HCF19 Interview: Magic Abounds in Random House’s Halloween ComicFest Title!

Whether or not you believe in magic, we all have to agree that if it were to exist, it would be a gamer changer, for those who have it, those who don’t, and those who find it!

Random House Children’s Books Halloween ComicFest sampler, Doodleville and Aster & the Accidental Magic, explores in two distinct stories what happens when humans tinker with magic and find it going awry. Perfect for younger readers, these two delightful tales provide an ultimately uplifting message about strength, creativity, and rising above!

Check out our interview below with creators Chad Sell, Thom Pico, and Karensac, to learn more about the adventures and life-lessons filling the pages of Random House’s Halloween ComicFest book! Make sure to check out some preview pages at the end of the interview and head over to your local comic shop on Saturday, October 26 to pick up this title and others absolutely FREE!

Pssst! This Halloween ComicFest book is an exclusive first look at upcoming work from the creators at Random House Children's Books, so you're definitely going to want to grab it to make suer you're ahead of the curve and know all the awesome stuff coming from Random House in 2020!


Halloween ComicFest (HCF): Give us a quick rundown of your story: What will readers need to know before diving into your Halloween ComicFest issue? Who are the characters and what’s the storyline? 

Chad Sell: My story in the Halloween ComicFest is an excerpt of an early chapter of my upcoming graphic novel Doodleville. The main character is Drew, and she’s going on a field trip with her Art Club friends to the Art Institute of Chicago. But in Doodleville, all art is alive in its own magical way, so the excerpt introduces some of those concepts and how things go awry when Drew’s own creations are let loose in the museum!

Thom Pico: The story is about Aster, a city girl whose family goes to live in the mountains as her mother has to work and stop an enormous ravaging bird invasion.

At first, Aster is bored to death and prefers staying indoors playing video games all day long. After a while, she is forced to venture in the depths of the mountains and will soon discover its secrets and magic. She will even encounter a mysterious shepherdess and a vile trickster spirit – and along the way, she will also meet a puppy named Buzz, and will discover that he has the ability to speak!

HCF: Everyone loves dogs! Tell us more about Aster’s pup, Buzz, and what he means for the story!

Karensac: Buzz quickly becomes Aster’s best friend. He’s the reason why Aster finally comes to love the mountains.

Pico: He’s also the voice of reason, like a furry Jiminy Cricket!

HCF: What has been your favorite part of the book(s) or main character(s) to tackle?

Sell: Doodleville is fueled by my love of drawing and stars many characters who have lived in my head (and in my sketchbooks!) for years and years. Drew is a mischievous--but promising--young artist who goes through all the same struggles and insecurities that I went through as a kid and still go through every day.

Karensac: I personally love the Chestnut Knights, and especially Leaf, their leader. They are fearless chestnuts, except when it comes to squirrels.

Pico: I love them all! But if I had to choose one, I’d say Aster because whenever she’s in way over her head, she is always sensible and skeptical in the best way. It’s always a hoot to write about her!

HCF: Looking to the future, is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up for the title and its characters?

Sell: This sneak peek of Doodleville introduces some of the big, important concepts of its world while only giving a glimpse at where the rest of the book will go. There are soooo many exciting characters for readers to meet. Each of Drew’s classmates in her Art Club draw their own unique creations, leading to epic team-ups and collaborations.

Karensac: Oddly, there are no sheep in these mountains, or in any case, no one has seen one in a while. It is odd, isn’t it?

Pico: I hope that Aster will finally get over her knack for destroying the world’s balance. Unless…

HCF: What other comic books would you compare to this title? “If a comic reader likes _______ , they should pick up my title?”

Karensac: If you love Gravity Falls and Hilda, Aster should be perfect for you.

Pico: It also has a Lumberjanes vibe!

HCF: Tell us a little about you! What initially got you into comics? What is your favorite thing about working in comics?

Sell: I love the way that comics can add magic, fantasy, and adventure into our everyday lives, that you can tell any kind of story that you can imagine. You’re not limited by any kind of budget or special effects. Whatever you can draw, you can bring to life

Karensac: I grew up in a comic-loving family. When I was ten, I already knew that I wanted to be either a comic writer or an architect. In the end, I did both. Back when I was an architect, I had a blog where I drew autobiographical pieces. This blog won a price in Angoulême, and it really started my professional career in the world of comics. The nicest part of working in comics is to see how our stories affect people.

Pico: Comics helped me before I even knew how to read. As soon as I could decipher what was inside those bubbles, I devoured every book there was. Then, life showed me the way to theater. And when Karensac offered me to work with her on Aster’s story, I jumped at the chance to! I was so excited to finally be able to write a scenario for a comic book! What I loved the most was seeing Karensac draw the scenes we had imagined together. Seeing what I wrote come to life, from words to drawing, is always an amazing and unique experience.

HCF: Many newcomers will be introduced to comics for the first time on Halloween ComicFest – what was the first comic you remember reading?

Sell: I grew up reading superhero comics like Spider-Man and X-Men. I loved the elaborate worlds and enormous casts, like you were entering into a vast new world full of endless potential and cool costumes!

Karensac: I think it was Tintin. I simply looked at the pictures and I loved Snowy! Maybe that was when my unconditional love for dogs was born.

Pico: I think for me it was Gaston Lagaffe (Gomer Goof). It was the first I read by myself, anyways.

HCF: Why do you think events like HCF are great for the comic book community?

Sell: Kids seem to have an endless appetite for comics, but limited accessibility to them. Having an event that offers kids a chance to try a wide variety of different comics can broaden their understanding of what’s out there in the world and what comics can be!

Karensac: I love how these special events help to promote comic books!

Pico: Besides, we can discover a lot of comic books and artists that I know I would have missed out on, if it wasn’t for these events.

HCF: What is your favorite Halloween monster? Favorite Halloween/horror-themed comic?

Sell: I love Emily Carroll’s dark, psychological horror comics!

Karensac: I personally love witches! In the horror genre, I love Soil by Atsushi Kaneko, a manga set in Charles Burn’s Black Hole atmosphere.

Pico: I have always had a soft spot for mummies. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid I wanted to be an Egyptologist. All of Junji Itō’s works hold a special place in my heart. These comic books are as morbid and horrifying as can be.


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