GESSO SQUAD The Graphic Novel Volume Four: Adaro and the Singing Bowls has arrived and is on Amazon.com. It’s been fun seeing my characters come to live in color through these graphic novels. Now I get to start writing Part Two which will consist of fifteen more “episodes”. Only four more graphic novels to go until the series finale…stay tuned.
For the last 15 years, I’ve written stories about my cartoon characters. I wanted to create a Young Adult series of books which there was educational content associated with it. Originally, I had thought of doing something with a diverse group of super heroes but didn’t know what would make them differetn from every other super heroe group seen in comic books and television. When I first concieved the Gesso Squad series I was still in graduate school, hunched over a computer screen while typing up a art lesson plan. When the lightbulb appeared above my head in the library, my characters danced around inside my head in a parade of colors.
The name of the group Gesso Squad sort of arrived in the same manner as the concept for the series, this time, it didn’t happen in a library. My sketchbook sat in my lap as I drew the original five characters. As I wrote out possible group names, I went through a list of 26. I read the list again and read each name while looking at my characters. I ended up doing this twice until I landed on #16 which was Gesso Squad. It seemed to fit their individual personalities and retained an element of art terminology which I felt was vital to the series.
At the time I began writing out lesson plans for each chapter I decided early on to research artists & scientists whom I had no previous knowledge of. This ruled out what I cosidered to be artists most people already know about: Jacob Lawrence, Michaelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera. I do take time to mention Paul Gaugin, the post impressionist painter, in Chapter 11.
As part of my own teaching philosopy, I feel it is important to mention the artists mentioned above, but to also include all the others from various regions of the world. In addition to teaching interdisciplinary subjects in a fun way which the students can relate to the work being presented. If they are able to make a connection to the work in anyway, they, I believe retain the information much longer. Gesso Squad & The Stone of the Sun is the first in three books which discuss various artists, scientists and cultures from around the world.
The first chapter is available to read here: http://www.gessosquad.com The rest of the book will be out in February 2011.