On Friday June 4 and Saturday June 5, I attended Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. While I was there I had the honor of interviewing with several creators who make comics for kids and teens. Today’s interview (transcribed from the audio recording) features Chris Giarrusso, writer and artist who has worked on kid-friendly superhero titles such as G-Man: Learning to Fly (published by Image; reviewed here at GCFK by me back in October) and Mini Marvels (published by Marvel).
GCFK: How did you get started in comics?
Chris: I grew up reading comics and superhero cartoons, so I always had a love for them. I also loved the newspaper comic strips like Peanuts and Garfield. And I liked drawing a lot. Later on, when I got to college, I began drawing a comic strip for the school paper. Also, while I was in college I did an internship at Marvel Comics, which got my foot in the door and I learned all about how Marvel puts their comics together. I showed my work to the people there and they thought it was good enough that they said I could do some comic strips with the Marvel characters and it just kind of grew from there.
GCFK: You said that growing up you were influenced by superhero comics and comic strips. What about right now? Is there anyone whose work you just love?
Chris: I really like the stuff that Art Balthazar does with Tiny Titans [DC Comics] along with Franco Aureliani, his writing partner. I really like the superhero comic Invincible by Robert Kirkman [published by Image]. I think that’s like classic superhero comics. A lot more comics are dark and gritty these days. Everybody knows that’s the trend. Invincible is most like the comics I liked reading when I was a kid, where they’re not about a kid, they’re not necessarily for kids, but there’s just a lot of superhero action and fun. You get a lot in that book.
GCFK: Is that where the idea for G-Man came from, out of the stuff you loved as a kid?
Chris: It kind of evolved from the stuff I was doing at Marvel—the Mini Marvels characters, which was basically a combination of doing superhero comics and doing newspaper comic strips, the two things that I loved so much. The Mini Marvel stuff started to get recognized and I started to get recognized, so when I had the opportunity to do my own superheroes, I thought that I should just keep on doing what I was already doing. It just came really naturally to me and it was fun, so I decided to rewrite my own history in the form of superheroes. All the G-Man characters are based on me and my friends and my brother and my parents when I was growing up.
GCFK: What have been some of the responses to G-Man from parents and kids?
Chris: The people that read it like it. It’s kind of been tough to get people to take the leap from the Mini Marvels characters over to G-Man, but the people that actually do it wind up telling me afterwards that they actually like it more. So that’s always nice to hear!
GCFK: What are some of your upcoming projects?
Chris: I just finished a short G-Man story that’s going to be in the Reading with Pictures anthology. And I draw the comic book inserts for a new series from Scholastic called The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks, which is a story about a kid who lives in a world where there’s a lot of superheroes. He winds up getting involved with a lot of the superhero goings-on and helping out some of the superheroes in defeating the villains. They’re written like chapter books—mostly prose—but they have my eight page comic inserts in them. And I also draw the covers. I’m then going to turn my attention to another G-Man mini-series.
GCFK: Do you have any advice for young comic creators?
Chris: Draw for fun and draw a lot. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re doing it wrong.