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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Interview with Judd Winick, Author of Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth

I'm thrilled to welcome Judd Winick, author of the new middle grade graphic novel, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, to The Hiding Spot today. Check out the interview with Judd below to learn more about the inspiration behind his main characters, the books that inspired him to write funny comics, and much more!

Can you share a bit about your inspiration for the characters in The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, especially DJ, Gina, and Hilo? 

Each of the characters borrow from lots of places. My life, my family, my friends, other fictional characters -- all over the joint -- then tossed into blender. But if I had to nail down some of the ingredients from each of them: 

GINA: Gina is a smart girl who likes science, who likes books, who likes to learn. That comes from my wife, Pam. Pam’s brilliant, loved astronomy as kid (like Gina), read like crazy (like Gina), but is super cool (like Gina). Pam is a doctor, has colored streaks in her hair, played in a rock band before medical school, and hey-- was on MTVs REAL WORLD. There’s a pile of Pam in Gina. 

DJ: DJ is a lot like me, or rather, maybe who I used to be. DJ is a kid who measures himself by what everyone else is doing. His family, his school mates. I’ve learned that life isn’t a competition. It took me long time to realize that. Aaaand, like me, he reads comics, loves sci-fi, and has got piles of action figures. 

HILO: Hilo is one part Doctor Who, one part E.T., one part Jason Borne, one part Superman, one part Mr. Spock, one part my son, one part my daughter-- yeah I know, too many parts! But mostly Hilo is inspired by what’s NEW. Everything is fascinating to him! If there’s a huge monster in front of them, his first reaction would be , “WHOA!! Look at that guy! “ DJ might yell, “Hilo! Run! That thing’s gonna kill us!” Hilo would say, “Yeah, but it doesn’t take away from how outstanding it is! Check this bad boy out!” He’s POSITIVE. Hilo’s a friend I’d like to have. (Who can fly and shoot lasers from his hands.) 
Tell me a little bit about your writing and illustration process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
I do all that. But if I’m lucky, I get to spend a lot of time NOT writing the next story I’m going to do. Case in point right now, I’m drawing Hilo book 3, it’s written, the story is complete, I’m drawing the whole thing. But I’m walking around most of the day thinking about Hilo book 4. I get to live with the story, I get to hear the characters talk to one another while I listen to music in my car, or shaving, or cooking. (and yes, sometimes I do all three of those things at the same time. I have many “driving a vehicle improperly” tickets.) So, when it comes time to write, I have many things worked out. I do not like sitting in front of the blank page. Ever. I like know what’s gonna happen. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
I have been blessed to have -- nearly--always have been a storyteller and/or cartoonist in some fashion. I’ve illustrated books, I did a daily syndicated comic strip, created and produced an animated series, written and drawn my own comics, developed live action TV and written super hero comics for years. And in truth, everything I’ve done has lead me to making Hilo. This series combines all the work I’ve done before. It’s an all ages, funny and dramatic action adventure that looks like a comic strip ( like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes). I’m very lucky. I wasn’t aware what I was “training” myself for. But it’s this. It’s Hilo
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Monkey. And because it’s the greatest word. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
Three books. Garfield at Large by Jim Davis, Bloom County, “Loose Tails”, by Berke Breathed and Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head and Other Stories, by B. Kliban. 

These were the first three cartoon books that made me want to draw funny cartoons. I was inspired. In each case they ushered in entire periods of my life where I’d ape and mimic these cartoonists styles. I found myself in these books.
What can readers look forward to next? 
Hilo book 2 all the way through book 6! This is a series. And it has a beginning, middle and end. Each book is a big leap forward. Things will change and characters will grow. But it’s gonna be really funny along the way. Promise.

About the Author

Judd Winick grew up on Long Island, where he spent countless hours doodling, reading X-Men comics and the newspaper strip Bloom County, and watching Looney Tunes. Today, Judd lives in San Francisco with his wife, Pam Ling; their two kids; and their cat, Chaka. When Judd isn’t collecting far more action figures and vinyl toys than a normal adult, he is a screenwriter and an award-winning cartoonist. Judd has scripted issues of bestselling comic series, including Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Justice League, and Star Wars, and was head writer on the Hulu network’s animated series, The Awesomes. Judd also appeared as a cast member of MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco and is the author of the highly acclaimed graphic novel Pedro and Me, about his Real World roommate and friend, AIDS activist Pedro Zamora. Visit Judd and Hilo online at
About the Book
Buy It / Goodreads
Introducing HILO—a funny, action-packed, full-color new middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls “delightful.”

D.J. and his friend Gina are totally normal kids. But that was before a mysterious boy came crashing down from the sky! Hilo doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a bad idea!)…But what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past? Can Hilo survive a day at school? And are D.J. and Gina ready to save the world?

HILO is Calvin and Hobbes meets Big Nate and is just right for fans of Bone and comic books as well as laugh-out-loud school adventures like Jedi Academy and Wimpy Kid!


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