Mike Kunkel has been a cartoonist for as long as he can remember. He spends his time writing and drawing stories for animation, comics, and children’s books. He has won the Annie Award for Best Character Design in an Animated Series. And he is the 2-time Eisner Award winning creator of the comic series “Herobear and the Kid”. While working daily in the animation industry, he is creating new books for release through his company The Astonish Factory.
Despite all the preparations required for San Diego Comic-Con, Mike has (heroically) made time to answer some questions.
For what age audience do you write?
To be honest, I truly try to write for all ages. I want to create stories that are enjoyed from little kids to grandparents. It means a lot to offer stories that all ages can enjoy.
Henry: Indeed, we all have a kid inside us, struggling each day to remind us to not be too serious.
Tell us about your latest projects.
I have two brand new projects… The first is a brand new “Herobear and the Kid” adventure. It’s called “Picture Day”, and it is a fun one-shot story about Herobear and Tyler (the kid) saving the bridge in their town of Simpleton from an attack by the villain Von Klon and his “Sub-of-Doom.” “Herobear and the Kid” is a very nostalgic series with superhero origins. It’s written with the feeling and tones of Wonder Years and A Christmas Story. So with this story, I had fun writing about the memory of our school picture days and added in the adventure of fighting maniacal metal piranhas.
The other book I have coming out is a new children’s picture book entitled “Timmy and the Moon Piece.” It is the story of a little boy, named Timmy, and his fat little guinea pig, named Ton, that find a piece of the moon in the front yard one night. They decide to build a little rocket with their red wagon and fly the piece back up to glue it back to the moon.
Henry: I’m struggling to integrate “tone of Wonder Years” with “maniacal metal piranhas”. Well played, sir.
What do you hope readers will get from reading it?
My hope would be that with both these books, the readers enjoy the time they spend with my characters on the adventures. I hope at the end, they have a smile on their face.
What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
Sometimes it’s the scheduling and balancing of regular life that is the hardest to juggle with the writing/illustrating responsibilities.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your career?
Make sure you love what you’re creating. Don’t do it to please others, because you can’t please everyone. So make sure you love your creations first. That will then come through to the readers…your “tribe.” Enjoy the process and value your results. Don’t rush through your projects and not enjoy the the creating of them. And always celebrate the end result.
Henry: That is very sage advice.
Read the rest of the interview at Henry Herz’s blog on fantasy and science fiction books for kids.