With his Charlie Brown bow tie, a friendly hello and a colorful display of illustrated children’s books, visitors to Grapevine’s Farmers & Artisan Market are naturally drawn to talk to author and illustrator Charles Rowe. Cheery cartoon drawings of the big-eyed and fuzzy yellow Hank the dog invite readers of all ages to peek inside the pages of Adventures of Hank & Friends.
Rowe’s books were born from years of sketching and observing the world around him. As a kid he enjoyed recreating cartoons by one of his favorite cartoonists, Charles M. Schulz and others found in the Sunday newspapers. He also spent hours high up in a pine tree drawing wildlife and scenes of his neighborhood in Titusville, New Jersey near historic Washington Crossing State Park. Throughout his life he continued to sketch, and Hank and his neighborhood were born.
Charles Rowe with his cartoon drawings behind him
“My brother and I grew up near the river road and near train tracks. We rode our bikes everywhere,” he said. “We lived in an historic neighborhood and I have great memories of our home and things we did there. Hank’s neighborhood was inspired by all of that.”
Rowe currently has five published books about Hank and his neighborhood with more on the way. He said selling his work at the Grapevine Farmers & Artisan Market has been a rewarding experience because he enjoys engaging with fellow artisans and he sees more sales in person than online.
“You need to put a face to a book,” he said. “That has a lot to do with it. I believe in one-on-one conversations where people can see the books.”
Charles Rowe in his studio
Book sales from the market are allowing him to expand his product line and write more books. He has three more books in the works, two about Hank and one about a new character he is developing.
“I am so thankful to be able to share my stories and to everyone who has bought the Hank books,” Rowe said. “To think that somebody else likes what I have done amazes me, and to see children’s expressions when they read through my books is priceless.”
To learn more about Hank, his adventures and author Charles Rowe, stop by the Farmers & Artisan market on Saturdays through September 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or visit AdventuresOfHank.com.
Charles with his wife selling books at the Grapevine Farmers & Artisan Market