It’s always fun being interviewed by Steven Bergson of Jewish Comics Blog, because he’s so prepared and knowledgeable. Here’s the first few questions from the interview he just posted:
Jewish Comics Blog : How has your life changed since wining the Sydney Taylor Book Award and having its sequel recognized as an SBTA Honor Book?
JCB : In my last interview with you, you told us to expect a wedding in the 2nd book. Yet, that wedding never materialized. Why did you change your mind and will we be seeing a wedding in a future Hereville book?
JCB : It has already been speculated by comix scholars that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster may have been alluding to the Kindertransport when they had Superman‘s parents send him away from a world on the verge of destruction to the safe haven of Earth. This was mentioned in Harry Brod’s recent book Superman Is Jewish? In Hereville 2, you cleverly made a parallel between Mirka’s great-great-bubba’s journey from the Old Country to the New Country (presumably because of antisemitism, though that’s never mentioned) and the separation of the meteorite from her meteor sisters. Were you inspired at all by the Superman origin story?
To read my answers to these and Steven’s other questions, head on over to the Jewish Comics Blog.
…And the same drawing rotated 180 degrees.
If you’ve met me at a comic book convention, you may have noticed the little herd of toy pigs decorating my table. I bought those when I was drawing the first Hereville book, to help me draw the pig character! I took hundreds of photos of those plastic pigs, from every angle and height, and used them as reference while drawing the comic.
You can see a pattern on the pig in the photo above. This was contributed by one of the two small girls I live with, at some point when I wasn’t in the room to stop them. :-p
I didn’t use the models during book 2, since the pig only appeared in one panel. But I still have the little herd of pigs, and when they’re not appearing at cons they stand in my drawing area, near a Peppermint Patty figure.
When kids read my rather depressing and angst-ridden short comic “How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil,” they pretty much all react the same way: They make little tin foil people, just as my character Joel did in the comic! Which I think is kind of awesome.
This photo is of my wonderful niece Jemma Andersen. 🙂 And here are her tin foil superheroes:
So I decided that for once, I wouldn’t spend the whole con at my table, instead wandering around and looking at other folks comics and even attending panels now and then. It was neat. The best line I can recall from any panel is Dylan Meconis, in her spotlight panel, suggesting that “the Hero’s Journey” is the french fries of story structure.
Here I am at my table, in a photo taken by Joshin Yamada:
Yes, that is one of my favorite shirts. My one regret about this photo is that it doesn’t show my new sneakers, which are bright bright red.
(Edited to add: And actually, I wish I had put my left hand on my chin, so my pose would more closely echo the post of the character on the cover of “How To Make A Man Out Of Tin Foil.” Oh, well, next time.)
More Joshin pictures from Stumptown: Jake Richmond (colorist of Hereville, creator of Modest Medusa, looking as if he’s doing algebra in his head), Becky Hawkins (rockin’ the lace), Ben Hsu (giving the ever-reliable thumbs up. You can’t go wrong giving a thumbs up!), Jaymz Bernard (sporting a t-shirt that matches her arm tattoo), Diana Nock (I don’t have a snarky comment for Diana), and Taran Manley Lee (flanked by Taran’s frequent sidekicks Jenn Lee and Kip Manley).
I was sharing my table with Becky and with Diane Riffe, who was their with her very first mini-comic, an adorable all-ages tribute to Diane’s dog Luna. Alas, Diane didn’t happen to be there when Joshin came by, so as far as I know she escaped unphotographed.
First, This Is Not Jewish wrote, about “Hereville”:
This is a real thing, guys…and a graphic novel to boot.
EDIT: Be still my heart, it has a sequel too! And he’s working on a third! *squee*
Then B’rakha replied:
I HAVE THIS BOOK
IT IS GLORIOUS
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO ANYONE ON THE PLANET
And finally, 3gee – perhaps trying to counterbalance B’rakha’s all-caps by dispensing with caps altogether – wrote:
what i can’t get over is the fact that barry deutsch, the author, is a white liberal goy living in portland oregon, but he not only did his research, he fucking nailed what it means to observe shabbat in all its glory and frustration, and how you shape your life around prayer and halacha but that’s no big deal, that’s just what you do
her conflicts are with her parents, not her religion
I’m not a “goy” by standard American definitions – I’m not observant, but I am Jewish – but whatever, it’s still a great compliment!
I got this email last week (posted with permission, of course):
I am an ELL [English Language Learners] teacher at Freedom Middle School in DeKalb County, Georgia. My students are all refugees who just arrived this year. Most of them are from Nepal or Burma, but I also have students from Thailand, Russia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Eritrea. The languages spoken in my classroom include Tiringia, Amarhaic, Arabic, Karen, Thai, Russian, and Burmese. Depending on their home country and situation, their educational background varies greatly.
We are reading Hereville and they LOVE it! Since they are learning English for the first time, we spent the first part of the year reading children’s books. When we began reading your graphic novel, which is accessible and age appropriate, they were so excited. They whine and complain every day when we finish our lesson.
I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with my students for a Q&A session. They would prepare questions ahead of time to ask you, and then each of the 15 students would ask their questions. I think the students would really enjoy meeting the author of the book they are enjoying so much.
I am not able to pay you for the session as my school does not have extra funding, and our county is struggling as well this year. But I could send you my lessons that I’ve used to teach Hereville. You could include those on your website, and perhaps that would help encourage other teachers to use the books in their classroom.
ELL Teacher, Intensive English Program
Freedom Middle School
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Needless to say, I said yes (I always say yes to Skype visits for schools that don’t have funding for author visits). The visit is scheduled to take place tomorrow; I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m looking forward to posting Sara’s Hereville lesson plans sometime in the future.
From the Jewish Journal’s article on “Books that make perfect Chanukah gifts“:
Those looking for a gift for kids who like comics and adventure stories can’t go wrong with “Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite” (Amulet) by author/illustrator Barry Deutsch. This highly anticipated sequel to the 2010 Sydney Taylor Award-winning graphic novel has nothing to do with the holiday of Chanukah, but it would certainly make a fabulous gift. […]
Kids will love the zany plot and the brilliance of the art that proves superior at conveying typical childhood emotions with great empathy. What a treat to have Mirka back! Parents and relatives of 9- to 12-year-olds of any denomination who like comics, reading or action surely won’t go wrong by picking up the first two volumes of this witty and popular new series for middle-grade readers.
Thank you, Lisa Silverman!
Although I always find it a bit odd that Hereville is said to be for “9- to 12-year-olds,” since I’m trying to create an adventure comic book that I’d enjoy were I the reader. Apparently I’m very immature for someone in his forties. (Not exactly news).
You can find information about buying both Hereville books here.
What: Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite book premiere.
When: Thursday, November 15, 7:30pm.
Where: Powell’s on Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon
For those of you in or near Portland, Oregon, please come join me at Powell’s on Hawthorne, 7:30pm on Thursday.
I’ll be there to sign books, answer questions, and show a slideshow (including a super-cool animated film of my drawing process). There will be a reading from one of the Hereville books. For the first time ever at a Hereville event, long-suffering Hereville colorist Jake Richmond will on hand to answer questions and sign books.
About Hereville: How Mirka Met A Meteorite
Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite is a sequel to Barry Deutsch’s cult hit kid’s graphic novel (is there such a thing as a cult kid’s graphic novel) about “yet another monster-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish Girl.” It’s published by Abrams Books, through its Amulet imprint, and features writing and art by Barry Deutsch and colors by Jake Richmond.
Story: Mirka thinks she’s ready to be a sword-fighting hero – but she’s totally unprepared for having to save the town from a meteorite strike! But things get even more complex when the meteorite is turned into an exact duplicate of Mirka – except “stronger, faster and prettier,” as the Meteorite would be the first to say. Action and adventure gets mixed with an identity crisis turned to flesh, and Mirka must not only be brave but also make a leap into empathy to make things come out right.
Kirkus (starred review):
Watching Mirka fight the seemingly perfect version of herself is riveting. Deutsch has created a wonderful world in Mirka’s insulated Orthodox village and continues to capture it adroitly—though he has left himself enough room to blast Mirka out to space without readers batting an eye. Mirka is unflinchingly likable because she is so tempestuous and inexact, and really, who can’t relate to that?
This truly clever series is lots of fun.
School Library Journal (starred review):
The endlessly creative panel and perspective work adds visual interest and gives experienced graphic-novel readers plenty to savor. A well-crafted addition to a truly distinctive series.
Deutsch again melds fantasy, realism, and a whopping dose of imagination, incorporating both the particularities of traditional Judaism and the universal foibles of a girl who dreams big but forgets to plan ahead.
Comics Worth Reading:
Deutsch has become even more accomplished in his story construction, clearly and cleverly setting up later plot points through small, funny scenes early on. His facility with expression continues to be a high point, with Mirka’s reactions, and those around her, entertaining and involving.
Deutsch continues his delightful and unique series featuring a modern Orthodox Jewish girl who is often bolder and braver than most 11-year-olds (boy or girl) might be…. Deutsch is a masterful storyteller.
…Magical, scary, funny and deeply emotional. Here is a book that is asking your children ‘what sort of person do you want to be?’ In a culture so caught up with cheap reality television and tabloid sensation, this is a little reassuring voice in the crowd. Its central message is all about being the better version of yourself, and perhaps not in the way we expect.
If you have a young daughter into which you’d like to instill a deep and profound love of graphic novels you could do worse than slipping How Mirka Met a Meteorite into their stocking this Christmas.
About the Author
Cartoonist Barry Deutsch lives in Portland, Oregon, in a bright blue house with bubble-gum pink trim. His 2010 graphic novel Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword was the first graphic novel ever to win the prestigious Sydney Taylor Award, and was also nominated for Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz, and Nebula awards. Deutsch won the national Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist in 2000 and was nominated for Comic-Con’s Russ Manning Award for Promising Newcomer in 2008. He is currently working on a third Hereville graphic novel.
Barry speaks at a previous Powells event.
Yesterday (October 20) was 24 Hour Comics Day!
What’s a 24 Hour Comic, you ask? It’s an invention of Scott McCloud’s:
To create a complete 24 page comic book in 24 continuous hours.
That means everything: Story, finished art, lettering, color (if applicable), paste-up, everything. Once pen hits paper, the clock starts ticking. 24 hours later, the pen lifts off the paper, never to descend again. Even proofreading has to occur in the 24 hour period. (Computer-generated comics are fine of course, same principles apply).
Although one can do a 24-hour comic any day of the year, it’s more fun to do it in tandem, hence 24 Hour Comics Day. Yesterday, at the studio where I work, myself, Jake Richmond, Ben Lehman, and Alan Ward all did 24 hour comics.
So here’s mine. It’s silly and not enormously well written or drawn, but perhaps you’ll enjoy it anyway. And it not, at least it won’t take more than a few minutes to read.