Welcome to the Lodestars!

3/24/21

I’m currently writing the scripts for a mobile game called eQuoo: The Next Generation: Lodestar. The game is a complete, top-to-bottom relaunch of a game called eQuoo, which came out a few years ago. PsycApps, the company behind both versions of eQuoo, uses gamification and psychology to help people maintain their mental health.

In early 2020, Silja Litvin, the founder and CEO of PsycApps, brought me on board to write this “Next Gen” version of the game.

You enter the game as a newly-minted member of a secret order of “time-jumpers” called Lodestars. As a Lodestar, you use a portable time machine called the Dial, which whisks you from one historical era to another. In each era, you have adventures and learn psychological skills that will help you build your emotional resilience, boost your relationship skills, and lower your anxiety.

Each era is also its own separate story. For example, Story 1, which is called “The House of Krondolar,” is a parody of fantasy epics like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. You can see all of the “House of Krondolar” characters in this poster for the game, which was illustrated by eQuoo’s multi-talented lead artist Celia Rodriguez.

eQuoo: The Next Generation is currently available on Google Play and the iOs App Store.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for the game, where you can see what the Lodestars and the Dial look like. The trailer also explains a little bit of the lore behind the game.

And check out this interview with Silja Litvin from the MiTale blog. Silja said some very nice things about me!

 


“Mythical Creatures” Interview On The Beat

2/13/21

Recently, I was interviewed by Taimur Dar, a reporter for the geek culture site The Beat. In the interview, I talk about the three “Mythical Creatures” graphic novels I wrote for Capstone. All three of those GNs came out on New Year’s Day 2021. You can check out the interview HERE.

And just in case you’re wondering, the titles of the three “Mythical Creatures” graphic novels are: Frankie and the Dragon (illustrated by Cesar Samaneigo), Trevor, the Very Best Giant (illustrated by Miguel Diaz), and The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge (illustrated by Alex Lopez).


Welcome to Lyric Acres!

12/31/20

Recently, I wrote three original graphic novels for kids. They are: Frankie and the Dragon (illustrated by Cesar Samaneigo), Trevor, the Very Best Giant (illustrated by Miguel Diaz), and The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge (illustrated by Alex Lopez). All three of these OGNs will be published by Capstone tomorrow, Friday, January 1, 2021. That’s right, they’re all coming out on New Year’s Day!

So Happy New Year! And Happy Book Birthday to these books!

Back in October, I wrote a blog post about Frankie and the Dragon. Today, I’d like to say a few words about The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge.

Here’s the official publisher description of that book:

“Noah Gruelle knew there was something odd about Puzzlefoot Bridge. But he never expected the clues to point him to Torvald, a troll living under the bridge! A mysterious spell causes Noah to get an even more up-close view of the surprising life of a troll. Learn what happens next in this exciting graphic novel!”

The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge is set in the fictional town of Lyric Acres, a quiet hamlet filled with creaky Victorian houses and bare, shadow-like trees. Lyric Acres is loosely based on Baltimore, Maryland, which is the city where I was born and raised.

When I was growing up in Baltimore, I was intrigued by the fact that it’s an old city. There are historic buildings in that town that have been around for hundreds of years. And Baltimore is a spooky city. Edgar Allan Poe lived there for quite a long time. Also, there are many haunted houses in Baltimore. You can even go on a “Ghost Tour” of Baltimore, where a tour guide will take you to all of these haunted locations. And the legendary comic book artist Bernie Wrightson was from Baltimore. He was most famous for drawing horror comics like Swamp Thing and Creepy.

For all of those reasons, there always seemed to be a very clear connection between Baltimore and the macabre. To me, anyway. And I figured that a city like that was the best place to set a story about a boy becoming friends with a troll. So when I was writing The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge, I wanted Lyric Acres to feel like Baltimore.

There’s a historic section of Baltimore, where the cobblestone streets are lined with rickety old buildings. Lyric Acres, by contrast, is ALL cobblestone streets and rickety old buildings. From what we see in The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge, the city is one big “historic section,” with very little modern architecture. Because that was more dramatic. And it gave the book the “Tim Burton for kids” vibe I was going for.

They say you can’t go home again, and that’s true. But you CAN write a graphic novel where you turn your hometown into a weird, old-timey cartoon city.


Getting To Know Franz Kafka

12/20/20

Recently, I wrote a humor piece for the comedy site Points in Case. It’s called “Franz Kafka’s Bar Mitzvah Speech.” You can check it out HERE.

I was inspired to write this piece when I was doing some research for a nonfiction project and I accidentally came across images of the Old-New Synagogue in Prague. My research told me that this was where Franz Kafka had his Bar Mitzvah. All of a sudden, images of Franz Kafka as an awkward, obnoxious 13-year-old Bar Mitzvah boy filled my head.

It struck me as funny. What would his Bar Mitzvah have been like? What gifts would he have received from his friends and relatives? What would his Bar Mitzvah speech be like? Who would he thank in that speech? Then I realized that I should write that speech. So I did.

When I first started working on this humor piece, it didn’t seem like it was really coming together. Kafka’s novels and essays and short stories are SO relentlessly dark and depressing and bleak. How would I make his Bar Mitzvah speech funny while still making it feel like something the REAL Kafka would write?

Then I realized I should make the adolescent Kafka sound like a combination of Gru from Despicable Me and Nandor from What We Do in The Shadows. What both of those characters have in common is that they’re very whiny and petty. If I could make teenage Franz Kafka that whiny and petty, while still making him somewhat dark (but, you know, not “adult-level-Kafka” dark), this humor piece could work.

Also, I needed to tap into teen Kafka’s anger, his rage against his parents and other authority figures. If he wasn’t angry, he’d just be sad, and this humor piece would ALSO just be sad. But the more teen Kafka railed against his parents and his rabbi and the frustrations in his life, the funnier he became. He was like an angry chihuahua: tiny and physically frail and not to be messed with.

There was just one last component I needed to really make this adolescent Franz Kafka come to life: I had to think about some of the things that were on my mind when I was preparing for my own Bar Mitzvah. So yeah, I put some of my own teenage grievances into the mix while writing this piece.

Hope you enjoy it! (Which is a needy thing to say, and one that Franz Kafka totally wouldn’t be on board with. Oh well…)

 


Please contact me if you want to use this for any reason. arie@ariekaplan.com