Congratulations on Aster and the Accidental Magic! For readers who haven’t heard, what’s it about?
Karensac (K): Thank you! We’re pleased to have our little Aster at Random House Graphic with so many other good stories!
Thom Pico (TP): We’re telling the story of Aster and her dog, Buzz, who live on an extremely magical mountain. Aster is used to living in a city and has to learn how to appreciate the surrounding nature. And regardless of what she wants, she’ll have to save the mountain from magical creatures.
K: It’s a beautiful story full of magic and humor–great for every reader.
Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
K: Aster’s environment is inspired by my childhood spent in the mountains, by my dog, and by people around me. And also by all the comics and cartoons I watch!
TP: That’s how we decided to work together! We’re both fans of the same cartoons, like Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil . . .
K: Adventure Time, Hilda, Studio Ghibli’s movies . . .
TP: Steven Universe and Over the Garden Wall. . . . Anyway, we had some common references that put us on the same page. From there, the story practically wrote itself. In general, we decided that we’d write comic strips since we can’t create a cartoon (we aren’t animators!)
Aster is clearly a force—she’s so expressive and fearless, and she has some strong opinions about her new home. Why were these characteristics important to you, and what are the benefits and consequences of Aster being this way?
TP: It seemed important to portray Aster as fallible—someone who can be wrong or make really big mistakes. Actually, it’s her own impulsivity that creates half the problems she is confronted with.
K: This means she has room to progress. Aster isn’t perfect, so she can always improve—and she can learn from her mistakes. It makes her more human, more endearing, and through her experiences, she can grow.
TP: And all that without considering how fun and funny it is for us to give life to such a strong-willed character!
We love that these first two stories take place in different seasons. Is that an important part of Aster’s journey? And if so, why?
TP: As Karensac said, Aster is growing over the course of her adventures. Changing seasons allows us to give a sense of time passing.
K: And we can show Aster growing more and more throughout her adventures. Between the first and the second stories, she has already become more thoughtful and more sensitive of other people’s feelings. Also, visually, it’s nice to change seasons.
TP: Changing seasons is essential to Aster’s adventures—each one has a personality, which becomes an important aspect of the story.
K: We can’t say more, or we’ll spoil the story!
The story has a host of great secondary characters, including Buzz and the Chestnut Knights. Who are your favorites, and can you tell us a little bit about their importance to the story and their design?
K: I really like the Chestnut Knights, especially Leaf, their leader. These audacious little chestnuts aren’t scared of anything!
TP: Like Aster, all the characters possess strong personalities, which makes writing them really enjoyable.
K: Same with drawing! And it shows in their design. They’re all unique and important in their own way.
TP: I think that’s why Buzz is my favorite character. He makes mistakes like Aster, but he’s growing, too.