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Kids Comics Month: Get To Know Ben McCool

Whether you’re young or old, regardless of your tastes and interests, there’s no denying the appeal of a well-written, well-drawn comic book or graphic novel. “All-Ages” doesn’t have to strictly mean “For Kids Only”… especially when there’s so much wonderful content being created today that’s perfectly suited for anyone to pick up and enjoy.

This month PREVIEWS celebrates Kid Comics throughout the issue with plenty of new and backlist titles available. And in anticipation of this month’s theme, we reached out to some of All Ages Comics’ most talented creators for these mini-interviews! You may know the titles, but do you know their creators? Hopefully you’ll get a better insight into these talented creators with this month’s special feature!

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Ben McCool
Writer Known for: Lookouts, Strange Sports Stories, Choker, Memoir

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PREVIEWSworld: How would you describe your comic to a young reader to get them excited about it?

Ben McCool: Put simply, it’s a collection of stories and newspaper-style strips that chronicle the madcap misadventures of Grumpy Cat. Yes, that Grumpy Cat! There’ll be all manner of cat-related shenanigans going down, with Grumpy and her (rather more cheerful) brother Pokey in the thick of it all. Loads of laughs, tons of cuteness, and of course, a hefty dose of grumpiness. All delivered in the most delightful way possible, of course!

PREVIEWSworld: What got you excited about your comic?  Is there any part in particular you can share about the upcoming story?

BM: I’m going to keep the story specifics under wraps for now (as ever, I am a dreadful spoilsport!), but I will say that my influences for writing these fun-filled tales range from Garfield and Peanuts to Ren & Stimpy and The Simpsons. There’ll be a varied selection of stories on offer, and my array of inspiration no doubt reflects this! As for me and my epic level of excitement? I am a huge cat lover. Dare I say, a crazy cat lady who just happens to be a gentleman! (Those who know me might use a different word there...) All animals are wonderful, but kitties are my favorite; sleek, stealthy, mysterious… cats are just so cool!

Grumpy Cat, meanwhile, has provided me with many a chuckle. I was lucky enough to attend her birthday party last year! Suffice to say, it was quite the spectacle… Cats (grumpy or otherwise) + laughs + comic books = a very happy me!

PREVIEWSworld: What do you think is the most essential building block in crafting a story geared toward young readers? And how have you employed it in one of your more recent projects?

BM: The most important component of writing a story for young readers is FUN — to me, enjoying the reading experience is critical. Engaging characters and imaginative worlds are also necessary inclusions, but weaving them into an enjoyable, engaging, fun-filled tale is what will captivate and maintain a young reader’s attention.

I recently wrote a six-issue series called Lookouts. Based on the much-loved Penny Arcade property, it introduces a group of young boy scouts on a quest to earn merit badges while navigating their way through an outlandish, enchanted, magic-sprinkled forest. Each character learned something throughout the journey, and there were very serious moments and scenes peppered throughout. But I made sure that FUN was the primary driving force behind the fable’s unfolding!

PREVIEWSworld: What was your favorite comic as a kid? And how does it continue to influence you today?

BM: I’m a lifelong Peanuts fan. I’ve been reading the comic strips for as long as I can remember, and the TV specials are every bit as awesome. Peanuts’ characters and stories are timeless; truly, it’s an inspiring, peerless work of wonder. One that continues to inspire me (along with scores of creators and readers across the world!).

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Please recommend three current comics for kids that you enjoy, and provide a few sentences about why you think these comics are top picks!

1. Bone (Vol. 1 ColorMAR128109)

WHY? Put simply, Bone is one of the best comic books of all time! Much like a Pixar movie, Bone offers enough fun and laughs to entrance any young reader. At the same time, it boasts sufficient sophistication and captivating characters to ensure story-loving adults are equally entertained!

2. Adventure Time (Mathematical Edition Vol. 1 HCSEP141186)

WHY? Not only is Adventure Time a brilliant TV show, its comic book-based offerings are every bit as awesome! Kooky characters, stupendous amounts of imagination, and of course, top-notch storytelling, Adventure Time is recommended for readers of all ages!

3. Lookouts: The Riddle HC (JUL151209)

WHY? Okay, I have to be honest, I’m rather biased here… after all, I am the book’s writer! But boy scouts earning their merit badges while battling all manner of mystical monsters in supernatural spreads of forest? What’s NOT to love…?! Go read Lookouts! (End of shameless self-plug, heh.)

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