Posts Tagged graphic novel

Allergic: Interview + Book Giveaway!

Do you know a child who would love to get a pet but can’t because of allergies? I was one of those kids. It was great to read graphic novel about a girl just like me. I got to chat with Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter about their book Allergic.

About the Book

Hi Megan and Michelle! Thank you for sharing Allergic with me. Growing up with both a food and pet allergy, I really appreciated a book that addressed both. You did a wonderful job showing how environmental allergy shots work, how it feels to miss out on something because of an allergy, and how you feel when your allergy impacts others. I’m sure it will help those with allergies feel understood and help those without allergies empathize.Allergic book cover

Can you give us a short summary of the book?

Megan: Allergic tells the story of an animal-obsessed girl named Maggie who’s about to get her first puppy…when she finds out she’s allergic to all animals with fur or feathers. Maggie’s still determined to do whatever it takes to find the perfect pet, but she has a lot to learn about her family, her friends, and herself along the way. (And thank you!)


When does the book come out?

Michelle : March 2nd!


There were so many different middle-grade concepts that you brought up in Allergic: friendship, feeling different, a new baby sibling, family relationships, hiding a secret…Tell us who would especially enjoy this book.

Michelle: I hope kids with and without allergies are able to see themselves in Maggie and can really relate to finding your own place with friends and family.

Megan: I think that kids with allergies will especially relate to Allergic. And because it also deals with so many challenges common to many childhoods, I think that most kids who love graphic novels will like it, too!


Michelle, the expressions you conveyed through your illustrations were amazing! I could really get a sense of emotion in each frame. If you had one tip for artists out there on illustrating graphic novels, what would it be?

Michelle: Thank you so much! I love acting out the emotions of the characters myself to feel them. If you caught me at my desk, you’d find me mimicking all the expressions as I draw them. It helps me understand the character and it’s a lot of fun. That and using reference photos, plenty of reference photos.


About the Author & Illustrator

Give us a sense of who you are in ten words or less.

Michelle: One artist trying her hardest to create happiness through books.

Megan: Dedicated bookworm and writer.


Can you explain to us the process of collaborating on a graphic novel? Megan, how did you convey what you wanted it to look like to Michelle? Were you able to communicate during the construction of the book?

Michelle Mee Nutter (by Greg Marquis)

Michelle Mee Nutter (by Greg Marquis)

Michelle: I loved working with Megan. She had such a strong grasp on the story and we just hit the ground running. It felt so organic to work together and I agreed with so much of the suggested pacing and stage direction but also had so much creative freedom to play around. We had a lot of conversations at the start and talked about ideas, concept art and where we wanted to take it. I feel so lucky to have teamed up with such a wonderful author.

Megan: It’s a little hard to describe because there were so many different stages to the project. Because we teamed up before pitching the project to publishers, we were able to collaborate on the initial vision for the book when I’d only written the first part of the script and a loose outline. After beginning officially working with Graphix, we would go through periods of working more individually (like when I was finishing writing the script and then when Michelle was doing the thumbnails, for example), but then would come together with our wonderful editor Cassandra Pelham Fulton at steps along the way. So it was this really great combination of working together and also giving each other creative space and trusting the vision the other person would bring to the project. As for the script itself, I planned the story beats and stage directions panel by panel, but then Michelle could adjust as she saw fit. Michelle really made so much of the emotion of the story work in ways beyond what I could have imagined. Working with her has been a dream come true!

Megan Wagner Lloyd (by Seth Lloyd)


Megan, can you tell us a short summary about your writing (and reading) journey. Did you enjoy writing as a child? Did you read comic books? What authors inspired you?

Megan: I have always been a bookworm. And I wrote in my diary when I was eight that I wanted to write books for children when I grew up! I wasn’t aware of comic books as a kid, but I did love Calvin and Hobbes collections. I also really loved books that had very detailed illustrations, like the Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem, The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and Jan Brett’s work. As I started reading novels, I read mostly fantasy books and animal stories, but my favorite realistic fiction writer was probably Beverly Cleary, as I connected with her humor and her ability to show the world from her kid characters’ perspectives.


Michelle, did you always enjoy drawing? What artists inspired you?

Michelle: I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. It was a way for me to create stories and characters that I couldn’t find in the books I had as a kid. Animation was a huge inspiration for me growing up, especially any movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Kiki’s Delivery Service was on a permanent loop in my house as a kid.


In what ways are each of you similar to Maggie?

Michelle: I’m very determined like Maggie. When I set my mind to something, I’ll stop at nothing to try and make it happen.

Megan: I bring pieces of myself to each of my characters, and with Maggie I think I channeled both my  anxiousness and determined optimism.



What gave you the idea to write about a pet allergy?

Megan: Like Maggie, I’m allergic to all animals with fur or feathers! I also have a lot of other allergies, but wanted to focus on animal allergies for this story.


Megan, how was the process of writing a graphic novel different from a traditional novel? And why did you choose that format? (Be sure to check out her blog post on writing resources for comics and graphic novels here.)

Megan:  I had been wanting to write a graphic novel for several years, but just wasn’t sure where to start. When I had the idea for writing a book focused on a kid with animal allergies, I thought it could be a great fit for the format, and that really motivated me to figure out the whole process.

One big difference for me has been that graphic novels really force me to always consider the physical location and movements of characters. With novels, especially in first person, you can have scenes that are more about the character thinking or reacting to something, really in that space in their own head. But with comics, unless you want to fill panels and pages with just dialogue bubbles, then you really have to consider the location and movement of the characters and what you can do to keep it moving and make space for interesting visual beats.


Michelle, how was the process of illustrating a graphic novel different from a traditional picture book?

Michelle: This was my first project I signed on to as an Illustrator. I had only done portfolio pieces or smaller form comics before Allergic. It was a dream come true and I had so much to learn as I went. The biggest difference is how long graphic novels take. We’re talking months and months, sometimes years if you’re lucky. There were a lot of hard nights where I didn’t know if I could do it, but every page you get closer and can feel the excitement building.


What is your best time to work? Any special rituals that get you ready and inspired?

Michelle: On my best days, I’m most productive early in the morning. When the sun is just rising and the house is completely quiet. There’s a lot of peace in those moments and I feel really energized. But I have a very bad habit of staying up late and I’m mostly working around 9am or 10am.

Megan: I’m a work-at-home parent, so I just kind of go with the flow. Whenever I try to make a solid schedule, something goes wrong. I try to work when I can whether I feel inspired or not, though everything does go much faster when I feel inspired and/or have a upcoming deadline. Books, TV, and nature are all big sources of daily inspiration for me.


What research did each of you need to do for any of the topics in Allergic?

Michelle: I had to research a lot! I never lived with allergies like Maggie does, so I had to research almost every aspect. Megan really helped with that and had so many resources and descriptions to pass down to me. I feel very spoiled working with her!

Megan: For the animal allergies I didn’t have to do much research, as I was using my own experiences as inspiration. I also have a family member who has to carry an Epi-pen, so I had already had some life experience learning about that aspect of allergies, too. I did research allergies in general, and food allergies in particular, to make sure I was conveying factual information. We were also able to have an allergist review the script for accuracy, which was very helpful. In the script itself, I tried to include a lot of links (to things like photo references for what allergy skin testing looks like, for example), so that Michelle wouldn’t have to figure out everything from scratch (hah!).


What ended up taking more time than you anticipated?

Michelle: Inking took a lot longer than I anticipated. Working on smaller comics always made inking feel like such a breeze. But for Allergic, the page count was the biggest learning curve. I could really only get through 2-3 pages per day, 4 if I was really powering through.

Megan: It was a bit of a learning curve for me that after I “finished” the script and Michelle did the sketches, the sketches and text combined then became the new working document, and we would re-assess the dialogue, narration, and even sound effects—clarifying and refining—with each round of the art process. But I’m glad we did it that way because I think it helped make the storytelling throughout feel very natural and cohesive.


For Teachers

Are either of you doing school visits related to this book? Tell us more!

Michelle: We are! Of course sticking to virtual visits and staying as safe as possible. We’re making presentations for a lot of fun programs and reach kids in the elementary school-middle school range.


How can we learn more about each of you?

Michelle: You can find me on instagram @buttersketch and my website is

Megan: And I’m on Instagram @meganwagnerlloyd and my website is


I hear you have another book coming out together. Can you give a little teaser about it?

Michelle: It’s pretty much under wraps for now, but what you can expect is a lot of fun meeting new characters and following along the ups and downs of having a big family.

Megan: I think it’s fair to say that if you liked the humor and heart in Allergic, you’ll really enjoy our next book, too!


Thank you both for your time.

Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter will be giving a signed copy of Allergic to a lucky reader. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is only available in the United States.

Megan Wagner Lloyd is the author of several picture books, including Paper Mice, Building Books, Finding Wild, and A Fort-Building Time. She lives in the Washington DC area. Visit her online at

Michelle Mee Nutter graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Illustration, Creative Quarterly, and more. Michelle lives in Boston, MA. Visit her online at

Allergic is available here:

Author Interview and Giveaway: Kirk Scroggs – WE FOUND A MONSTER

Today, I am lucky enough to interview the multi-talented writer and artist Kirk Scroggs about his newest graphic novel,

Please tell us about your just-released book WE FOUND A MONSTER.

We Found a Monster is the story of a kid named Casey who has a few skeletons in his closet . . . and a She-Bat, and a zombie, some gremlins, a squid monster, and, oh yeah, Frankenstein’s in there too! Casey’s a loner who loves to draw monsters. About a year ago, shortly after his mom passed away, real monsters started showing up on his doorstep. Now he’s got a house full of them that he somehow has to keep hidden from his dad and the neighbors. He’s at his breaking point. He can’t possibly harbor one more critter. But there’s a new girl in town. Her name is Zandra and she needs Casey’s help. She’s found a monster too. A giant, furry, loveable behemoth named Spot. Spot needs a home but there are dangerous secrets lurking beneath his rainbow-colored fur. A dark past that has followed him to Casey’s sleepy little town. Someone, or some Thing, is after Spot. Casey will need Zandra’s help to protect Spot, but she is a bit of a mystery herself. Can she be trusted?



Casey’s Creature Exhibit showcases his monsters. Do you have a favorite?

It was a lot of fun mixing in some characters from DC’s vaults into this monster mash-up. She-Bat is a cool character. Half human half bat, she used to be a bat researcher before her body-altering accident. I think, for me, the favorite is an old classic- Frankenstein. Franky lives in Casey’s basement near the water heater and he’s got a few quirks. Since he was stitched together out of other classic monsters, he sports some interesting features, like an invisible arm and, when the moon is full, werewolf legs!





Casey is a bit of a monster purist – no Adorables and no Fantasticals. What about you? Do you think there’s a place for the fluffy and the fantastic?

Casey is definitely me when I was his age. I was strictly old school when it came to monsters. Dracula, Godzilla, the Wolfman. But, like Zandra in the story, I now appreciate fantasy creatures too and I’m willing to give them full monster status. I think watching the old Sinbad movies and embracing Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter has gradually opened my eyes. All monsters are cool! Even the adorables.




There’s so much happening on every page of WE FOUND A MONSTER. Could you tell our readers a little bit about how you go about creating a project like this? And, do you have any tips for budding graphic novelists?

With We Found A Monster, and The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid, I definitely mashed a few art forms together—the graphic novel and the journal. It’s such a fun and freeform way to create a story. I like to sit with some plain white paper and just start scribbling and doodling, kind of like Casey does in the book. This journal format lets me experiment with different drawing tools and styles. If Casey is in a hurry, he just doodles out a quick black and white sketch. If he has the time, he pulls out the whole set of markers and draws a full-scale graphic novel sequence.

My advice to aspiring graphic novelists is to play to your strengths. If you’re better at drawing than writing, team up with your buddy who can’t draw so well but writes good stories. And vice versa. And remember to let the art do most of the hard work. No need to be overly descriptive when the art can convey the same information. And keep the dialogue short so it doesn’t block the cool pictures!



It’s pretty clear that you have a special affinity for monsters. Did you have a favorite when you were a kid? Do any of your childhood monster experiences come through in your stories?

I’ve always had a thing for the tragic monsters. Frankenstein, King Kong, Swamp Thing, Creature From the Black Lagoon—you kinda feel for these critters. They just want to be loved. I think everything I’ve ever written from Wiley and Grampa’s Creature Features to Swamp Kid, even the Muppet books, has woven in classic monster movie elements. I just can’t help it!


What can readers expect to see from you next?

There are certainly some follow-up ideas lurking in my head that I’d love to explore. Right now, I’m playing around with some animation proposals and I’m whipping up a top-secret graphic novel manuscript. I can’t say too much about it except robots, middle school, wolfpigs!




Thanks so much for chatting with us, Kirk. Readers, you can find WE FOUND A MONSTER at your favorite bookstores now. Be sure to follow Kirk at his website and on Twitter and Instagram.


If you love monsters as much as Kirk does, let us know your favorites in the comments below. And be sure to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of WE FOUND A MONSTER!

Meet the Creators of DC’s Newest MG Duo: An Interview and Giveaway

AntiHero CoverWelcome back, Mixed-Up Filers.

Today, we’re chatting with the creators of the newly released Anti-Hero from DC Comics, authors Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta and illustrator, Maca Gil. Thank you all for joining us today!

My first question is for all of you. Can you tell us a little bit about Anti-Hero?

Kate and Demitria: Anti/Hero is the story two 13-year-old girls. Sloane thinks she’s a villain and Piper very badly wants to be a superhero. The girls end up battling over the same stolen object, an experimental scientific device. When the device accidentally powers on, the girls switch bodies. Now Sloane and Piper must learn to work together – or risk destroying each other.

Maca: It’s also super sweet but packed with fun and crazy action involving chases, drones and giant mutant creatures. It’s pretty cool.

Another question for the group. Hummingbird and Gray are completely new characters in the DC Universe? What was the process of creating them like?

Kate and Demitria: It was amazing! To add new characters to the DC Universe is a “when lightning strikes” sort of opportunity. How often does it happen? And to be able to add two new amazing female characters is even better!

When creating them, though, we weren’t really thinking about them as DC characters. Instead, we wanted two create two multifaceted girls whose problems our readers could relate to and understand.



Maca: I think if I ever see anyone cosplaying Piper or Sloane my heart is going to melt off of my chest. This has been an amazing opportunity and I’m so happy I got to do it with this team.

Kate and Demitria, what was the process of co-writing like? Did you each choose a character’s point-of-view to write from?

Kate lives in Western New York and Demitria is in Wisconsin, so we wrote long distance, communicating via text, email, and the occasional phone call. In between all

that back and forth we wrote the script by constantly passing it back and forth. Kate would write a bit then send it to Demitria. Demitria would tweak what Kate wrote and add a bit more. Then back to Kate, to okay or change again what Demitria changed on her stuff, read what Demitria added, and then add a bit more. In the end, both are our fingerprints are on every single sentence.

Also for Kate and Demitria, there’s a lot of emphasis on family throughout the story. Was that something that you wanted to focus on early on? Or did it develop out of the body switching plotline?

We definitely wanted to focus on family, because it shaped so much of who the girls are and how they experience the world around them. Piper, despite her parents being absent, has a really strong and supportive family unit. Sloane, on the other hand, has a loving Mom, but because of work she isn’t around much. And Sloane’s grandfather…well, he’s definitely not the type of role-model you’d want a kid to have.

Maca, how did you come up with the costumes for each girl’s alter-ego?

Piper loves fashion and wearing crazy colors, she is strong and full of energy. The visual cues that represent her have to be dynamic and striking. Sloane, on the other hand, is a lot calmer and hates to stand out. Visually she has long vertical lines (her hair and her height help with this!) and she loves black. When I came into the project Kate and Demitria had written such rich and alive characters that designing them was a treat. They also get even cooler costume design as the story progresses; I can’t wait for you all to see.

Also for Maca, I saw (and loved) your Batgirl illustration on Burnside. Have you always been a DC comics fan? Are there any easter eggs that readers should keep an eye out for?

Thank you! Admittedly, I only started once I was out of college and a bit older, but so many women characters in the DC universe grew on me so much and so fast. Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batgirl! There are so many amazing ones, and their designs and stories are so iconic. I would completely die for Piper and Sloane to have a crossover with some of them someday.

For Demitria and Kate, this is your first MG novel. How does writing for MG differ for writing for YA and adult audiences? Also, it’s your first graphic novel. So, how did that process differ?

Writing MG was so fun because we were allowed to really let our silly and playful sides let loose. Both of us tend to write YA with darker themes, so it was really fun to play in this world where even at their worst—things were a little lighter.

Is there anything else about the story that any of you would like to share?

Kate and Demitria: We had to come up with an MG safe expletive for Sloane to use and decided on Zooterkins. We would love to see it catch on!

Maca: So many pancakes get eaten throughout this story. I had to stand up and make some for myself a couple of times due to having to think about them so much.

(Honestly, same. I definitely made some pancakes after reading this.) What’s the best piece of creative advice that you’ve received that you’d like to pass on to other writers and artists?

Kate: Even when you want to quit—don’t. Just keep writing. Or creating whatever you create.

Demitria: Writers need to read! Anything you can get your grabby little hands on.

Maca: Copy and study your favorite artists, but do it properly! As long as you keep your inspiration sources diverse, your product will end up being uniquely yours because of your own sensibilities, strengths and limitations.

What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

Kate: I hate horror movies. They literally terrify me.

Demitria: I make no secret of my dorkiness, but sometimes it still surprises people.

 Maca: I have played over 400 hours of Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Who is your favorite DC character (apart from the ones you’ve created)?

Kate: Wonder Woman!

Demitria: Batman!

MeetMaca: Batgirl of Burnside <3

What are you working on next?

Kate and Demitria: Hopefully more MG graphic novels!

Maca: I’m currently storyboarding for a feature film, but I can’t wait to do more comic books.

How can people follow you on social media?

Kate: I’m @KateKaryusQuinn on both Instagram and Twitter or you can visit my website

Demitria: I’m @DemitriaLunetta and my site is

Maca: I’m @macagil on Instagram!

Thank you so much for the interview!


AntiHero is out now! Get your copy here or try your luck in our give-away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway