Five Questions with Kids Comic Authors: Dan Santat!
I’m so pleased to be participating in the Kids Comics Q&A Blog Tour. Today I’m happy to also announce that our interview is coming to us via the multi-talented Jorge Aguirre and Raphael Rosado (they of the books Giants Beware and this year’s Dragons Beware). They’re coming over here to chat with a fairly well-known fella. Perhaps you’ve heard of a certain Dan Santat? Darn right you have.
RAFAEL/JORGE: Congratulations on the well-deserved Caldecott! And thank you for taking our questions.
QUESTION (FROM RAFAEL): You wrote a blog post last year about burning out from working on so much work (which I totally sympathize with); do you think winning the Caldecott will help you slow down a bit, or fuel the fire even more?
DAN SANTAT: That’s a question I’ve still been asking myself since winning. I’ve noticed that I’ve been more committed to getting a decent night sleep instead of working late into the night. I have, however, already made some book commitments prior to winning the award which I have to abide to. As far as fueling the fire, I feel that this award offers me a bit more of an opportunity to work on my own self authored titles. I think I’ve spent far too much time setting my own stories aside for other project commitments and I want to transition to spending my energy creating more of my own material, but we’ll see.
QUESTION: How do you keep up the pace of work? Do you work on multiple projects at the same time?
SANTAT: I’ve thought about that recently, and I’ve sometimes wondered that myself. The truth is that I think my schedule was very hard on my body. I basically deprived my body of sleep to a point that it just got used to living on four to five hours a night with the consumption of lots and lots of coffee. I also had a very sedentary lifestyle just sitting and drawing all day until I started running in order to have more energy so I could work longer. I’m always working on multiple projects and I manage them by essentially devoting certain days to certain projects according to what is most urgent. I break up my workload into small chunks and spread it along an entire work week depending on the due date of the project and then just hit my marks on on those days to meet my deadlines.
QUESTION: We loved “Sidekicks!” Are there more comics in the future? How about an animated version of “Sidekicks?”
SANTAT: I’m currently working on my next graphic novel called “The Aquanaut” with Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic) and I have other graphic novel ideas in the works. Many folks have asked for a Sidekicks sequel over the years and since then I’ve seriously considered turning it into a trilogy. There are still lots of other stories I want to tell though, so we’ll see how well I budget my time and how I want to use it.
QUESTION (FROM RAFAEL): Do you miss working in animation at all, or are you fully dedicated to picture books now? By the way, I did a storyboard test for, “The Replacements” back in the day (I didn’t get the gig).
SANTAT: Sorry to hear that. I didn’t do any of the hiring for the show because I didn’t really have that eye for quality animators and board artists. I really was just an illustrator who was thrust into a position of having created a show and had absolutely no experience in the business. I actually don’t miss animation, at all. Well, to be honest, I don’t miss working with executives at all. They really stifle the process. It’s always about playing to the middle to try and get as many viewers as possible. It’s all about books for me. I’m all about the story. I trust a good story will always find its audience.
QUESTION: Do you prefer drawing/painting in analog or digital media? Or does one complement the other in your work?
SANTAT: When I do one I long for the other if that makes any sense. I honestly can’t get as much work as I do without doing it digitally, but i make a point to incorporate traditional media into the artwork as much as possible by use of paint, pen, ink, and watercolor textures. It’s taken me years to settle on a good middle ground where they compliment one another. I still experiment constantly.
Betsy here. Many thanks indeed to the good folks at First Second and to these clever fellas for the discussion today. For the full roster of blogs on this tour check out the links here.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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