Paul Tobin is one of the two head writers for the Angry Bird comics, along with comics for Marvel, Dark Horse and DC Comics. He is writing episodes for the upcoming season of Angry Birds cartoon shorts, and his other current writing credits include Adventure Time: Flip Side series. He further rounds out his domination of iPhone games by writing the Plants vs Zombies comics. When given the chance to ask Paul Tobin a question, I wanted to know how he came to write for children – having two avid readers in the house at present I know first hand they can be a very appreciative – and also very critical audience! Here is what he had to say:
I didn’t start out to write for younger readers. I didn’t, to be honest, start out writing for anyone at all, beyond myself – who I consider to be my primary audience, since I’m having so much fun!
But I grew up reading a wide swath of comics and books, since my Grandmother Steinberg was a hoarder who attended several garage sales a week, and there were I always new comics and books to be had. I think the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys books were a favorite. Also anything with Uncle Scrooge. They both had mystery and adventure, and those two themes have been a part of what I love, and a part of my writing, ever since.
When I was in college I met Phil Hester, a comic book artist, and it was the first time that I’d really considered writing as a living. From that friendship, a few comics grew, and eventually I started working for Marvel Comics, specializing in a line of titles called Marvel Adventures, which was for younger readers. It was a cauldron of learning, for me! Every issue had to have a complete story, done in one, month after month, and I was doing three titles a month… meaning three complete stories, every month, month after month. It taught me how to tell stories quickly, and to really let my imagination fly, because new stories were a constant demand
I’ve left Marvel behind these days, but I still write comics for younger readers, such as Angry Birds or the NYT best-selling Plants vs. Zombies stories, where I can absolutely let my imagination run rampant. I adore absurd humor (being raised on Monty Python is a likely culprit!) so I have a great love for children’s books, where it’s okay to be ridiculous, as long as you’re consistent. I think that’s one of the main tenets of writing for children: it’s okay to be weird, but don’t go back on your word. Be honestly weird. Consistently weird. Weird within rules.
Expanding my writing from comics to novels was a natural jump for me. I love working on comics such as Bandette…. the adventures of a teen thief that I create with my wife, artist Colleen Coover… but at times I want to have complete control over a story, whereas comics is a collaboration with the rest of the creative team. So, one day when I was already working on an urban fantasy novel that requires SO much research, I decided to start another novel that would give me a mental break… a novel where I could just have relentless fun at a breakneck pace, and exploring character and humor and science. The Genius Factor series was the result!
These days, my writing projects are quite varied, ranging from novels like the Genius Factor series to horror comics such as Colder, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award. I think it’s important to challenge yourself as a writer, to explore several niches / genres / interests. It broadens me as a writer, and as a person. I will always love writing for children, because there’s still a kid in me that loves picking up those Uncle Scrooge comics, or the Harry Potter novels, either laughing at what’s next, or breathless for what’s on the next page. It’s still an adventure, every day.
How To Capture An Invisible Cat is the first book in a hilarious new series by Paul Tobin. It perfectly blends the quirky inventions and and experiments of Jimmy Neutron with the whacky humour of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Every Friday the 13th, 6th-grade genius Nate Bannister does three no-so-smart things to keep life interesting. This time, he taught a caterpillar to read, mailed a love letter and super sized his cat Proton before turning him invisible. Now Proton is on the loose, and Nate and his new friend Delphine must reverse the experiment before the cat crushes everything and everybody in town.
As if that’s not enough, the Red Death Tea Society known for its criminal activity, killer tactics and tea-brewing skills is plotting against Nate and Delphine. The dynamic dup mist use their creativity, courage and friendship to save the day.
Perfect for fans of David Walliams and Tom Gates, this first book in the Genius Factor series was given a 10/10 by Miss 7 and Miss 9. Pre-order your copy here.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing I have 3 copies to give away!
Entry is on the How To Catch An Invisible Cat post on my Facebook page.
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