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New graphic novel Giants Beware! leads to series for Columbus natives

 Amanda Page New graphic novel Giants Beware! leads to series for Columbus natives
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In the opening pages of Giants Beware! written by Jorge Aguirre and illustrated by Rafael Rosado, you might immediately think that Claudette, the redhead tomboy, is a contentious little trouble-maker. That’s what the grown-ups in her village seem to think. A few more panels in, though, and you realize she’s got a certain solution to an existing problem. The adults in her world want to squash her certainty with safe, conventional wisdom. The elders in her village want to tell her what’s “right.” And, they want to complain about how that girl can ruin a story.

The cover art for Giants Beware!

But, Claudette is the story. Along with her brother, Gaston, an aspiring pastry chef, and her best friend, Marie, a princess-in-training, Claudette embarks on an adventure that makes the whole town take notice.

“Claudette is a spunky little tomboy. A giant has terrorized the town for ages,” Rosado says. “The story is about finding your own path and that being different is okay. But we’re not trying to hammer [a message] too hard. Most of all, I want it to be a fun read.”

Giants Beware! is the collaborative effort between two film school buddies. Both Aguirre and Rosado grew up in the Columbus area and both ventured into animation after graduating from Ohio State University’s film school. Rosado is a storyboard artist who works on well-known Saturday morning cartoon shows, including Transformers and Looney Tunes. Aguirre is a writer for shows such as Dora the Explorer.

The project came from a desire to work together, which the pair had talked about since 2002. Rosado had always wanted to do a graphic novel. He’d already created the characters. And, Aguirre’s writing brought the story to life. Aguirre resides in New Jersey now, although he lived in Los Angeles when they started the book.

“It was a really close collaboration all the way through,” Rosado says. Rosado drew the book in Photoshop. The pair worked together via iChat conferencing, lots of phone calls and the use of Dropbox.

“We didn’t pander to a young audience,” Rosado says. “We amused ourselves and hoped it would translate.”

A self-portrait of Rafael Rosado.

Apparently, it has. Although considered an “all ages book,” the target age group is five to twelve year olds.

“We’re compared to Bone a lot,” says Rosado, referring to the popular work of local artist Jeff Smith, who supplied a blurb for Giants Beware! “It appeals to kids and adults. “

“I keep hearing that kids keep going back and re-reading it. I hope it’s a good, fun read and they keep going back and finding new things.”

Kids who get their hands on the activity kit that Rosado and Aguirre have created will have occasion to continue the fun and stay engaged in the story.

“We’ve created crossword puzzles and a coloring book and instructions on how to draw the characters,” says Rosado.

First Second Books, the graphic novel imprint of Macmillan Publishing, knew the power of the project when they picked it up after seeing Rosado and Aguirre at the San Diego Comic Con. And now they want more. Claudette and friends will continue to have adventures now that the publisher wants them in a series. In the meantime, Rosado and Aguirre are busy promoting their introduction of Claudette. Aguirre is committed to signings around New Jersey. Rosado will be teaching and signing in Columbus as well as Chicago, Cincinnati and Dayton. Come see him at The Laughing Ogre, 4258 North High Street, from 3pm to 7pm on April 11th and at Cover to Cover, 3560 North High Street, at 1pm on April 21st.

Giants Beware! will be released on April 10th and retail for $14.99. You can find it wherever books are sold.

Rafael Rosado will be a visiting artist at CCAD’s Visiting Artist Series, Monday, April 9, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at the Canzani Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. View more information here.

Get more behind-the-scenes info at chroniclesofclaudette.com.

Watch the trailer for Giants Beware!

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