Archive for the ‘folklore’ Category

Time-traveling Socks and Neurotic Centaurs

9/22/21

Recently, I wrote a short story called “Previously On ‘Time Sock: The Sock That Travels Through Time.’” It was published in the August 2021 issue of Defenestration, a literary magazine dedicated to humor. “Previously On ‘Time Sock’…” is a story that parodies some of the more ridiculous, convoluted science fiction-themed TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s, especially shows that were produced by Glen Larson (e.g. Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Knight Rider). But “Previously On ‘Time Sock’…” isn’t a parody of a specific show; just the type of science fiction TV show that used to be quite common on television, 40 or 50 years ago. 

Here are some other short stories and humor pieces I’ve written during the last few months:

I wrote a story for The Daily Drunk called “If You Act Now…”

And I wrote a list for Points in Case. It’s called “Other Things That Were Considered Evidence of Witchcraft in 17th Century Salem.”

Last but definitely not least, I wrote a piece for Weekly Humorist called “Thanks To The Pandemic, Nobody Cares That I’m A Centaur.”

 

 

5 Things You May Not Know About The Loki Little Golden Book

4/16/21

The Loki Little Golden Book is my most recent children’s book project. It was published by Penguin Random House on January 5th, 2021, and it was illustrated by Hollie Mengert. This book was great fun to write. But every book tells two stories: the story of what the book is about (in other words, the plot), and the behind-the-scenes story of how the book was written. Here are a few things you might not know about The Loki Little Golden Book:

1) In the book’s opening scene, Loki is in Asgard, fooling a palace guard by conjuring a hologram-like image of Thor. Meanwhile, the REAL Thor looks on, annoyed, in the background. The original version of this scene was quite different: the guard is eating a sandwich, and Loki fools the guard by making it appear that his sandwich has COME TO LIFE. The sandwich had a face and everything! (At least, that’s the way I described it in the manuscript’s art notes, aka stage directions.) But I think that version of the scene was deemed too surreal, so I changed it to the one you see in the book. And that’s fine. But still, part of me longs to visit the alternate universe where Loki’s “sandwich-with-a-face” prank made it into the book.

2) This is a book for very young children, and so the idea that Thor and his family are basically deities is one that I can’t explore in a book for this age group. How do you describe what a god is without getting into thorny concepts like “worship” and “religion”? That presented me with a challenge: how would I describe Asgard, commonly known as the realm of the gods? I brainstormed a few different ways of describing it before I came up with one I was happy with: “Asgard, a mythical city of heroes.” Which is appropriate for the target demo of this book, and also accurate!

3) I wanted the dragon in this story to resemble dragons from Norse mythology. So while writing this book, I found several images of dragons from ancient Norse sculptures and paintings, and I included links to those images at the end of the manuscript, for Hollie’s reference.

4) There’s a double-page spread in the book that shows Loki skulking in the shadows as Thor hangs out with the Avengers. The narration in that spread talks about how Thor “sometimes sneaked to Earth to play pranks on Thor.” Originally the art notes for that spread showed Thor hanging out with the Avengers (on the left page) and Loki using his powers to make himself look like Captain America (on the right page). That was, of course, a reference to the scene in Thor: The Dark World where Loki does the very same thing. However, I figured that the “Loki impersonating Cap” image might be too confusing to small children who most likely hadn’t seen Thor: the Dark World.

5) Most Little Golden Books are either “meet the characters” books or “plot-driven” books. In “meet the characters” books, you meet the main character of a well-known IP and his/her/their supporting cast. The first Little Golden Book I ever wrote was The Doctor Strange LGB, which was a “meet the characters” book. It’s an introduction to the world of Doctor Strange, where you meet Stephen Strange, Baron Mordo, the Ancient One, Clea, Wong, Dormammu, Nightmare, etc. I also wrote an Avengers LGB called The Threat of Thanos, which was a “plot-driven” book: it was a simple plot with a beginning, middle, and an end. Thanos comes to Earth to find one of the Infinity Stones, the Avengers try to stop him, he defeats them using the Infinity Stones he’s already collected, and then when all seems lost, Thor outwits Thanos. It didn’t introduce the Avengers to the reader. Rather, the reader is seeing one of their adventures play out. BUT The Loki LGB is that rarity: a mash-up of both types of LGB. The first half is a “meet the characters” narrative, and the second half (with Loki bringing the dragon statue to life) is a “plot-driven” narrative.

“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.

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