Introducing Bug Boys creator: Laura Knetzger

The creator of Bug Boys explores the world of little bugs and big feelings in her new graphic novel.

Congratulations on Bug Boys! Can you tell readers what the story is about?

Bug Boys is about two best friends who are little beetles. They go on adventures, learn about the world around them, and sometimes, they just stay home to talk about their feelings.

What inspired this awesome tale?

I was doodling while watching a documentary about insects called Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, and I challenged myself to draw a cute version of two of the bugs I saw on screen—a stag beetle and a rhinoceros beetle. I was so pleased with the designs that I drew them over and over, and decided to make comics about them. Drawing Bug Boys comics was so fun, I kept making and self-publishing them until there were enough short stories for a book.

Stag-B and Rhino-B spend the book exploring and going on adventures. Why did you tell this story from a bug’s point of view?

I wanted the readers to think about what life would be like if they were much smaller physically than they are. I meant this both in an aesthetically cute way—I love little things like dollhouses and miniatures—and in a philosophical way; I wanted readers to consider experiencing the world at a different scale. I really like the work of Ursula K. Le Guin, who writes speculative stories about cultures that have one magical difference from our world that affects every aspect of their culture. I like thinking about how imagining yourself as small as a bug could change your worldview.

One of our favorite things about this book is the vulnerability and honesty you see in the characters. Why do you think this is an important component in kids’ literature?

I wanted to make a comic where the characters’ talking about what happened was just as important as the action—or even where there could be no action at all. I think it’s pertinent for children’s books to discuss feelings in detail so that kids can learn a vocabulary for talking about and acknowledging complicated feelings—I wanted to show that happy days can be tinged with sadness and that you can admire someone and still recognize their bad traits.

Your book is on the inaugural list of Random House Graphic! How has your experience been working with the RHG team?

Working with RHG was great. I’m very impressed with how the final book looks!

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