Our next guest author is the illustrious Nathan Hale (no relation). Nate, of course, is the fantabulous illustrator of rapunzel's revenge. You can read a little about that collaboration here. He is even as we speak working on the sequel, calamity jack, which will be out spring 2010. He supports a family of four as an illustrator, an amazing accomplishment, due not only to his incredible talent but his astounding hard work. (think 16 hour/days, 7 days/week) His solo work includes the picture books The Devil You Know (optioned for film by the director of Night at the Museum) and Yellowbelly and Plum, one of Max's (and ours) favorite books.
Me: What's your favorite scene in Rapunzel's Revenge?
NH: The tree tower. I love the solitude of Rapunzel in the tiny room. There is a little sequence of panels where we see winter, fall and spring go by (top of page 27) which I'd love to have elaborated on for three or four pages. The escape from the tower is fun too, and I love the boar chase. Honestly, I could have done a whole book based on the first half of Part 1--you know, Manga style, telling the story of Rapunzel's Revenge in a series 24 books long.
Who are your favorite minor characters in Rapunzel?
I love Goldy. That goose was so helpful. If I needed to focus attention on anything, I could just point Goldy's head at it. She was like a living "LOOK HERE" sign. And she was funny too. I think she steals the scene in the jail break sequence (she steals other stuff too, if you look closely.) I like Rapunzel's mom, especially in the scene at the well. I also got a kick out of some very minor characters, "Tina's Terrible Trio" on page 110, the trio only got that one panel. But I feel they need a story of their own someday. A Pixar style short feature.
What do you enjoy drawing more: dinosaurs, devils, or toothless outlaws?
The combination. Really, that's one of the best things about being a children's illustrator. You get to do it all. I try to cultivate variety in the projects I take on. Earlier this year I had FOUR dinosaur projects in a row. (including Chronicle's "The Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas"--available now at Amazon.com! For all of your dinosaur and Christmas needs! Act now! Free CD of dinosaur carols included! Your holiday season is not complete without "Hark, the Pterodactyls Sing!") By the end of that stretch I was REALLY tired of painting scales. So it was nice to switch to a project that was totally dinosaur free. I'm sure by the time I finish Calamity Jack, I'll be dying to paint some dinosaurs again--or maybe some tall ships, I've always wanted to do a naval battle/pirate ship project.
The easy answer is the little blonde boy in the black shirt. That's my son Ulysses.
As far as the monsters and robots go, I really like the little gray owl girl. When the book was going through sketch revisions, there were two characters that were cut. They still made the book, you can see them on the big playground spread, a shark girl in a tutu, and a cactus boy. Those two were originally in Yellowbelly's class. They were replaced by the dinosaur boy (wearing a cactus shirt) and one of the human kids. I was a big fan of those two, hopefully Yellowbelly will get a sequel where we can see more of them.
Is there any song cooler than David Bowie's "Golden Years"? Oh yeah, what is it?
Sure, here's one. This song gives me chills every time. Every time.
Is there any cooler book title than Calamity Jack? And do you think you deserve some of our writing royalties because you thought of that name? What percent? Would you settle for an ice cream sandwich?
How about a Big Ed's Super Saucer? Do they still make those? The big cookie sandwich. Oh yeah. It's that little touch of salt that makes those so good.
I remember everyone was running through titles and nothing really seemed like it belonged on the same shelf with "Rapunzel's Revenge." Nothing sounded quite as pulpy and action-packed. "Calamity" is a nice $5 word you don't get to hear very much. I'm a big fan of Calamity Jane. One of my favorite books is Larry McMurtry's Buffalo Girls which is about Calamity Jane's trip to the London World's Fair with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show--fantastic.
Who has been your favorite character to return to as you illustrate Calamity Jack?
Jack is great to draw--he draws himself really, he's got so much character. Boring answer, but my favorite person to draw in Jack is Jack.
How much recovery time are you going to need after illustrating Calamity Jack before you'd be willing to do a third graphic novel with us?
Oh we have to do a trilogy--nobody does just a book and a sequel. Gotta wrap it up in a box-set three-pack! I'll even give you the fairy tale to base book 3 on. Let's sa-a-a-ay Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Only the "bears" are giant, city protecting monsters and "Goldilocks" is a Napoleon style conqueror with a huge army. So Goldilocks rolls into a city and conquers it, then she's like, "This city's too warm." Then the monster's like, "Raaaaaaawr!" Repeat three times, it writes itself. You guys can fit Jack and Rapunzel in there somewhere, right? I have faith in you. Go!
That said, I'll need a little gap between books 2 and 3. I think book 3 should come out in 2013. That sounds so far away, like a year from a science fiction movie. 2013. Weird. I'll start the countdown now. Rapunzel 3, 2013.
Now I gotta get back to inking or Calamity Jack will come out in 2013. You can see updates of Calamity Jack, Yellowbelly, dinosaurs and more at my website.
Thank you, Nathan Hale (no relation)! Dean and I will get going on Goldilocks Bonaparte and the Three City-Protecting Monsters (in bookstores fall 2013!)