Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
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Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Zita is determined to find her way home to earth, following the events of the first book. But things are never simple, and certainly never easy, in space. Zita's exploits from her first adventure have made her an intergalactic megastar! But she's about to find out that fame doesn't come without a price. And who can you trust when your true self is being eclipsed by your public persona, and you've got a robot doppelganger wreaking havoc . . . while wearing your face? Still, if anyone can find their way through this intractible mess of mistaken identity and alien invaders, it's the indomitable Zita, in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. Legends of Zita the Spacegirl is one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2012.
Ben Hatke's first graphic novel was Zita the Spacegirl. He has published comics stories in the Flight series as well as Flight Explorer. In addition to writing and drawing comics, he also paints in the naturalist tradition and, occasionally, performs one-man fire shows. Hatke lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. His work can be seen online at www.benhatke.com A Q&A WITH LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL AUTHOR BEN HATKE
1. Do you tend to think of yourself more as a writer or as an artist?
In my case, I think the two are pretty inseparable. I work a lot on the structure of my stories and I get a lot of joy out of that, but my art is not just in the service of the story, it's very much a part of the storytelling. I find things like characters’ body language to be a wonderful storytelling tool. I’ve also lately been interested in projects that separate words and pictures -- illustrated novels on the one hand and wordless comics on the other.
2. The Zita books feature some pretty strange creatures. You must've had a strange childhood!
I’ve always been drawn to weird creatures. Some of my early drawings are vast underground scenes full of creatures that aren’t that far removed from some of the species in the Zita books. I was lucky in that my parents exposed me to a lot of different influences -- all kinds of books and movies. And we spent days spent exploring rivers. We were even active members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms!
3. Out of all that, what kinds of things influenced you the most?
When I was a very small child my older cousin took me to see The Dark Crystal at the theater. We had to leave about halfway through the film because I was crying. The grownups all said it must have been too scary. I’ve seen The Dark Crystal since, but I also remember very clearly seeing those creatures on the screen for the first time. All these years later I wonder if maybe I wasn’t just frightened, but overloaded by the the intense creativity. I still think that they did more with those puppets than we do with CGI today.
4. How does Legends of Zita differ from Zita the Spacegirl?
I feel like this volume lives up to the title a little better in that there are scenes that take place in SPACE. I’m finally putting some “space” in “spacegirl.
5. Can you tell us about one of your favorite scenes or moments in this new story?
There’s a chase through the back alleys of a domed space city that culminates with the dramatic entrance of a new character. I’m proud of that part. There’s another moment toward the end of the book, a moment of danger for Zita, that I decided to make into a single image spread across two pages with no dialogue. That’s the joy of comics: you can show any given moment a hundred different ways but when it works it’s a lot of fun.