It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week with a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love. Follow along throughout the week to see some of your favorite comics creators – and meet new ones, too!
Today, the CBW graphic novel lovefest continues on with a chat between Hippopotamister's John Patrick Green and The Nameless City's Faith Erin Hicks. You can see my thoughts on The Nameless City (amazing! gorgeous!) here, but first, lets dive in and find out what inspired this awesome comic and it's awesome-r creator!
The Nameless City had a bunch of inspirations, some from history, some from stories I love and wanted to emulate. After I finished drawing Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, I really wanted to try a different kind of comic. I'd done two graphic novels set in contemporary high schools, and wanted a new challenge. I decided to draw on a certain period in Chinese history (the Yuan Dynasty of 13th century China) that I was interested in, as well as inspiration from three of my favourite stories of the past twenty years: Bone by Jeff Smith, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the animated TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. I wanted to create something that made my readers feel a little bit the way I felt when I was reading Bone and Fullmetal Alchemist, or watching Avatar. I wanted to make a comic where characters had to deal with complex stakes, and there was action and adventure, and I could really challenge myself as an artist.
• Do you work traditional 9-5 hours, or have a quirky routine? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or have the TV on, or doodle while curled up in a window nook, or work at odd hours? How does a cat factor into making comics?
I try my best to keep a regular schedule, because it allows me to get the most work done. I get up at 7:30, eat breakfast, exercise and then work until supper. I listen to podcasts, music and audiobooks from my local library while I work. If I'm inking my pages, I'll have Netflix on. I like to watch TV shows with lots of talking, so sitcoms like Friends or procedurals like Elementary or The Good Wife. I have to work at a desk; I haven't yet mastered the art of drawing comics while slouched on a couch. The cat is my co-worker, sort of. She bugs me throughout the day, and reminds me to take breaks.
• The Nameless City will keep you busy for awhile, but what other types of stories or topics are you interested in tackling through comics?
I'm interested in everything, really. Comics, and especially the graphic novel format, are a relatively new medium, and I'd love to see more diversity of stories told through comics. I'd like to see more science fiction, more realistic fiction for kids and adults, more stories about different kinds of people flourish in the comics medium. I look at the diversity of Young Adult prose books, and I'd like to see that in comics. For me personally, I'd like to maybe make a comic someday that has romance in it (I've never done that), or science fiction. I'd also like to make a comic about girls and horses, because I loved riding when I was a kid. There are so many more stories I'd like to tell in comics.
• How did you get into comics? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer and illustrator of graphic novels?
I read comics as a kid, mostly newspaper comics like Calvin & Hobbes, and French imports like Tintin and Asterix. I was super into webcomics when they first started getting popular on the internet, back in the early 2000s. And now I read pretty much any comic I can get my hands on (my local library helps with this habit a lot). I started making comics for fun when I was in my late teens, but never thought drawing them for a living was something I could actually do. I knew I loved drawing and writing, but paying my rent with it seemed impossible. Even now I can't believe this is my job!
• What is the most fun thing to draw, and what is the least fun (or hardest) thing to draw? What part of the comics process do you enjoy the most?
I know it seems silly, but my least favourite part of making comics is thumbnailing. A thumbnail is a quick, loose sketch of a comic page before you start drawing it. It helps you figure out the composition and pacing of a page. It's basically the work you have to do before you start the real work of drawing the comic, and I find it kind of boring. I just want to jump in and draw the page. My favourite part of drawing comics is inking. All of the hard work is done, and I just get to sit back and make the page I'm working on look gorgeous. I also get to watch a lot of Netflix, so that's fun.
• What are your favorite children's or comic books as a child, and what are you currently reading?
My favourite comics as a kid were probably the two I mentioned previously, Tintin and Asterix. I'm Canadian, and pretty much every library in all of Canada has those comics stocked. They're a staple of most Canadian kids' childhood. They're fun comics, well drawn, the stories well told. There are also practically no female characters in them, something that has motivated me as a cartoonist: I want to draw comics with awesome girl characters in them! And I'm grateful I get to do that. Currently I'm reading A Silent Voice, a Japanese comic by Yoshitoki Oima, and I just got an advance copy of Raina Telgemeier's newest graphic novel, Ghosts, in the mail yesterday! It looks gorgeous, and I'm really excited to dive into it.
FIND THE REST OF THIS WEEK'S AMAZING DISCUSSIOS HERE:
Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier
About John Patrick Green
John Green grew up on Long Island and has worked in New York City ever since graduating from School of Visual Arts for Graphic Design in 1997. He was the comics consultant for Disney Adventures magazine, and in addition to Disney has written, illustrated, or otherwise worked on comics for Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Scholastic, DC Comics, and First Second Books. When not drawing comics John creates artwork for video games, such as Emerald City Confidential, Puzzle Bots, and Nearly Departed. See more of John's work at www.johngreenart.com.
About Faith Erin Hicks
Born in the wilds of British Columbia, the young Faith frolicked among the Sasquatch native to the province before moving to Ontario at age five. There she was homeschooled with her three brothers, and developed an unnatural passion for galloping around on horseback, though never without a proper helmet (because you only get one skull). After twenty years of suffering through Ontario’s obscenely hot summers, she migrated east, and now lives beside the other ocean in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She worked in animation for a bit, and now draws comics full time. She’s not sure how that happened either.