Friday, May 22, 2015

[Blog Tour] 5 Questions with Kids Comic Authors: John Patrick Green


In support of Children's Book Week and comic books, I am delighted to be hosting a Q&A with John Patrick Green (author of Teen Boat).


JORGE/RAFAEL:  Thanks, John, for taking our questions.  Great to meet you.

QUESTION:  So Dave Roman says to you, "I want to do a comic about a teenaged kid who's also a boat."  How did you start to visualize that?  Did you go through many character designs before settling on the final version?

Answer: The inception of Teen Boat is kind of bizarre. Dave and I had been talking about obscure Saturday morning cartoons, and in a way I first challenged him to write Teen Boat when I questioned if a story about the angst of being a teen could also have the thrill of being a boat. I wasn't sure it could be done, but Dave insisted, and sometime later Dave came to me with the first eight pages. When we initially came up with the idea we joked that I should draw it in the style of Hergé, like Tintin. We thought it would be funny if this comic about an American teenager was drawn in a European style. But once I had the script, I didn't really think I could pull that style off, or at least sustain it for very long, so I just went with something that came naturally. I didn't do a lot of character sketches… I actually think I didn't do any, really, and just started drawing. I don't recall showing Dave what any characters looked like until the first few pages were done. The sequence in which Teen Boat transforms I did sketches, and Dave did some too, to help figure out how that would work, but for the most part I'd just come up with the look of the human characters on the spot when I got to a panel they appeared in. For the later chapters, and especially the second book, I did a few sketches of each new character. "Teen Bot" and "Copperface", two new characters appearing in the second Teen Boat book, "The Race for Boatlantis", and also the look of the city of Boatlantis itself, probably went through the most rounds of sketches before Dave and I settled on designs we both liked.

QUESTION:  Besides, "Teen Boat" you two also collaborated on "Jax Epoch."  Like us, you two are college friends.  So how does that collaboration work?  Do you get a fully fleshed script from Dave and work from that?
Answer: Dave's writing process has varied a lot on the projects we've collaborated on. Not just from project to project, but even within a project, Dave will give me the script in different formats. Sometimes he's drawn thumbnails of scenes, other times it's a text-only script. Occasionally it's just loose dialog and he leaves it all up to me how to break the text and action of a scene down into pages and panels. In many writer/illustrator partnerships, each person performs their role in order and in solitude. The writer writes the story, then when they're done, the artist draws the story. Collaborating with Dave is much more symbiotic, and we'll go back and forth between writing and sketching as a story evolves. With Teen Boat, sometimes I'd come up with a plot point, or even just a gag or a pun, and then Dave would construct an entire story around it. And Dave's a visual thinker, so he writes in a way that translates to images very well.

QUESTION:  You've spoken in interviews about your influences when you started (Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes).  Who are you're current cartoon influences?
Answer:  I'm crazy about Gravity Falls. It's got this style that reminds me of a lot of the visual influences from my youth, plus it's a great mix of comedy and mystery and sci-fi and horror. It's a bit "X-Files for kids" in a way, and while most episodes work on their own, it's doing a wonderful job of building up lore and continuity. For my latest project, it was really seeing Cecil Castellucci's and Sara Varon's Odd Duck that finally inspired me to put this idea that had been rolling around in my head for awhile down on paper, but some of the influences have been far less recent, like the original Curious George books and Tove Jansson's Moomin. The thing that is probably the most influential on me these days, though, is all the energy coming from the other comic and kids book creators I know, and especially the teachers and librarians that support all our work so much. It's hard not to be motivated to create something when surrounded by so much enthusiasm.

QUESTION:  What are you working on right now?
Answer: Currently I'm finishing up the pencil art for HIPPOPOTAMISTER, my first younger reader graphic novel as writer and artist. It's about a hippopotamus who leaves the zoo with his friend the red panda to see what it's like having different types of human jobs. It's coming out from First Second Books in Spring 2016.

QUESTION:  What's on your nightstand?
Answer: My keys, my alarm clock, and a Boba Fett bobblehead. But you probably mean what books I'm reading. I had been reading the print collection of the webcomic Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki, but it has disappeared. I suspect a gremlin took it in the night, like they do. So until it pops up again, I've been catching up on Yotsuba&!



Children’s Book Week, (May 4-10, 2015) – 96th annual celebration!
Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
In 2015, official Children’s Book Week events – including appearances by beloved children’s book authors & illustrators, children’s open mic nights, read-alouds, book-themed costume parties, and much more – will be held in all 50 states. Photos from last year here. Event attendees receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags. You can see how the celebrations for 2015 are shaping up here.
Children’s Book Week is administered by Every Child a Reader (ECAR) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the anchor sponsor. More.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing interview!! Love it!!
    Haniya| http://booknauthors.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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