Sunday, January 6, 2013

Author Interview: Nathan Hale

Here is is at last: the highlight of the Graphic Novel Readathon. Please welcome Nathan Hale, amazing author of many graphic novels and picture books.

You can find him drawing daily comics on his blog, Space Station Nathan, or pick up one of his fantastic books (pictured below).

Who is your favorite character to draw?

Right now, the Hangman from Hazardous Tales. He's sort of like the Devil from THE DEVIL YOU KNOW and Yellowbelly from YELLOWBELLY AND PLUM smooshed together in a black executioner outfit. I could draw that guy all day. Actually, I DO draw that guy all day.

Which of your books was the most fun to create? Which are you the most proud of?

Fun to create? FRANKENSTEIN. Why fun? Because it was a loosey-goosey, scribbly style (after the style of Ludwig Bemelmen's MADELINE) it was quick, easy and fun to do. It took about a month to do and was a joy to work on. (Note to illustrators: scribbly, sketchy styles go a lot quicker than fussy, over-detailed styles. If you can work loose--DO IT!)

I'm the most proud of THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, because it was my first. It was an unagented slushpile manuscript. Getting a picture book published out of a slushpile is pretty exciting. It wasn't a big seller, and it got a bad review or two. But it's my first, and I'll always be proud of it.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels (to read, not write)?

I grew up reading newspaper comics. I didn't start reading comic BOOKS until I was in college. The school I went to, Cornish College of the Arts is in Seattle, where Fantagraphic Books is located. Fantagraphics publishes classic golden age comics, Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Pogo etc. and underground/alternative comix. Both of which I really got into.

Right now I'm reading the Carl Barks Duck cartoons (the old Disney comics that Ducktales is based on) and re-reading Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki which just came out in a GORGEOUS new hardcover set (go out and buy it, you won't regret it--1000 pages of epic Miyazaki adventure!)

How has the rise in ebooks affected your job as an illustrator / graphic novelist?

So far there has been little effect. Picture books and graphic novels are still very tactile objects (especially picture books) so, unlike novels, my market hasn't changed too much (yet.) I think most smart parents are now looking for ways for their children to spend LESS time with screens (not more.) So hopefully the traditional picture book market will continue to stand. Now, that said, my Hazardous Tales books are out in both Nook and Kindle versions--I haven't see either. I don't own a tablet. But if any of your readers have seen the ebook versions, I'd like to hear how they look.

You have mentioned in other interviews that you listen to audiobooks while working. Which are your favorite books to listen to?

I'm a genre jumper. I don't like to listen to books in the same genre back-to-back. For years, I just took whatever the library had in unabridged audio form. So I read all over the place. Now it's habit. I like everything. Mostly, I like crime, war, horror, and westerns--gritty tough guy stuff. Right now I'm in the middle of the latest Harry Bosch detective novel THE BLACK BOX.

Do the books you are listening to affect your work at all?

Nope. I guess, sometimes it makes working more fun. But the work has to be consistent with it's own story, not with what I'm listening to.

Which comes first, the idea of an illustration or the idea of the story?

For me, story first. Every time.

What is your work day like? Do you draw all day or just a couple of hours each day?

I work all day, every day. If you want to make a full-time career as an illustrator, you work ALL THE TIME. I once saw the great illustrator Wendell Minor speak, he said his work schedule was 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The audience laughed--they thought he was joking. He wasn't joking. And he doesn't do graphic novels. Creating a graphic novel takes hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours. It's a major time commitment. There's a manga series out there called BAKUMAN, about some kids who want to be Manga creators. One of the kids has an uncle who draws manga--he literally DIES from working too much. It is labor. I tell my writer friends it's like writing a novel using macaroni and a glue gun for the letters.

Do you create multiple drafts of each illustration or just begin drawing?

Everything I do is sketched out and reviewed by the publisher before final art (except for my blog posts.)

What is coming up next for you?

I JUST finished Hazardous Tales #3, which I'm VERY excited about. And I'm moving right into #4, which I'm even MORE excited about because I'm just about to jump into final illustrations for it. #3 will be out this summer and #4 in Spring '14. The second Hazardous Tales book, BIG BAD IRONCLAD was just shortlisted for a Cybil award, and I'll be watching excitedly to see if it wins.

And, of course, I'll be blogging new comics and stories on my site.

Thanks for the interview!
Thank you, Nate!

1 comment:

Logan E. Turner said...

Awesome interview! I wish I could draw, but all day every day sounds like tons of work. It makes me appreciate those illustrations so much more!


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