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.
Recently, I wrote three original graphic novels for kids: 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 on January 1, 2021. I’ll be talking about Trevor, the Very Best Giant and The Troll Under Puzzlefoot Bridge in future blog posts.
But in the meantime, I just wanted to share a few thoughts about Frankie and the Dragon.
Here’s the official publisher’s description for this book: “Frankie Marble is shy. She is afraid of heights. She is too scared to enter the school talent show. But all that changes when she meets Bandit, the dog-that-is-definitely-not-a-dragon! Read all about their adventures in this graphic novel!”
Frankie and the Dragon is a tribute to my daughter Aviya. Like Frankie, Aviya is Black. Like Frankie, Aviya wears glasses. And like Frankie, Aviya is an introverted bookworm who loves to draw. Also, like Frankie, Aviya wears her hair in a “pineapple” hairstyle (at least sometimes). My daughter likes reading books and graphic novels which feature characters who look like her. I know she’s not alone in that regard. So in a way, this book is for all the nerdy Black girls out there who are like my daughter (and my wife, for that matter). Representation matters.