Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kids Comics Q+A Blog Tour: John Allison

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of a very special blog tour celebrating all things kids comics in conjunction with Children's Book Week! Though Children's Book Week was technically last week, you can still check out their website for all kinds of fantastic information, and don't forget to check the bottom of the post for the full list of participating blogs for more fabulously fun interviews.

Each participating blog is sharing a Q+A with different kids comics authors conducted by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado (Dragons Beware!). I have the pleasure of welcoming author John Allison to the blog to answer Jorge and Rafael's questions about his recent and upcoming projects, so I'll turn things over to them!

RAFAEL/JORGE:  Hi John, thanks very much for taking the time to answer a few questions from us. It' s a pleasure to cyber-meet you!

QUESTION:  As a veteran of Webcomics, have you seen a change in public and fan perception of that type of publishing? what’s a good place to start, if you’re a total newbie to webcomics?

When I started, webcomics were a total amateur ghetto, but the barrier to entry was so low that everybody got a look in. The audience seemed to grow exponentially at first, and it was very much a DIY culture that seemed to work. The early webcomics were an offshoot of newspaper strips, rather than comic books, so they drew from a wider demographic than the kind of people who just read mainstream books. The visual language wasn't so far from Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert or Get Fuzzy or alt-weekly strips, but it spoke to people in a more niche, specific way that gave them a feeling of ownership. I don't think anyone looks at someone doing a comic on the web as being a figure working in a ghetto anymore. These are popular works that, in a lot of cases, run for a long time.

The best of webcomics is pretty much the best of comics, so a newbie is on safe ground with the widely accepted best - Kate Beaton, Perry Bible Fellowship, Achewood, Dinosaur Comics, Octopus Pie - but there are dozens and dozens of other great comics working in so many different styles, formats and media.

QUESTION (FROM RAFAEL): This is a techie question: I saw on your blog that you work in Manga Studio. I’ve drawn both “Giants Beware” and “Dragons Beware” in Photoshop on a Cintiq, but I’m really digging the drawing tools in Clip Paint Studio (Manga Studio), and I’m considering switching to it for book 3. Would it be a huge leap?  Any bits of wisdom you could pass on?

I think that if you're comfortable with a way of working, switching to different software can really throw you for a loop. It's like searching for the ultimate pen that will make you a "better artist", when you're already doing pretty well. On a long journey isn't the old soft shoe better than a new boot that gives you blisters for the first ten miles of walking? You only throw out the old shoe if you think the sole is going to fall off.

Manga Studio/Clip Studio has a lot going for it. I love the story management features, the panelling tools, and I'm very used to the pens and pencils. It suits my way of working well, but then it should, as I've been using it for 7 years! If you've got Photoshop set up just as you like it, and working in it feels natural and good, I'd stick with it.

QUESTION (FROM RAFAEL):  What do you listen to when you work?  I saw your Top Forty list for last year and noticed a lot cross over with mine (MacDeMarco, Metronomy, Future Islands…) What are you listening to lately?

I listen to a lot of podcasts - Kermode and Mayo's film show, Ken Rudin's Political Junkie, Earwolf stuff - when I work. It's a solitary job and they keep me company. When I listen to music, it tends not to be new stuff because it makes me feel like the job is taking longer! I play my old Husker Du and Replacements records if I want to blaze through some colouring. But we do listen to a lot of new music around the house. Recent powerplays have been the new Dutch Uncles album 'O Shudder', Mount Eerie's 'Sauna', Viet Cong, Jib Kidder, Richard Dawson's 'Nothing Important' Liam Hayes' 'Slurrup', and I've been playing the Frozen Track EP by Home Blitz every day, but that's from 2012 so I guess it doesn't count.

QUESTION:  What's on your nightstand (or laptop screen)?

I don't read a lot of fiction. I just finished reading David Niven's autobiography 'The Moon's A Balloon' and I've started Top 40 Democracy by Eric Weisband, a pretty dry tome about the pop charts. It's a little stiff, but full of hot analysis. I don't know if that's a rave review. And of course I read the New Scientist nearly every week.

QUESTION:  What are you working on next?

I feel like everything I'm working on at the moment is just winding up for the time being - I'm working on the last of six issues of Giant Days for Boom, the fourth Bad Machinery collection for Oni Press, and steering my current webcomic to a natural end. I'm going to have to take a couple of weeks off to gather up all the notes, diagrams and half-complete plans and come up with some sort of map to where I'm headed over the next couple of years. I've got a lot of ideas - the hardest thing is deciding which one to go with.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Tackleford, England is a town full of mysteries. Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred just want to help the mysterious old immigrant woman keep her home. Jack, Linton, and Sonny just want to find out why the owner of the local football stadium has been plagued by a curse. If only the two groups could stop fighting with each other, they might realize there's a shared solution...

Of course, when you're just starting your first year at Griswalds Grammar School, nothing matters quite as much as football, friends, stylish jackets, trading cards, or your nerdy teacher's fancy wife. And when all of these things are competing for your attention, just how are you supposed to find the time to solve mysteries, anyway?


• • • • • • • • • • •


Monday, April 27
Cece Bell interviewed at Sturdy for Common Things

Tuesday, April 28
Kazu Kibuishi interviewed at Geek Dad

Wednesday, April 29
Joey Weiser interviewed at The Brain Lair

Thursday, April 30 
James Kochalka interviewed at Bumbles & Fairy Tales

Friday, May 1
Mariko Tamaki interviewed at A Book and a Latte

Saturday, May 2
Jorge Aguirre interviewed at The Windy Pages

Sunday, May 3
Luke Pearson interviewed at Mr. Schu Reads

Monday, May 4
Jeffrey Brown interviewed at For Books’ Sake

Tuesday, May 5
Cecil Castellucci interviewed at WinterHaven Books

Wednesday, May 6
Frank Cammuso interviewed at Reading with ABC

Thursday, May 7
Hope Larson interviewed at The Book Wars

Friday, May 8
Eric Orchard interviewed at Alice Marvels

Saturday, May 9
Kean Soo interviewed at Jenuine Cupcakes

Sunday, May 10
Dave Roman interviewed at Amy the Frog Queen

Monday, May 11
Gene Luen Yang interviewed at Finding Wonderland

Tuesday, May 12
Nathan Hale interviewed at Kid Lit Frenzy

Wednesday, May 13
John Allison interviewed at Supernatural Snark

Thursday, May 14
Maris Wicks interviewed at The Roarbots

Friday, May 15
Jenni and Matt Holm interviewed at The Busy Librarian

Saturday, May 16
Craig Thompson interviewed at The Book Rat

Sunday, May 17
Chris Schweizer interviewed at Panel Patter

Monday, May 18
Sara Varon interviewed at Sharp Read

Tuesday, May 19
David Rubin interviewed at Teen Lit Rocks

Wednesday, May 20
Adventures in Cartooning interviewed at Word Spelunking

Thursday, May 21
Mike Maihack interviewed at Bookish

Friday, May 22
John Patrick Green interviewed at Haunted Orchid

Saturday, May 23
Rafael Rosado interviewed at Shae Has Left the Room

Sunday, May 24
Faith Erin Hicks interviewed at Good Books and Good Wine

Monday, May 25 
Dan Santat interviewed at SLG Fuse #8

Tuesday, May 26
Andy Runton interviewed at The Hiding Spot

Wednesday, May 27
Colleen AF Venable interviewed at Graphic Policy

Thursday, May 28
Jay Hosler interviewed at My Bookish Ways

Friday, May 29t
Eleanor Davis interviewed at Love is Not a Triangle

Saturday, May 30
Ben Hatke interviewed at YA Bibliophile


  1. What an interesting interview!

  2. I don't read comic books, but this was a very unique and engaging interview, Jenny! Makes me want to check these books even though it's not my genre. :)

    1. I've read a couple graphic novels and really enjoyed those, the artwork never fails to fascinate me:)

  3. Interesting that the author listens to podcasts while working, fun idea!
    Great interview Jenny!

  4. I can't think of the last time I read a comic book, this interview makes me want to read one. Fun interview!

    1. It's definitely been a while for me too Heidi! Must change that:)

  5. Fun interview! I read comics as a kid though they weren't anything like they are today. So far my daughter is pretty picky with comics and doesn't often like them but my son might love them and it seems like it fits his personality better. When he's older I can see how it might be the way I get him to read.

    1. I just gave a really cute comic series to my niece and she is OBSESSED with it. Makes me happy to see:)

  6. Thank you for the wonderful post! It sounds like as artist, you both share some great likes tunes wise!! :) What a fun idea to listen to podcast while working.

  7. Oh, well this was pretty cool! Not a genre I read but I'm always impressed with the artistry and work that goes into each and every drawing. Great interview!

  8. This is such a fun tour! It's really getting me interested in books I wouldn't have otherwise had exposure to. Thanks for sharing this fun interview!