The cover for "The Super Book for Super-Heroes" by Jason Ford. (Laurence King)Link
Illustrator Jason Ford has long nurtured his love for superheroics, thanks to the likes of Tintin and classic Marvel comics. Now he’s sharing that love in “The Super Book for Super-Heroes,” an oversized activity book complete with drawing lessons, pop-out masks and more.
“The Super Book,” from Laurence King Publishing, lets creative kids (or kids at heart) create their own superheroes, supervillains, sidekicks, secret hideouts, robots, mad scientists and swamp creatures. The brightly colored, 128-page activity book also includes a decoder wheel, a pop-out superhero figurine and two pages of stickers.
Hero Complex caught up with Ford to talk about “The Super Book.”
Hero Complex: What inspired this project? Why an activity book?
Jason Ford: Other books on how to draw superheroes looked a bit too technical and dry. They were more concerned with the anatomical and how to get your drawings to look like existing characters. I wanted readers to be able engage straight away by creating their own superheroes and decide where they lived, who they battled and what superpowers they had, and so on. They could create story lines and narratives of their own as they worked through the book. And who doesn’t like making masks and choosing where to put a superhero sticker?
HC: You profess a love for “Tintin” comics, and that’s definitely apparent in your work. Why do you love Tintin, and what do you love about that style of drawing?
JF: I came across Tintin when I was about 6 years old. My dad bought a pile [of comics] from a thrift store. I loved the drawings, the colors and of course the adventures. There was a real attention to detail. Not just the characters but the backgrounds. You could tell that the buildings, cars, motorbikes, interiors and landscapes were lovingly researched, which gave the stories an authenticity. As a reader you felt you were being transported to believable foreign destinations on another thrilling escapade.
HC: I understand you’re also a big Marvel fan. Are there any artists or writers whose work you find particularly inspiring?
JF: Top of the list would have to be Jack Kirby. His use of line was phenomenal. He could convey speed, power, explosions, sounds and a whole pantheon of fantastical effects with such clarity and dynamism. He was responsible for creating a lot of the classic Marvel characters. A close second is Steve Ditko, who brought us the likes of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange to life. And of course there was all that fabulous drop shadow lettering to enjoy in the process.
HC: Is there a page or activity in “The Super Book” you’re especially proud of?
JF: I like the “Pop Out Superhero” spread. It appeals to the latent model maker in me. And it actually fits together.
HC: Why are there no girl superheroes in the book?
JF: Good question. An oversight on my part. However, if you look on the “Lightning Bolt” spread, there is a girl superhero on a rooftop. Perhaps this should be the theme for the next book.
HC: The book possesses an all-ages appeal. Was that your intent? Why do you think superheroes have such universal appeal?
JF: That was definitely the intent. I think the idea of having a superpower appeals to all ages and is a timeless notion going back to ancient mythologies all over the world. Being able to fly or be invisible is enormously attractive but it also questions how we would use such powers, for the general good or for more nefarious purposes?
HC: What would you keep in your superhero utility belt? What would your superpower be?
JF: My superpower would be for me to be able to point at someone who had committed a misdemeanor (especially those who dump garbage out of their car window) and they would instantly soil themselves. And not being a completely callous person, I would toss the victim a packet of baby wipes that I would have an endless supply of in my utility belt. This would suggest I would be doing quite a lot of pointing.
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