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About the Book
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Newell’s favorite show of all time is The Captain! Newell is beyond excited when he learns that the Captain himself, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, will be at Monster Comic Con. He can’t wait to meet The Captain wearing his once-worn-by-The-Captain WWII crusher hat that his dad gave him. But when Newell brings the hat to school, it gets stolen from his backpack! Fart.When Newell finally spots the culprit wearing his hat in the hall, Mr. Todd confiscates it and reminds the students, “There are no hats to be worn in school!” Double fart. What will Newell do?! He wants his hat back so he doesn’t let his dad down and so he can impress his hero, but Mr. Todd refuses to return it! Just when Newell is about to give up, he receives a note from 8th grader Ethan: “I have an idea. Also, bring your friends. They can help too.” Can Newell, Ethan, and this ragtag group of friends pull off the perfect hat heist?
In this fun and imaginative full-color graphic novel, Jason Platt sends fast-talking, daydreaming, Newell on another desperate quest to save his favorite hat before he meets his all-time hero.
1: What drew me into writing graphic novels?
It’s funny. It was never something that I had set out to do. Or, it wasn’t something I had my sights on or anything. I kind of fell into it.
Like most kids, I loved reading the comic strips in the newspaper (I’d say I read the “Daily Strips,” but our paper in our small town was a weekly, so I DEVOURED them when I had a chance), and I would write and draw my own little things. They were clunky and awkward, but I loved them. They made me laugh. Luckily my grandma kept a lot of those drawings from my elementary school years. It’s fun to look back at them sometimes.
At that time, graphic novels weren’t really a thing. The only comic related books I could get were collections of comic strips (Mostly Garfield—I had a ton of Garfield books), and, when I got older, MAD magazine. So, there wasn’t a lot of choices for long-form storytelling to choose from. The only graphic novels that were really available to us were collections of superhero comics. I think one of the first graphic novels I read was Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” But there wasn’t much out there on the market that were non-superhero kind of things.
It’s funny how something kind of lands on your lap though. I had been working on a picture book when my literary agent gently nudged that I should come up with a long-form story using my characters from my little comic strip, Mister & Me. I thought it was a great idea. So, I started to write the first Middle School Misadventures book in the same format that a lot of popular books are like; you know, a section of prose here, and funny spot illustrations there and there. We showed it around, and it was an editor at a publishing house that asked if I would be interested in making it into a graphic novel instead.
I dove into it, and haven’t looked back. That’s pretty much how it happened!
2: What has been my favorite part of the process when it comes to writing a graphic novel?
Is it safe to say, the whole thing? (laughs)
It might sound like a safe answer, but I literally love every aspect of it all.
In the writing and penciling stage, I really love the planning and organization of it all. Not only figuring out the dialog and story, but designing the layout of how it will look on the page. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle that you not only create, but put together at the same time. It’s a terrific challenge.
In the inking stage, it’s so cool to see how the scratchiness of what I penciled come together.
And in the coloring stage I love the challenge of making all the colors work together to help tell the story. And in Middle School Misadventures: Operation: Hat Heist!, much like in the first one, I use colors to help identify when Newell (the main character) is breaking that fourth wall and talking directly to us; or to help identify when there is a flashback scene.
It’s hard to say specifically what process is my favorite. It would be like asking a little kid what part of a large Lego set they liked the best: receiving the set; building the set; or finishing it? Each one is super exciting.
3: Did I always want to write middle grade?
Not initially. It was when I became a parent that I really recaptured the love of writing for young readers.
I remembered how much fun I had reading during that time in my life, and how I felt like I was in those books and having the same adventures. Not to say I don’t have those experiences as an adult. But there’s something special when you start to read books on your own and you fall into that world that the author paints (physically and metaphorically). It’s a special time. I hope that my readers feel like they aren’t just reading the adventure, but sitting in the school cafeteria with my characters.
4: Do I see myself writing for other audiences like YA or Adult?
I try to keep up with the middle grade market, not only because I work in that field, but because I enjoy it. But it doesn’t mean I have stopped reading or appreciating work for older audiences.
There wasn’t a lot of reading options for graphic novels in the market when I was younger. And there was a certain stigma that was associated with comics as “not real art,” or “not real stories.” And as a teen if someone found you reading a comic related story they might try and shame you by saying that what you were reading was “kid’s stuff.”
So, it’s been great to see that acceptance of graphic novels bridge across to all audiences and give the younger readers, who are enjoying the content now, the knowledge that it’s good to enjoy them as they grow older.
But yes, (laughs) I would love to write for older audiences too.
5: What are some of my favorite graphic novels?
(In no particular order)
- Bone by Jeff Smith. Great art and epic storytelling. I think it’s this particular series that has opened many doors to the growth of graphic novels
- Be Prepared by Vera There is a lot of heart in this story that I immediately fell into. I love her style.
- Set to Sea by Drew A short and sweet read (a couple moments might be a little graphic for young readers). You can read this book in five minutes and feel like you’ve lived through this character’s lifetime. A gem for sure.
- New Kid by Jerry Craft. A great read that made me reflect on my own
- The Adventures of Tintin series by Hergé. Tintin is a staple in my
- Maus by Art A powerful story and human experience. I just couldn’t put it down.
- Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. A YA graphic novel with great art, great color, and a fun
6: What am I currently reading?
I always have a couple (who am I lying to? More like a few) books that I’m always reading.
- With my schedule, it’s hard to get to all of the books that I want to get into. So, while I work (mostly while I’m inking and coloring) I love listening to audio books. About every spring I always listen to Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire I’m currently in the second book, Dark Force Rising now.
- Vera Brosgol’s book Be Prepared. I got this last summer while my family and I were on vacation, and I am rereading it
- John Truby’s book The Anatomy of Story. I love reading and learning about the craft of
7: If I’m able to say, what are my current projects?
I’m currently working on a new middle grade graphic novel and a YA graphic novel too. Other than that, I keep a sketchbook next to me to jot down any ideas and inspirations for new stories to tell.
About the Author
Win a copy of MIDDLE SCHOOL MISADVENTURES- OPERATION: HAT HEIST by Jason Platt (US Only)
*Prize may be delayed due to shipping centers being affected by COVID-19