First Second Announces Original Fairy Tales In Nathaniel Lachenmeyer And Simini Blocker’s ‘Hop Hop Wish’
I think we can all agree that the one big problem with fairy tales is that they just aren’t making a whole lot of new ones. Admittedly, they’re usually meant for an audience that hasn’t experienced a whole lot of stories, but still, it’d be nice to see someone exploring and adding to the genre — which is exactly what Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and Simini Blocker are doing with their new graphic novel, Hop Hop Wish.
Set for release in 2017 by First Second, Hop Hop Wish is a collection of four new fairy tales: “Hop, Hop, Wish,” “The Sorcerer’s New Pet,” “Ogreish Art” and “The Singing Rock,” which is described as the story of the world’s worst minstrel. And if that wasn’t enough to get you interested, Lachenmeyer and Blocker have provided us with an exclusive look at the series, including process art!
Hop, Hop, Wishis a collection of original graphic stories, each centering on a different fairy tale character. The project was inspired by my love of fairy tales, and by a promise I made to my son when he was six years old. An enthusiastic herpetologist, he insisted that I write a book with a frog as its hero. Another inspiration for Hop, Hop, Wish was my favorite children’s picture book as a kid—The Book of Giant Stories by David L. Harrison and Phillippe Fix. I was always fascinated by the variety in the stories and storytelling, and the brilliance of the artwork. It was a book I kept coming back to as I grew older, and that I now read to my own kids.
There are four stories in the collection. The title story, “Hop, Hop, Wish,” is an adventure saga about a tiny frog who cannot escape a wish-fulfilling genie that he has accidentally released from a magic lamp. “The Singing Rock” is the tale of the world’s worst singing minstrel, who refuses to let an evil witch’s hatred of music or her penchant for turning people into farm animals silence his passion for music. In “The Sorcerer’s New Pet”, a great sorcerer tries to stave off the machinations of a plagiarizing sorcerer intent on stealing his best spell with the help of a talking parrot. In “Ogreish Art”, a portrait painter learns from a hideous ogre king the importance of an artist painting what they see and feel instead of what they think people want.
Hop, Hop, Wish is my first graphic novel, but I have always loved the medium. Once upon a time, before I had kids, I was contracted to write a horror graphic novel (no frogs), but the imprint shut down before it was published. I am a visual writer by nature. There is nothing more enjoyable to me as a writer than mapping out a script—exploring the interplay of scene description, dialogue, and narration, breaking down the panels and pages. I am thrilled to finally be working in one of my favorite media. Hop, Hop, Wish has been a thoroughly rewarding and gratifying experience.
Blocker offers this look at the process of illustrating the book:
After I got the script, the first step was to read through and a get an overall plan for the book. I print the script then go through making notes for myself and doing an extremely rough pass at thumbnails, so I have a solid idea of where I’m going and what Nathaniel has laid out in the script.
I’m also starting to think about character designs for the various stories at this point, gathering reference and trying out different options. As part of the process of getting the job, I did some character design work, to show the look and feel of the book if I were to illustrate it. Included were the witch and minstrel for the story “The Singing Rock.” As characters that play opposite each other in the story, I tried to make sure their designs would also contrast and play off each other.
After the very rough thumbnail pass, I move into the computer (with photoshop and a tablet) to do a tighter version of the thumbnails to send to my editor, Calista Brill, and Nathaniel, so they can see the layout and flow of action. I like working digitally for the most part, since it allows me to move on to the next steps without any scanning. Also, the editing options are very helpful!
Once the layouts are approved and any necessary changes made, I can begin adding more detail, sketching the page out in blue so that I can then easily clean up the sketch- “inking” it in black pencil.
I prefer a somewhat rough pencil line, as opposed to straight ink, because it blends well with the color for a more painted look. After isolating and coloring the lines (again in photoshop), I paint underneath the lines as well as adding some paint on top and some watercolor textures to get the finished look . This is one of my favorite parts of the process— I love working in color and seeing the page finally come together. Final step- add the text and it’s done!