Interview with Shannon and Dean Hale

So, the below interview questions were supposed to be part of the Calamity Jack tour but with the holidays and book release, I unfortunately didn’t get them in time.  However, I hate to think that they wasted their time, so I’m going to post them anyways. (Plus the answers are a lot of fun!) Enjoy!


First, I have to start by saying that normally I’m not a fan of graphic novels, but I love this series. Where did the inspiration/idea come from?

SH: Thanks, Bookblather! What a gorgeous compliment. I wanted to collaborate with my awesome husband, who is brilliant but tragically apathetic. We combined our first loves: comic books + fairy tales, and this is where it took us.
DH: My first love is actually apathy, but combining that with anything doesn’t really make a good story. So we went with my second love.

Out of all the fairy tale characters out there, why did you pick Jack and Rapunzel as your hero/heroine?

SH: Rapunzel irritated me. I wanted her out of that stupid tower and in the world doing cool things. Jack just is cool. The rogue is an intriguing character.
DH: It was totally Shannon. I wanted to do the woodsman from Little Red Riding, but wolf-dismemberment didn’t quite seem all-ages appropriate.

What inspired you to choose the Old West setting?

SH: Westerns rock! But really it was all about the hair. We wanted Rapunzel to use those braids as weapons, and the Old West was the setting that made sense.
DH: We also briefly toyed with an “Indiana Jones” type of setting, given the hair as bullwhip, but it just felt too derivative. And less interesting.


Do you have a favorite character in the series?

SH: Rapunzel of course! She’s awesome! But I love Freddie too. And Jack. And Brute. And all the creatures, especially in Calamity Jack, which I won’t name for fear of spoilers.
DH: Apart from the mains, the bandersnatch is my favorite in Calamity Jack. And probably Witchy Jasper from Rapunzel.
SH: The bandersnatch is creepy. Eyes as toothy maws is creepy. So you know it was Dean.


Will we be seeing more of Jack and Rapunzel in the future?

SH: I hope so! I don’t want this to sound like a cheap plug for the book, but the honest truth is, the better the books sell, the more likely we can do more. Nathan Hale feeds a family of 12 (or is it 4?) on this meager income. Save the Nathan Hale children!
DH: I’ve suggested Nate sell his children’s organs for the disposable income, but after some research, he decided against it. Turns out organ farms are way more complicated to organize than I thought.


How is the process of writing a graphic novel different?

SH: We have to be so brief! I’m used to the luxury of 300 pages. And werely so much on the illustrations. I’m not as in control of the story, which is scary and wonderful.

I know Rapunzel’s Revenge was the first GN for all. Was there anything that changed while writing/drawing Calamity Jack?

SH: Ironically, CJ was TONS harder to write than RR. You’d think we would have learned the process and had a smooth sailing, but CJ really kicked our collective buttocks.
DH: The actual format of the Calamity Jack script was a little different than the Rapunzel one – we already knew, sort of, how Nate worked, so we were more loose with panel descriptions, unless they had specific plot impact. There were a couple of scenes we knew he’d love to have some fun with, so we just said, “Fight scene. Have fun. Let us know if you want it written out.” He didn’t.


Thank you very much to Shannon and Dean Hale for taking the time to answer my questions!


GN Inspection: Calamity Jack

GN Inspection: Calamity JackCalamity Jack by Dean Hale, Shannon Hale
Release Date: Jan. 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 144
Source: KidzBookBlog

Welcome back to the Old Wild West with a twist of fairy tale magic. Calamity Jack picks up where the Hales left us after Rapunzel's Revenge, but this time the story belongs to Jack. After running away after the whole beanstalk incident, Jack's decided to return home with Rapunzel (and her trusty braids). Hoping to right previous mistakes, he never imagined he'd come back to find his beloved city taken over by evil giants. Unable to run anymore, Jack must find a way to out-smart the giants and return the city to the people who live there. With a little help from Rapunzel, a pixie, and guy with odd inventions, he may just be able to turn himself from a criminal mastermind to a beloved hero.

The Short of It: Two big thumbs up. Calamity Jack is easily added onto my list of favorite graphic novels. I’m thrilled to be able to continue to rave about the greatness of this series.

Story: I was so excited to get the opportunity to be on this tour, but I was a little afraid it wouldn’t live up to Rapunzel’s Revenge greatness. I realize now how foolish it was to doubt and can say safely that it was good as I hoped for. The Hales successful deliver another unique story that’s full of fun and adventure. I adore how they can take a beloved fairy tale/story and twist it into something new. While I felt like this was the Jack I had known and loved, the Hales managed to breath new life into the character. I don’t know if I ever felt Jack so fleshed out before. And really, the only thing I have left to say is I certainly hope this is not the last we see of Jack and Rapunzel. I’m quite anxious to see what other adventures their future may hold.

Illustrations: Again Nathan Hale manages to bring this world alive with beautiful pictures. Admittedly, it’s been about a year since I’ve read Rapunzel’s Revenge, but I don’t remember the level of detail that was included in Calamity Jack. I’ve found myself going back through several times just to look at the illustrations. (And I suppose I should mention that I’m the type who usually ignores illustrations because I struggle with paying attention to both). I simply cannot wait for the finished copy to come into the library so I can look through it again with full-color(the arc only had B&W illustrations). I have a feeling that the color is going to take the illustrations to a whole new level and I’m excited to see if my intuition is right.

Librarian Mode: Rapunzel’s Revenge/Calamity Jack is great for those first time, non-graphic novel loving readers. The story is easy to follow, but exciting enough to keep one entertained, especially with the full-color illustrations. I think Calamity Jack may gear a little more towards boys, who will love all the action/fighting. Girls may be a harder sell, especially if they don’t like graphic novels, but if they give it a try they may just like it.

To check out the rest of the tour, see the links below:

My Own Little Corner of the World
Book Blather
Book Crumbs
Abby (the) Librarian
Dolce Bellezza
The Book Cellar
Carrie’s YA Bookshelf
Bookshelf Monstrosity
Everyday Reading
Frenetic Reader
Sally Apokedak
Reading is my Superpower
Through the Looking Glass Book Review
Booking Mama
Cafe of Dreams
Becky’s Book Reviews
The Hungry Readers
The Friendly Book Nook
Maw Books