You may have heard of Marco Lopez. Eisner award-winning editor, filmmaker, dad. He writes third-person copy like I used to: “Lopez worked with Ivan Plaza, Publisher of Chido Comics, to co-create and write the hit Masked Republic Luchaverse license. A series of sci-fi and horror comics starring famous Mexican wrestlers, the comics were in Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Things We Saw At San Diego Comic-Con 2018 and featured in Publishers Weekly’s Licensing August 2018.” What does that mean? Nothing, really, other than it puts you ahead of everybody else who did a comic in 2018 and Rolling Stone didn’t put you on its list and PW’s licensing guys needed to fill some column inches. My point is, Marco is everywhere. I don’t know anything about the genesis of this YA book because I’m not the audience for it but you know who is? Literally everybody else. All the librarians who made ELECTRIC GIRL our best selling book by far and no one in comics ever believed that despite being shown volumes that say FOURTH PRINTING on it? You guys would love THE NIGHTCRAWLERS. This is the kind of book you became a librarian for, to put this thing into kids’ hands and spark a love for reading and hopefully, this artform.

Anyway, I love this book so much I came out of retriement and put on my ONOMATOPOEIA creator interviewer hat for one last mission. Imagine that? Larry Young, Failure Analyst, is pointing out not a whiffed pitch but a home run. If you like awesome, get this book. Ladies and gentlemen: Marco Lopez:

1. I hate kid protagonist stories, I always have, even when I was a kid. There’s no jeopardy, no life-changing stakes, ever. We need to raise a hundred bucks with our lemonade stand to get Old Man Withers out of debtors’ prison? Oh dear I wonder what happens. You avoided all that here. HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

I think I was able to do that by not playing it safe. I think too many times in children’s entertainment, whether it be books, comic books, or movies, there are never actual real stakes. Everything usually gets tied up in a neat bow at the end, and the status quo gets reset. I feel kids respond more to stories that don’t speak down to them, where not everything is a happy ending, and the characters actually went through something life-changing. 

As kids grow older, they have to deal with tough situations and tough subjects, and reality that isn’t so one-dimensional, and that’s just the kids that come from supposedly perfect homes. Then there are the kids who don’t come from the best circumstances. Yes, everyone, including children, want escapism, but I think escapism with one foot in the real world where you say yeah, the world sucks, but we’re going to face that craptastic reality together and kick its butt. And however we come out in the end, we still keep marching forward. 

What would E.T. be like without the rawness of those government agents and their guns? Spielberg tried to change that, and yeah, the backlash was from adults, but I think if you showed both versions to a kid, they would say the one with the guns is better. Don’t lie to them about the world. As the saying goes, kids are more resilient than we like to believe. 

2. Rachel Distler’s art is great. Warm and friendly, approachable and dynamic, obviously manga-influenced, but accessible to Western readers. How did you two team up on THE NIGHTCRAWLERS?

The internet, my dear friend, that mystical land of digital knowledge we humans take for granted daily, and hopefully, when we’re gone, the apes won’t make the same mistake.

But all jokes aside. I think it was on Penciljack or another online forum. Remember those kids? It was when all that was on its deathbed. I think this was around 2016.

I had this idea for The Nightcrawlers for a hot minute, and I had developed it quite a bit, and I thought to myself, this could be it, or at least this could be a nice feather in my cap. I could write it as a children’s novel, but I think kids would dig this as a graphic novel. 

So I wrote a post, closed my eyes, and wished really hard. A few people responded, but Rachel was incredibly enthusiastic and super nice. Plus, her art is wonderful. I immediately thought this person was the one. And then, about five years later, we got our publisher. Just think about that, dear reader. FIVE YEARS. Remember, this is a marathon, not a race.

I also want to give a quick shout-out to our letterer, DC Hopkins (one of the best in the business), and our colorist, Francesco Montalbano (a pure joy to work with).

3. One of the things I love about following your career from afar is I can see your commercial instincts develop in the work instead of reading your press or trading midnight emails and getting a peek BTS that way. This one, I love how the usual is LOOK AT MY THINLY VEILED TV PITCH OH YOU THINK THAT CHARACTER LOOKS LIKE SIMON PEGG OH YOU DO GO ON, but yours, while obviously translatable, just kind of screams I LOVED THE GOONIES AND EXPLORERS DIDN’T YOU TOO which is always a more organic genesis if you ask me.  Wait. Now tell me I’m wrong and that thunderclap was the sonic boom of you selling out. Either way.

I’m not going to lie. I wear my influences on my sleeve. But I like to think like how when a comic book artist starts, and you’re like man, that guy draws a lot like Art Adams. Then later, when you see their work again down the line, you’re like, oh dude, he’s doing his own thing now, and it sings! I love Goonies, and I really love The Explorers. That’s a bit of Joe Dante flight of fantasy there that needs way more love but is probably better off being a cult film. 

Also, when I’m working on a comic, I don’t think about any other medium or how well it would translate to said medium. As you know, a comic book can be any genre, but it has to be a comic book. It’s a different entertainment language than a novel or TV show. I don’t ever want anyone after reading one of my stories. To say, oh well, that was a nice movie pitch. Kids don’t care, but their time is precious too. They have so much thrown at them in terms of entertainment. So I gotta grab them and say hold on tight, and away we go! I think they can tell when something is not right.   

And yeah, there is talk about The Nightcrawlers maybe becoming a TV show or movie, but that was never the intent of its creation. But I’m not going to lie and say that’s not exciting. 
I do, however, think the real benefit of an adaptation is it will hopefully get more eyes on the graphic novel and sell a crap load more and allow us to keep telling Nightcrawlers stories. It’s a pretty beneficial symbiotic relationship if your story gets adapted in another medium and successful.

4. Regrets? I’ve had a few. But, then, again? Too few to mention. You? 

The only regret I have is not joining the military. I come from a military family that goes back generations to World War 2. If I could change anything, I would have done my twenty and have my sweet military pension and health benefits. On the other hand, my fiance thinks we wouldn’t have met if I had joined the military. But I always tell her we were meant to be and would have found each other. And who knows, maybe even sooner if I was in the military.  

5. Tell the kids how to get this; it’s great, I never shill for anything except stuff I personally love like MY MONKEY’S NAME IS JENNIFER and THE NIGHTCRAWLERS isn’t for me, at all. It’s kind of breathtaking how much I am not the audience for this. And yet here I am shilling on the soapbox, it’s that kind of quality that gets run over in the ol’ DISNEY IS NOW OWNED BY THE COUNTRY OF QATAR-level of pop culture news churn and you need to have this book. Or, like me, know lots of people who DO.

The kids (or those who never lost that childlike wonder) can buy it at their local comic shop. If you’re in Richmond, Virginia, check out my shop Stories Comics. I’ll lose my mind if James Sime or Brian Hibbs carry it in their shops in San Francisco. But you can also get it at your local library or Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Nightcrawlers-Vol-Boy-Cried-Wolf/dp/168497058X/), Barnes & Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nightcrawlers-vol-1-marco-lopez/1141088176?ean=9781684970582) and any other mom and pop bookstore or bookstore chain. They can even get it on Walmart’s website (https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Nightcrawlers-Vol-1-The-Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf-Hardcover-9781684970582/930264521).

They can follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/travisdearly) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/atomicrexent), even though I don’t post much on Twitter. I’m not a big social media person. Especially when I should be in this day and age, but maybe I’ll get lucky, and people will think of me as a 21st-century Bill Watterson. And on that note.

I did what I had to do. I saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much, much more I did it… I did it my way.

Larry Young
Larry Young
Larry Young is a writer: non-fiction, graphic novels, and pop culture criticism. His work has appeared in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, VARIETY, and THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION. A frequent guest on the video podcasts MILLION DOLLAR MAILBOX and WORD BALLOONS, he’s also co-host of SERIOUS STAR TREK and the sister YouTube channel of this website.


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