What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Interviews')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Interviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,507
1. Fuse #8 TV: Aaron Starmer and Reading (Too Much) Into Easy Books

YES!  It is time for yet another episode of Fuse #8 TV and today we have a doozy.  A fair frolicsome, lithe and lovely episode wherein I take Are You My Mother? and destroy your ability to ever read it again.  And if I fail to do even that, just read this version over at The Toast and voila.  Instant nightmares.

But enough about other sites.  Today our special guest is the marvelous Aaron Starmer.  If you read his 2014 book The Riverman then you might want to know a bit about the brains behind the book.  This year the sequel, The Whisper, is coming out and so we chat about the cover, the inspiration, and what’s next in Starmer’s future.  Enjoy!

All other Fuse #8 TV episodes are archived here.

And a big thank as well to the good people at Macmillan for being my sponsor and helping to put this together.

Ta!

Share

2 Comments on Fuse #8 TV: Aaron Starmer and Reading (Too Much) Into Easy Books, last added: 4/18/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
2. Interview and Giveaway: Vonnie Davis, Author of A Highlander’s Passion

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Vonnie!   Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Vonnie Davis]  Affectionate, Humorous, Curious and Zany.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Highlander’s Passion?

[Vonnie Davis]  This is a book of secrets, witchcraft, bear-shifters, family and forgiveness. Kenzie and Bryce have been best friends since early childhood. Then, in their teenage years, a new girl moves into their area and Bryce falls in love with her. They marry at a very early age and she dies in childbirth. Although Bryce enters a very dark period of mourning, he dotes on his baby girl Colleen. When he starts dating again, he looks toward Kenzie, but as their relationship grows closer, he feels he’s being unfaithful to his deceased wife. This sets us up for my favorite scene, the opening of the book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Vonnie Davis]  Kenzie Denune pedaled the bicycle harder, her thighs burning from the exertion. Thanks to a car that refused to start, she was going to be late fer her job interview at Iverson Loch Manor. Grunting and pounding from the shrubs ahead, near the road’s edge, snagged her attention. Naked shoulders glistened in the afternoon sun. Back muscles bulged and undulated with every thrust. “Bloody hell. Come fer me. Come.”

In all of Mathe Bay in the Scottish Highlands, only one deep masculine voice had the power to raise the hair on her arms like this. A man with braided russet-colored hair that brushed broad shoulders inked with a bear’s claw marks, woven into an intricate tribal design—Bryce Matheson. Damn him to hell. Who’s he shagging out in the open in broad daylight? Has he no shame?

Not that she cared one Scottish whit, fer she dinna. Not after he’d cast her aside over a year ago to wallow in the memories of the wife he’d lost years earlier from complications in childbirth. Oh, the man could romance a woman fer some physical release, he just couldna move forward and commit.

Kenzie snapped her eyes from the randy spectacle and forced them straight ahead. She struggled to keep control of her bike’s handlebars on the pitted rocky lane. With every meter gained on the decline, the old bike bounced along faster and her arse was airborne more often than on the narrow seat. Her jaws jarred together and she bit her tongue fer the second time.

“I canna keep pounding at ye like this all bloody day. Me back is about to give out.”

Bryce moaned and groaned again as if he were in the throes of ecstasy. The bear-shifting bastard. She eased up on the brakes to whiz past his love nest of bushes and brambles.

“I’ll not give up until I get ye wild cherry. Let me push both me thumbs and most of me fingers in here and…” My God, what’s he doing to her?

Kenzie couldn’t resist one fleeting glance over her shoulder. Her front wheel plunged into a pothole and the bike pitched to the side before the back wheel skidded across loose gravel. Despite her frantic efforts to keep control, she lost her leverage. Her hip smacked the dirt, and air whooshed from her lungs on a groan. Stones scraped her legs and arms as she toppled across the grit. The force of the impact, combined with the slant of the narrow road, caused her to roll toward Bryce and his current conquest. No! No, God, no! The last thing she wanted was to interrupt Bryce’s deflowering of some virginal maiden. With his excess dose of arrogance, he’d claim she’d done it on purpose.

The broken branch of a tree tore the short sleeve of her white blouse. Something sharp caught her favorite purple gauzy skirt and ripped it just as she collided with a solid warm body. Oomph!

They rolled downhill fer a couple of revolutions, a flurry of arms and legs. Bryce landed on top and yanked out his earbuds, his chocolate eyes wide in shock. “Kenzie? What the bloody hell?” He pushed up on his forearms, his hands beside her shoulders.

She swiped her hair out of her eyes and presented him with a scowl. “I fell off me bike.” As if she needed to give him any kind of explanation. To keep from saying anything else equally as stupid, she bit her lower lip.

He glanced over his shoulder and then aimed dark eyes on her. “Yer bike? Where’s yer car?”

“It wouldna start. I have a job interview with the American this afternoon.” She closed her eyes in resignation. “I’ll be late. She willna hire me now.” Damn, she wanted to cry. She bit her lower lip again and blinked to force back the tears. The job as Effie Munro’s personal assistant came with a suite of rooms as part of the package. Kenzie wanted, needed to move out of the apartment she’d shared with her late-husband, Duncan. Was a fresh start too much to expect?

Bryce leaned in and pressed a gentle kiss to her cheek, as if he had the right. “Effie has it in her head to hire ye. She willna care ye are late. Why do ye think I’m out here working to clear the road?”

“Working?” Since when was shagging some poor girl by the roadside considered working? She glanced around. Just where was his momentary love interest?

“Aye. The old Wild Cherry tree was zapped by lightning in that big storm yesterday and fell across the road.”

The storm yesterday, heralding the month of June, had been a temper tantrum of the forces of nature, raging fer hours. Had he been talking to a Wild Cherry and not some girl about her cherry?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Vonnie Davis]  As a grandmother, I would have to say it was little Colleen. Somehow, she turned out to be a delightful blend of my two granddaughters.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Vonnie Davis]  My laptop. I write everywhere.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Vonnie Davis]  Coffee cup, Synonym Finder book and box of tissues for when I get to laughing or crying over what I’m writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Vonnie Davis]  My husband makes me cappuccinos and grates cinnamon over the stiffly frothed milk. And cookies…always cookies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Vonnie Davis]  Effie the pink-haired grandma in this series of books. She’s comical, gutsy, and full of spirit. Plus, she’s skinny.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Vonnie Davis]  The power of healing. I’m a soft-hearted person and can’t stand seeing people suffering from cancer, asthma, kidney disease and so on.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Vonnie Davis]  Oh wow, so many to list. Once a year I skim over Shakespeare’s plays to brush up on his comedic timing. AJ Nuest has a fantasy series, The Golden Key Legacy, and writes using her extensive vocabulary that creates great visuals. Sarah Grimm’s Midnight Heat because she can write deep, tissue grabbing emotion. Anything by Laura Kaye because she’s so versatile in her writing and she keeps me glued to the page.

A Highlander’s Passion
Highlander’s Beloved # 2

By: Vonnie Davis

Releasing April 7th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Two of the wildest hearts in Scotland fight for their destiny in this searing-hot romance, sure to be devoured by fans of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series and Shelly Laurenston’s Pride Stories.

As a bear-shifter in a pack roaming the Scottish countryside, Bryce Matheson embodies brute force and untamed abandon. As a widower, he’s running scared. When Bryce attempted to open his scarred heart to another, she grew tired of waiting for him to state his intentions, and the unearthly beauty spurned him for someone who wasn’t worthy. But now that fate has conspired to set Kenzie Denune free once again, Bryce vows to finally win her love.

Kenzie is a witch who summons her powers to protect those too weak to care for themselves. After surviving an abusive husband, she swears off men—even men like Bryce, whose iron muscles make her knees weak, and who’s piercing eyes fill her with longing. Her life’s purpose is to help others. However, dark forces have different plans for her gifts. To save herself, Kenzie must team up with the shifter who has always stirred her soul—and trust in a passion powerful enough to set her blood aflame.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/a-highlanders-passion-highlanders.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22890393-a-highlander-s-passion?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/134541-highlander-s-beloved

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Vonnie Davis, who studied English at Penn State, likens herself to a croissant: crusty, wrinkled, flaky—and best served with strong coffee. After a career as a technical writer, she’s spending her retirement playing fairy godmother to her characters, giving them their happily-ever-afters. Six fantastic, talented kids call her “Grandma” and brighten her world in so many ways. She lives in Southern Virginia with her husband, author Calvin Davis.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, Loveswept Mug and Nail Polish)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add a Comment
3. April is Month of the Military Child: Interviews with Seven Super Kids

by Sally Matheny

April is Month of the Military Child

Did you know the military community makes up 1% of the American population? One percent. Wow. My gratitude for America’s military grows every day. I also appreciate the families of those service members. The spouses and children of our military also serve our country.

Did you know April is the Month of the Military Child? More than 2 million children have a parent in the military. For today's post I had the pleasure of talking with seven super kids. I'm sure you'll enjoy what they share as much as I did. 

Read more »

0 Comments on April is Month of the Military Child: Interviews with Seven Super Kids as of 4/13/2015 3:38:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. ‘Path of Blood”s Eric Power on Making A Super Low Budget Cutout Samurai Feature

Eric Power's one-man feature combines ultra-violence with the delicacy of cut-out paper animation.

0 Comments on ‘Path of Blood”s Eric Power on Making A Super Low Budget Cutout Samurai Feature as of 4/13/2015 3:17:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. Interview: Author Trish Cooke

MWD Interview - Trish CookeTrish Cooke is the award-winning author of such acclaimed and enduring picture books as Full, Full, Full of Love and So Much!, which was recently included in UK book list ‘The 50 Best Culturally Diverse Children’s Books‘. … Continue reading ...

Add a Comment
6. Interview: Andrew MacLean and the Savage World of Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes

Over the Emerald City Comic Con weekend, Andrew MacLean was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to chat with Comics Beat about his new graphic novel, Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes.

ApocalypiGirl_10

Comics Beat: So give us the rundown on your book. What can readers expect?

Andrew MacLean: Sure, but I’m terrible at talking about it! Basically we follow this girl Aria and her cat, and they’re on a mission to find this ancient relic that used to be a power source for the world before it kind of collapsed. So now the world is city ruins covered in trees and undergrowth and all that stuff, and the humans of the area are all really savage. So while Aria is searching for this, she’s constantly hindered by the savages, and then other groups come in… It’s tough to talk about it without spoiling anything, but that’s the jist of it. Robot fights and savage fights.

CB: So what gave you the idea for this story?

AM: Most of the things I do usually start out with a single drawing. I did a drawing as a sort of collaboration with my buddy Toby Cypress, and we did a print. It was just a girl sitting on a motorcycle with a spiked bat and a bunch of cats. So I have a character and then I wonder what world they’re in, and it starts coming to me. Once I realized what kind of world she was in, I kind of tapped into my love for Akira and Tekkon Kinkreet and the manga style.

CB: The art is beautiful – full of texture and grain. Did you use traditional tools for this?

AM: Yeah, I used ink and black watercolor for tones, on watercolor paper and then simple colors underneath that are digital. It was my first time coloring a book, so I did a lot of trial runs.

CB: You’ve crafted a pretty interesting mythos here. Were you influenced by anything in particular?

AM: I started out with a couple things I wanted this character to do, a string of events and stuff. It’s hard to say because the pieces just fall into place on their own. I like contrasting ideas, so it’s the future, but it’s a collapsed world, so I kind of wanted the old residents to feel savage. The characters kind of tell me what to do.

ApocalypiGirl_1

CB: The story is very heavy on narrative and light on dialogue. Is that just symptomatic of having a main character with only a cat to talk to, or do you naturally gravitate to the narrative style?

AM: I’m kind of like an artist who writes rather than a writer who draws. I have a lot of respect for people than can carry a story with minimal dialogue, and so I like to attempt that. I don’t even have the cat meow that much, so it’s really just Aria carrying the story – thoughts she has or just talking to the cat. It’s more the nature of the solitude of the character than anything else.

CB: There are these striking panels littered throughout the comic that are just eyes, colored with blues and reds. It sort of reminded me of the eyes in The Great Gatsby, which in the book is a pretty dismal symbol. Anything meaning in those panels?

AM: It’s not so much The Great Gatsby… The savage boy in the comic – there wasn’t really enough dialogue in the book for me to name him – but to me he was always “Little Dead Eyes,” so the idea was that you look at him and think he’s a little nuts, even before you see his actions. So I like that Aria only had to see him once and she was kind of already haunted by him, and so his eyes always come up again and again. The two characters are head to head, so it seems only right that we could see that through her eyes meeting his on the page. It’s a little more subtle than my other stuff.

CB: There’s definitely a musical undercurrent to this work. Could you tell us a little more about your choice to have Aria sing opera throughout the book?

AM: Mostly I just chose them so I could have something that was public domain, first and foremost. The songs I wanted to sing were more like Three Stooges songs, because that’s more in line with the personality. I went to college for music, so I just have an affinity for it. I didn’t go into it thinking I wanted to use music, but the dots just kind of connect on these things. I don’t have a map. There’s no rhyme or reason to half the stuff I do, haha.

Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes will be released by Dark Horse Comics on June 2, 2015.

0 Comments on Interview: Andrew MacLean and the Savage World of Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Jay Hosler Interview: Comics are the “most powerful” medium for teaching

In Last of the Sandwalkers, Eisner nominee Jay Hosler combines his love of comics with his academic background in biological sciences and teaching.  The result is a graphic novel aimed at students, ages 10-14, that has the intellectual weight to interest a much wider audience. Tackling themes like creationism vs. evolution, space exploration, and more, Last of the Sandwalkers features a pack of beetles searching for life beyond their home. With the graphic novel releasing today, we spoke with Hosler about the inspirations for the book and the utility of the graphic novel in the classroom.

What’s your “secret origin” in the comics industry? Have you always been interested in sequential art?


Like most kids, I was drawing at a very early age. The only difference between me and most of my peers wasn’t really the quality of the work so much as the fact that I never stopped drawing as I got older.

I have early memories of reading Tintin and Charlie Brown at my Grandmother’s lake cottage in northern Indiana. Grandma wasn’t a comics fan and I don’t think my mom or her siblings were either, but for some reason she had hardback volumes of Herge’s “The Secret of the Unicorn” and Schulz’s “Peanuts Treasury.” I would read and re-read those over and over.

I can remember being fascinated by the emanata each cartoonist used; squiggly lines and stars when someone got pegged in the head or sweat droplets flying into the air when they were nervous or tired. I started to reproduce those elements in my own drawings. Suddenly, all of the dinosaurs I was obsessively drawing were blushing, sweating and staring at stars circling their noggins.

It wasn’t until I was in second grade and got my hands on Marvel Team Up #19 that I started emulating sequential art. Stegron the Dinosaur Man drew me to the comic, but Spider-Man made me stick around for more. I started trying to tell stories with multiple pictures. These tended toward humor more than adventure stories and given my love of Peanuts most of what I tried to do was comic strips.

In high school, college and graduate school I did comic strips for the school newspapers. Unfortunately, they were pretty banal stuff; this class is hard, I can’t get a date, the bookstore charges to much, bad puns, etc. In the last 30 years, I’ve managed to shake all of those themes except bad puns. By the time I was in graduate school, I was doing a daily comic strip called Spelunker for the Notre Dame newspaper as well as a weekly strip called Cow-Boy for the Comic Buyers Guide. The problem is that I was really feeling the constraints of doing a four-panel strip and I wasn’t very good as a gag-man. I wanted to try something longer.

So, along with the editorial cartoonist at the Notre Dame newspaper and a fresh-faced aspiring writer named Bill Roseman (now of Marvel fame), I decided to give comics a try. We self-published a single, 22-page issue of Wired Comix. The comic contained three stories and was as well received as one could expect for something with such limited distribution. This whetted my appetite for more.

Eventually, I would make a 72-page issue of Cow-Boy that featured seven original comic stories. I loved it, but it was still primarily goofy humor and a super hero parody wasn’t really contributing anything new to the medium. Maybe it was the scientist in me, but I wanted to make a novel contribution to comics in the same way I was trying with my research to add a little something novel to our understanding of insect physiology. It was at this point that I made the leap addressed in the next question…

At what point did you decide to bridge the gap between your love and science and cartooning?

After I had gotten my doctorate, I stayed at Notre Dame for a year and taught a few classes. After getting your degree, the next phase of a scientist’s career usually entails postdoctoral work in another lab, so I was casting about for possibilities. I managed to land a position at the Rothenbuhler Honey Bee Research Laboratory at Ohio State University (sadly, no longer there, but not because I broke it).

My graduate research had focused on how insect muscle function was affected by low temperatures, but the work at Rothenbuhler would focus on how regions of the bee brain processed floral odors. To prepare for this work, I decided I needed to bone up on my knowledge of honey bee biology, behavior and natural history. Mark Winston’s book “The Biology of the Honeybee” was a revelation. Not only was it comprehensive and interesting, but it inspired me. I remember thinking, “Someone should do a comic about bees!” It wasn’t until I was a year into my postdoc that the little light bulb went off over my head and I realized that that someone could be me.

I wrote and drew the first issue of Clan Apis and submitted it for a Xeric Grant.  Several weeks later, I got the news that it would be funded. In fact, I received that news in the same week that I received funding for a three-year grant form the National Institutes of Mental Health to fund my research and my salary. I think I was more excited about the Xeric.

You’ve crafted a number of graphic novels under your own publishing house (Active Synapse). What made you want to go that route from the outset? Did you find self-publishing came with its own challenges?


The decision to self-publish was ultimately made for me. No one was interested in publishing a biologically accurate comic book about bees in the late 1990s. I suppose if I had drawn them as buxom, gun-toting cyber bees I might have had a chance, but that wasn’t the route I wanted to go. Plus, I wanted the freedom to do the books the way I wanted. I used the Xeric Grant to get things started and then was lucky to form a partnership with my friend Daryn Guarino to form Active Synapse. This was great for my books and Daryn is an indefatigable business and distribution force. He is also a very talented man and has started writing his own books.

Self-publishing is difficult, expensive and it can consume your life and I think both of us wanted to channel our creative energies elsewhere.

How did the creative process for Last of the Sandwalkers compare to your previous offerings? Did you find that there were lessons learned that you could apply?

One of the big differences was the amount of ongoing feedback that I sought. I showed the first few chapters to a friend and his kids. These are bright, book loving kids and they weren’t sure what the heck was going on at the start of the book so their feedback stimulated me to add the short first chapter as a means of clarification.

When I had it half done, I passed the book around to a few cartoonists and comics loving friends to see if what I was doing was working. All of their feedback, along with my own glacially slow deliberations, helped me make the story better. Ten plus years is a long time to work on something without feedback. Thankfully I got some excellent advice and the book didn’t wind up a hot mess (IMHO).

I think the toughest thing for me was the fact that it wasn’t a strictly linear story like my past books. There were all of the hints of past event and flashback that I wanted to tie together with the present, but I wanted them to unfold like a mystery. This required mapping out the story, drawing connections, decided how much I could say and when I could say it. What was too subtle? What was too obvious? And how do I do all of this and make it appealing to the broadest audience possible? How do you entertain comic savvy folks and comic newbies? Kids and adults?

In terms of tone, my approach was the same with all of my other books. I emulated Looney Tunes cartoons. A Bugs Bunny cartoon had slapstick for me as a kid and word play and political commentary for my Dad. There was enough there to keep us both entertained and provide us with a shared experience. That is how I hope people respond to this book.

Did you feel as though you had a specific mission statement while working on Last of the Sandwalkers?



The science writer Matthew Ridly wrote a cover blurb for Richard Dawkin’s book The Greatest Show on Earth in which he praises Dawkins as a master of “wonderstanding.” I’m usually not a fan of cutesy words but this one has been a useful touchstone for me.

I want people to feel the sense of wonder I feel in the natural world. My goal is to share that excitement and to help provide them with more than just a surface appreciation. I want them to develop an understanding of how things works and how living things are interconnected and I want to have fun doing it. I also want them to forge an emotional connection with the natural world. Laughing and crying connects us to stories and the world in powerful ways. We come back to things that make feel. And if I can cultivate a sense of wonderstanding in my readers, then insects will become more than creepy crawling things we squish without a second thought. They will enrich our sense of who we are and our connection to the natural world.

When you’re creating a work as long as Last of the Sandwalkers, what exactly is your day to day work process?

My process was fundamentally the same for this book. I found a topic that captured my interest and started doing research, cobbling together notes and story ideas. I would write a script for a chapter, read it out-loud, edit, read it to my family, edit, start thumbnailing pages, edit, start drawing, edit, show the pages to my family, edit. Lather, rinse, repeat for each page. There were some false starts. I drew a version of the first chapter in a completely different, hyper-simple style that didn’t work.

For most of this book, there was no reliable day-to-day process. I could go an entire semester without having a chance to work on it at all. But the minute the semester ended and finals were in, I could get back to it.  On the first day after my final class I usually drew a page and triumphantly posted it to Facebook.

My goal was usually to get a chapter of two done over the summer, but there were times when even that wasn’t possible.  Last of the Sandwalkers took the back seat when paying gigs would pop up. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work with Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon on Evolution any more than I could miss the opportunity to illustrate entomologist-extraordinaire May Berenbaum’s book The Earwig’s Tale. So, the beetles got shuttled to the back burner at times, but they were always in my mind percolating.

Sandwalkers-Final_100-26 (2)

Do you script first and then move on to to the illustration stage or is there another method you find works best?



The story comes first. I need to work out the balance of science and adventure so that it isn’t too insipid or too ponderously didactic. But, as I noted earlier, once the first draft is done, there is a very dynamic feedback loop between drawing and writing.

At what point did First Second become involved? How has working for a large publishing house impacted your work?

Working with First Second was a dream. Our relationship started when I met Gina Gagliano (marketing) at SPX several years ago. I can’t remember how we started talking, but I had a draft of the first half of the book at my table and after she looked through it she said, “We’d be interested in this.” I was very flattered (and a bit surprised), but at the time I was still planning to self-publish. Of course, being self-absorbed, I tucked that compliment away in my mental files for future review. When my self-publishing circumstances changed, I put together a pdf of the first 160 pages and sent it to Gina. I don’t have an agent, so this was probably a bit brassy, but fortunately I was too dumb to know any better.

My future editor Calista Brill got back to me very quickly with a proposal and we were rolling. Calista was incredibly supportive and patient and the book is better because of her. Likewise Colleen Venable (the designer at the time) was an inspiration. She worked so long and patiently with me on the cover and in the process taught me a lot about design. Her covers are great, so I just followed her lead and we arrived at a cover that is infinitely better than the one I initially proposed.

Now, I’m working with Gina to market the book. She is so on the ball, it’s tough for me to keep up sometimes! She has lined up so many opportunities for me to promote this book and I am deeply grateful.

At every step of the way I have been treated with respect, patience and creative freedom. They’ve taught me so much and new knowledge is the greatest gift you can give an academic. I feel really lucky to be working with them.

Can you explain the relationship between The Sandwalk Adventures and Last of the Sandwalkers?

It was accidental at some level. Or perhaps serendipitous, I’m not sure. For most of the time I was working on the Last of the Sandwalkers, I was using a very different title. Once the ball got rolling at First Second, we decided that my working title might not be the most effective way to go, so we went back and forth for a long time and finally settled on Last of the Sandwalkers.

In The Sandwalk Adventures, the sandwalk was the place on Darwin’s property in Downe where he would take a noon stroll and talk to the follicle mite in his left eyebrow.  In the comic, the sandwalk is where they would have adventures (both imagined and real).

In Last of the Sandwalkers, the main character is a desert beetle, or sandwalker, named Lucy. And, as the title implies, she is the last of her kind as far as she knows. Calling Lucy a sandwalker was meant to be a shout out to the Darwin book, but it really inspired my editor Calista Brill and she eventually convinced me that this was the better title.

That said, there are some interesting parallels. Darwin walked a sandwalk, so he was a also sandwalker. Lucy is a scientist living in an island oasis that is surrounded by a sea of sand. She eventually leaves the island and makes discoveries that reshape our view of nature. Sounds to me a lot like Darwin leaving England on the voyage of the HMS Beagle. Clearly, something may have been at work in the back of my mind that I wasn’t even aware of.

Is it difficult to find the right balance between providing educational facts and creative storytelling? 

It can be, although I don’t think of the science I weave in as “facts.” My hope is that they are knowledge of natural history that the characters need to advance the plot or tell a joke.

As far as my approach to this is concerned, imagine a sci-fi show where the characters need to reverse the polarity of the tachyon beam to generate a ripple in subspace gravity field so that they can collapse a rift in the space-time continuum. When I structure a story, I just replace all that made-up sci-fi exposition with real natural history exposition.  When I can, I try to set the stories in the real world, just not the human real world. The trick is to be willing to look at a worm or an insect as a marvelous, mysterious thing. An alien underfoot. You have to see the everyday from a different perspective, but when you do it can be startling and breathtaking.

Teaching has taught me a lot about weaving storytelling and science together. For every lecture I give or lab I run, I need to see the story in what we are discussing. Throwing a slide on the screen that is packed with information is a universal guarantee of trigger the sleep response. Information in any field requires context and cohesion and these are the elements that stories provide. A worm isn’t just a worm, it is a necessity for aerating soil or the scourge of terrace rice farmers. It is a force of nature working completely out of our site, moving and transforming the ground beneath our feet.

These are the things I keep in mind as I write, but I can easily delude myself. After all, I can enjoy a good textbook as much as a novel and I know that makes me weird, so I read everything I write to my family. They’re the final arbiters of what works and what doesn’t. They will tell me when to dial back the science or give them more. They will tell me when things are too frenetic or confusing or when I need some more excitement or humor. If I can get it right for myself and for my family, then I’m usually pretty confident the story is in a good place. For a book this long and complicated, I also sent it to several colleagues and friends to get feedback as I worked.

What attracted you to do the graphic novel medium as a tool for teaching? Have you seen an increase in the use of graphic novels as an educational tool?

Our brains are wired to receive information as pictures. When I give public talks, I often throw up a slide with a block of text describing an item. The definition I use comes from the dictionary and after about thirty seconds of reading and processing a few people raise their hands to tell me what it describes. Many other are still working it out when I through up a picture of a cog and everyone in the room immediately gets it.

Our brains also appear to be wired for story. Work form cognitive scientists is starting to demonstrate the importance of storytelling for memory formation and contextualizing information.  Stories scaffold ideas for us and help us hold onto to those ideas and use them effectively.

As McCloud points out in Understanding Comics, we know this intuitively because we give kids picture books. Recognition of the power of pictures doesn’t go away when kids get to college. I pick the textbooks I use based on the quality of the illustrations and figures. But, the storytelling component is all but gone. For me, comics sit between these two extremes and I believe comics are the most powerful of all three possibilities for engaging and entertaining students and casual readers.

Of course, the medium itself is just fun and the best learning happens when we are enjoying ourselves.

The protagonists in this story are battling views very similar to creationism. Do you feel creationism is still a threat to our educational system?

Absolutely. We live in a free country and people are allowed to believe what they want to believe. You want to believe that the world was created in seven days? That’s your right. But that’s a belief that has absolutely no scientific evidence to support it.  Of course, that isn’t an issue for creationists, because faith in that belief does not require evidence.  The problem comes when believers start demanding that their faith-based beliefs be taught as a alternative to theories that are grounded in over a century’s worth of scientific evidence from paleontology, developmental biology, geochemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, behavior, etc.

A science class is for science. Unfortunately, having the freedom to believe what you choose and pursue your beliefs without persecution doesn’t appear to be enough for some folks. They feel compelled to try to change laws and influence school boards and teachers to make their religious beliefs a part of the science curriculum.

Proponents of creationism are constantly changing their tactics looking for ways into the classroom, so we need to be vigilant. Remember Intelligent Design? It was all the rage in the 1990s. Proponents promised they would have experimental proof that never came, but in the meantime they managed to get their philosophy into several classroom.

The even bigger problem is that creationists have written the playbook for science denial. Their tactics have been modified and deployed by everyone from those denying climate change to the anti-vaccination crowd.

Is it difficult to espouse a pro-science message without creating an anti-religion tone? Or is that the point? 

Any pro-science message is going to be read by someone, somewhere as anti-religion. It is true that Lucy butts heads with a religious fundamentalist in Last of the Sandwalkers, but I’d like to believe the story is more generally about the conflict between science and the powerful individuals and organizations that oppose it. The majority of those that seek to discredit climate change scientists and their results do so for economic reasons, not because of religious objections.

As I read, I definitely got a space/sci-fi feel from the book, even though it all takes place in small corners of the Earth. Last of the Sandwalkers is about the pursuit of science and exploration – is any of it meant as a commentary on the low levels of government funding in NASA and space exploration? 

You bet. The human race has become like a comfortable older couple. We don’t going anywhere anymore! We need to dream again about the worlds beyond our comfort zone. When we are at our best when we are exploring and seeking to understand the universe better. Plus, the work done to get ourselves into outer space invariable generates technologies that make life better for us that stay on Earth..

…And lastly, we have to ask, just for fun. Any interest in the upcoming Ant-Man film?

Absolutely! The current Ant-Man comic is a hoot and it has some well drawn ants. Plus, I did do my own short Ant-Man fan film…

https://vimeo.com/27549579

0 Comments on Jay Hosler Interview: Comics are the “most powerful” medium for teaching as of 4/7/2015 5:28:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. Five questions for Nikki Grimes

nikki grimesApril is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than by talking with acclaimed poet Nikki Grimes? Her many books include narratives in verse, prose fiction, poetry collections, and nonfiction, frequently featuring African American characters and culture. In Grimes’s latest picture book, Poems in the Attic (illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon; Lee & Low, 5–8 years), a girl describes, in free verse, an exciting discovery: a box of poems her mother wrote during her own youth. Like a diary, the poems offer the daughter an intimate first-person perspective of her mother’s world travels as the child of an Air Force captain.

1. Your author’s note for Poems in the Attic says that you moved around a lot as a child. Did you have adventures similar to your characters’? What were some of your favorite places?

NG: My life was very different my characters’, I’m afraid. My frequent moving had to do with being in the foster-care system, and my adventures primarily took place between the pages of books! However, the challenges that result from a child frequently being uprooted, no matter the cause, are challenges I can relate to. As for favorite places of my childhood, I would have to say the public library, the planetarium, and Central Park. All three were magical.

2. How did you come up with the idea of having the mother write in a different poetic form than her daughter?

grimes_poems in the atticNG: I’d been wanting to do a collection of tanka poems for young readers for some time. I’d originally considered creating a collection of paired poems similar to A Pocketful of Poems (illus. by Javaka Steptoe; Clarion, 5–8 years), in which the character introduced haiku poetry, but using the tanka form. However, I came up with the idea for this story and realized it provided me a perfect opportunity to use two different forms to capture the voices of mother and daughter. I had tanka on the brain at that point, so it was an easy choice for me.

3. The daughter reflects, “My mama glued her memories with words / so they would last forever.” How does poetry help to glue down memories?

NG: Poetry is the language of essence. Through the use of metaphor, simile, and the rest, the poet paints a picture, catches the essence of a subject, and plumbs all of the senses connected with that subject. What better genre is there for capturing a memory?

4. As you travel and engage with children, how do you inspire in them an interest in reading and writing poetry?

NG: That interest is already in them. Poetry is a huge part of their childhood, from the ABC song to jump-rope rhymes to “Ring Around the Rosie.” Stoking that interest only requires sharing poems with them to which they can relate. One whiff of poetry about the stuff of their own childhood, their own lives, and they are off and running. Once they’ve gotten a good taste of poetry, just try and stop them from reading and writing it!

5. Which poets inspire you?

NG: Oh, my! That list is long. My library includes Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Wendell Berry, W. B. Yeats, William Stafford, Jane Yolen, Pablo Neruda, Natasha Trethewey, Gary Soto, Helen Frost, Mary Oliver, Marilyn Nelson, Shakespeare (sonnets, anyone?), Langston Hughes, Mari Evans. Yikes! Okay, I’ll stop.

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Share

The post Five questions for Nikki Grimes appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Five questions for Nikki Grimes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. 24 Hours of International Comics: Run Freak Run (Berlin, Germany)

Run Freak Run

By Victor Van Scoit

Usually when you find a web comic it doesn’t have the vision and scope of Run Freak Run. I can’t recall when I found it – only that I did. Run Freak Run’s visuals were what initially drew me in with its great use of ink. Even more incredible was that in this digital age Run Freak Run’s pages are all made with paper and ink. After admiring the art, then like most web comic discoveries, you click on that link that says “New Readers Start Here!” That’s when I became hooked on the story and even it’s interesting use of lettering and type placement.

Run Freak Run is a dark fantasy set in 17th century Spain where supernatural beings live amongst the land. By orders of the Queen all of these freaks are to be hunted down by inquisitors to be judged,and punished by the Holy Inquisition. One such Inquisitor, Two, is a young woman that was raised in the monastery and has superhuman strength, a crazy chain whip and a mission to hunt these freaks. Two begins to have issues with this as not only is she a tool of the Holy Inquisition – she’s a freak.

Run Freak Run

If looking at some of the pages doesn’t turn you on to checking out Run Freak Run, then maybe reading about the creators’ passion for the project will. Creators Silver Saaremaeel and Kaija Rudkiewicz work in the video game industry and are based in Berlin, Germany. Writer Silver answered a few questions to help fill in what drives the team.

Victor: I don’t remember when I started following RFR. I simply know it’s one of only five web comics I actively read. And it’s the only one with such a large vision. Where does the passion come from?

Silver: Our first inspiration, the real reason to start RFR was because we had a day job. We both work in the games industry, and while it’s great fun and challenging, it’s also very rigid because you can have up to 200 people in your team, and everything you do is a dependency to others. Everything’s under fairly tight deadlines with the sole intention of getting the game out, and hence creative expression is a risk for production, and very frustrating to manage with that many people. :)

But nevertheless, we still had that creative spark inside us and a will to tell our stories, exactly the way wanted, without compromises, and to be as experimental as we wanted.

Run Freak Run

Victor: There’s definitely some strong work being put in yet how do you balance that with your day job?

Silver: Well, the most useful skill we’ve learned from games industry is production skills: we can plan, schedule and keep to the deadlines. We split the work so Kaija only draws and inks, while Silver writes the script, edits, does the advertising, and website adminstration. We split blogging as evenly as we can! But if there’s any secret sauces to all of this, it’s that we have practically zero social life – it’s cruel, but if we want to create stuff, then we really need to just sit down and work on it. :)

Victor: Initially I was drawn in by Kaija’s work. There’s just something about clean lines and dark ink. Then there was imagery. That’s when I started to slowly make my way through the story and the pacing of it all. Where does that come from?

Silver: The reason Kaija decided to illustrate the comic in inks was because she too was painting digitally 8 hours a day already at work, and needed a little creative change. It’s pretty much every digital artists dream to learn a traditional tool, but you can rarely justify the act in the industry financially, since especially concept art industry is all about speed and flexibility – exactly the opposite of inks. :)

The look and feel of Run Freak Run comes from a variety of places, but we do enjoy a number of things that could be said to be dark and macabre, particularly the photography in avant garde fashion industry and old fairytales and mythology. It’s really hard to pinpoint inspirations because there are so many of them, and they all come to play in different places when you most need them.

Run Freak Run

Victor: I feel like it’s the comic equivalent of that indie import fantasy movie one discovers on Netflix. Luckily there were a lot of issues for me to read in one nice chunk. What’s next for you?

Silver: Since the script for Run Freak Run was finished months ago, most of my (Silver here, halou!) focus has been on our next work – Daughters of the Witch Queen. Kaija has found a nice balance of doing 2-3 mornings a week (we do our projects in the morning, before the dayjob) of Run Freak Run, and rest of the week she’ll commit to Daughters of the Witch Queen too.We both write and illustrate it equally.

We noticed that we really liked creating deep, long stories with RFR, but since we can only keep up with 1 page a week, it’s a little frustrating – not just for us but to our readers too. And in our newest project we’re shifting things around a little. We’re making the text the focus, and also illustrate and concept as many characters, monsters, locations and magic as we can on the side. This way, we should be able to provide about 5-7 hours of content with a bunch of art work every year, compared to 2 hours of Run Freak Run during three years. Hopefully this will be a win-win to both us and our readers. :)

Run Freak Run

 

 

0 Comments on 24 Hours of International Comics: Run Freak Run (Berlin, Germany) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Interview: Author Mitali Perkins

MWD Interview - Mitali PerkinsMitali Perkins is the acclaimed author of such books as the middle-grade Jane Addam’s Award Honor Book Rickshaw Girl, which was included in New York Public Library’s 2013 list of ‘100 Great Children’s Books‘, and YA novel … Continue reading ...

Add a Comment
11. The Little Comic That Could – A Conversation about How a Graphic Novel from a Small Publisher Achieved a Film Adaption [Interview]

After learning about a comic-to-movie adaption not familiar to most, I spoke with Peter Simeti, the president of the Diamond-distributed Alterna Comics whose graphic novel The CHAIR was recently adapted into an indie film. I was curious about how a book from a smaller publisher gained the attention of filmmakers and was able to fund a full-length movie. Read the answers I received below to get a sense of the kind of conditions that can lead an indie comic book or graphic novel to a turn on the big screen.

imagea

Can you describe the graphic novel version of The CHAIR in your own words?

In terms of the plot, it’s a psychological horror/thriller that revolves around a man who believes he’s innocent of the crimes he’s been convicted of and his struggle to survive against a sadistic and psychotic prison warden and his guards. But the story itself has strong themes of isolation, the ethics of torture, morality, child abuse, domestic violence, fate and the demons of one’s past.

The CHAIR was released through Alterna Comics, where you’re the publisher. Can you describe its business model?

Alterna is a creator-owned company, similar to many other independent comic publishers. We’ve been around since 2006 (celebrating Year 10 very soon!) and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 talented individuals; it’s been an amazing experience.

page05

What was the reception like to The CHAIR when it was first released?

Back in 2008 when the compiled graphic novel was released, I remember that it did fairly well. Nothing huge or record-breaking, but it did good for a small press indie book. The coolest part, to me, was that people really seemed to enjoy it and, more importantly, they understood it. It’s a bit of a heady, trippy, downer of a book, so I’m glad that people have taken a liking to it.

Who’s behind the movie adaption? What experience do they have in filmmaking?

Chad Ferrin is the director of the film and along with myself, Erin Kohut (who wrote the screenplay), Zebadiah DeVane (Executive Producer), and Kyle Hester (Producer) — we all helped to champion this story into being made into a film. I encourage everyone to visit The CHAIR’s IMDb page for information on our cast and crew.

page04

How did they learn about the graphic novel, and what made it appealing to them to adapt for film?

Erin adapted the graphic novel for film (she edited the graphic novel, so of course she did a great job on the screenplay) and we pitched it to Chad Ferrin about 2 years ago. He liked the story, characters, and writing a lot – so we moved forward from that point. Chad’s previous films shared similar themes to the ones found in The CHAIR – psychological elements and stories that were ripe in metaphor.

The original Kickstarter wasn’t able to hit a funding goal of $300,000 to make The CHAIR. You successfully funded a second campaign with a $40,000 goal. How were you able to lower the budget so drastically?

Well, because of the original Kickstarter, we actually attracted many private investors that supplemented our budget. We figured out that we only needed about $140K in reality to get production going, so we worked around those numbers to hit our production goal.

sullivan

Did you have a chance to visit the set while The CHAIR was being filmed?

No! Unfortunately I was snowed in, in Massachusetts during the two weeks of filming in Los Angeles. We had a historically horrible winter here; just my luck right? [Laughs]

What kinds of restrictions did a shoestring budget put on the production?

We had to be creative with a lot of things, especially our use of space. Luckily 75% of the film takes place on death row, so it was “easy” to keep location costs down. Producer Kyle Hester did a great job on bringing along some amazingly talented people on board; I can’t thank them enough for the terrific job they did bringing this film to life.

warden

Can you describe how the rights were negotiated? What does a contract look like for a smaller budget independent film?

Well, I’m the majority rights holder of the film. It wasn’t sold or optioned, it’s as indie as it gets! We’ve got private investors and everyone gets a piece of the pie, but there’s no big studio involved here, even though there’s many well-known actors involved (all of which, are super nice people and incredibly talented as well).

How can a comic book creator who isn’t necessarily in the mainstream get the attention of filmmakers?

By asking and showing your work! I say this all the time – you can have the greatest story/song/piece of art ever made, but if no one knows about it, then it’ll stay that way until you put it out there. If you’re a creator, share your creations!

twitbanner

What’s next for The CHAIR?

We’ll be having another crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo for post-production funds (editing, sound design, music, color correct), in late April. For details on that, I recommend everyone stay tuned on Twitter by following @theCHAIRhorror, @alternacomics, and @petersimeti.

0 Comments on The Little Comic That Could – A Conversation about How a Graphic Novel from a Small Publisher Achieved a Film Adaption [Interview] as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Five Questions for Lindsay Eyre, author of THE BEST FRIEND BATTLE



1. Tell us a little bit about your book.

Sylvie Scruggs is the heroine of this series, and she’s a lot like her name: interesting, energetic, and a little rough around the edges. In The Best Friend Battle, Sylvie comes home from a family vacation to find that her best friend, Miranda, has made friends with the enemy, Georgie Diaz. Sylvie’s entire world is threatened by this new friendship, and she does everything she can to get things back to normal. But normal doesn’t come easily, and Sylvie seems to have a penchant for making difficult situations much, much worse!

2. If this book had a theme song and/or spirit animal, what would it be and why?

Sylvie’s theme song would probably be "Life’s a Happy Song" from the new Muppet movie. It’s all about how life is a happy thing if and only if you have someone, a best friend, to share it with. But what happens when you don’t? (Sylvie does not want to find out.)


3. Please name and elaborate upon at least one thing you learned or discovered about writing in the course of creating this book.

Writing this book was not easy. I don’t believe (or at least I don’t like very much) writers who claim writing is an easy thing whether they are writing their first book or their hundredth, but certain things can make writing go much more smoothly. When you can hear the voice of your main character — when that person is large-as-life in your head — many difficult issues take care of themselves. Your writing struggles will revolve around plot, not plot and character. As flawed as Sylvie is, she’s now a friend I could sit down with and have a conversation about anything from mushrooms to ice dancing. That familiarity makes writing (mostly) a pleasure. I don’t always know what will happen to Sylvie or even what she will do, but I usually know what she would have to say about it!

4. What is your favorite scene in the book? 

The scene where Josh and Sylvie build the castle together. I love Josh (who gets a big role in Sylvie’s third book) and all of his interactions with Sylvie.

5. What are you working on now? 

Sylvie’s second adventure, The Mean Girl Meltdown, is in the final stages of publication [editor's note:  out this fall!], and her third book, The Spelling Bee Scuffle, is in beginning stages of the editorial process. I’m also working on a novel about a twelve-year-old girl named Rory, the middle child in a dysfunctional and eccentric family, whose mother is in Sweden for a month. As Rory, a very different character than Sylvie, attempts to save the family from their dictatorial grandmother and an impending eviction, she alienates her best friend, Owen, nearly kills her younger brother, and gets her grandmother arrested for illegal possession of a motorcycle. This book has been much harder for me to write because of what I was speaking about earlier — knowing your characters. I get into the heads of many characters in Rory’s book, and I’m finding out very quickly that I know some of them much better than I know others!

0 Comments on Five Questions for Lindsay Eyre, author of THE BEST FRIEND BATTLE as of 3/31/2015 8:27:00 AM
Add a Comment
13. When it’s too close to home: Writing Q&A with Anne Bustard, author of Anywhere But Paradise

AnneBustard_PhotoIt is my absolute pleasure to welcome Anne Bustard today, in celebration of the release of her new Middle Grade book, which comes out today. Anne, a part of Egmont’s Last List, has graciously agreed to indulge my questions about her writing process with her brilliant answers. So without further ado, welcome, Anne!

Anywhere But ParadiseSet in 1960 Hawaii, Anywhere But Paradise is the story of reluctant seventh-grade newcomer Peggy Sue Bennett, who is baffled by local customs, worried about her quarantined cat and targeted by a school bully because she is haole, white. At first, Peggy Sue would rather be anywhere—anywhere but paradise. But a new friend, hula lessons, the beauty of the islands and more, help Peggy Sue find her way. This is a story about fear and guilt. About hope and home. About aloha, love.

I’ve read that Anywhere But Paradise was inspired by your growing up in Hawaii. Can you tell us more about that? Did you do a lot of research on Hawaii in 1960 or mostly rely on your personal experiences?

I was born in Honolulu, moved away when I was a toddler and returned to paradise after fifth grade. I have wonderful memories of hiking to waterfalls with my cousins, aunt and uncle, eating lilikoi (passion fruit) shave ice on the bench outside the Matsumoto storefront on the North Shore, stringing lei from plumeria flowers from our yard and listening to the ocean.

I did not live in the islands in 1960. But even if I had, research would still have been a gigantic part of my process. I couldn’t have written the story without delving deeper and double-triple checking details. I love research, so this part of the writing process was particularly fun! I needed to verify the animal quarantine requirements, when the night-blooming cereus flowered, stories about Madame Pele and dozens of other facets of the novel. I did a lot on my own, but so, so many generous people helped me along the way. I am exceedingly grateful.

Small moments of my personal experience flavor the narrative. I know what it’s like to hear a tsumani warning siren wail and evacuate to higher ground, to be verbally threatened by a bully (though unlike Peggy Sue, it happened to me only once) and to be enchanted by the beauty and rhythms of the islands.

Writing about a character’s problems can unearth a ton of old ghosts of our own. How did you go about navigating your past and finding the inspiration for the character of Peggy Sue? Did you ever find her problems difficult to confront due to them being too close to home?

All writers draw upon some portion of ourselves, no matter how small. Part of my own journey was to recognize that I was holding back. In a pivotal conversation with the wonderful children’s and YA writer, Janet Fox, it occurred to me that Hawaii was the antagonist of the story. I love Hawaii. It is my home. I told Janet that I did not want it to be the antagonist.

“I know,” she said in a soft voice. “But in the end,” Janet said brightly, “Hawaii isn’t the antagonist.”

True. But. I realized not only had I been protecting Peggy Sue, I’d been protecting Hawaii. In the end, both would have to stand up for themselves.

What advice would you give to a writer who is struggling to separate their reality from their fictional character? How can we protect ourselves emotionally if a character reminds us too much of ourselves?

You are not your character. But there may be parts of her that resonate with you.

So my answer may surprise you—don’t separate. This is where you will find the gold.

It’s way scary.

It took me years to get to the point where I could do this. Years.

What was the most useful lesson you learned while writing this book? If you could go back and talk to the you who is about to begin writing, how would you warn or arm her against the difficulties ahead?

My big takeaway? Go there emotionally.

Breathe. Trust the process. It’s going to take as long as it takes. It’s all about revision, going deeper. About finding the heart of the story. About discovering what your characters really want.

Tim Wynne-Jones says, “The answers are in your writing.” He posits that we give ourselves clues to unlocking the mysteries of our own work. It’s our job to look carefully, to look differently, until we discover them.

Amen to that, Anne. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful answers!

To celebrate the release of Anywhere But Paradise, we are giving away a signed copy to a lucky winner! Enter the draw through the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win this beautifully written book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anne Bustard is a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk in the sand every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. She is the author of the award-winning picture book Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Her debut middle grade historical novel Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont Publishing) is out on March 31, 2015. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Add a Comment
14. Paul Driessen Q&A: “I Don’t Look Back”

The great Dutch shorts director turns 75 years old today and he's not slowing down one bit.

0 Comments on Paul Driessen Q&A: “I Don’t Look Back” as of 3/30/2015 5:27:00 PM
Add a Comment
15. Interview: Hope Larson on Adapting A Wrinkle in Time

Wrinkle in Time Graphic Novel_hi

By Matthew Jent

Hope Larson is a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist, an Eisner-award winning cartoonist, and the writer & director of Got A Girl’s music video for “Live Too Fast.” Her graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi/fantasy tale A Wrinkle in Time is out this week in paperback. Originally from Ashville, NC, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

A New Yorker profile on Madeleine L’Engle a few years ago said, “There are really two kinds of girls. Those who read Madeleine L’Engle when they were small, and those who didn’t.” Did you have a relationship with A Wrinkle in Time or L’Engle’s writing before coming on board to adapt & illustrate the graphic novel?

Larson: Yeah, I was definitely the kind who read L’Engle. I started with A Wrinkle in Time, but I ended up reading a lot of her other books, too. There was a bookstore in Asheville called Accent on Books, and my parents would often take me and my brother there after church on Sundays, since it was next to the restaurant where we often ate Sunday lunch. Accent on Books had a great kids’ section, and there was a shelf with seemingly limitless books by L’Engle. Her books fascinated me because they were more thematically complicated and edgier than most of the other books for younger readers.

Wrinkle is one of those books I returned to many times over my childhood and adolescence. I loved the sci-fi/fantasy aspects of it, and I loved the imperfect character of Meg.

What’s it like to take on something that looms so large in the culture and in readers’ lives? Did you have any hesitation in adapting it?

Larson: I was definitely nervous about adapting it. I actually declined the job at first, but when the publisher asked me to reconsider I said yes. I thought, well, I love this book and I know what it means to people, and at least I know I’ll be adapting it with love and respect.

My version will not and cannot take the place of the original, but maybe it will serve as a gateway to this story for kids who might not have found it otherwise. Hopefully those kids will go on to read the original, too.

What was your process like for scripting or outlining the adaptation?

Larson: I bought a very cheap copy of the book and completely butchered it — drew page breaks in it, highlighted it, ripped the pages out as I completed them. I put pretty much everything that’s in the novel into the script for the graphic novel. I figured I’d make the publisher tell me what to cut, but none of us could figure out what to remove without destroying what makes Wrinkle special, so we ended up with a very large graphic novel.

Does the dialogue come entirely from the text of the novel?

Larson: Very little of the dialogue changed. I tweaked a few bits for space, and I added a few bits of internal monologue for clarity. L’Engle had a background in theater, and her work makes a lot of sense in light of that fact. Wrinkle is mostly dialogue, like a play, without a lot of action or direction. This made it a good candidate for adaptation into a comic since the story was carried primarily by the dialogue, and I had a lot of freedom with the “acting”.

Did you learn anything new about Wrinkle, or your own craft in general, through adapting & illustrating this book?

Larson: It was a luxury to live inside someone else’s book for a while, and get to know it intimately. When I’m drawing a book I’ve written, a book I’ve already spent months or years scripting and editing, it’s hard to see the whole for what it is and to appreciate it. I generally have no idea if what I’m writing has much value, or where it stands in my body of work. It was nice to work on a book that absolutely, definitely was a great and important story.

I don’t know how much I really learned about craft, but I implemented workflow practices that I still use now. I put in a lot of checks and balances. I made self-care and taking care of my body — since drawing is so physically destructive, believe it or not — a priority. I definitely learned my limits on this book.

Afterwards I burned out big time and there were a couple of years when I didn’t draw much. I focused on writing and film and doing other things. While I don’t recommend burnout as a career choice, it led me to some interesting places before I found my way back to drawing again.

You do a lot with the white & black & blue color palette in A Wrinkle in Time, especially the blue/black flashback or memory panels. Can you talk about your use of color in this book and in your work in general?

Larson: Thanks! A big shout-out to Jenn Manley Lee, who did the coloring and was an all-around rockstar.

The flashback stuff was one of the trickier bits to figure out. The first chapter was one of the most challenging parts of the adaptation since it’s largely in Meg’s head and she’s reflecting back on things which have happened while lying in bed during this terrible storm. There’s a lot going on.

I’ve never been comfortable working in full color, and I also have a background in printmaking, so I stick to limited color palettes as often as possible. Flat washes of color and bold black lines have always appealed to me. Eleanor Davis and I were talking recently about how we both struggle to combine line and color in a way that feels integrated and satisfactory to us. It’s an ongoing frustration and I still haven’t figured it out.

What do you look for in a protagonist? Is there a relationship between Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and the characters you write and draw in your own books?

Larson: Yeah, there’s absolutely a through-line from Meg to the characters I write. The earlier ones, for sure. I can’t get enough of weird-outcast-girl-saves-the-day stories. These days I write more of a range of character types, but the complicated outsider is the one that comes most naturally to me.

What was the reaction like to your adaptation? Do you introduce yourself at parties as New York Times Bestselling Graphic Novelist Hope Larson?


Larson: Yes, and I have a license plate frame that says that, too.

Honestly, the response has been a gratifying one. I was locked up with that book for so long with no idea what would happen when it came out; I was just hoping not to be tarred and feathered. What’s meant to most of me is hearing that reluctant readers and kids with autism have found the adaptation useful and accessible. That validates my work as a cartoonist like nothing else.

Are there other novels or stories you’d like to adapt as graphic novels?

Larson: There isn’t a story I particularly want to adapt. I’m pretty busy with my own stuff right now, but never say never.

Can we talk about your webcomic Solo? You recently called it your romance comic, in response to the Fresh Romance Kickstarter. Is a modern narrative about love & relationships inherently a romance comic, or do you see Solo as part of the tradition of romance comics as they existed from the 1940s-70s?

Larson: I haven’t read that many of those old romance comics but I have read a few of the classic DC ones… and thought they were boring. I don’t know that Solo exists within any kind of romance comic historical context, but it’s the only story I’ve ever written that is, definitively, a love story. There are a lot of other elements, but the relationship between Leah and Wade has always been the reason I wanted to write this story.

But is it a romance? What is a romance versus a love story or a story about love? I don’t know! Just looking at modern romance novels, they’ve come a long way from the ones I used to get from the library as a kid. They can be very smart and complicated and empowering. I don’t know that Solo fits in with those stories, exactly, but it’s not radically different from them, either.

You’re releasing Solo page by page as you complete them, “the moment the ink’s dry, raw and fresh and full of mistakes,” as you said on your blog. It seems like a very personal project. Do you want to publish Solo in book form when it’s complete, or will it live exclusively online?


Larson: It’s quite a personal story but it’s not autobiographical. It’s had a looooong gestation period. It’s not The Story of Hope’s Divorce because the script predates that, but having gone through a divorce I have to pat myself on the back and say that I nailed the emotional aspects of divorce. There was a long period when I thought about shelving the project over my worries that readers would see it as some kind of tell-all, but ultimately I decided that would be a shame. And anyway, a lot of people assume my other work is autobiographical, too!

I definitely want to publish it when it’s complete. I’ve been putting together little minicomic versions for shows, which has been fun. I’m about a third of the way through the story right now, so it’s going to be a while before I have to worry about what to do with the thing.

What’s a normal workday like for you? Are you writing or drawing every day?

Larson: Right now I have a lot of different projects on the go, so I try and split my workday up. I either write in the mornings and draw in the afternoons or vice versa, with a break in between to go for a run or bike ride. If I have busywork (lettering, or flatting colors, or e-mails) I try and leave that until the evening. It really depends on what’s the most pressing item on my to-do list, though. Whenever possible, I take weekends off to rest and hang on to my sanity.

Music plays a large part in Solo — do you listen to music as you work? Did you have a playlist for A Wrinkle in Time?

Larson: I do listen to music when I work, whether I’m writing and drawing. I love music, but in a naïve way; my understanding of music on a theoretical and historical level is fairly shallow. I like writing about musicians because it’s a way to put all the ideas that interest me about being a creative person into a more appealing wrapper.

I didn’t have a playlist for A Wrinkle in Time. The main thing I remember listening to while drawing it is the Millennium seriesThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

What are you excited about in comics today? Are there books or creators you’re reading or looking forward to?

Larson: I’m presenting the LA Times Book Award for graphic novels this year, so I’ve been reading the finalists. I really need to read more of Jaime Hernandez’s work. I need to read more Roz Chast. I’m very excited about Sam Alden’s work right now. I’m reading Saga. I liked Megahex a lot in spite of the fact that I’m not the target audience for that book!

What’s next? What are you working on in the near future that you can (and wanna) talk about?


Larson: Hooooo boy. So many things! Next week Jen Wang and I are starting to pitch the cartoon series we’ve been working on for the past year, which is exciting! I’m finishing up the first draft of the script for a middle-grade graphic novel I’ll both write and draw. I’m working with Rebecca Mock to put the finishing touches on Compass South, the first book in our Four Points series of middle grade graphic novels, which will be out next year. The second volume, Knife’s Edge, will be out in 2017; it’s scripted, but we have a long road of drawing, coloring, lettering and revisions ahead. Those projects and Solo are the biggies, but I’m also working on a few other things that may or may not happen.

If my life is a rollercoaster, it feels like I’m just about to go over the top — and I mean that in a good way.

2 Comments on Interview: Hope Larson on Adapting A Wrinkle in Time, last added: 4/1/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. Interview: we talk Doctors, Secret Wars and Hitchhiker’s Guide with Ninth Doctor issue 1 writer Cavan Scott

Ninth Doctor issue 1 coverIn 2005, few believed that a modern re-launch of the BBC adventure series Doctor Who would be successful. The show broadcast it’s last episode just before Christmas, 1989 after running for 27 years. In reviving the show for a new audience, the casting of Christopher Eccleston was a masterstroke, as the actor was known for his more serious roles in both television and film. Eccleston burst onto the scene as the Ninth Doctor, grabbing former pop-star Billie Piper’s hand and telling her to “run!” Eccleston parted ways with the show after only one season, something never done before or since in Doctor Who history. This left fans of Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor hungry for more. When Titan Comics announced they’d be releasing new Doctor Who comics,  fans reportedly stuffed their email inbox with pleas for the release of a Ninth Doctor comic series.

We spoke with Cavan Scott, writer of the new Ninth Doctor Comic series about what it was like to bring Nine back to life in a new story featuring fan favorite companions Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness.

Edie Nugent:  So, first question: why did you choose this particular moment in the Ninth Doctor’s timeline for your story?

Cavan Scott: For two reasons. First of all, it seemed the only natural gap in the series. Most of the episodes lead straight into each other, like one continuous story. Here, between The Doctor Dances and Boom Town, we have a definite gap where lots of stories are said to have happened that we never saw. Handy!

Secondly, we wanted Jack in there, mainly because we never saw enough of the three of them in the TV show.

Nugent:  I had that thought instantly upon seeing where this story occurred: the fans will be so excited, because this group and moment were so popular.

Scott: Well, I hope so. They’re such a well-oiled machines when we see them in Boom Town too. They’ve obviously been adventuring together for some time.

Nugent: You have a lot of dialogue describing the “science” of the situation up front. Do you have a real interest in the science part of science fiction?

Scott: That question makes me smile because I have an ongoing ‘debate’ with Doctor Who book author Nick Walters where I insist that Doctor Who is fantasy and he throws things at me shouting that its science FICTION!

You know, in this case I didn’t even think about whether there was a lot of pseudo-science in the book. I was just trying to capture the tone of the original series, where they throw a lot of pseudo-science around. I think with Doctor Who, you need to make it sound plausible even if some of the science is dodgy!

Nugent: Nine is showing his most chipper self in this book, is that due to being flanked by the ‘dream team’ of Rose and Jack? Or has he just progressed in his emotional healing from the Time War by this point?

Scott: I honestly think that Doctor number Nine is chipper for the most of the time we see him – or at least he’s trying to give the impression that he is. A lot of people pigeon-hole him as an ‘angry’ Doctor, but he spends a hell of a lot of time smiling and even cracking really, really bad jokes.

Trust me, we’ll see his angry side as the book continues, but I wanted to show the fact that he is enjoying himself again.

9D_01_Strip1

Nugent: Sure, but there’s a real difference in tone here from, say, Dalek for instance, which is only 4 episodes earlier.

Scott: Well, the situation in Dalek is pretty grim. Certainly, we see a ‘lighter’ Ninth Doctor in The Empty Child to The Long Game. I think the resolution of The Doctor Dances would have helped as well. There we see the Doctor at his most optimistic. I definitely think he’s enjoying life with Rose and Jack.

Nugent:  This story had a real “hitchhiker’s guide” feel to it, was that intentional?

Scott: Not at all! In fact, I didn’t realise it was there! Never a bad thing though, especially as Douglas Adams’ City of Death was apparently one of the templates for 21st Century Who.

I’m intrigued now. Which elements did you think were Hitchhikers-esque? (Is that a word? It is now)

Nugent: The story set up: they’re beamed into the hold of a sluggish and war-like race, scanned repeatedly to determine who they are, then saved from death only to be sentenced to it a moment later. Reminded me of Ford & Arthur’s first stop after hitch hiking off the earth into the Vogon ship. No poetry from your war-bots though.

Scott: I think the Lect would be particularly bad poets. All those ‘Directives’ and ‘Possibilities’ in their speech patterns will never touch the soul!

9D_01_Strip3

Nugent: Your credits are so diverse–was it exciting to be able to tell a self-contained, more adult television episode-style story? Was your approach to the material different as a result?

Scott: It was. In a lot of ways writing the comic was similar to writing Doctor Who audio plays, definitely when I was structuring the plot for all five issues, I went about it the same way as my audio work, working out the big set pieces, working out where the cliffhangers sit.

But – and this is a huge but – the fact that it’s a comic has left me giddy with excitement. Writing a long-form American style series has been a dream for me ever since I first picked up a Marvel UK reprint back when I was a kid.

Nugent:  And what comic was that, do you remember?

Scott: I do. It was Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars issue one. I knew superheroes from TV and films and, even though I was a massive comic fan, it was largely British humour weekly titles. That first issue of Secret Wars literally changed my life, or at least my interests. It opened my eyes to the Marvel universe, which led me venturing into a comic shop and seeking out US comics, both for Marvel and their Distinguished Competition.

Oh, and it had Alpha Flight as the back up strip which introduced me to John Byrne, who I became obsessed about!

Nugent:  That’s a lot of continuity to absorb for a first ever comic experience! Sort of like Doctor Who…

Scott: I think that’s what appealed to me. i like continuity and diving into new universes. It’s why I’ve been enjoying picking up the Valiant books recently.

Marvel’s Transformers comic was another major hook for me. Basically, the UK weekly soon ran out of original US material and so started slipping in extra stories between the US issues – which of course were part of the Marvel Universe too. And the Doctor Who universe for that matter, as Death’s Head first appeared in Transformers and then slipped into Doctor Who and then into the main Marvel U.

You’ll be sorry you asked me about that now! I could talk about this stuff for ages!

Nugent: Well, it is somewhat timely. Are you following the announcements from Marvel about the new Secret Wars? As a comic writer AND fan, you probably have different perspectives on it.

Scott: With a huge amount of nostalgia! I’m certainly intrigued to see what’s coming. The continuity geek in me is having a whale of a time spotting references in what’s been released so far. The writer in me is having heart palpitations about what they’re trying to pull off. I’m looking forward to it. I’m a sucker for these big game-changing events. Again, it’s John Byrne’s fault for Man of Steel!

Nugent: I noticed lots of moments in your story where Rose reaches for the Doctor’s hand & is pulled away. Is this an intentional after-the-fact foreshadowing of the separation from the Tenth Doctor in Doomsday?

Scott: Heh! It might just be. It might not be the last time you see that motif in the series either.

Nugent: So far you’ve written for Doctors: Three, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven. What Doctor would be your top choice to write for next?

Scott: Well, I wouldn’t say no for a chance to write for the current model – but really I’ve got a hankering to complete the set. In fact, I’ve written for another incarnation that I can’t mention yet. Spoilers!

Nugent:  Speaking of spoilers, are there any tidbits you can give our readers regarding events still to come in your Ninth Doctor story?

Scott: Well, there are going to be suns and romans and floating octopi and dinosaurs and masks coming off. And lots and lots of more great art from Blair!

Ninth Doctor issue 1 is available in comic stores on April 1st.

 

1 Comments on Interview: we talk Doctors, Secret Wars and Hitchhiker’s Guide with Ninth Doctor issue 1 writer Cavan Scott, last added: 3/31/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
17. Interview and Giveaway: Kim Amos, Author of A Kiss to Build a Dream On

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Kim!  What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

{Kim Amos] Toast the ghost! He’s a stuffed ghost I found at Target one year on the Halloween clearance rack. He looked so lonely, so I took him home, and now I sleep with him even though I’m probably well past the age when I should be sleeping with stuffed anything but, hey, he’s super snuggly! When I travel, he always comes with me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

{Kim Amos] Post-Its (I’m forever making lists, hoo boy do I love a good list), Tana French’s novel THE SECRET PLACE (it’s amazing, everyone should read it, especially mystery lovers), and an antique pen that’s gilded and lovely, which my wonderful sister-in-law bought me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

{Kim Amos] CARBS OMG ALL THE CARBS NOW OM NOM NOM. Just kidding. Sort of. Not really. I’m a carb-o-holic, which I’m trying to change and be better about. It’s tough! So these days, I’ll probably snack on some air-popped popcorn (instead of, say, all the Doritos in a two-mile radius), or even an apple and peanut butter. Around this time of year, though, the Cadbury mini-eggs are definitely calling to me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

{Kim Amos] Amelia Earhart, I think. She was gutsy and brave in so many admirable ways during a time when not much was expected of women. I would love to hear her internal thoughts and learn how she shut out the haters. Her spirit of adventure awes me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

{Kim Amos] I would have the power to help every animal that needed a home, love, and care. I would be a voice for animals that had no voice. I’d help them in any way I could, and hopefully ensure they all had wonderful lives. *tries to hug all the animals*

About A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON

Twelve years ago, beautiful, blond, wealthy Willa Masterson left White Pine, tires squealing, for New York City, without looking back.  Since then, she’s enjoyed everything New York has to offer a girl with unlimited resources. But the recent discovery that her boyfriend has squandered her inheritance in a Ponzi scheme sends Willa back to White Pine, to the only asset she has left: her childhood home, which she plans to turn into a high-end B&B. 
Enter Burk Olmstead, the best contractor in town-and Willa’s high school boyfriend, whom she left high and dry when she moved away.  Hard-working, hard-bodied Burk, who has been taking care of Willa’s childhood home for years, also has plans for the beautiful old house-plans that conflict with Willa’s B&B.  When these two argue, sparks fly and reignite the fire that’s always been between them…but it may take the whole town of White Pine to get these two lovers back together for good. 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xfmEZm
B&N: http://bit.ly/1ErH3HJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1AxKQ4M
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1F4vQC8
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1I04MCu

About Kim Amos

A Midwesterner whose roots run deep, Kim Amos is a writer living in Michigan with her husband and three furry animals. 

Website: http://www.kimamoswrites.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimAmosWrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimamoswrites

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimamoswrites/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add a Comment
18. ‘Harvey Beaks’ Creator C.H. Greenblatt on How to Break Into The Biz and Why Artists Should Post on Tumblr

C.H. Greenblatt, creator of the animated series "Chowder," is back with a new series, "Harvey Beaks," that premieres this Sunday on Nickelodeon.

0 Comments on ‘Harvey Beaks’ Creator C.H. Greenblatt on How to Break Into The Biz and Why Artists Should Post on Tumblr as of 3/27/2015 9:37:00 PM
Add a Comment
19. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza


“With her trunk she grabbed a brush and joined my little game.”


 

This morning at 7-Imp, I welcome artist C. G. Esperanza (Charles, pictured right), whose newest book is from Sky Pony Press. Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), a promising author-illustrator debut, was released this month. Charles has previously illustrated Tania Grossinger’s Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship (Sky Pony Press, 2013), a story that is partly about famed baseball player Jackie Robinson, and he lives in the South Bronx. He tells me and 7-Imp readers more about himself below, and we get to take a look at some more art from Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!), as well as some early sketches from the book and a few of his other portfolio pieces.

I thank him for visiting.

P.S. If you want to read Charles’ thoughts on why picture books are the new Hip Hop, head over to his piece at Afropunk

.

 

Jules: Can you talk about the seeds of this story, Red, Yellow, Blue … and how the story came to you?

Charles: I actually thought of the story back in my art school days, when I realized a lot of my non-artistic friends didn’t know the primary colors and how to make secondary colors. So I decided to make a picture book about the primary colors that would be cool enough for adults to read and would perhaps inspire people to express themselves artistically. I decided to design the main character after my sister Crystal, who was seven years old at the time, after I saw her running around the house with her gigantic afro and writing her name on everything in crayon. For the first version I created in Eric Velasquez’s picture book class, I used her as a model. Since then, I’ve revised the story multiple times — and added her big blue elephant friend, Elebooyah.


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


“Like a PINK dinosaur that can bite!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“BLOOO BLOB BLUB! This mix made a muddy GREENISH GRAY
Like an ugly mud monster!
GRAAAAH is all he could say.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Jules: You live in the South Bronx, yes? How do you think the Bronx has influenced your work, if at all?

Charles: I do live in the South Bronx. So does most of my family. For a long time I was ashamed of being from there. I didn’t learn to appreciate it till I met people in college from around the world, who had never been there before and were fascinated that I was from there. I became more interested in the history of these neighborhoods. They were once filled with beautiful mansions owned by the famous Tiffany heirs — and meadows that were demolished, burned, vandalized, and now rebuilt. I couldn’t help but let it all inspire me! My art is influenced by the hand-painted Bodega signs; the beautiful, vintage, abandoned architecture covered with colorful burners; the colorful bottles that sit on top of the old Puerto Rican dude’s Piragua cart; and all of the other untold stories waiting to be told.






Early sketches from Red, Yellow, Blue …
(Click each to enlarge)


 


Early cover
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Who are some artists/illustrators who inspire you?

Charles: Jerry Pinkney’s amazing drawings full of imagination and color; Kadir Nelson’s stylized, powerful expression; Adam Rex’s edgy, whimsical characters; and Ezra Jack Keats’ gritty, simplistic, yet complex execution and ability to see the world through a different perspective all inspired and shaped my voice as a picture book illustrator.


Nelson Mandela, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What else inspires you?

Charles: There’s something inspirational about things like a dirty ice cream truck loudly playing a slightly warped, melodic tune, as children chase it down the street, or a beautifully sculpted statue, decorated with bird droppings, that really gets me going. The undiscovered beauty of something that is ugly or imperfect. I like to see the potential and emphasize its beauty.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Explain how you’re a “Visual Emcee,” as mentioned in the AfroPunk piece.

Charles: I once had a vision of Sam I am and Will I am eating green eggs and ham and then BAM! Hip Hop and street art were the fists of a Bronx-born spawn; with one fist the message was shouted and with the other it was drawn. Nothing Gold can stay, especially when it turns Green. So Hip Hop and Street art parted ways at the seams. Or at least that’s how it seems, until you take another look! I’ve brought Rhythmic poetry and Art back together in Picture Books!

Jules: I see at your blog that your father is West Indian and your mother is Puerto Rican. Do you think that (or they) influence your work in any way?

Charles: My parents are very Americanized, so they never really introduced me to their native cultures. But Heriberta, my grandmother who grew up in Borinquen, definitely inspires me. Her chairs are decorated with the finest wood-carved rococo designs and floral patterns on the cushions. Her wardrobe is filled with art nouveau textiles and pastel colors. She’s always loved collecting dolls and listening to Celia Cruz. She’s also very funny!


Percy Julian, a 2012 piece from the Paint It Black series
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: When did you know you wanted to illustrate picture books? What are the biggest joys of it for you? The biggest challenges?

Charles: Fortunately, I met Eric Velasquez while taking his Picture Book Illustration class. He reintroduced (or, in some cases, introduced) many of the students in his class to Jerry Pinkney’s, Shel Silverstein, David Wiesner, and E.B. Lewis. But it was after I saw Eric’s work in the book The Rain Stomper [by Addie Boswell] that I knew this was something I wanted to pursue.

 



 

The greatest joy of making picture books is making books that change people’s perspectives on what a children’s book should be. Also, being able to tell stories is great. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is trying to do things the way I want, while still pleasing my mentors, editors, peers etc. Thankfully, they all seem to love what I’ve done so far!

Jules: Any new projects you can talk about and/or anything you’re really eager to do next?

Charles: The boom bap beat in my head continues to loop, just waiting for a new rhythmic stanza that tells a story everyone can enjoy. I am having discussions with a couple of popular rappers about possibly collaborating on a fun story, using hip hop style rhymes that speak to the new generation of kids who love hip hop — and the older generation that loved Dr. Seuss and Slick Rick.


– From Tania Grossinger’s
Jackie and Me: A Very Special Friendship


(Sky Pony Press, 2013)
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Anything else you want to add? What’d I forget to ask you?

Charles: I am very honored to contribute my voice to the amazing culture of picture books and to be talking about my work on Seven Imp! I consider this blog to be the best for discovering how awesome picture books can be. I hope to inspire everyone, especially people in the Bronx, where few are exposed to the visual arts. Also, I would love to adapt Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White, Too!) into a film. So, if Alejandro Jodorowsky or Ben Zeitlin are reading this, call me!


(Click to enlarge photo of Charles)

RED, YELLOW, BLUE (AND A DASH OF WHITE, TOO!) Copyright © 2015 by Charles George Esperanza. Published by Sky Pony Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Charles.

Photos of Charles taken by Manny Sy and used by Charles’ permission.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I appreciate Charles’ kind words, and his art woke me RIGHT UP before I even had coffee.

2) Starting a project I should have started a good while ago.

3) My girls and I are reading Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird. We are enjoying it, and check out the beautiful cover art from Sophie Blackall:

4) Laura Marling’s South X lullaby at NPR.

5) Laura’s new CD is playing in its entirety here, and it’s good stuff.

6) We saw Song of the Sea on the big screen. Holy WOW, such beautiful animation.

7) We also saw What We Do in the Shadows. So funny, this movie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #424: Featuring C. G. Esperanza, last added: 3/22/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Oksana Lushchevska: An International Collaboration

What a treat I have for readers today, especially those of you who, like me, enjoy following international picture books. In fact, next week is the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy (how I wish I were going!), so the timing of this post is particularly good.

Today, I welcome Oksana Lushchevska, a PhD student in Reading, Writing, Children’s Literature, and Digital Literacy in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia. She is contributing a guest post on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. Oksana’s doctoral research is focused on international children’s literature, and she also translates picture books from Ukraine into the English language, some of which have been awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award. She also works with a private publishing house in Ukraine, creating bilingual picture books for children.

Oksana reached out to me to see if she could write here at 7-Imp about Ukrainian picture books. “I strongly believe that contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature might be of interest in the U. S.,” she told me, “especially bilingual picturebooks and award-winning translations.”

I was so pleased she contacted me; I’m glad to have met her, if only online; and I am grateful she is contributing this post today, especially since it’s filled with art. She calls this piece “Contemporary Ukrainian Children’s Picturebooks: Why Shouldn’t We Welcome Them?” Let’s get right to it …

* * *

Oksana: First of all, I am very thankful to Jules for this wonderful opportunity to introduce contemporary Ukrainian picturebooks on her marvelous blog, which I’ve been following for quite a while. To briefly introduce myself, I’d say that I can surely call myself a children’s literature enthusiast, and my involvement in children’s literature is multifold. I must admit that all my activities often divide my daily routines into two parts: my “Ukrainian” phase of the day and my “American” phase of the day (because of the seven-hour time difference). It is sometimes really challenging, but is also very interesting!

I am currently a third-year PhD student at the University of Georgia, researching and studying U.S. and international children’s literature. Together with my academic advisor, Dr. Jennifer Graff, I am serving as a columnist for the “How Does That Translate” column. Additionally, I regularly contribute to the IBBY European Newsletter, which focuses on contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature. From time to time, I am doing children’s book reviews for Bookbird, WOW, JoLLE, the WGRCLC Blog, and several Ukrainian literary websites.

Three years ago, my friend Valentyna Vzdulska, a Ukrainian children’s book author, and I co-established Kazkarka, a blog about children’s literature written in the Ukrainian language. A year ago, I initiated a Kickstarter project, A Step Ahead: Becoming Global with Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks, and I cherish the incomparable experience that I am gaining from it!

In my spare time, I write my own children’s books in the Ukrainian language and translate contemporary Ukrainian children’s literature into English. Also, from time to time, I work on interviews with international children’s book writers.

In this post, I would like to present five contemporary Ukrainian picturebooks. These books might effectively foster global awareness and visual literacy, broaden cultural horizons, and provide social messages with “a high degree of cultural authenticity” (Markus, 2010, p. 50). They might also serve as a set of quality titles to start communication about similarities and differences between cultures via both vibrant verbal and visual narratives.

Perhaps, the strongest picturebook that features the Ukrainian landscape is A Tale about an Old Lion, written by a popular Ukrainian poet, Marjana Savka, and illustrated by Volodymyr Shtanko. A Tale about an Old Lion is a “postcard” of the “cultural” capital of Ukraine — the city of Lviv. The main character of this book is an Old Lion who settles on a mansard of the City Hall, which is home to the City Council and is one of the most cherished symbols in Lviv. From his perch there, the Lion admires picturesque views of the Old City. Since the weather is often rainy in Lviv, the Old Lion’s ceiling starts to leak. He needs immediate assistance with its major repairs and maintenance. His friends—a Crocodile, Elephant, and Giraffe—come to Lviv to help. On their way, the guests get into a number of misfortunes and turbulences, but in the end, the Mayor of the city welcomes all of them and invites them to enjoy Lviv. The story’s ending offers a verbal invitation to tourists all over the world to come to Lviv and see with their own eyes the welcoming atmosphere of an ancient city:

Tell me, have you still not heard of the city of Lviv?
Hurry right now to book hundreds of tickets indeed.
Invite all your relatives and closest friends,
Come to Lviv soon, come to our land!
This is a city where you’re bound to be lucky,
Poets and singers think it’s just ducky!
There are squares, and cobblestones, shiny tram tracks,
And on the oldest mansard, the Lion still lives,
He drinks some tea and smokes a pipe,
And books for children he happily writes!

A Tale about an Old Lion offers not only vivid views of the city and the layouts of its famous landscapes, but also warm colors in the illustrations, brown and yellow, that depict a unique authentic state of both the old and contemporary Lviv. Since the city is often known as “the city of coffee” with its numerous coffee houses and pastry shops, this particular color palette is the best choice to recreate the aroma of the city.




(Click each image to enlarge)

A Tale about an Old Lion was published in Lviv in 2011 by the Old Lion Publishing House. The book was awarded the Best Book of the Year Award and was included in the White Raven Online Catalogue, 2012.

The bilingual picturebook “Монетка”/A Coin is written by Ania Chromova and illustrated by Anna Sarvira. This playful story offers the universal experiences of a child: activities during daycare and relationships with parents and friends. When Romko receives a coin from his mother, he takes it to his daycare. Unfortunately, Romko has a hole in his pocket, and he losses the coin without noticing. At first he gets upset, but not for long, since he acquires something much more valuable — a rewarding communication with his father, who helps him to understand that humor and imagination can be essential to overcoming misfortune. While A Tale about an Old Lion represents Lviv, “Монетка”/A Coin recreates some geographical and cultural must-see places in Kyiv, the official capital of Ukraine. This book provides a vibrant visual experience that moves readers through the pages of an unfolding story. Additionally, it is important to mention that this book was published as part of the project A Step Ahead: Becoming Global with Bilingual Ukrainian-English Picturebooks, which is an on-going bilingual picturebook project that provides some important possibilities for literacy practices and developing global awareness. With the emphasis on two languages, this book provides advantages to learn from/about Ukrainian children’s literature, to familiarize readers with the Ukrainian language, to use this literature in educational settings and Ukrainian immigrant communities, and to assist Ukrainian readers in learning the English language. It also contributes to the body of bilingual picturebooks that offer a joyful reading experience.


… “‘It looks like a dried apricot!’ said Romko. ‘It also clanks.
Mommy, may I take it to the daycare?'”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


… “‘It’s not magical, daddy. It’s not magical!
It’s holey!’ Romko grew angry. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“‘I can put the Earth in it. Or, the entire Ukraine. Together with the Dnipro River!'” …
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Another book that was published through this project is a picturebook Скільки?/How many?, a poem written by Halyna Kyrpa and illustrated by Olha Havrylova.

 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

The text of this poem raises many philosophical questions and might stimulate deep critical thinking:

Скільки у сонця промінчиків? / How many rays does the sun have?
А скільки хмарок у небі? / And how many clouds are in the sky?
А скільки піщинок на березі річки? / How many grains of sand are there on a riverbank?
А скільки хвиль у Дніпра? / And how many waves are in the Dnipro River?


 


“How many rays does the sun have?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“And how many clouds are in the sky?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“And how many waves are in the Dnipro River?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Both “Монетка”/A Coin and Скільки?/How Many? were published in Kyiv in 2014 and 2015 by Bratske Publishers. Скільки?/How Many? is recommended by the Ukrainian “Critic’s Rating.”

A traditional Ukrainian folk tale, The Mitten, designed by Art Studio Agrafka (Andriy Lesiv and Romana Romanyshyn), is—to put it in Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles’ words (2012)—“‘the unique art’ of picturebooks” (p. 50). The story about a mitten is primarily known in the U.S. due to Jan Brett’s version.

A Ukrainian version of The Mitten was retold and recorded in the 19th century. It is a cumulative folktale that tells the story of how an old man loses his mitten in the forest and how a number of animals try to fit in it. Lesiv and Romanyshyn’s The Mitten not only has full-color illustrations, but also represents the meaningful and thoughtful process of creating a book as a cultural artifact. The designers masterfully reinterpret the traditional story and offer an adorable example of synthesis between text and image. Page by page, they demonstrate a number of design variations to introduce the artistic merits of contemporary Ukrainian illustrators and the printing technology available in Ukraine. The Mitten can generate a broad and “an effective cultural message” (Marcus, 2010, p. 49), while revealing a new version of a well-known folktale for English-speaking communities.

 




(Click each image to enlarge)


 

This picturebook was published by the Navchal’na Knyha – Bohdan Publishing House. It was included in the White Raven Catalogue, 2013 and was given an award by Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB).

 

Another picturebook by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriv Lesiv, Stars and Poppy Seeds, narrates the story of a young girl, Dora, who is interested in mathematics. She is the daughter of well-known mathematicians, and she inherits her parents’ enthusiasm for figures and numbers. Dora counts everything around her: real and imagined animals, grains of rice, beads on her mother’s necklace, stars in the sky, and even poppy seeds. Figures are always in her head. While admiring the Milky Way, Dora plans to count all the particles of stardust. However, she finds this task to be impossible. Dora is upset, but her mother explains that to achieve any dream, one needs to handle challenging tasks by accomplishing small steps. Romanyshyn and Lesiv’s illustrations of mathematical, geometrical, and astronomical features connect readers with science, while emphasizing the humanities as well. Stars and Poppy Seeds was awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2014 in the category of Opera Prima. It is translated into four languages (French, Korean, Spanish, and English). It was published in 2014 by the Old Lion Publishing House.

 


“Dora strove to count everything around her. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“During a walk in the park, Dora counted the leaves, dandelions, stones,
ants moving every which way, the buttons on coats of passersby,
and even the holes in those buttons.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“… Looking at the Milky Way, Dora imagined the stardust and
strove to count each of its particles.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

In a nutshell, these are five selected Ukrainian picturebooks that I wanted to share with enthusiasts of children’s literature, but there are many, many others! Additionally, I want to say that the English translations of the texts of these picturebooks are available. Starting in the summer of 2013, I co-translated these picturebooks, together with Michael M. Naydan, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, and cherish a wish that one day these books will be published in the U.S. and reach U.S. readers.

In her article “Where Worlds Meet,” Maria Machado (2011) reinterprets the possibility of building and extending an understanding of humankind by touching on the marvelous diversity between cultures (p. 397). She believes that representing the art of literature created all over the world will provide opportunities to cross borders, to meet neighbors, to get to know different people, and to see a variety of landscapes. Moreover, it will offer the possibility of fueling readers with unknown languages and authentic reflections of their otherness. Machado raises the question: “… why not meet otherness through what otherness creates?” (p. 398). Indeed, I believe that the best way to represent the rich experiences of voices from many countries is to translate and read what is created and written in them. In this scope, contemporary picturebooks for children from Ukraine not only represent creative approaches and perspectives of Ukrainian authors and artists, but invite readers to enjoy many exciting literary journeys. Today, Ukrainian children’s literature strives to claim its place on the international stage, so why shouldn’t we welcome it?

References

  • Khromova, A. (2015). “Монетка”/A coin. Kyiv, Ukraine: Bratske Publishers.
  • Kyrpa, H. (2014). Скільки?/How many? Kyiv, Ukraine: Bratske Publishers.
  • Machado, A.M. (2010). “Where worlds meet.” In Shelby Wolf et al. (Eds.), Handbook of research on children’s and young adult literature (pp. 397-403). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Marcus, L. S. (2010). “Outside over where?: Foreign picture books and the dream of global awareness.” The Horn Book, 86(6), 45.
  • Romanyshyn, R., & Lesiv, A. (2012). The mitten. Ternopil, Ukraine: Navchal’na Knyha – Bohdan.
  • Romanyshyn, R., & Lesiv, A. (2014) Stars and poppy seeds. Lviv, Ukraine: Old Lion Publishing House.
  • Savka, M. (2011). A tale of old lion. Lviv, Ukraine: Old Lion Publishing House.

2 Comments on Oksana Lushchevska: An International Collaboration, last added: 3/24/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. Interview: Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror

Titan---Doctor_Who_The_Tenth_Doctor_Vol_01_BookWhen David Tennant’s Doctor departed the hit BBC series in 2009, fans on both sides of the pond were stricken at seeing him go. Apparently, even the BBC was concerned the show didn’t have much of a future without it’s 10th Doctor and Russell T. Davies, the creative mind that resurrected the series in 2005. Luckily, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor came on the scene with a new creative team and won scores of new fans for the long-running series. For those who still miss the 10th Doctor’s particular brand of swashbuckling, writer Nick Abadzis has penned the popular comic book adaptions that give fans a bit more of Tennant’s iconic turn. We talked with Abadzis about being a British expat in New York, and the first Mexican-American companion Gabby Gonzalez: also the TARDIS’ first artist.

Edie Nugent: How did you decide where in the 10th Doctor’s timeline to begin the story?

Nick Abadzis: That was part of the brief [from Titan], but it made sense to me. No-one really knows how long the Doctor has lived, and there’s always potential for setting stories between TV episodes or seasons or any kind of gap, but that end of the tenth Doctor’s life is largely undocumented, so there’s even more room than usual.

Nugent: What made you choose the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY as the setting for Revolutions of Terror?

Abadzis: Because the books were initially aimed at the US market (albeit all Who fans) it was suggested it could be an American companion. I’m British, but I live in New York, so automatically I wanted to set some stories here. I live in Brooklyn, next door to Sunset Park as a matter of fact, and I happened to be cycling around there while I was thinking about all this. It’s a very Mexican and Chinese area and it struck me that it would be a lot of fun to have the TARDIS materialize in the park there, with that fantastic view of the bay and Manhattan. The idea for Gabby Gonzalez as a companion and Cindy Wu as her best friend came shortly after – it all sort of grew from there.

Nugent: How long have you lived in New York? You’re name-checking10D_03_PREVIEW actual anchors from NY1: the beloved new york city local cable news channel, and setting an alien invasion on the subway (finally!)–along with the wonderfully representative location art it feels very New York City.

Abadzis: Thank you. I’ve lived here for just over five years now, but I go back a long way with this city. I first came here in the early eighties when I was a kid – my oldest friend is from Westchester County and eventually he moved into an apartment on the Upper West Side around 72nd St. and I visited him a lot as a teenager. So NYC has always been a big part of my personal mythology. See also my strip Hugo Tate from Deadline magazine.
The NY subway is overdue for an alien invasion, no? The London Underground had the second Doctor rooting out an infestation of Yeti down there. Cybermen on the F train – now, there’s a thought…
Nugent: So did the idea to set the story in Sunset Park come first, and lead to the development of Gabby Gonzalez as a companion? Or was it the other way around?
Abadzis: I think they occurred concurrently. Gabby assumed a character very, very rapidly in my mind… I was bouncing ideas at Andrew James, the Titan Comics Doctor Who editor, and Robbie Morrison, one of my co-writers, and once I had the idea for Gabby I really went for it; I really wanted to write this character, her family and friends. It all sort of cohered. When that happens, as a writer, as a storyteller, you listen to those instincts and you go for it.
Nugent: It’s so wonderful to see some real diversity in companions for the Doctor. What about Gabby stuck out to you most as first, that defined who she is? The kind of energy & dynamic she brings to the TARDIS?
Abadzis: There’s probably a lot of me in her – first generation, immigrant parents, their children are of the country they’re born into rather than the old one, but at the same time, to a certain extent, she’s bound by the constraints and expectations of family. She’s very open-minded, she wants to get out there and really live, experience things, so she chafes a bit at what’s expected of her. These are not uncommon traits; I’m sure they’re recognizable to many readers…
She’s also creative, she lives by her instincts as well as her intelligence (which is both emotional and intellectual) but, other than Turlough, a companion of the fifth Doctor’s, I’m not sure there’s been an artist per se onboard the TARDIS before. This seemed like a good way of availing ourselves of the language of comics and at the same time giving Gabby a distinctive voice, a way of recording all she sees and experiences.
Also of course, I must just say, once the initial character sketches started coming in from Elena… that just sealed it. Gabby was there. Elena had loads of little visual ideas about how to bring about these characteristics of Gabby’s, embed them in her visually and it was beautiful to see Gabby come alive. You should’ve seen all the work she put into trying out all these different hairstyles for her.
10D_04preview2Nugent: Well, unless you count the brief Van Gogh trip to see his future art gallery, I can’t think of any TARDIS artists either. What you say about Elena’s art sealing the deal makes sense: Gabby feels like a very real person to me. The comment about her last name–Gonzalez—being used to taunt her on the playground by referring to the discontinued Loony Tunes character hit me right in the heart.
Abadzis: Doctor Who is about diversity in a way – if you dig, there’s been a lot of stories about intolerance in Doctor Who. The Daleks are essentially fascism personified.
Nugent: Oh yes, the Kaled’s from Genesis of the Daleks even wear the Hugo-Boss stye Nazi uniforms before they are turned by Davros to the Daleks we know and fear. I agree that Doctor Who often explores intolerance, but rarely have we seen it through the eyes of racially diverse companions.
Abadzis: True enough. Given that we had the opportunity to pick a companion from New York City, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, she could’ve come from almost any background…
For a while I played with the idea of naming her “Gabriella Gomez.” I kept Gonzalez because I was aware of the discourse over the animated character. Also, Gabby is named (sort of) after a friend of mine, a real-life mexican-American cartoonist and teacher, Gabrielle Gamboa. I always loved the way her name sounded, kinda reminded me of the LL thing in the Superman books – Los Lane, Lana Lang, if you see what I mean. Although I will probably refrain from naming other characters in a similar way.
Names of characters are important. I spend a lot of time getting that right.
Nugent: I really appreciated the inclusion of the song “Cielito Lindo” as a source of power. Looking at the lyrics it seems tailor-made for a Doctor Who alien invasion! 
Abadzis: Like I say though, when I was cycling through Sunset Park, I saw potential Gabriellas everywhere – I imagined the TARDIS landing there, and if the Doctor came out, who would he meet? One of the locals. When a character feels like she created herself (I’m romanticizing it), you have to go with it.
Nugent: How did you decide where Gabby would travel to on her inaugural TARDIS trip?
Abadzis: She wants to be an artist (she already is, she just doesn’t know it) and she asked the Doctor to teach her… so he decides to take her to an art gallery. Not just any art gallery mind, because the Doctor is a show-off… he wants to take her somewhere impossibly glamorous too, so that’s why he picks Ouloumos. he has a history with the place (of course).
Nugent: It was great to see the 10th Doctor falling through those MC Escher staircases after name-checking that the artist they visit as having become and adept at Logopolis. Did Classic Who of that era influence how you decided to tell this story?
Abadzis: All that stuff, those classic episodes, are in my head, so yes. Can’t quite recall where the idea of a block-transfer sculptor came from precisely, but I just thought it’d be fun to have someone who was trained on Logopolis be able to use similar abilities in a creative way. It gets out of hand, inevitably.
Zhe (the artist) has known the Doctor at least since his fourth incarnation, as you can tell by the portrait of him and Romana II on her wall.
Nugent: Does that place the start of the Doctor’s friendship with Zhe during that era?
Abadzis: From that you can infer that the Doctor has known Zhe a long time – s/he certainly seems to be very long-lived and from this adventure and that painting, we know that at least two incarnations have known her – probably more. I’m sure she really dug the sixth Doctor’s coat and I can certainly imagine her sharing a cocktail or two with the eighth Doctor.
But as to when precisely it takes place…? “All of time and space, my dear, all of time and space…”
Nugent: You penned a story about the 10th Doctor and Rose for Doctor Who Magazine almost 10 years ago. What was it like returning to the same character at this point in his “song” (or maybe “Coda” would be more appropriate)?
Abadzis: Yes, that was strange… that was the tenth Doctor’s debut adventure in comics, and at the point that it was written, no-one knew what he was goig to be like, how David Tennant would play him! I’d seen Tennant in things before, so I recall us basing his manner, his cadences a little bit on previous performances and also, fundamentally, it’s the Doctor, it’s the same man, so there are certain basics to his charcater that are common to all incarnations of the character.
It was really lovely to be asked to write him again… Of course, by this point, I knew everything about him, how he’d lived and regenerated, so I had a much better angle on how to approach it. In my mind, he’s still very much a living breathing character, his time has not ended, that song is still going strong. I think that’s the ebst way to approach it, because it makes the threats he comes across very real and all the more terrifying.
Time can be rewritten, don’t forget…
Nugent: The idea that a harsh critic can aid in transforming a creative spirit into a lethal monster is an interesting framework for a Who adversary, as is the fact that creatives can often be their own worst enemy; how did you decide on that idea?

Abadzis: It developed naturally out of the narrative. Originally, this was going to be a story about artists becoming subsumed into a wider, greater entertainment machine, about creatives servicing a voracious alien entity, but it was just too huge for two issues and, quite correctly, the BBC and Andrew, my editor, made me slim it down to something less epic. The element common to both versions was the block-transfer sculptor Zhe, who sounded like an interesting character, so I worked more on her. I had these very visual ideas about Giacometti-style sculptures coming to life and Elena drawing these and to a certain extent, when you get an idea like that, it suggests a story. And I was right, she did a great job there, with that whole sequence of the Doctor and Gabby’s journey up to Zhe’s mansion.

And Zhe is the ultimate artist in many ways – oversensitive, but full of empathy, creative but holding herself to high standards so that when she doesn’t meet them, she feels she’s failed. She’s kind of a reflection of the Doctor in some ways, which is probably why their friends – that, and he’s a real Renaissance man too, of course.
Nugent: How are you both feeling about the recent news that your comic story line will merge with that of the eleveth and twelfth Doctors this fall in a limited series to be written by Hugo-nominated Doctor Who television writer (and longtime who fanboy) Paul Cornell?
Abadzis: I can’t answer for Elena, but I’m fine with that! I’ve read (and watched) Paul’s work for many, many years and he really is among the greats of Doctor Who writers in my opinion. He wrote Human Nature (which, if you haven’t read the original novel featuring the seventh Doctor, go buy it now)! Multi-Doctor stories are part of the tradition of Doctor Who and I get the idea they’re tough to write, but you are in extremely good hands with Paul Cornell. He’ll write a blinder.
Nugent: Are there any tantalizing story clues or tidbits you can share with our Comics Beat readers from the upcoming issues of the 10th Doctor?
Abadzis:Let’s see… we have a new “big bad” on the way, a being who isn’t deliberately out to get the Doctor but simply by virtue of his very powerful presence upsets a lot of things, keeps them out of balance. He’s not even a villain exactly, he’s a almost a victim of circumstances himself who is weary with the universe and this huge weight of responsibility he has upon his shoulders. When he encounters the Doctor, he sees a solution to his problems and wants the Doctor to help him. But it’s not the kind of help the Doctor is inclined to give…
Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror is available in comic shops on March 25, in bookstores March 31. For more information on Gabrielle Gamboa, the inspiration for companion Gabby Gonzalez, check out Gamboa’s website: http://www.gabriellegamboa.com/

 

 

0 Comments on Interview: Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror as of 3/24/2015 1:13:00 PM
Add a Comment
22. Interview: Colorist of BONE Steve Hamaker on Making His Own Webcomic PLOX

Scholastic’s editions of Jeff Smith’s BONE were what originally put Steve Hamaker on the map, and he’s only improved since his introduction to the comics scene. After coloring over a dozen BONE graphic novels, Hamaker went on to color Jeff Smith’s follow-up RASLStrangers in Paradise-related projects for Terry Moore and Scott Kurtz’s webcomic Table Titans. Recently he’s been producing his own webcomic named PLOX that shows off his illustrative chops as well as his honed coloring skills. I spoke to Steve about his background, workload and growth as a creator and storyteller.

 

Photo

Let’s start with the origin story. What brought you into comics?

I was working for a small toy design company that worked on license action figures.  We did toys for lots of properties, like Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, Speed Racer, and BONE.  I was the designer on BONE, so that’s where I met Jeff Smith.  He hired me away from that job, basically the day I was being downsized, so it worked out perfectly.

Was coloring comics always the goal?

Actually no.  I’ve always wanted to make my own comics.  The toy design thing was a stepping stone, but I really did enjoy that as a creative career.  Jeff inspired me and then taught me how to not only make comics, but how to self publish and promote them.

Line art by Jeff Smith.

You only work with a select few artists. Jeff Smith, Scott Kurtz, Terry Moore… How do you decide who to collaborate with?

Well, Jeff happened to be my boss, so that was an easy choice [laughs]. Coloring BONE was a huge undertaking for us both. It taught me every technique I use, and made me fall in love with the whole process. Terry Moore is a good friend of Jeff’s, so that was also very natural to work with him. I have been a fan of Scott Kurtz’s since he started PVP, so I stalked him early on, and once the coloring of BONE got more and more attention he took notice. We became friends along the way too, so that adds another layer to it. Coloring BONE was really the flood gates opening for people taking notice of me. I have a lot more choices to be selective, and that makes a difference in how I approach the work.

With those artists and with PLOX you’re aiming a little outside the typical Wednesday Warrior demographic. Do you have any desire to color a “mainstream” comic?

I would be interested, sure. It would have to be meaningful subject matter to me, so hopefully the right book will come along. Technically, I have done some work for DC with Jeff’s Shazam story, and Marvel was very nice when I colored a Thor story for Terry Moore. Ironically, the bigger publishers pay better, usually give cover credit, and even pay royalties in some cases. That’s not why I would do it, though. It’s just good to see them treating colorists in an increasing positive way.

An example of a reward for Patreon subscribers.

You mentioned marketing earlier. What kind of efforts do you make to market PLOX?

Right now it’s mostly social media, cross promotion with other online comics folks and general word-of-mouth. Terry Moore is running PLOX ads for me while I color his new SiP Kids mini series. Scott is obviously a great help with his PVP audience. He runs banners for my comic and I get to attend shows with him like GenCon and PAX.  The audience building has been one of the most incredible experiences in making this comic. Seeing the reader numbers increase, but more importantly knowing that so many of them are genuinely invested in the comic.

I’d say your Patreon campaign is another form of marketing.

Yes! I haven’t given Patreon quite the love and attention it deserves, but it’s a great tool for reaching your audience. It’s tough because I have to spend so much time coloring or creating PLOX that I can’t devote the time to making the Patreon really engaging. It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. I hope to change that in the future.

It must also be hard to use something ongoing like Patreon that it is to promote something one-off like Kickstarter.

Yes. I haven’t done a Kickstarter yet for PLOX, but I plan to. I want to make sure the Kickstarter for the collected book is really well organized and rewarding for the donors, and especially that they won’t have to wait two years to get their stuff! I will most likely tackle that when I am really close to being done with the first PLOX story.

When will that be?

Hopefully later this year. I keep writing new scenes that push the ending back.

Early Page 4

Now a question I’m sure you’ve been asked many times: what does “PLOX
mean?

I chose PLOX for the title from the idea of how our language has been affected and truncated on the internet.  The word ‘please’ change to ‘pls’, then to ‘plz’, then gamers would type so fast that it became ‘plx’. Then people started speaking over the internet with Teamspeak and Ventrilo, and they would phonetically say “plox”.

It also looked cool as a logo.

How is “please” central to the story?

The word isn’t important really. It was the idea of how the internet can affect things like language, and in the case of my story, relationships.

Hallucinations

Since the story is centered around a World of Warcraft-like game it would be easy to include a lot of fantasy visuals, but there aren’t many in PLOX. Was that intentional?

Starting out, I definitely envisioned that I would do in game cut-aways, like we do in Table Titans. After writing the first 3 or 4 chapters, I realized that the game isn’t the central ‘thing’ about the story, and it didn’t seem appropriate anymore.

The dream sequences were key for showing the in game avatars, however. That was a big breakthrough for me in writing this.

It’s really important to me that people can read PLOX and not have to know everything about Warcraft. The story is semi-autobiographical, so I felt like I had to include the game because it was tied up with my emotional state and daily life during that time.

It’s a story about three people. That’s hopefully compelling enough [laughs].  I’m half-kidding. I love that it has the gamer slant to it, and it affords a lot of opportunity for comedy, but I don’t want it to be a barrier of entry for my readers.

Chad would be a dick to his Bingo group down at the church. The game could be anything.

What do you like about the square page layout?

It looks good on the computer [laughs]. Honestly, I wanted the comic to take up more space.  I could have gone rectangular sideways, I realize.

The format was kind of mystical for me actually.

It kind of cracked my brain for writing and layout… in a good way! I was struggling with writing a comic page in the conventional format, and the square page just liked me more. I can see pages and scenes before I draw them much more easily.

Early Page 2

So you find the four or less panels a page more freeing than restricting?

Exactly.

I think a lot of people who come from more of a writing background would feel the opposite.

I wouldn’t doubt that. I’m not complaining, but It’s a very daunting task to write, draw and color a long form comic. It was a crucial thing for me to overcome in order to move ahead.

Oh, totally. I was just kind of musing on the differences. I feel like in the creative process artists (whether they be illustrators, writers, etc.) do best when they limit the number of things they take chances with. Like how you should only have one or two variables in a science experiment.

I think it’s different for everyone, to some extent, but I agree that limits can (not do) make better art.  You can agonize over every aspect of the writing or drawing, but in the end, you need to stop and share it with the world. That’s why God created editors and deadlines.

Homosexuality

Where are you kind of taking risks with PLOX?

I don’t have as many fears as I did when I started.  The risks were numerous. Can I write, draw, and color the whole story by myself, will people like my art… or my writing for that matter!

The character of Kim being gay was also scary for me.  I’m not gay, so I had this huge weight over my head that was telling me to abandon it.

The more I wrote and thought about each character the less scared I was. It sounds cheesy, I know, but they really started to tell me what they needed.

I think of a setting or a story from my own life, and the characters just kind of embed themselves into it like they were always there.

I know I’m not a really great writer, but I try to be honest with the story in every way.

I disagree with that last part, but well said! Last question: what’s inspiring you? Whether it be comics, stories, life, whatever.

Well, thank you. I’m proud of the writing, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t have an inflated ego that I am doing something new or groundbreaking.

The last few years since I got married and my son was born, my real life has been the most influential. I have art and music that I enjoy, but my friends and family are the ones that really push me forward.

Cover

You can check learn more about Steve at his website, follow him on Twitter, support his Patreon campaign and read PLOX at plox-comic.com.

0 Comments on Interview: Colorist of BONE Steve Hamaker on Making His Own Webcomic PLOX as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Alan Moore Interview Part I – Steve Moore, River of Ghosts, The Show, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…

It’s the 26th of February, and the time is 7.00pm, the usual time for all my telephone interviews with Alan Moore, since the first one we did, back in March 2008. This is something like the eighth time I’ve interviewed him 1, but I still get nervous. There’s the usual fumbling around with a voice recorder, and making sure I know how to put the phone on speaker – I’m totally technically incompetent, so Deirdre, my wife, has to come and oversee all this, to make sure I don’t do something stupid.

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: I’m going to get stuck into this thing because I’ve a long list of questions, at least some of which we’ll get to. OK, I was going to ask you about Steve. Obviously Steve Moore’s death must have been an enormous blow to you. 2

Steve MooreAlan Moore: Well, yeah, obviously, and it – it was a period of massive shock, and of course a few marvels in there. There was an ethereal period. We managed to follow Steve’s instructions, and scattered his ashes on the burial mound in Shrewsbury Lane by the light of, not only a full moon, but of a Supermoon, which is when the Moon is full at its perigee, which is apparently its closest approach to Earth, and it was just at the tail end of Hurricane Bertha so we didn’t think that we were going to be able to really do it successfully, but as it happened, the hurricane had blown all the clouds out of the sky by the time we got down to Shooters Hill, and it was a – a rather magical night in its way, even though I managed to end up wearing at least a small portion of Steve, when we had a difficulty transferring him to the scattering tube. Funnily enough, I’d said on the way down there that I hope this doesn’t end up like The Big Lebowski, with me kind of going on inappropriately about Steve’s service in Vietnam, while getting ashes all over me, but apart from me going on inappropriately about Steve’s service in Vietnam, that was pretty much what happened. But otherwise it was a great night and, yeah, I suppose that after Steve’s death I kind of hurled myself into a great deal of creative work – it’s just my way of dealing with things, you know? Or perhaps my way of not dealing with things, I don’t know. But, yeah, it still goes on, like at the moment I’m, I just went down last weekend to Steve’s place to talk with Bob Rickard3.

I went to the burial mound – it’s been padlocked since we did the scattering there, which – I don’t think it was in response to our scattering, probably more in response to some of the empty cider bottles that I’d noticed around the site, but I suppose in its way it’s fortuitous – if Steve had died a year later it probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as – convenient? – to honour his final wishes, but – no, he’s still an immense presence in my life. I’m still, I’m wrapping up dealing with his estate – and I shall be dealing with that for a number of years, I’m sure. But, yeah, we’ve still got the Book of Magic to come out, which is very very much a joint venture, even if – even if one of the members of The Moon and Serpent is now only active upon the Inner Plane, it’s still going to be both of us on the cover, there. It’s going OK, Pádraig.

Bumper BookPÓM: Good, I’m glad. As you mentioned the book, The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, is there any kind of a timescale for that?

AM: Well, at the moment I have just finished the final article, the big concluding essay that me and Steve had been working on for about six months before last March and that leaves me one episode of The Soul4 to do, and then I’ve got to go back and tinker with the Tarot Card, and the Kabala Boardgame, and some of the other, more art-centred things, and less text-centred – most of the text-centred stuff is completed. As to when that will come out – we would like to get it out in 2016, but that is not a promise, that is an aspiration5.

PÓM: [laughter]

AM: I’m sure that – yeah, you know what that means – we’ve been living under a coalition for some several years now, so we will know what we mean by promises and aspirations.

PÓM: Somebody was suggesting – are you likely to do a performance related to that when it’s finally finished?

AM: Don’t know. Don’t know – I hadn’t been thinking of a performance related to it. Eh, don’t know, is the answer to that, it is nothing that I’d actually considered. These things tend to come in seasons. There was a period when I was closer to Tim Perkins – Tim moved to Oxford – me and Tim still communicate, and we still talk about possible projects together, but it doesn’t feel like the time at the moment when performance stuff is probably at the forefront. I had a very very nice offer from Paul Smith of Blast First records, talking about the possibility of getting some satellite time for something live, but, quite honestly, it would be filling three hours of live – no. It’s not like I – my urges at the moment are not really towards live performance. That said, tomorrow night I shall be going down to the local café, and me and Robin Ince and Grace Petrie will be doing another one of our, just impromptu little events6 which Robin is – we’re recording them all, Joe Brown is doing all of the mixing and everything, and they will eventually be released as podcasts. But that’s pretty much the extent of my public appearances at the moment.

PÓM: I met Tim Perkins for the first time in August. Worldcon – that’s the World Science Fiction Convention – was on in London, and myself and himself and Gary Lloyd ended up doing a panel about your musical output.7

AM: Aw, brilliant! And how is Tim? I haven’t spoken to him for ages.

PÓM: Tim was good! I was delighted to meet him, because I have a lot of his work, but I’ve one question I was asking him that I had always been interested in, which was, in all the musical work that you did, did you play a musical instrument at all?

AM: Oh, no. No, I never played a musical instrument. I am – yeah, I know I’m a fairly multi-competent kind of individual, but no, no. Playing a musical instrument has always been beyond me, and I have nothing but the greatest of respect for those that can, and I tend to – even if I could play a musical instrument, I’ve known such brilliant musicians that it would have been foolish not to leave that side of things to them, and to play to my strengths.

PÓM: Yeah, I know. He did say something about your playing – was it with one hand, was it Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, something like that, on a piano?

The Sooty Super Xylophone, Green Monk Products (Games and Toys 1956)AM: Oh, I can actually – because when I was a child, I had a Sooty Xylophone, with numbered keys, and the actual score to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with numbered keys on xylophone, is 1155665 – it’s been a long time since I played it, but I could remember it all the way through, on my Sooty Xylophone. So, yes, I suppose technically, if there is ever any need for a kind of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star refrain on xylophone, then you’ve got my number.8

PÓM: Fair enough. I always wanted to clear that one up.

AM: Well, it’s an important point, Pádraig. No, I’m surprised that Tim remembered that.

PÓM: Yes. Well, it obviously made an impression.

AM: Yeah, obviously, obviously.

PÓM: Tell me about The Show. What’s happening?

AM: The Show. Well, The Show is the name of the project that follows on from the Jimmy’s End films – which, surely to Christ, should be out soon. It should be very very soon – I’ve been kicking up a fuss, Mitch [Jenkins] has been kicking up a fuss…9

PÓM: This is the stuff from Lex Records?

AM: Apparently there’s been unavoidable delays on the packaging side. I don’t know!

PÓM: Yeah, I know, I know. It’s bad enough having to always wait for your comics to come out, but really…!

jimmys endAM: It’s this film business, it’s – and I am kind of limited in what I can actually do. And it’s the same with the comics business, I suppose. Anyway, that should be out soon, and I have written a screenplay for a feature film, called The Show, which is designed to follow on from that. We have been talking with various parties about maybe making that screenplay into the first two episodes of a serial, which – we could probably have done it, but that doesn’t seem to be – that’s not technically gonna happen. At the moment we’re talking about maybe doing what we had originally intended to do, which is to bring out The Show as a feature film, and then to launch The Show as a television series, so at the moment, that’s all up in the air, and in my experience of these things, some things just remain up in the air forever, in defiance of gravity. So, who knows? But there are talks going on, it’s looking quite promising, and I’m sure that one way or another there’ll be – we’re asking for so little, to do this film, at least in terms of money. We’re asking for complete control, and complete ownership. But financially we’re asking for very little. It would be a very good film – it’d need me writing a few more songs, and it would be very differently paced to the five short films, because short films, they can be as long as you want them to be, and you can linger, whereas a feature film, that’s got to have – I’m not saying that it’s gonna be kind of action/thriller paced, but certainly a lot more conventionally paced for a feature film, put it like that.

PÓM: Yeah, of course.

AM: Yeah, that’s all going on as we speak – there might be more news – I’m sure if there is any more news, that’ll be in a couple of – in a couple of months we might know more.

PÓM: OK, fair enough. Emmm, what was I gonna ask? The League. The next – the third part of the Janni Nemo trilogy is coming out soon…?10

River of Ghosts coverAM: River of Ghosts. I’ve just looked in the box that I got from Knockabout the other day, and I’ve got – yes, very soon, I’ve got my copies already. We are very pleased with it. It’s funny – when me and Kevin O’Neill first got our complimentary copies, we both looked through it, skimmed through it, independently, and when we were talking on the phone later I was – he was saying that he’d been – he’d felt that his art really, it was a bit tired-looking, and I was saying, ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘I thought your art was great,’ I said, ‘but I don’t know with my script – I’m not sure that the ending’s not rushed, or something.’ Like, all these little things. And then, after that, I was still a bit despondent, but I sat down, and picked up the copy again, and started reading it. And I got to the end, and I went and phoned Kevin and left an answer phone message saying, ‘Actually, Kevin, I should go back and having another look at River of Ghosts, I think that it might be about the best run of the League since the first couple of volumes.’ And I got a phone call back from Kevin about ten minutes later, saying ‘Actually, I was going to call you and say the same thing! ’ It’s just that, when your expectations are up, and you first see the thing in print – I should know by now that very often my first reaction is disappointment. But then, you read it again and, yes, this is – it’s a bit of a corker. I think, beautifully rounds off the Nemo trilogy, and I hope will put the other two books into perspective, ‘cause I did hear a couple of comments saying, ‘Oh well, we’ve read Heart of Ice, good story and all that, but it does seem a bit – a bit slender, a bit thin, a bit inconsequential, compared to other graphic novels.’ It’s forty-eight pages, it’s like two issues of a comic and, really, it’s not until the River of Ghosts that we get to the end of the story – yes, they are all self-contained episodes, but there is an over-all story that’s going on, which I think we tie up quite nicely in River of Ghosts.

The story opens upon Lincoln Island in 1975, so this is six years after we saw Janni in League volume three in 1969. She’s now – what? – around eighty, and it’s been very interesting – I’ve always wanted, since I started writing Halo Jones, I always intended to have that conclude with Halo Jones as a very old woman, and I – I don’t know, I think that there is something magnificent about old women, and I’ve always wanted to do one with a very old woman in the main role. So, with River of Ghosts I think I’ve accomplished that.

Hugo HerculesThere’s – we see a couple of old characters. There’s a couple of interesting new characters, one of whom might be of interest to you. Kevin found an American newspaper strip from, I think, 1902, that was entitled Hugo Hercules, and this is a very very big, very very strong man. I think it lasted for six or seven episodes – it wasn’t very long-lived. But, yeah, the first American superhero, I think, pretty much. I can’t imagine any earlier than that. Certainly earlier than Hugo Danner in Gladiator, a long while earlier than Superman.

So, yeah, I had a look at some of these early strips, which generally don’t have much in the way of dialogue balloons, but put most of the dialogue into captions under the panels, and from that, in the transcriptions of whatever the accent was supposed to be that Hugo Hercules was speaking in, I finally figured out that it was probably a racist and ill-informed transliteration of an Irish accent. It could just as easily have been Polish, or possibly Trinidadian, but I think probably it was meant to be Irish. So, we’ve kind of worked out, yeah, all right, if this Hugo Hercules, so-called, was Irish, what might be his backstory. Me and Kevin are very pleased with him as a character, and he plays quite a major part in River of Ghosts – which deals with, as you might expect from the first two volumes, it deals with a conclusion to the Ayesha question. Just kind of tying it all up in a neat and somewhat blood-stained bow.

The River of Ghosts in question is the Amazon, which means that we get to – as we did with Heart of Ice, less so, perhaps, with Roses of Berlin – but with Heart of Ice we were very much depending upon the New Travellers’ Almanac, and its gazetteer of fictional sights, and we’ve fallen back upon that quite a bit for this exploration of the Amazon. So, if that gives you any hints as to what sort of things we might be running into…

New Travellers' AlmanacPÓM: It does! I actually find, I go back and I reread the New Travellers’ Almanac and the Black Dossier quite a bit, because I think that there’s a huge amount more information, a huge amount more stuff, about various adventures that’s coded into those than you’re probably ever going to put down on the comics page.

AM: Well, that’s true. And also, because we were very specific – I think back in the New Travellers’ Almanac there’s already bits talking about Jenny Diver…?

PÓM: Yes, yes.

AM: And we did have this fairly fully planned out, right from the start. One of the things that I’ve thought about is the possibility at some point in the future, of an actual integrated volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in chronological order, to see how that reads? I don’t know. This is nothing I’ve discussed with anybody else, so I’m going off the menu here, a little bit. But…

PÓM: I know – from all the stuff, there’s all sorts of bits and pieces, and there’s dates, and it is possible to build up quite a detailed chronology of – particularly from the beginning of the Victorian League, and Mina Murray and all of that, upwards. It’s remarkable how much little bits and pieces fit in. Like the current volumes, the Janni Diver stuff, is filling in more little odds – and you go back and look at something and say, ‘Ah, that was there all along.’

AM: This is it, this is what we’re trying to do. And, actually, having said that it would be nice to put it all in chronological order, there is a lot to be said for the way that we’re doing it, where we’re jumping back and forth a little bit. Jack Nemo, whom we glimpse at the end of volume three, and in River of Ghosts, it’s almost like an origin story. Jack Nemo features in it – he’s a very small boy, a couple of years older than when we saw him as a five- or six-year-old running around on the Nautilus in 1969. We’re stitching all of this together, and we’re doing it all for a reason. One thing that might be of note is that this will be the last piece of work that me and Kevin will be doing on the League for a little while. We – this is largely because – me and Kevin have both been doing the League for fifteen years now. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it actually is.

PÓM: I know. It’s 1999, wasn’t it?

AM: Something like that. Fifteen or sixteen years? And during that time I’ve been doing quite a bit of other work, but Kevin, the League has been pretty much the only thing that he’s been doing, so it’s more like – it’s a long-term sentence. And although me and Kevin are both in love with what we’re doing on the League, I could see that, it was a bit of an unfair strain upon Kevin, because the League might not be the only thing he wanted to do with the rest of his life. So, anyway, I can’t tell you very much about what we’re doing – in fact, I can barely tell you anything at all, except that me and Kevin are going to be doing something new for about eighteen months, summat like that.

PÓM: OK. In a comic form, I presume, is it?

Black DossierAM: In a comic form. It’ll be an episodic thing. It will be a million miles away from the League. And we’re both very excited about it, we think we’re actually breaking new ground in term of the effects that comics can achieve. Which is, again, ‘cause I know that Kevin’s always had a hankering to experiment, and we’ve done as much as we can of that in the League – the League is limitless in some ways, but in other ways there are certain stories that perhaps wouldn’t fit quite so easily into it, and with this, yeah, we’re a long way away from the League. What we’re thinking is, we’re going to do this, as a break for Kevin, for the next eighteen months, or something, and then we will probably be going back to do book four of the League, but this is a long way in the future, but we have got a lot of good ideas that would – in some ways I’d like to do a book four that wouldn’t be the last book of the League, but could be. And if it was the last book of the League, then everything would be tied up. All of the strands and insinuations and implications in the Black Dossier, all of the tiny little threads, going right the way back to issue one of the first volume, I can see a way that all of this could be tied up splendidly into a fantastic story – but that will have to wait until me and Kevin have had our little vacation. We’re about four months into this eighteen months sabbatical anyway, so hopefully it won’t seem as long as that in the outside world.

PÓM: Before we leave it, can you tell us anything about what’s going to be in volume four?

AM: Other than, like I say, a tying up of ends, it would probably be set not long after 2009 and it would be tying up threads from all three volumes of the League, from the Black Dossier, and from the Nemo trilogy. It would be a – it’s a kind of story that I’ve been thinking of for a few years, but, yeah, after we’ve taken this sabbatical, both me and Kevin thing that, when we do go back to the League, we’ll go back refreshed, and capable of giving – not that we aren’t incredibly pleased with River of Ghosts. Like I say, that seems to have some of the energy – I wouldn’t want to deny the energy of any of the volumes of the League, but it’s undeniable that, say, the first two volumes are paced and structured very very differently to Century. And there were some people who thought that Century was a bit slow, or a bit over-complex, but that was just what we wanted to do with the characters. We wanted to show that it didn’t always have to be a fast-paced Victorian romp, that there was plenty of interesting stuff in this world that could do with lingering over. But, when we finished Century we thought, all right, let’s take a break from that stuff, and do the Nemo trilogy, something very fast paced, where we’re paying a lot of attention to spectacle, where that is a big part of the story development, and that gives Kevin an opportunity to really show what he can do on some nice spreads, and things like that, of which there are a couple of – some of the best pages of art by Kevin I’ve ever seen, in this upcoming issue. Some very memorable little images there.

To Be Continued…

——————————————————————————————————-

FOOTNOTES11:

1Previous interviews I’ve done with Alan Moore in various places, including the Forbidden Planet blog, 3:AM Magazine, here on The Beat, and on my own Slovobooks blog:- June 2008 FP I, FP II, May 2009 FP I, FP II, FP III, March 2011 3:AM, July 2011 FP, April 2013 CB I, CB II, October 2013 MM I, MM II, MM III, and January 2014’s Last Interview? Which, of course, it wasn’t. That question mark wasn’t there for nothin’!

2In case you all think I was being hideously impolite by launching directly into talking about Steve Moore, I should point out that there was a certain amount of small-talk in there beforehand, which none of you need to know anything more about. However, if you wish to read my interview with Steve, called The Hermit of Shooters Hill, you’ll find them all (six parts so far) here on The Beat, under the tag HERMIT.

The News, issue 1, November 19733Bob Rickard is the founder of the Fortean Times: The Journal of Strange Phenomena (Originally called The News, which both Alan Moore and Steve Moore contributed to over the years. He is also one of the two people Steve described to me as being his best friends. The identity of the other one should not be hard to grasp…

4The Soul is a strip, written by AM and drawn by John Coulthart, that was to appear in America’s Best Comics’ Tomorrow Stories, but is now going to be in The Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic.

5A favourite saying of British politicians.

6 Another of these events, Alan, Grace and Robin’s Blooming Confusion is in the NN Café in Northampton on the 31st of March 2015, and there are still tickets available, here. Robin Ince is a comedian, and Grace Petrie is a singer.

7Tim Perkins is AM’s main musical collaborator, with five CD releases thus far between them. He has a hopelessly out-of-date website, here. Gary Lloyd is another of AM’s musical collaborators, having worked with him on the audio version of Brought to Light. The interview with Tim and Gary is slowly being transcribed, and will doubtless turn up on the ‘net eventully.

8Before anyone writes into to point out that the Sooty Xylophone isn’t actually a xylophone, not being made of wood, we’ve already got that covered. All I can do is report what is said!

9This is in reference to Lex Projects’ Kickstarter for Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins’s His Heavy Heart short film, which those of us who backed it are still waiting to see make its way into our hands. It’s by no means the only Kickstarter project I’ve backed that I’m still waiting for, mind you.

10There was some confusion about the actual publication date of this book. It first made landfall on the shelves of GOSH! Comics in London on Tuesday the 3rd of March, and should have been available elsewhere – not just in the UK, but also in the US – that same week. However a labour dispute at American west coast ports meant that containers remained in the docks, rather than being shipped onward, with the result that copies weren’t available until about a week and a half later on the 12th of March.

11Why all the footnotes? I’ve been reading through the works of Flann O’Brien, and bits of it have rubbed off on me. It’s even slightly relevant to the subject of this interview, as it was largely his fault that I went back to them in the first place. Further enlightenment, at least of a sort, here.

1 Comments on Alan Moore Interview Part I – Steve Moore, River of Ghosts, The Show, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…, last added: 3/26/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
24. Interview: Balak, Bastien Vivès, and Michaël Sanlaville bring the award-winning Last Man to the states

LastMan-Cover-300rgb

A collaboration of French stars from three different mediums, Last Man brings together the gifted animator Balak, Bastien Vivès, the much heralded comics creator, and Michaël Sanlaville, a rising talent in game design, for a manga influenced, tournament-based martial arts adventure that’s been all the rage in their native country.

The planned 12 volume series, 6 of which have been published, was recently awarded the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême this year, highlighting the popular and critical acclaim of the series overseas. Last Man centers on Adrian Velba, a 12 year old boy enrolled in Battle School whose highest ambition is to participate in the annual tournament sponsored by the King and Queen. After the sudden departure of his required partner, Adrian faces having to wait another year to compete, until a mysterious loner named Richard Aldana, who is also in need of a partner, crosses his path. This unlikely pair, and how they turn the tournament and city on its ear, makes up much of the excellent first volume, entitled “The Stranger”, which sees English-language publication from First Second on March 31st.

I was fortunate enough to chat with these three creators in the lead-up to its release in the U.S.:

balak 2

L to R: Sanlaville, Balak, Vivès

You began working on Last Man in 2013, what was the origin of the project and how was the creative nucleus of this ensemble formed?

Balak: Bastien and I have known each other for 12 years. We hung out at the same message board, catsuka.com<http://catsuka.com/>, chatting about comics, Japanese animation and well-endowed women, the usual geeky stuff. Then we went to the same animation school in Paris, Gobelins, where we met Michael. Bastien and Mic got along well and quit the school to make comics. Years later, Bastien told me he’d like to make a comic book with eveything we like in it: cool one-liners, great adventure with a manga-ish epic feel, larger than life characters and larger than life natural breasts. In short: The very reason Art exists. The catch is that we wanted to do it the manga-way: to draw 20 pages a week and publish 3 books a year. So we had to be a three-person team, well organized, and say goodbye to any social life for a few years. It seemed like a cool project, so  here we are.

While reading the first volume, I was reminded of my time perusing some of my favorite mangas, including that of the shounen variety, was that an influence…or more specifically, was there a particular type of action-based storytelling that informed this series?


Balak: Yes, that was the reason Bastien asked me and Mic to join in the first place. He knows we’re avid manga readers since forever. Basically, we wanted to have this very calibrated shounen feel that we love in the first books, and put our little twist on it: What if John McClane was thrown into a Dragon Ball tournament? We mixed the two things we loved: manga and US action movies we watched as kids. This stuff made us who we are today, for better and worse. Last Man is the result of this.

Last Man looks to have a fairly wide audience appeal, particularly in terms of age, what is it about tournament stories that seem the draw the younger audience?


LASTMAN-sampler-1lowBalak: Even the worst Hollywood script doctor would tell you that story is about conflict. A tournament is the core of the most basic, comprehensive storytelling. You’ve got a hero you’re rooting for: he wants to win the cup, and everyone wants the same thing as well. The premise is simple, almost visceral. That’s why manga of this type are popular, they manage to convey each characters burning will to win and emotions; each battle is a story in itself. But when we say it’s simple, it doesn’t mean “simplistic.” Keeping things simple is hard, there is an unnoticeable elegance to it that is very difficult to achieve.

Were there any story elements in particular that you implemented or had to adjust in order to attract younger readers?


Balak: Not at all, we just did things as we pleased. The only thing we naturally refrained was sex. It can be sexy, but you don’t have anything too graphic.

Describe a typical day in the creative process for the series, were you all huddled in a room together planning out the beats of the story or was it more segmented?


Balak: “A quiet mayhem” is the best expression that could sum up our typical day and creative process. We don’t write much like a regular script. Bastien puts down his ideas on 10 or 15 pages for the book to come. Mic and I read it, then we discuss it, have several meetings, decide what is changing, what would be better. I take quick notes on a paper towel and I directly draw the 20 first pages of storyboard, come up with dialogues ideas, new situations. Each Monday, we discuss what the next 20 pages will be about, while Bastien and Mic draw the previous pages, 10 each. It’s not very kosher, and it’s quite exhausting, but it’s what keeps our ideas fresh and our motivation going. If we had the classic “here is the script, then we do the whole storyboard, then we can draw the whole thing,” it wouldn’t work for us. With our method, it feels very organic, we are constantly reacting on each others pages, at any time.

There’s a fascinating sense of culture combination in this first volume, with a setting that resembles pre-Revolutionary era France but with Eastern traditions sprinkled throughout. What is it that makes these two very different cultures mesh so well together?


Balak: To be honest, we didn’t put a lot of thoughts into this culture mix. We just drew what seemed right to us, the French medieval thing is a part of our culture, we just put a martial art in it not thinking twice if it would match or not… It seemed obvious to us!

Bastien, you’ve had a few of your comics translated into English into the past, how has the LASTMAN-sampler-2lowtranslation process for Last Man compared? Has it been relatively smooth overall or have any pieces of dialogue had to be changed outright?


Bastien: My English is not very good, so I can’t really tell!!!  But I think First Seconds did a good job!
Balak: The translation is very good, some cultural, typical French things are well adapted to an English audience. The main difference is that the French version is filled with cursing and very bad language that the English version is toned down a little . . . Aldana is even more rude in French!

For Balak and Michael, was the transition into comics a difficult one from the work you’re used to, or is there a natural handover from gaming and animation into sequential art?


Balak: I always wanted to draw comics. That’s the very first thing I wanted to do as a kid, so it’s not an issue at all. Sometime I’m a little frustrated by the page constraint, the fact that you can’t surprise the reader anytime you want, you have to take care of the double spread, keep your surprises for the first panel of the left page. . . . But it’s fun. I tried to get rid of this by creating something called Turbomedia, a way to make digital comics. You can see how it works by looking up Marvel’s Infinite Comics line, I’ve worked with them on this. Or even better, check the great Mark Waid’s Insufferable, at Thrillbent.com.  It’s cool. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.)

Do you see Richard Aldana as a character to be admired or one to be pitied? Is it somewhere in the middle?


Balak: You pinpointed Richard. He’s right in the middle. He’s a badass, he’s looking cool and cracking jokes, but you wouldn’t want his life. But don’t try to show him pity, he would punch you in the face. Or walk away with a burning one-liner that would hurt you even more. Or both at the same time, if you’re not lucky.

Will Richard’s background play a bigger part going forward in the next chapters being released this year?


Balak: Yes, a big, BIG part. We’re even making a whole animated TV show about Richard’s past. It will be out in 2016 in France. It will be dark, violent and funny.

When you’re writing the dialogue of a child Adrian’s age, how difficult is it to find a right tone of voice that sounds natural?


LASTMAN-sampler-3lowBalak: Adrian’s way of talking is mostly Bastien’s. He’s kept is inner ten year-old child very close. It seems very easy for him. When I’m writing Adrian’s dialogues, it almost always sounds wrong.

Last Man was incredibly well received in your home country, to the point that it won the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême. What was the first thing that went through each of your minds winning such a prestigious honor?


Balak: I should’ve dressed better for this.
Bastien: It’s very good to feel supported in your country.
Balak: (Bastien tries to look tough and all, but he cried on stage. Really.)
Mic: It happened quite fast, I think I haven’t realized yet what it means. . . . To me, this prize goes out to all the great Japanese manga artists that inspired me to draw, and are still unknown to the wide audience for the most part. . . . But things are changing, so that’s good.



At what point was First Second the natural choice to bring Last Man to the states?


Balak: Mark Siegel gets the book totally, it seems that everybody there genuinely loves what they are publishing. We’re proud to be  surrounded by all these other great books.

Beyond the translation of Books 2 and 3 this year, what’s next for the series? I understand there are other media plans. How is that process coming along? Is it possible I’ll be playing as Richard Aldana in a video game soon?


Balak: Hopefully, it should happen this very year! We’re producing our own video game, called Last Fight. It’s kind of like Power Stone, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLFxFKmqYDs If everything goes smoothly, it will be released in September. And as I’ve said previously, the animated TV show about Richard’s past is scheduled to next year. On each project, we have a very close look on the whole creative process.

What can/should your American readers look out for in Books 2 and 3? Any major surprises you can tease?


Balak: I can guarantee you some surprises . . . I can only say that you won’t stay into King’s Valley too long.

You can pick up Last Man Vol 1: The Stranger this coming Tuesday, March 31st from First Second at a book retailer near you.

1 Comments on Interview: Balak, Bastien Vivès, and Michaël Sanlaville bring the award-winning Last Man to the states, last added: 3/30/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
25. Interview: We talk Europen graphic novels with Titan’s new editor Lizzie Kaye

Lizzie_pic1

Last week Titan Comics announced it had hired Lizzie Kaye,  formerly of SelfMadeHero, to the position of editor for their European graphic novel line. We talked with Kaye within a week of her jumping on-board the Titan Comics team about her new gig and Titan’s expansion into the bande dessinée market.

Edie Nugent: Congrats on your new position as editor for Titan’s European graphic novel line. How does it feel to step into those shoes after many years with indie publisher SelfMadeHero?

Lizzie Kaye: Thanks, it’s wonderful to have joined Titan, it’s a company that’s doing really interesting things and moving in a great direction. Obviously, it’s a bit of a change from SelfMadeHero, in terms of the kinds of books each company puts out, but I’m excited by so many of the titles we have coming up and can’t wait to see other people getting excited by them too!

Nugent: You have a background in literature. How you feel you’ll be able to draw on that knowledge in bringing bande dessinée to Titan readers?

Kaye: I think it’s most useful in that studying literature results in you being well-read, which leads to a good understanding of pacing, character, and plot.

This is something that the European market deals with differently than the US/UK market, as the standard length of an album is normally 48 pages. When they have the luxury of that page count, creators can take their time building characters and revealing the plot at a slightly slower pace.  A lot of, though by no means all, BD series are designed from the outset to be at least three volumes, so you could almost consider them as neat, three-act plays.

It also helps in that the European market operates within a slightly different outlook, and BD are often filled with literary references, even if the subject matter itself may not explicitly be so. For example, the series The Chronicles of Legion, the first three volumes of which are out now, with the fourth coming soon, is ostensibly a vampire story. But it’s also more than that. It draws heavily on the origins of gothic literature (before vampires could sparkle!) as well as using devices traditionally found in that literature, such as a story within a story and a layering of narratives. Form my perspective, a literary background helps in that I can see the references, and therefore am able to judge the tone and direction of the story, and consider how that may translate to a market less familiar with seeing those devices used in a sequential art format.

Nugent: Three-act play, it sounds almost like a more Manga way of telling a story. Do you think the BD market exists in that place between monthly single-issue sequential storytelling and the more fast-paced, multi-volume format of Manga?

Kaye: That is one way of looking at it. BD readers can sometimes have to wait a long time for the next volume of a series they are following. It’s important from the outset that the narrative is tightly constructed, and that the characters are memorable, in order to retain the reader. I don’t necessarily think it exists in a place between monthly single-issue releases and manga, more that it uses the medium of sequential art for a different kind of story-telling that is less episodic in nature.

Having said all that, there are of course a number of series that go into much longer runs, Samurai, the first four volumes of which will be released by Titan as an omnibus later in the year, being one of them.

Nugent: Titan has released BD’s of Snowpiercer, which was a French graphic novel-turned-movie starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, Elric, which is based on Michael Moorcock stories, and now Void. How does Titan decide which BD’s to put on the publishing slate? 

Kaye: A lot of factors come into play when we’re choosing which titles to put out. There are certain books that we’d love to see in the English speaking market that we specifically seek out based on our own love of the stories or creators, such as the upcoming Lone Sloane series by Philippe Druillet, and my own personal favourite, The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal.

For others with creators that might not have had as much exposure in the English speaking market, we take a lot of time to consider the artwork, the story, the length of the series, and how we feel readers might react to it. There are a lot of incredible BD series out there, luckily, so we have a rich seam to mine, and we want readers to really love what we offer them.

Nugent: What series would you recommend to readers just starting to explore what BD’s have to offer?

Kaye: That’s a tough one, as there are so many great stories out there! It depends on each reader’s specific interests, and that’s the beauty of the BD market, it caters for all readers.

I think Elric is a great starting point, because it is so incredibly beautiful, each page is a joy to look at. It’s a good introduction to the more European artwork style, which tends to be a little looser and fluid with a more painterly aesthetic. Titan also has a wonderful new series coming out now called Masked, which is a European take on the Superhero genre, and would be a great entry point, too, and the artwork in that would probably be a little more familiar.

1 Comments on Interview: We talk Europen graphic novels with Titan’s new editor Lizzie Kaye, last added: 3/28/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts