If you’ve got young kids and you’re not familiar with James Kochalka’s fantastic kids series, you should fix that right away. To date, there are six Johnny Boo books and two Dragon Puncher titles. All are quirky, cute, imaginative, and endlessly re-readable.
Now, Kochalka’s two series collide in Johnny Boo Meets Dragon Puncher! and sees the most fearsome robot-kitty-warrior teams up with the best little ghost in the world to take on a terrifying Ice Dragon!
To celebrate the release of this book, in which WORLDS COLLIDE, James Kochalka stopped by GeekDad HQ to share his thoughts about children’s literature (and some pages from the new book)!
Take it away, James!
When I was a kid, I loved the characters in the comics I read, and I loved their stories, but I also loved the worlds that the characters existed in. And to see two characters from two different worlds combined into one was thrilling. I loved the team-ups between Richie Rich and Casper. I loved when Superman fought Muhammad Ali. I drew my own comics that mashed up Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. So when I got the idea to combine Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher … it was like a little flash of lightning that brought me straight back to the literary thrills of my childhood. And when I would tell my young readers that this would be the subject of my next book, I could see the lightning flash in their own brains as well.
I like to see the lightning flash. I want to give the readers something that excites, surprises, and delights them. There’s a lot of kids books out there that really contain no lightning at all, I’m afraid.
Mostly though, when I draw these things, I’m actually just trying to entertain my own kids. I read them the rough drafts as bedtime stories, a chapter or two at a time, as I work on them. The Dragon Puncher books especially are quite intimately woven into our family life. The background photos are landscapes that we visit often, either right around our house or favorite vacation spots. And since the characters are brush & ink drawings combined with photographs of our real faces, that means the kids actually participate in the creation of the book by posing for the photographs and acting the very particular emotions that I need in each individual comic panel. In the process of creating these books, we are creating amazing family memories for ourselves as well.
And from the feedback we’ve received from other families, it looks like we’re creating amazing memories for them as well as they share the books together. Storytime is perhaps the best time … snuggle up, feel the love, and dive into the world of the book together.