Venture into KERRY AND THE KNIGHT OF THE FOREST with Andi Watson!

Andi Watson is a British cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who has been nominated for two Eisners, a Harvey, and a British Comics Award. He is known for his fantastic works including GlisterPrincess Decomposia and Count SpatulaGum Girl.

We are so excited for this new book! Can you share the inspiration for Kerry and the Knight of the Forest?

Inspiration for any book is like a recipe–you put a bunch of the best ingredients together and hopefully something wonderful comes out of the oven at the end. Sometimes its a little crispy around the edges but that’s part of the charm.

One of the big influences on Kerry was the short animated film Hedgehog in the Fog directed by Yuriy Norshteyn. It’s a poetic and atmospheric folk tale from 1975. Hedgehog sets off on a journey to go meet their pal Bear Cub and encounters various creatures and hazards along the way. I love the textures of the design and the eerie atmosphere. Also Hedgehog isn’t very brave, I liked the idea of having a vulnerable hero. I didn’t want Kerry to solve problems with violence, rather he has to use wit and empathy to win the day.

I’ve always had an interest in fairy tales and wanted some classic moments from those stories woven into the Kerry book. There are talking animals, a spooky forest and a quest to save ailing parents. I wanted to give it the feel of an actual fairy tale without it being based on one.

 

Throughout the story Kerry is often seen as very trusting, sometimes to his detriment. Why do you think this is an important characteristic trait for Kerry to have?

A lot of the story is about who to trust and who to believe. Who’s telling the truth and who’s lying. It’s a contemporary concern. All day we’re bombarded with news and information, particularly online. A lot of it is unsourced, toxic, and harmful. It’s an important life skill to learn which sources to trust and which to dismiss. Kerry has to go through the same process. He makes mistakes but learns from them along the way.

Going back to the idea of bravery, I think Kerry is very brave in trusting in others. To open yourself up to possibly being betrayed, tricked or lied to isn’t easy. Being vulnerable requires a lot of courage. I also think it’s not seen as a particularly masculine trait. Often the hero of this sort of story is a lone wolf who defeats their enemies through physical feats. I try and put a little of myself into my books, ask how would I react in any given situation. Or how I should react. I’m someone who sits in my studio all day writing and drawing imaginary friends. I should act more like Kerry and try and make more real world friends!

 

What new themes or ideas did you want to bring to the hero’s journey? Were there any particular pieces of the story that you found particularly rewarding or challenging?  

As I’ve mentioned, the easy solution to any problem, particularly in comics, is to hit it until it stops moving. Kerry faces different kinds of opposition, whether in the shape of creatures or in the environment. I wanted to have as much variety as possible within the confines of the forest setting. So I take Kerry underground and through a swamp. The fun parts are always bringing the characters to life, giving them a back story and a reason for the reader to root for them. It was fun finding ways for the Waystone to be as expressive as a big boulder with an eye can be. It’s a case of making a good use of the comics form, having a rock look sad, angry and so on. There’s also a seedling character who is a very simple design and I enjoyed giving it as wide a variety of expressions as I could.

 

With regard to your art, what or who are your influences/inspiration? Do you have any tips for readers who are eager to become artists as well?

My influences and inspirations are varied. I’ve been around awhile, so I’ve picked up and left behind quite a few. I read prose as much as I can. I love films, reading plays, podcasts, museums and fine art, music, comics, design…I keep my eyes and ears open for new things. Inspiration can come from anywhere and it can take a long while for it to surface. I first saw the Hedgehog in the Fog on TV by accident a couple of decades ago. I thought it was cool but I never thought, “I have to do something exactly like that.” Rather it lay buried in my memory and inspired a bunch of different ideas for a story of my own. Also, art that I dislike can be just as inspiring as art I love. If it makes me think or makes me angry then it can spark new ideas or revisit old ones from a different angle.

I absolutely believe that art can be taught, it’s certainly been the case for me, but what can’t be taught is the pleasure you get from drawing or writing or the playing of a musical instrument. If you enjoy being creative then that tends to be it’s own reward. Do stuff you enjoy, whether as a hobby or as a profession. Drawing or painting or crafting will be rewarding throughout your life if you remember it’s supposed to be fun.

As I kid I was totally happy lying on my stomach in the living room with any old paper that came to hand and a box of crummy felt tip pens. Not to try and impress anyone, not because I was better at it than the people who designed the X-Wing fighters (because I definitely wasn’t) and not because it was my job, but because I was having a blast.

Anyone can be a cartoonist, all you need is some paper and something to draw with. Put your ideas down on paper, no matter how silly you might think they are. Done that? Cool, now you’re a cartoonist too!

 

Can you share some of your favorite graphic novels/comics that readers should be checking out?

Glancing over my shoulder at the bookshelves I can see: Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico and Karensac, Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka, The Little Vampire by Joann Sfar, the Hilda books by Luke Thompson and for older readers Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. I need to read more comics myself so if anyone one would like to recommend their favourite titles, please do.

Meet the Doodles!

Meet a few of the adorable characters from the all-new Doodleville from creator Chad Sell–available now!

 

Meet Drew!

Drew is just a regular artist. But there’s nothing ordinary about her art. Her doodles are mischievous… and rarely do they stay in Doodleville, the world she’s created in her sketchbook. Instead, Drew’s doodles prefer to explore the world outside. But after an inspiring class trip to the Art Institute of Chicago—where the doodles cause a bit too much trouble—Drew decides it’s time to take her artistic talents to the next level.

 

Meet Captain Cockatoo!

 

This super-doodle was created by Ameer–a superhero inspired by a very special kind of animal! He’s busy training and using his skills for good, ready to leap in when a worthy-villain appears!

 

Meet Dinah Dare!

 

Dinah Dare is an inventor extraordinaire drawn by Beck! Some cool toys are the jetpacks and her photon cannon, as well as her own home base in space! 

 

Meet Bru!

Bru is a mischevious witch drawn by TJ! Really all Bru wants is some peace and quiet. 

 

Meet the Butterfly Boyfriends!

Created by Zenobia, the Butterfly boyfriends are two princes from warring kingdoms! We ship!

 

 

Meet all these wonderful characters (and more!) in the new Doodleville! Grab your copy today.

 

 

 

 

Exploring SPACE-TIME! with Jeffrey Brown

Bestselling creator Jeffrey Brown (Jedi Academy, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal) shares what readers can expect in his latest adventure–Once Upon A Space-Time!

 

Can you tell us what inspired this new story?

For a long time I had the idea of a funny adventure story about a spaceship full of humans, aliens, and robots exploring the galaxy – more along the lines of Star Trek than Star Wars. I came up with a version that actually became part of the Threadless Comics-On-Tees collection. The breakthrough was when I needed a rest from Lucy & Andy Neanderthal in the Stone Age, and realized I could make all the characters be kids. I realized an intergalactic space mission with minimal adult supervision would be more interesting for me to write, and a lot of fun.

 

Creators across mediums often say that comedy is harder to write than drama or action–Can you share with us the challenges or perhaps joy you find in writing/drawing humor? 

I’ve always found humor easier! Every time I try to make something serious, people try to put their finger on what’s missing, until they realize it’s the jokes. I use humor to deal with drama in real life anyway, so it’s natural to put it everywhere in my stories. The challenge is coming up with new jokes. I should count how many jokes are in my books – I try to have two or three jokes on every page, so for a 250 page book…that’s an awful lot of jokes!

 

Space stories are so fascinating–and there are a lot of kids who especially find it fascinating, maybe even want to be an astronaut one day. What is it about space stories that you find exciting to tell? and why do you think kids love it so much? 

For me, the ideas in science fiction are so interesting – whether it’s astronomical phenomenon or strange new technology, or what alien biology might possibly be like. So it’s the perfect mix of imagination and science, where something that might otherwise seem impossible suddenly becomes just a step or two away from reality. Also, weird creatures and robots are so much fun to draw and look at, of course.

 

For aspiring creators, can you share a little bit about your process–where you begin, how you lay out the story, what kind of tools you use? 

Each book takes a year or more to make. It starts with a collection of rough ideas – characters and the basic story. From there, I work up an outline that gets more and more detailed, until I have a script that covers what will happen generally on each page. From that outline, I work up a first rough draft, which is mostly stick figures and more like a thumbnail script. After getting notes from my editor, I make a second rough draft that’s drawn the size I’ll make the final art, with more detail and text that is fairly close to what the final words will be. After another round of notes from my editor, I draw the final art using that second draft and a lightbox as my guide. The final art is drawn on Bristol, and I use Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens to draw – the superfine nib for line art, and the gray brush pens for shading. Then the copyeditors go to work and I get one last round of notes from my editor. A lot of the corrections at this stage are just text, which I can fix in photoshop, though once in a while I have to re-draw a panel or even a whole page. After that, it’s on to the next book!

 

Finally–can you share 3 graphic novels you recommend for kids and teens? 

Where to start?! I’ll assume everyone is already reading everything from Raina Telgemeier  and Dav Pilkey, so I’ll skip them (but if you haven’t read them, you shouldn’t skip!). One I read with my son recently was Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys, which is a lot of fun. I also got a sneak peak at the next Rickety Stitch book, another fun series. And because I’m way behind on my to-read list, I’d also recommend Jessi Zabarsky’s  YA fantasy book Witchlight – I got to hear her talk about it earlier this year, and I’m still looking forward to digging into it.

 

Once Upon A Space-Time! is available now! Grab your copy today

 

5 Questions with Stephen Shaskan!

PIZZA AND TACO creator Stephen Shaskan answers some important questions about his new graphic novel series!

Why do you love comics? 

I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics–my favorites were the X-Men and Teen Titans. I immediately connected to them because I loved to draw and didn’t like to read. I loved the use of visual story telling and poured over the art on each page. I was considered a reluctant reader (or whatever name they had for it back in the late 1970’s) but somehow managed to read thousands of comics. The art drew me in and I was hooked.

What inspired Pizza and Taco?

My wife Trisha Speed Shaskan and I worked together on the graphic novel series Q & Ray. I fell in love with the comic form. It brought back so many fantastic memories of reading and drawing comics as a kid. For the Q & Ray series, Trisha and I presented at many schools together and had students help create a group of comic characters; pizza and tacos were always the characters’ favorite foods. I always like to put a little nonsense in my stories, so having a slice of pizza and a taco be best friends that have a rivalry worked perfect.

Your favorite part of the first story? 

I think my favorite part of this story is Pizza and Taco are not perfect. They make mistakes. They aren’t always good friends. They are self-absorbed and sometimes a little jerkish to themselves and others, but in the end they also really love and need each other as friends. And it’s that friendship that shines through. For being a slice of pizza and hard shell taco they are extremely human.

Tell us how you get started on writing a new story

The Pizza and Taco series is a new way of creating stories for me. For each story, I’ve started sketching and writing the story in my sketchbook from beginning to end. I just run with the idea and keep going until it’s finished. My sketches are super loose; a triangle for Pizza and a semicircle for Taco. I’ve never had typed manuscript; the story is handwritten in speech bubbles in my sketchbook and then transferred to type in speech bubbles in the finished art. These stories really have been writing themselves; there is something about them that is so natural for me to create.

The really hard question: Team Pizza or Team Taco? 

This is a really hard question. My favorite is New York style pizza. I grew up in Upstate New York with amazing pizza, but then I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and at the time there was only one good pizza place for NY pizza: Galooney’s (two slices and pop $5) run by a guy who moved from Brooklyn and he imported his water from NYC (or so the legend goes). Sadly, Galooney’s closed, but there have been a few places that have popped up: fancy ingredient pizza places like Pizza Lola, a great local Neapolitan pizza chain called Punch, and a fantastic local coal fired pizza chain Black Sheep Pizza (my personal favorite; their fennel sausage reminds me of home). Since I’ve moved to Minneapolis there have also been so many amazing Mexican restaurants and food trucks like Maya, Los Ocampos, El Burrito, Taqueria Victor Hugo, El Ranchito, and Taco Taxi and they all serve the best tacos. But hands down if it’s pizza vs. taco gringo (hard shell, ground beef, Ortega seasoning, and yellow cheese), pizza wins.

 

Are you Team Pizza or Team Taco?

 

Cover Creation! Jose Pimienta’s SUNCATCHER

A new YA story of music, passion, and folklore. Check out artist Jose Pimienta’s various sketches of the cover to capture the essence of this awesome new story!

 

 

 

 

Return to 5 Worlds- an excerpt from the new book!

In the penultimate story of this extraordinary series,  Oona Lee arrives on Salassandra determined to light the yellow beacon and continue her quest to save the Five Worlds from the evil Mimic’s influence. But the beacon is encased in amber! An ancient clue says that Oona and her friends must seek out the Amber Anthem to succeed.

Check out a sneak peek here:

 

CALLING ALL ART NERDS! RANDOM HOUSE GRAPHIC TO HOST AN ALL-DAY COMIC CONTEST DURING PRH VIRTUAL CON

 

CALLING ALL ART NERDS!

RANDOM HOUSE GRAPHIC TO HOST AN ALL-DAY COMIC CONTEST DURING PRH VIRTUAL CON

Who loves comics?! We sure do! Which is why Random House Graphic is thrilled to host a family-friendly event at the upcoming PRH Virtual Con—RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS! On April 24, RH Graphic will be hosting an all-day comic contest to encourage families, comics lovers, and everyone in between to show us their own graphic novel cover sketch! Grab a pencil, paper, and anything else you might need and join us in celebrating this fantastic medium.

  • Here’s how to join: It’s simple! Think of what your comic story would be, give it a title, draw the cover, and snap a picture to post on social. You must share your post on Friday, April 24 to be entered.
  • Where to post: You can post on Twitter OR Instagram!
  • Who to tag: Make sure to use #RHGArtNerdContest and tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids.
  • The prize: A deluxe package of graphic novels from Random House Graphic and Random House Children’s Books, plus some bonus goodies! (Please note: due to current events, the prize delivery may be delayed.)

Join the RH Graphic social channels throughout the day to see RH Graphic creators sharing their own graphic novel creation process! We will also be sharing bonus content from current and upcoming titles!

We are thrilled to have you join us, art nerds!

“RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds” Logo created by Lucy Knisley (Stepping Stones, Relish, Kid Gloves)

RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS CONTEST

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter April 24, 2020 only. Open to US residents, 13 and older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. See Official Rules at https://www.rhkidsgraphic.com/2020/04/14/rhgartnerdcontest-official-rules/ for full details.

ABOUT PRH VIRTUAL CON:

Penguin Random House is taking the opportunity to connect with fans by hosting Virtual Con! Mark your calendars for April 24, and get ready for author AMAs, exclusive content, giveaways, an interactive #GeekGeekRevolution game show, and more! Event runs from 9 A.M.–7 P.M. EDT! Follow #PRHVirtualCon all day long!

OFFICIAL RULES: RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS CONTEST (PRH Virtual Con)

 

RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS CONTEST

OFFICIAL RULES

 

IMPORTANT: Please read these Official Rules before entering the RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds Contest (the “Contest”), presented by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (“Sponsor”). By entering the Contest, you agree to the terms of these Official Rules. These Official Rules shall govern in the event of any inconsistency with other Contest-related materials.

Penguin Random House is the sole sponsor of this Contest, which is no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Twitter or Instagram.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

ELIGIBILITY:  The Contest is open to residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 13 years of age or older at time of entry. If this is a Contest offer on Instagram, entrants must have a public Instagram profile.  All federal, state, and local regulations apply. LIMIT ONE ENTRY PER PERSON PER METHOD OF ENTRY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. Employees of Sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, suppliers, and agencies, and their immediate family members and persons living in their household are not eligible to enter the Contest.

ENTRY PERIOD: The Contest begins at 12:01 AM (Eastern Time) on April 24, 2020, and ends at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on April 24, 2020.

HOW TO ENTER:  Enter by:

  • Posting an original cover sketch of your own graphic novel to Twitter, tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids, and use the hashtag #RHGArtNerdContest; and/or
  • Posting an original cover sketch of your own graphic novel to Instagram, tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids, and use the hashtag #RHGArtNerdContest.

The cover sketch must be your original artwork and incorporate an original book title.

In the case of a dispute, entries will be deemed made by the authorized holder of the applicable social network account and/or e-mail address used for entry.  Automated entries are prohibited, and use of any automated devices will result in disqualification.  Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry of information by entrants; lost or late entries or transmissions; interrupted or unavailable network, server, or other connections; scrambled transmissions or other errors or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human, or electronic, technical malfunctions of any computer hardware, software, or any combinations thereof; or problems associated with any virus or any other damage caused to entrants’ systems.  Incomplete or ineligible entries will be voided.   All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be returned. If for any reason the Contest is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest.

Comments and/or posts including photographs may not include obscene, offensive or inappropriate (in Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion) material or defame any person, or otherwise infringe on any person’s proprietary rights.  If you are posting a photograph, you must have permission from the photographer (or be the photographer yourself) and have permission from any persons who appear in the photo before submitting it.

PRIVACY POLICY: All information submitted in connection with entry to this Contest shall be governed by Sponsor’s privacy policy (at http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/privacy/). By entering this Contest, you acknowledge that you have read and agree to this privacy policy.

PRIZE:

Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will receive (i) a bundle of graphic novels, (ii) a tote bag, (iii) an enamel pin, (iv) bookmarks, and (v) stickers). (Grand Prize Approximate Retail Value: $115.00)

Please note that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, shipments may be delayed. The Sponsor will reach out to you if your order is affected.

No transfer or cash or other substitution of all or part of a prize is permitted, except by Sponsor, which reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to substitute the prize or prize component with another of comparable or greater value. Any and all taxes on the prize will be the responsibility of the winners. Sponsor shall not be responsible for any delays, damage in the delivery of the prize, and/or loss of any prize in connection with delivery of the prize via mail.  In the event that there is an insufficient number of eligible entries, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.

JUDGING/WINNER SELECTION:  Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will be selected by Random House Children’s Books Marketing Staff on or about April 30, 2020 from all eligible entries received by the entry deadline. Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, and use of color, with equal weight being given to each criterion. The decisions of the Sponsor with respect to the selection of the winners, and in regard to all matters relating to this Contest, shall be final and binding. For Facebook and Twitter contests, winners will be notified via direct message on whichever social media platform their winning entry was posted. For a Twitter contest, winners must allow for direct messages so that Sponsor can contact winners via direct message.  For Instagram contests, winners will be notified via a comment by Sponsor that he/she is a potential winner and Sponsor will provide an email address (or other contact information) where he/she can make a prize claim.  Winners must respond to such notifications within ten (10) days of receipt. Winners must provide Sponsor with full contact details in order to be awarded the prize.  Winners may also be required to complete, execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release. Noncompliance with these conditions may result in forfeiture of the Prize, and Sponsor reserves the right to select alternate winners in such circumstance. If winner notification of the Prize is returned as undeliverable, Sponsor may, at its discretion, select an alternate winner.

DISCLAIMERS:  By competing in this Contest and/or accepting the prize, entrants agree that Sponsor, Twitter, Instagram, and their respective parent companies, assigns, subsidiaries and affiliates, and advertising, promotion and fulfillment agencies and all of their respective employees, officers and directors will have no liability whatsoever, and will be held harmless by entrants for any liability for any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind to person and property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the acceptance, possession, misuse, or use of the prizes, or participation in this Contest. Additionally, by competing in this Contest and/or accepting the prize, entrants grant Sponsor a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license to use their name, city, comments, photographs and/or other likenesses and their entries for publicity, advertising or informational purposes, including without limitation, posting on Sponsor’s Contest website, Facebook pages, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram accounts, with no additional compensation or further permission (except where prohibited by law).

Any dispute arising from this Contest will be determined according to the laws of the State of New York, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and by entering the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New York County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.

WINNERS LIST:  For a list of the Winners, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope by October 30, 2020 to Caitlin Whalen, Random House Children’s Books, Attn: RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds Contest, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

SPONSOR: Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

 

 

 

 

Introducing Witchlight Creator: Jessi Zabarsky

We are so excited for the release of Witchlight! For readers who don’t know, can you tell us what it’s about?

Witchlight is a fantasy adventure story about two young women whose lives become jumbled together. Sanja is a farmer’s daughter who is kidnapped by Lelek, a bold and mysterious witch. They come to an agreement to travel together in search of Lelek’s missing soul fragment, learning from each other and earning money from witch fights. Through their travels, Sanja’s curiosity blossoms and Lelek’s inner softness- and secret past- are revealed.

 

What inspired this wonderful tale? 

Lelek was originally part of an art test illustration for a job, and then I just kept thinking about her and wondering who she was! I made the first issue for the first TCAF (Toronto Comics Art Festival) I tabled at, intending 18 pages to contain the whole story. I quickly realized that the emotional journey wouldn’t feel satisfying without more build up, and the story kept growing from there. To flesh it out, I drew on what I was feeling and experiencing, and little things that are meaningful to me.

At the time, I was living in Akron, Ohio, near to where I grew up, and I was spending a lot of time walking in the forest and thinking. I was becoming more introspective, learning to build better relationships, and also having a lot of conflict with people close to me, navigating that with varying degrees of competence. I strung those feelings together with things I was excited to draw- different biomes, lots of kinds of people, a bunch of breads and stews. Most of my stories develop organically like this, with a kernel of an idea or picture, which I stick other things I like onto until it’s big enough.

 

One aspect we love is that the relationship between Sanja and Lelek doesn’t seem to fall into usual tropes seen in some YA romance stories. Was this a conscious effort to portray a healthy romance and why do you think this is an important message?

At the time I was starting Witchlight, I was a little frustrated with the queer comics I was seeing- there weren’t enough of them being made for there to be the kind of romance I related to, or the tone or aesthetic I like. I also wanted to dip my toe into a queer identity I didn’t yet feel comfortable acknowledging in myself. So, I wanted to make a very quiet romance, without big declarations of love or earth-shattering consequences. I wanted it to have heartbreak (because I love to cry), and also hope. I just wrote the story I wanted and needed.

Back then, the “healthy romance” discourse wasn’t as nuanced or as loud as it is today, so it wasn’t something that I gave much conscious thought to. Generally, I tend to err on the side of trusting younger readers- I think they can handle complex characters, challenging stories, and keeping fiction and reality separate. More so, my goal was to honestly portray two girls who were doing their best, while not knowing very much about the world or other people. I think it’s important to show young readers that they can be selfish, ignorant, messy, mean, imperfect- and still be worthy of love and care. That as long as they’re learning and trying to become kinder people, they can build relationships and open up to others.

Less seriously, what I actually worried about at the time was that Witchlight wasn’t romantic enough! Discussions at the time focused more on queer-baiting, and I was concerned that my quiet slow story would be seen as not taking a strong stance. I really wanted to write the kind of tiny moments that I love and relate to in shojo manga, so I was very relieved that people readily accepted my kind of story!

 

With regard to your art, what are your influences/ inspiration? Do you have any tips/advice for readers who are eager to be artists as well?

One of my main influences, unsurprisingly, are Miyazaki movies. I love textile crafts and folk art, and I think they relate very strongly to cartooning, and provide wonderful detail and texture to imaginary spaces. I’ve always loved plants and forests and stories about people living closely with the natural world. I grew up with a bunch of picture books and folk tales, which are great studies in economical storytelling and how words and pictures work together (hit me up for my very long list of recommended picture books for adults to read). I think I probably owe my sense of visual humor to Rumiko Takahashi, and my pacing of dramatic moments to Kaori Ozaki. I also pull a lot of inspiration from YA prose novels- Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, most of Diana Wynn Jones’ work, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are probably at the top.

My best advice to young artists is that drawing and writing don’t have to be scary! From a young age, I made up collaborative stories with my mom, so I’ve always approached storytelling as fun and low pressure. I find that same freedom and joy now in listening to roleplaying podcasts and playing in a group of my own. Appreciating folk art and exploring the non-European parts of art museums can show you how many other ways there are to represent the world, besides the narrow focus of realism. The most important thing is just to learn how to communicate what you want to say clearly, and to develop a style that doesn’t make you dread sitting down to work! Everything in your life can be fuel for ideas, so try to branch out from your instinctive interests. That way, when you ask yourself, “What happens next?”, you’ll have a full toolbox to turn to.

 

This story has evolved from its initial conception (especially in regards to length). As it evolved, did you feel like your original concept and motive for the story changed? Is this the ending you had always intended?

Witchlight’s ending is essentially how I intended it from the beginning. I think the biggest difference is that as I grew to know the characters better, the emotional tone of the ending changed. Originally, after Lelek woke up, it felt much bleaker and colder. They were both still having trouble trusting each other and being honest about their feelings. By the time I actually got to writing the last chapter, I knew that they’d grown much more than that as people, that they cared so much for each other that they’d naturally be open and vulnerable. I also wasn’t sure if Lelek would still have her magic, but I decided she should, because the theme of the magic in Witchlight is that there isn’t only one right way to do it, and that you don’t have to be perfect to be whole.

 

What are some of your favorite graphic novels that readers should be checking out?

I love Peter Wartman’s Stonebreaker series; his fantasy world building and inking are great! Most of the other comics I read right now are manga- Delicious in Dungeon, Hakumei and Mikochi, Ran and the Gray World. This is an old favorite, but not enough people have read the manga version of Naussica of the Valley of the Wind, and it puts the movie to shame. I’m biased, but I’m also really excited for upcoming releases from RHG, The Magic Fish and Seance Tea Party especially!

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