prevention among LGBT youth) and AIDS United. The work was such a success that it put Pence's book far behind in sales. Charlotte Pence took the parody well and said: "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. In all seriousness, his book is contributing to charities I think we can all get behind. We have two books that are giving to charities that are about bunnies, so I'm all for it, really."


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

www.geraldkelley.com

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