Comics Squad: Lunch – Now With More Pearl Harbor! A Nathan Hale Interview
I like my comics like I like my men. Chock full of lunch and Pearl Harbor references.
Hm? That didn’t make sense? Maybe not, but if nonsense is pouring out of my mouth then I believe it may have something to do with the excitement I feel about today’s guest. If the term “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales” means nothing to you then please be so good as to read this and this and then come back to me. As many of you know, he is the one-man genius factory behind some of the best history for kids out there today.
That’s in one corner. In the other corner is the Comics Squad series put out by Penguin Random House. The concept is simple. The books are about the size of your average Babymouse or Lunch Lady comic book. Inside, a bunch of different comic book creators riff on a theme. Last time it was recess. This time, lunch. And our man, Nathan Hale, did a story for it involving . . . well . . .
So where did that come from? He was kind enough to answer my questions on the subject.
Betsy Bird: I don’t know about anyone else, but I was pretty psyched when I saw The Hangman standing on the cover of the latest Comics Squad release. I think the reviewers are already mentioning that yours is a bit more serious than the other fare (Babymouse, kid Lunch Lady, Snoopy, etc.). How’d the editors approach you for the job?
Nathan Hale: Thanks! It is fun to see the Hangman on the cover. He must have looked a little too monochrome for the cover, because someone turned his gloves blue. He looks like he’s working with industrial chemicals or something.
You’re right about the tone. I hope the readers are cool with it. Reading the stories is like: silly story, funny story, goofy story, haha story, PEARL HARBOR!?! I figure readers will either love my story, or skip it completely.
Jennifer Holm approached me for a story. I loved COMICS SQUAD 1, and of course, I’ve always loved BABYMOUSE (fun fact: BABYMOUSE is the reason the Hazardous Tales books are colored in one color. I even got coloring tips from Matthew Holm early on.)
BB: The tale marks the first time WWII has been mentioned in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series. Did you already know that lunch-related story, or did you have to hit the books to find it?
NH: I had to hit the books. I started researching for an essay about the different meals soldiers ate through history. While doing that, I stumbled across this WWII potato story, I knew I had to do it.
BB: Did you have a competing lunch story you thought about using, or was this always your #1 choice?
NH: My first idea was to skip the history, and just do a goofy story about some chips. When I was a kid I didn’t have a TV. And there was a very popular show at the time called C.H.I.P.S.–California Highway/Interstate Patrol Squad. I never saw the show, so I thought I was missing an amazing show about walking talking tortilla chips who fought crime and had adventures. I drew my own version of CHIPS in my childhood notebooks. I was going to reboot that old idea for COMICS SQUAD. I’m really happy with how the WWII story turned out. But don’t count the CHIPS out just yet. They are still in development.
BB: How about yourself? Do you have a lunch story about yourself that you’d care to tell me?
NH: Once, when I was standing in the lunch line of my fifth grade school cafeteria, the cutest girl in the class, who was wearing a black turtle neck, sneezed and shot an unbelievable amount of snot all over herself. It was like she shot two barrels of silly string out of her nose. She was mortified, tried to wipe it all away, but, of course, she was in the black turtle neck, so it wasn’t going anywhere. She ended up just becoming entangled in it, like a Spiderman villain. The kids in line were so impressed by the biological display, that we didn’t even think about laughing until she had run from the cafeteria. It wasn’t “Ha-ha” it was “WOW!” As a kid, I thought, well, that must be a thing that happens to people. Yet, to this day, I’ve never seen it equalled.
Pretty gross. And, no, that was never a story I was tempted to do for COMICS SQUAD. Although, now that I think about it…
BB: Ew! And . . . kinda awesome. By the way, I don’t suppose you’d happen to be able to mention what the subject of the next Hazardous Tale will be, by any chance?
NH: Hazardous Tales #6 comes out in three months! It’s about the Alamo!
Right now I’m taking a one-book break from history comics to do a science fiction comic (not the CHIPS), then I’m going straight back into Hazardous Tales #7 and #8. I can hint that book #7 takes place in a VERY similar time to the COMICS SQUAD: LUNCH story.
BB: Fantastic. Gonna go over to Abrams now and poke ’em, poke ’em, poke ’em until I get my hands on that Alamo comic. Thanks go Nathan for chatting with me and to Cassie McGinty for setting the whole thing up. The new Comics Squad issue comes out January 26th, so keep an eye peeled for that one as well.
Filed under: Interviews
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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