It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! Macmillan's First Second is 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!
John Patrick Green: How did you get into illustrating comics? Do you have favorites from when you were a child?
Kory Merritt: I was writing and illustrating prose stories for Universal Press Syndicate's website, and the editors recommended me to Jess Brallier of Poptropica and FunBrain for some freelance comic illustration. My favorite author-illustrators include Bill Peet, Shel Silverstein, and Gina Pfleegor. My favorite writers are Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, George RR Martin, and Neil Gaiman.
JPG: As the co-creator and illustrator of Poptropica, what is the collaborative process like? Does the writer, Jack Chabert, send you a full script? Or do you brainstorm parts of the story together? What are the pros and cons of working with a collaborator compared to being both the writer and artist of a book?
KM: For Poptropica, I only do the illustration. The writer (Jack for the first book and Mitch Krpata for the sequels) sends me a script. It can be fun to interpret ideas, and both Jack and Mitch are very supportive and great to work with. I also write and illustrate my own kid's books: my print debut, The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York, was released by Andrews McMeel in fall 2015.
JPG: Do you have any advice for young cartoonists just getting started?
KM: Read a lot! Not just comics and picture books, but lots of prose too (good prose allows you to use your imagination and build the characters and scenes in your head, instead of simply looking at someone else's interpretation). Also, it's always good for an illustrator to have a "Plan B." I taught elementary school art for six years before I had anything published in print.
JPG: Where do your ideas come from? Are you a constant doodler?
KM: Yes! I doodle all the time. When working on my own stuff, I'm most interested in animals, especially aquatic creatures.
JPG: What other projects do you have on the horizon? Is there a subject you'd love to tackle through comics?
KM: Check out The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York, published by Andrews McMeel. I'm working on several middle grade picture books in the same vein. I like to write/illustrate anything that involves wildlife, the ocean, and monsters.
JPG: What's on your nightstand?
KM: Old pens, a wrinkled notebook, dental floss, Stephen King's 11/22/63, Terry Pratchett's Making Money, loose change, and dust. I should probably do some cleaning.
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