"What Is It?"
Authored by Nicole Hoang
Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen
Unwrapping the fun backstory to the book...
You know Dustin Nguyen from Descender, Li'l Gotham, and other various Batman comics. When he was going to marry Nicole Hoang, he had a special surprise for her and their wedding guests. Dustin found an old story she had written when she was ten-years-old. The surprise was he illustrated the story and everyone at the wedding got a copy of the book.
Dustin and Nicole are now bringing the book to a wider audience, through BOOM! Studios with all new art to go with it. The book will be released in July and KaBOOM! will have advanced copies at San Diego Comic-Con.
Unwrapping some beautifully painted illustrations for you to enjoy...
About the book...
"It’s rather strange, I’d have to say.
I saw the thing just yesterday.
What is it?
What could it be?
Someone please answer this for me!"
A little girl encounters a strange creature in the forest and tries to figure out just what it is. Strangely, the little creature is trying to do the very same thing with her.
The story was written by Nicole Hoang when she was ten years old and her loving husband added brilliant illustrations and published her exact words as a gift to her at their wedding. All the attendees received a copy too. What an amazing idea!
The story is one of wonder, exploration, and friendship. It is written simply like a ten year old would and leaves lots of room for conversations about the creature, the little girl's feelings as she interacts with the creature. Perhaps the young reader can create a name for it, thus labelling a brand new species of life. This book has not a lot of depth a whole lot of heart.
Storywraps rating... 4 HUGS!!!!
About the author and illustrator...
Dustin Nguyen is a New York Times Bestselling and Eisner Award winning American comic creator.
Currently, Dustin illustrates Descender, a monthly comic published through Image Comics in which he is also co-creator of, alongside artist/writer Jeff Lemire. He is also working on the next installment of Scholastic's Secret Hero Society as well as Lil' Gotham for DC Comics with Derek Fridolfs, slated to release next year.
WHAT IS IT is his first children's book, illustrated by Dustin and written by his wife Nicole Hoang as a child in 5th grade. It is produced by BOOM! Studios and distributed by Simon & Shuster.
His past body of work includes - Wildcats v3.o, The Authority Revolution, Batman, Superman/Batman, Detective Comics, his creator owned project- Manifest Eternity, Batgirl, and Batman: Streets of Gotham. He is also credited for co-writing and illustrating Justice League Beyond , illustrating Vertigo's American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares with writer Scott Snyder, and co-creator of DC's all ages series- BATMAN: Lil Gotham written by himself and Derek Fridolfs. Aside from providing cover illustrations for the majority of his own books, his cover art can also be found on titles from Batman Beyond , Batgirl, Justice League: Generation Lost, Supernatural and Friday the 13th, to numerous other DC, Marvel, Darkhorse, Boom, IDW, and Image Comics.
Outside of comics, Dustin also moonlights as a conceptual artist for toys and consumer products, games, and animation.
He enjoys sleeping, driving, and sketching things he cares about.3+
Just for fun... going deeper
(this interview is from bleeding cool.com)
Christine Marie: Hi Dustin and Nicole! Thank you so much for joining me here on Bleeding Cool.
Dustin Nguyen: Thanks for having us!
Nicole Hoang: Thank you.
CM: I just had the pleasure of reading KaBOOM!’s first ever children’s book entitled What Is It? This is all thanks to the two of you! Before we talk about the story, will you share with readers the origin?
DN: Originally, it was a short story Nicole wrote as a kid for fun; she drew it herself on index cards and tied it together with ribbons. I think it was just something she did for herself. She showed it to me before we were married and I thought it would be a fun surprise to redraw her story and make a small book as a gift for the guests at our wedding. I printed about 300 copies with the help of friends. This was in 2002; the version that the rest of the world will see is an entirely redrawn version, not drawn over a weekend haha.
NH: I was just about 10 years old, so honestly can’t remember too much, but I think I just created the story for fun. Growing up, I read a lot, and my favorites were the works of writers like Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl. I think this might have been where it all stemmed from.
CM: What are the differences now versus your original draft? Did it always rhyme?
NH: It’s actually the exact same story word for word as my original. We’ve kept the entire wording the same. The only difference is the art is now by him rather than myself.
CM: Dustin, your beautiful artwork brings these wonderful characters to life. What was your creative process like when thinking about the design for both the characters and the simplistic backdrops?
DN: I created the creature based on Nicole’s description of it in the book. She was very descriptive for a kid, so it was easy to follow. For the setting, I went with an autumn/ seasonal atmosphere since Fall is Nicole’s favorite season.
CM: What do you think makes this story important? It’s certainly a good thing to add a children’s book into the world of comics. Do you think it will encourage young readers to pick up other books they wouldn’t normally gravitate towards?
DN: I’m a huge fan of pictures and words, so I can say this is pure joy for just myself. If we can get kids to read it and create stories of their own, that would be a definite plus. I’m just glad we’re able to share it with the world.
NH: I hope it does! Finding the time to read is the one thing I miss most now that I’m an adult with much less time and much more responsibilities.
CM: What was the most rewarding and challenging thing about working on this book?
DN: Finally getting to put out a book with Nicole is the best thing ever. The most challenging part was really just finding the right way to translate the ideas of a 10-year-old. :D
NH: It was pretty easy on my end this time around, I finished it long ago haha. The reward is having it done to share with our friends and family.
CM: Finally, I always like to ask creators, if you had to describe the book in three words, what would they be?
DN & NH: What is it. :D
I had the pleasure of reading the book early, and wow it is delightful. I can’t wait to buy a copy for my niece and read it to her! I hope this is something that comic book publishers continue to do as time goes on. KaBOOM! is simply the perfect imprint to kick things off. What is it will be available July 27 in comic shops and August 2 in bookstores.
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It's a wrap.