You have not lived until you’ve shared the Adventures In Cartooning series with children. It’s almost like we are genetically engineered as humans to have a desire to create comics.
I’m excited to reveal the cover to the next book in the series, Gryphons Aren’t So Great, on my blog today. As a bonus I got a chance to interview the creators of this beloved series: James Sturm, Adnrew Arnold, and Alexis Fredrick-Frost.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about Adventures in Cartooning: Gryphons Aren’t So Great?
James: This isn’t really a book about Gryphons-it’s more about being jealous and that crappy feeling you get when you feel slighted by someone you care a lot about.
Andrew: Gryphons Aren’t so Great is about friendship-the highs and lows and everything in between.
Alexis: The book is about loyalty and how the friendship between the Brave Knight and Edward the horse is tested when a Gryphon shows up in the Kingdom’s forest. It features some pretty sweet aerial stunts, a few dramatic splashes, and a mysterious figure in a bat costume.
2. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
James: As a cartoonist I use pictures as part of my alphabet and that makes the process of writing very engaging. Writing also allows me to look more closely at some of the stuff that confuses and frightens me.
Andrew: Having an idea that I’m excited to share with people. And then bringing it to life on the page.
Alexis: My favorite part of being a cartoonist is spending time in my studio doodling in a sketchbook. I enjoy those rare moments when I can shut off the critical part of my mind and immerse myself in the joy of drawing imaginary worlds and the characters that live there. The experience of losing myself in the creative process is the reason I became a cartoonist.
3. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
James: I find a comic or an essay has to be written and then rewritten several times before it works. The hardest part is often being patient with the piece and not giving up too soon. I always have to remind myself that the mediocre comic I make is always going to be better than the one I never finish.
Andrew: Having an idea that I’m excited about and bringing it to life on the page! Sometimes, coming up with an idea is the easy part. Executing it-and having the patience to develop it is the hard part.
Alexis: After spending weeks or months creating a story, I become very attached to the work I’ve done. So, it can be difficult to look at what I’ve written with an impartial eye. Harder still is working up the courage to discard something I’ve labored over for so long. I hate doing it, but erasing is as important a drawing when writing a comic.
4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?
James: Maybe Harold and The Purple Crayon? I would grab that crayon and anything I imagine would become real! When I was a boy I would have loved to be inside an issue of The Avengers or X-men and hang out with all those superheros. Maybe Watership Down too-going on an epic journey with many awesome rabbits would be most exciting!
Andrew: One would have to be Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak-its such a weird and whacky adventure that I would love to experience for myself. And like James, I was also a big-time reader of superhero comics as a boy… To exist within an issue of Thor would be amazing! (Only if I could lift his hammer, of course.)
Alexis: I can spend hours staring at the impossibly detailed illustrations in the Brambly Hedge series of books (by Jill Barklem) and imagine what it would be like to be a mouse living in that world.
5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?
James: Write about things that make you laugh or excited. Write things that make your friends laugh. Don’t write for teachers or parents. Write to put what’s in your imagination out into the world. You’ll be surprised by how it changes your world!
Andrew: If you want to write something but aren’t sure where to begin, jot (or doodle!) things down. Thoughts, ideas, characters, whatever. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with an idea for a story. Whenever this happens to me, I start doodling. You never know when there’s a story behind one of those images.
Alexis: I think the most important attribute for any creative person is persistence. In my opinion, writing (or drawing) as often as you can is more valuable than anything else, including raw talent. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others, instead focus on creating. Write hundreds of stories or more. Also, always meet your deadlines.