Joining MPB to talk about his work in The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, Todd Harris is the first illustrator I have ever interviewed!
GC: How did you and Christopher Healy come to collaborate on Hero's Guide?
TH: We met in the belly of a UFO after we were both abducted by aliens, and we shared an observation table while the aliens poked at us. This is where we started to toss ideas around.
The real story is much less glamorous. The art director for the project contacted me and asked me for some character sketches. About 1/2 way through the project I stalked Christopher and found him on Facebook and we started to develop a relationship. Before that we were just communicating through the art director and editor. I'm glad we are now in direct communication. He's really cool and we have great synergy.
GC: Do you have a favorite illustration from the novel?
TH: I love doing the character sketches because I come up with all kinds of back stories while I'm creating them. For instance, the giant has his beard tied into small sections. This is because birds are always trying to nest in it, so he has to tie it to keep them out. My very favorite illustration, though, is towards the end and shows a tender moment between Rapunzel and Gustav. In this scene, Gustav is redeemed and it shows Rapunzel's capacity to heal and be compassionate.
GC: If you could illustrate any children's novel ever written, which one would it be?
TH: I've always wanted to illustrated the Jabberwocky story from Lewis Carol's The Looking Glass. It's a poem that fascinates me and could be expanded into a cool story. I love the rich imagery and whimsical, nonsense words that captivate me and fire up my imagination.
GC: Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?
TH: YES!! Follow your passions. If you illustrate what you love, you'll put your heart in it and do you'll do your best work.
GC: What's next for you?
TH: I want to keep visualizing stories that I love and work on visualizing my own stories. I'm working with another author on a project - science fiction this time. I'm also working as the art director at a video game studio, trying to get it off the ground. I am grateful every day that I have a job where I can use my creativity. I wouldn't survive if I couldn't.