[Audio] MSU Alumnus Chris Schweizer on Latest Graphic Novel and Inspiration
What do a mad scientist, a group of zany kids and monstrous frogs have in common? They're all in Murray State Alumnus Chris Schweizer's new graphic novel for kids, hitting brick-and-mortar and digital shelves this week. On Sounds Good, Chris talks about his experience as a graphic novelist and the inspiration behind his new book, The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs.
Graphic novels, Chris says, are not too dissimilar from comic books. While comics are periodicals, graphic novels are a serialization of individual issues into chapters of a stand-alone book.
Opening up a graphic novel would generally look the same as a comic. The storyboard style and grammatical language remain the same. "Basically, it's all comics," Chris says. "We're still using word balloons and panels to differentiate the moments in time."
Chris had been teaching a graphic comic program for five years while producing and publishing his books. When he arrived to the point where he couldn't do both, he became a full-time writer and artist of graphic novels.
His newly published graphic novel for kids in the third to sixth grades, The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs, had been merely an idea for quite a few years. Chris's involvement with graphic novels had generally been historical fiction, though he has always had a soft spot for horror and kids' horror.
As a kid, Chris gravitated to spooky stories featuring kid protagonists. "I think there's something incredibly vulnerable about being a kid in general," he says. "You're told where to go, you're surrounded by other kids, and you don't have the same social safety systems in play that adults do regarding that interpersonal behavior."
Chris jokes that kids can act like sociopaths towards each other and their actions are taken as normal because of their age. "I loved being a kid, don't get me wrong," he says. "But if you look back at the experiences you had as a kid, if you had those experiences as an adult, they would be terrifying."
Chris compounds those emotions with monsters in the physical realm because, in his mind, kids are less likely to resist the reality of the situation and are better equipped to conquer those obstacles.
"I like the moods and the content," Chris says. "So that's one of the things I wanted to bring out was those experiences I would have every October, put those on the page and give kids the chance to read something that would raise the hairs on the back of their neck and give them a reason to look over their shoulder."
The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrogs can be found on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million and Amazon.com. Chris's other works like original prints, character drawings and sketchbooks can be found here.