Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Meet the illustrator: Mike Holmes

Author website/social media:

mikeholmesdraws.com

When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes, very much! In fact, sometimes it seemed like that’s all I did. I learned how to read at a very young age, because I saw my older siblings reading and I wanted to do it too! So by the time I was 3 I was reading, and when I first went to school I would just sit and read every book in the classroom. Going to the library was one of my favorite things in the world.

What was your favorite story? I have so many, but I think my absolute favorite book was Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. I loved how weird and imaginative it was – the author came up with some unbelievable things!

How do you get your ideas? I like this question, because it really makes me think about how my ideas come to me. Sometimes it’s hard to know where ideas come from; one day you’re sitting around and suddenly POOF, a brand new idea pops into your head from out of nowhere! And you’re so excited that you don’t even think to ask how it got there. But if I had to guess, I’d say a lot of my ideas come from things I’ve seen and done in my life, places I’ve been, people I’ve met. I have all those experiences swirling around in my head, and sometimes when I need an idea I think, ‘Hey! Why don’t I use that funny thing that happened to me?’ It’s incredibly helpful to have experiences!

Is it hard to illustrate a book? I don’t know if I’d call it hard, because I’ve been drawing and making comics for so long that I know a lot about them, and it makes it much easier to make something when you’ve been working at it for a while. But, I will say that making comics is still a lot of work, and I still have a lot to learn!

Do you have a favorite among the books you have illustrated? There was a book I drew that came out earlier this year called Animal Crackers: Circus Mayhem that was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had drawing. It’s about a kid who finds a box of animal crackers that are magic, and when you eat one you turn into that animal! So the book is filled with wild goofy action and it was really fun to draw all the comedy and magic.

What author do you like right now? I really like Drew Weing, who has a book called Margo Maloo

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? If you have a story that you want to tell, and you just have to tell someone…always write it down first! If you tell the story to someone before you write it down, it’s very easy to feel satisfied with that and then you don’t end up writing the story after all – which is the entire job of an author! I know so many people (even professional writers!) who say “I’ve got a great story to tell!”, and they get very excited, but they end up telling the story to people before they’ve written it down, and then they don’t feel like writing it anymore! So if you’ve got a really good story, try to make sure that when you’re finally ready to show it to an audience, even if it’s just one person, that you’ve written it out as a complete story first.

Do you get mistaken for the other Mike Holmes? Haha, I used to years ago!  Not because we look alike, but we’re both Canadian and it was confusing for some people when my name would be on a book or in the paper. It doesn’t really happen that much anymore, and I have to admit I’m relieved!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Graphic Novels, Illustrators, Meet the authors

Ed Cho & Lee Cherolis

This is a double interview with both the writer and illustrator of Little Guardians series. Make sure to read all the way through for both interviews!

LG_Cover_Issue_04_HiRes_Art

Ed Cho, writer for Little Guardians

Website/social media: http://www.littleguardianscomic.com  Twitter: @edcho7000

When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? I drew and wrote comics extensively when I was a kid.  I made up my own super hero knock off stories.

What was your favorite story? As a kid I was a huge fan of Star Wars.  Still am. 🙂

How do you get your ideas?  Inspiration is a fickle thing.  I get a lot of story ideas while doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or mowing the lawn.  The takeaway here is kids should do more chores around the house.  🙂

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story?  It takes a lot of time and work to complete a story and be totally happy with it.  Patience is key.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done?  Seeing Lee illustrate Little Guardians is a dream come true.  I love the interpretation he gives to the story. The collaboration makes it better than the original script or if I tried to draw it.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? It’s a treat whenever a fan says they like our books.  We have a few Soma and Elk fans out there so it’s nice to hear they enjoy a specific character.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels?  The visual nature of comics makes it so easily accessible.  Hopefully the cool looking characters can encourage kids into a life long love of reading.

Any recommendations for kids?  Bone by Jeff Smith is a great all ages series and a big influence on Little Guardians.  I’ve recently gotten into Raina Telgemeier books like Smile, Sisters, and Drama.  They are great!  Check them out!

Silly question round:

Pop or soda – Soda

Pen or Crayon – Pen

LG_Cover_Issue_01_HiRes_Art_Tw

Lee Cherolis, Artist for Little Guardians

Website/social media: www.littleguardianscomic.com

www.twitter.com/leecherolis

www.facebook.com/leecherolis

 

When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? Absolutely. I read all kinds of comics and books. Lots of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, as well as super hero comic books. I played a lot of video games as well and got started drawing because I loved to try to draw my favorite video game and cartoon characters.

 

What was your favorite story? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy will always be my favorite.

How do you get your ideas? I’m always inspired by the work of artists I admire and it fuels my motivation to make awesome art. So I fill my social media feeds with amazing artists that I can look up to a drive my self to improve my own work.

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story? It is very difficult. you have to approach it seriously and with earnest conviction. If it’s just something you don’t really care about it will show in your work and you’ll have a hard time connecting with an audience.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done? Little Guardians is my favorite project I’ve ever worked on.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? A father told us his sons loved our comic because it helps them practice their English as a second language. I think that was one of the coolest things a reader has ever told me.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? Simply put, comics and graphic novels help promote reading and inspire creativity. More creative kids making art and telling stories is a good thing and I want to help promote that with my comics.

Any recommendations for kids? Cleopatra In Space by Mike Maihack is a fantastic graphic novel series I recommend to everyone. (Bridget note: ME TOO!) Also check out Hilda by Luke Pearson. the Hilda books are beautiful and a lot of fun!

Silly question round:

– Pop or soda – Soda

– Pen or Crayon – Pen

Posted in Author Meet Up, Illustrators

Zach Giallongo

Website/social media: www.zackgiallongo.com. @zackules on Twitter and Instagram!
Tell me a little about yourself: I’m a cartoonist, and a teacher, and a podcaster. I have a beard and I love animals and cheese.
When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw?: I sure did! I drew all the time with my dad’s office pens.
What was your favorite story?: Probably any Narnia story with Reepicheep. He’s now tattooed on my arm.
How do you get your ideas?: I have no idea!
Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story?: Yes, but most things worth doing are hard. And it’s such a great feeling to have it done!
Do you have a favorite among the things you have done?: Probably my 2012 graphic novel, Broxo, about teenage barbarians and zombies.
What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? I can’t think of anything specific, but I love it when kids draw art of my characters!
Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? Because reading is the best, and it fires up your imagination to tell your own stories, which fire up someone else’s imagination, and so on and so on!
Any recommendations for kids? Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, and Boulder and Fleet by Jerzy Drozd!
Silly question round:
– Pop or soda: Soda, of course.
– Pen or Crayon: Pen, though maybe I should get back into crayons…
Posted in Author Meet Up, Illustrators

Mike Laughead


Website/social media: mikelaughead.com @mikelaughead on instagram and twitter

Tell me a little about yourself: I am an illustrator and college illustration teacher as well as a father of 3 girls and a husband to one amazing wife. I have lived in Columbus, OH since 2011. But I’ve also lived in Michigan, Idaho, Iowa, California, Illinois and Argentina!
I like drawing monsters and using bright colors. My favorite TV show to watch and re-watch is the Pride and Prejudice BBC miniseries.

How long have you been drawing? I have been drawing since I can remember. I drew all the time growing up and I always kept drawing, sketching and doodling on whatever paper was around through elementary school, middle school and high school. When I went to college I chose an art major because I couldn’t imagine life without drawing. One of my favorite things to draw when I was a kid was Bilbo Baggins from the 1977 Hobbit cartoon. I had a copy on VHS tape and I would pause it and draw the characters.

How did you get into comics? I have always loved comics, from before I can remember much else. I made my own in middle school and high school and I’ve kept making them in college and afterward as well. Most of my comics have been self-published.

What is your favorite comic you have worked on? My favorite comics I have worked on are my Pink Bunny Self-Help comics. Using a style similar to Scott McCloud’s informational comics (like Understanding Comics) I drew a Pink Bunny teaching the reader about positive affirmations and stress. I’m working on one about traumatic memories right now.

What is the coolest thing someone has said about your work? The coolest thing has to be the people online that said the Pink Bunny comics helped them to feel better about their life and to make positive changes to try to be happy or happier. I made art that is fun for many people to look at, but that is the first time my art made someone have a bit of a better life.

What are you working on right now?  Right now I’m working on 3 comic projects. One is a new addition of “The Legend of Acornhead” that we released online a few years ago. My collaborators (Keaton Kohl, writing and inks, and Stefan Jolet, colors) and I are editing the first issue and pitching it to publishers. The second is a short book of my Pink Bunny Self-Help comics. And the third is a funny/strange story about something strange that happened to me when I lived in Argentina. When I was 19-20 years old I was a missionary for my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as Mormons). I was in northern Argentina. One day another missionary and I walked by a guy who started yelling at us, then he ripped ort glasses off our faces, slapped me and punched the other missionary. We had to walk away, without being able to see, 5 blocks to the police station and report the theft of our glasses. It was strange, but the man was eventually brought in and shockingly didn’t harm our glasses. We were able to walk away without any problems.

I know some other comics artists who went on missions as well. We all had at least a few strange things we either did or happen to us when we were there. We are planning to create an anthology of these comic stories and run a kickstarter to fund the printing and shipping. Look for more information (and who the other artists are) in the next few months.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? When I was a kid, for a long time I thought that The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were the only good books. So I didn’t read other things and I missed out on other things I would have liked. If kids only read books or only watch cartoons or only watch movies they miss out on all the other ways to enjoy stories. Kids should be willing to try comics because experiencing a story in a new way can be fun, just like I learned that tons of other books were amazing, not just the ones by JRR Tolkien.

What are some all-ages comics you suggest? I have been loving Cucumber Quest by G.G. Digi (a webcomic, soon to be officially published) for a long time. I also like Sam Bosma’s Fantasy Sports series. Bone by Jeff Smith is my favorite comic series (and I live in Columbus, where he lives! I got to meet him a few times and he is really great!) COWA! by Akira Toriyama, the guy who made Dragonball is super fun. And I also like to point out to people that children’s picture books are just comics with 1-panel per page. And there are tons of great picture books out there.

Bonus silly question round:

– Pop vs soda? I saw Pop because my family is all from the midwest and I have lived most of my life in the midwest.

– Crayon vs marker? I love using markers in my sketchbook so I have to go with markers. Plus, I love how much of the page they cover and how fast. I also love how flat the color can get. Wow, maybe I have a thing for markers. 😉

Posted in Illustrators, The Illustrator Says

Meet Steve James


Website/social media: http://stejdesigns.wixsite.com/mysite @SteJDesigns

Tell me a little about yourself: Hi I live near the vibrant City of Leeds in the UK with my partner Vicky and little girl Rosanna, I also live very close to the countryside which we all love to explore whenever we can. There are lots of arty people in my family and I naturally had a love of drawing from an early age, inspired by comic books and Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons. I’ve worked in the creative industry for over 10 years mainly working in greetings cards (with a highlight being illustrating a range of Star Wars cards) and only recently had the pleasure of illustrating childrens books. I like to keep up to date with the latest cartoons and children’s books, and adapt my style by introducing elements from new sources of inspiration. When I’m not illustrating I like spending time with my family and friends, music, films, video games, walks in the countryside and attempting to play guitar.

How long have you been illustrating books? It’s been about a year and a half, I remember because that’s the age of my daughter and I was first asked to illustrate the Super Happy Party Bears a week before she was due to be born (it was a very busy time in our household) so far there’s been four Super Happy Party Bears books published and four more due out pretty soon so it’s all happened very fast but it’s been a really fun experience and I love working in this industry.

How did you become a book illustrator? iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s saw some of my work and contacted my illustration agent at Advocate Art who asked me if I’d like to be involved in the Super Happy Party Bears books. The piece of artwork I think they particularly liked was originally from a page in a calendar I illustrated which was very in tune with what they were looking for.

How do authors pick their illustrators? In this case it was iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s who came up with the idea for Super Happy Party Bears then they contacted Marcie Colleen to write the books and me to illustrate them, it’s been a team effort.

How do you know how to illustrate a story?For the Super Happy Party Bears I was originally given notes on the story outline, characters and setting and then drew sketches of how I thought the characters should look, I thought to have the party bears look as colorful and fun as possible like a rainbow and the grumpy woods towns people to be more drab colors but still keep all the characters looking different from each other so they are instantly recognizable, this then partly influenced how the books were written by Marcie. From that point on for each new book I get a list of characters, objects, scenery then draw everything separately so that there is a library of images then the artists at iMPRINT put everything together with the words and they design how everything goes together on the pages.


Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated? My favorite Super Happy Party Bears book so far is ‘Going Nuts’ as I like the Goonies style adventure Marcie has written and the Chipmunk cops, I also really enjoyed drawing the punk characters in Bat to the Bone which is due out this August.

Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? I do a bit of both, I usually draw everything in my sketch book first then redraw the characters in color on computer.




Posted in Illustrators

The illustrator says: Thom Zahler

At Motor City Comic Con, I had the chance to meet some of the illustrators of My Little Pony comics. I love that series so much and even have a subscription to it.  Today, you get to meet one of those illustrators!

 

Website/social media:  @thomzahler on Twitter and Instagram
thomz.com

How long have you been drawing?  All my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I’ve known I wanted to be a cartoonist from my earliest memory. There’s no time I didn’t have a pencil in my hand.

How did you get into comics? My parents had a reward program when I was a kid. I was well behaved, I got a comic. My parents had a really well-behaved kid and I had a lot of comics. So that fostered my love of them.

I went to the Kubert School in New Jersey and trained as a cartoonist there.I was a better letterer (back when that was done by hand) than I was anything else, so I got some lettering work while still in school. I freelanced on the side for a few years, lettering and inking here and there, before self-publishing in 2002 and my career sped up from there.

What is your favorite comic you have worked on?  I always hope my last one is my best, because I should keep getting better. That said, my Love and Capes books are a favorite, They launched my career in so many ways. Mark and Abby are like dear friends and I hope one day I can figure out a story to bring them back.

Do you have a favorite My Little Pony Cover you have done? I like the Twilight Sparkle and Rarity facing off with Nightmare Moon cover. It’s pretty sharp. I think it’s a great marriage of my style, with brushy lines and round forms, and the MLP style (Bridget note: I have this cover. It is awesome)

What are some all-ages comics you suggest?  I really like Supergirl: Adventures Across the Eight Grade, any Uncle Scrooge, especially by Carl Barks or Don Rosa, and Batman Adventures from DC. Lumberjanes is excellent as well. (And of course, My Little Pony and Michael Recycle.)


 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Illustrators

The illustrator says: Keith Grachow


Website/social media: http://kgrachow.com/ 
I also use my Facebook page for promoting my work which can be found at Keith Grachow and also have an On A Planet Named Up In The Sky page for me and my mom’s children’s book series. You can also find my comic book work at http://www.kikamikacomics.com/
Tell me a little about yourself: I’m a professional illustrator that does comic books, children’s books, and illustration work for companies. I also teach workshops for kids and adults on Visual Storytelling.
How long have you been drawing? Since as long as I could hold a pencil.

How did you get into illustrating? My parents owned an advertising agency when I was a kid, and when I turned thirteen they let me draw a cover for a tv guide like magazine they put out. It was terribly amateurish, but super cool to see my art in print for the first time. I’d always been drawing, but that was my first taste of commercial work, so I think that idea stuck in my head when I went to university. In school I studied fine arts with a concentration in graphic design, so I took jobs related to that in college and after I graduated. I did some spot illustration and concept art as well as toy package design but it wasn’t really making me happy. 

What I really always wanted to do was comic book illustration, so about 10 years ago, I went back to school to focus on illustrating for comic books. I’m so glad I did, because it’s been really gratifying to create stories with my mom and other writers and to do illustrations for families and friends. And to make a living at it!


What is your favorite book you have worked on? Whatever I’m usually working on becomes my favourite book most of the time, however if I had to choose, it’s probably my latest Up-In-The-Sky book Above A Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky. I think me and my mom knocked that one out into space (pun intended)!

What illustrators do you like? I was classically trained in fine arts, so I always loved the paintings of the renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, but illustrators really came into their own during the golden age of commercial art in the early parts of the 20th century and that’s where I’d begin to choose the ones I like. So artists like Mucha, NC Wyeth, Norman Rockwell really inspired me. There were also classic comic strip artists I liked such as Alex Raymond, Austin Briggs, Hal Foster and classic comic book artists like Joe Kubert, Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, and John Buscema to name a few. Modern artists like Mike Mignola Bill Sienkiewicz, Lee Weeks, Dan Panosian and many many others are also in this list. There are just too many to count!