Next week, May 4-10, is Children’s Book Week. To celebrate, Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado are going on a month-long blog tour, interviewing kids comic authors. Today we’re honored to have their interview with Kazu Kibuishi, creator of the Amulet series and the cover artist for the anniversary edition of Harry Potter. Aguirre and Rosado are comics creators themselves–their first book, Giants Beware!, was a big hit with my kids, and the sequel, Dragons Beware!, will be released in May.
Rafael/Jorge: First of all, Kazu, thanks so much for giving us the quote* for the cover of our book, Dragons Beware. We really appreciated it. Coming from someone whose work we admire so much, it meant a lot to us. (* “One of the best series for young readers… My son and I love these books!” – Kazu Kibuishi)
QUESTION: The world of Amulet is so incredibly rich. Did you know what the whole world looked like when you started the first book or did you figure out things along the way?
Kazu Kibuishi: I figured most of it out along the way. The general look and feel of the series, however, has remained the same since I was in high school. I just draw a lot better now!
QUESTION: When you began the first book of Amulet how much of the entire plot for the series had you figured out? Did you diverge from your original plot plan or did the characters surprise you as you went along?
KK: Surprisingly, I had a lot of the bigger story arcs worked out. The smaller story elements are usually things I discover while making the books and I try not to know too much about the details before I begin (it’s more fun this way). I always saw Amulet as an ever expanding circle, with all the events orbiting around the same core ideas and the story loops getting bigger and bigger over time.
QUESTION (from Rafael): Recently on Twitter you said, “Thanks to the MacBook Pro Retina, cloud storage & fast internet, I finally have the mobile office I was looking for 10 years ago.” So are you jumping in between home and an outside office? Can you describe your work setup and what a typical workday is like for you? Is there such a thing? (I’ve seen you do your painting demo a couple of times, so I know you’re a super fast colorist!)
KK: I am mostly working at the office, but it’s a tiny little space that I share with my assistant, Jason Caffoe. I liken it to having a stall at a marketplace. Jason and I meet here because we live about 40 minutes apart from each other and we would go nuts working at home, never being able to escape the work. The office is located right in between our homes, about 20 minutes from each side.
Most days begin by spending a little bit of time with the kids. My son, the older one, goes to pre-school, so my wife Amy might go and drop him off and get breakfast for our daughter and me. Once Amy is back I head into the office or I might go to the gym, get lunch, and write my emails. The afternoons are dedicated to working on the book for about 6 to 7 hours and then I drive home. I also do a little bit of work or pay the bills and do bookkeeping after the kids go to sleep. Sometimes I might unwind by watching movies or reading books, but they’re mostly spent talking with Amy and trying to relax.
QUESTION: What are you working on now, besides Amulet?
KK: I’m very focused on Amulet, but I have been developing a new series for many years. Now that I know when and how Amulet will end, I have begun doing the early prep work for the new series. Aside from that, I’m really focused on being a good dad, good husband, good boss, and a good teacher.
QUESTION: Your revamp of the Harry Potter covers was phenomenal! Are you interested in doing more illustration work, given the time?
KK: Thank you! Working on the Harry Potter covers was an amazing experience, and I will never forget it. That said, I have turned down every one of the many illustration projects that came my way after the covers were released. I’m trying my best to stay focused on our core projects, and right now that is the completion of the Amulet series. The days are short and there is so much to do! So my mantra has been to do more of less. I try to be focused, healthy, spend time with my family, and continue to improve on my ability to create and deliver engaging graphic novels for the readers out there. I would rather not leave them waiting too long!
The Kids Comic Q&A Blog Tour is co-sponsored by Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Check out the entire schedule here.