Friday, June 6, 2014

Featured Post - Summer Reading 2014 The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

In honor of the tenth anniversary of First Second Books, I am featuring some previous posts about their titles.


The folks at First Second Books generously sent me a review copy of Zita's third adventure and also allowed me to ask creator Ben Hatke some questions. Here are the Q&A with Ben:

1. What was your inspiration for the story line (either of this latest adventure, or the entire Zita story in general)? And related to that, why did you choose to have a female protagonist?

The original inspiration for this latest Zita adventure was just the idea of paying homage to my favorite escape and heist stories -- like Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape. There's still a bit of that in what the story became, but I feel like it grew from there.

And why a female protagonist? Adventurous girls tend to be particularly easy characters for me to write because I grew up with two confident and adventurous sisters and now I have four very adventurous daughters of my own. I'm used to watching girls take center stage in their own narratives.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer and artist? Is that why you chose graphic novels, so you could create both text and illustrations?

I've gone through phases where I wanted to do different things -usually travel and adventure oriented jobs, but telling stories and making art was always there in my heart, always something I wanted to do.
I like telling stories in different formats, picture books in particular, but graphic novels are one of my favorite formats because the text and the illustrations are working so closely together. They exist in the same space. It's also a bit like making your own movie but with an unlimited special effects budget. 

3. Where do you work - office, studio, at home, at a cafe, in the park?

Most of the time I work at home in my little studio (which is really just one side of my bedroom). I play music and use headphones a lot because, as I mentioned earlier, I have four daughters and they can be pretty distracting during the day. We live in a busy house.

When I'm just writing I do sometimes like to go to a cafe. It's important to get out sometimes.

4. What time of day do you prefer to work/are you the most productive? 

Mornings are best for business-y stuff like answering emails and updating my blog, and then at about midmorning I try to switch over to working on the books. That would be writing, drawing or coloring, depending on where I am in the project. 

I take at least one walk every day to work out creative problems and I also try to make sure I schedule a little bit of "notebook time" into every day. "Notebook time" is when I just open my current sketchbook/notebook and let my mind draw up whatever ideas it wants to. This tends to work out best in the morning to get the creative juices going.

5. Do you have a specific age range in mind when you begin a project, or do you let the story decide who the audience will be?

Story is king. My first goal is always to tell a good story. Then it kind of settles into an age range, but I always hope that people of all ages will enjoy my books -- that everyone will find something to take away.

A BIG thank-you to Ben Hatke for taking the time to answer these questions and to Gina at First Second Books for all her help. To find out more about Ben and his projects, check out his blog

No comments:

Post a Comment