Avani is about to discover a whole new world of after-school adventure in Star Scouts, a new title from First Second Books. Broken Frontier has your first look at Mike Lawrence’s first solo graphic novel.
Each year, First Second (:01) Books adds to its reputation as one of the most fascinating publishers on the market with a diverse slate of graphic novels by established talents and new voices.
The publisher’s most recent titles include two 2014 Broken Frontier Award winners (Farel Dalrymple’s The Wrenchies and Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer), also earning it a nomination for Best Publisher. Today, Broken Frontier is proud to exclusively announce an upcoming :01 Books title: the universe-spanning Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence!
Check out the official book description and author bio, preview pages, and Broken Frontier’s exclusive interview with Mike below. The book will come in at around 200 pages and is scheduled for publication in Winter 2017.
When Avani moves to a new town, her dad signs her up for Flower Scouts, and Avani looks forward to making some friends who like nature and outdoor adventures. But her new scout troop is clearly more interested in talking about boys and fashion than they are in camping or learning survival skills. Flower Scouts looks bleak for Avani until she is (accidentally) abducted by an alien girl named Mabel – she’s trying to earn a Collection Badge for her scouts troop, the Star Scouts.
That’s when Avani gets an opportunity to join an intergalactic space troop with badges like Lasers, Robotics, and Teleportation. And she just might make some friends in the process – even if they do have tails and antennae?
Mike Lawrence is the illustrator of the upcoming graphic novel Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek, written by Elizabeth Rusch. Prior to this, Mike’s work has been published by Dark Horse Comics and was awarded the grand prize for the Illustrators of the Future contest. Star Scouts will be his first solo graphic novel.
Congratulations on your book announcement, Mike! Star Scouts looks like a fantastic take on the everyday challenges of childhood. Did you draw on any real-life scouting experience for the story?
Mike Lawrence: Thanks! I was very briefly a Cub Scout, and I don’t think we did a single adventurous thing. When my parents signed me up, I thought I’d be camping and fighting bears every weekend. Sadly I don’t think my troop ever left the school cafeteria. Star Scouts is what I wished my experience had been.
One of the inspirations for Star Scouts came from becoming a dad. I started looking into alternative scouting organizations. I found a local troop that isn’t separated by gender (or lifestyle) that is all about getting outside and exploring. Star Scouts is the ultimate inclusive and adventurous scouting organization.
What is it like working with First Second Books on your first solo graphic novel?
Mike: So far so good! My editor Callista Brill and I have a similar vision for the book and I couldn’t be happier to have her help making this book. I was a little nervous starting out since this is the first time I’m writing and drawing a book, but I’ve settled into a good groove and I’m having a great time. First Second has an excellent track record for putting out great comics for kids, so I know I’m in good hands.
In the preview, we see Avani’s father use the Gujarati term for “little girl.” Can readers expect to learn more about her family’s culture and heritage?
Mike: Avani being Indian is only briefly touched on in the story. Avani is the hero, and she happens to be Indian-American. My niece and nephew are Indian-American and avid readers, but a lot of middle-grade and young adult books star Caucasian kids. It was important to me that my first solo book has a diverse cast of characters. Most of my characters are aliens, but they’re diverse aliens.
There seems to be this unspoken rule that if you have a non-Caucasian hero the book has to delve into their cultural heritage, but when the book stars a Caucasian kid it jumps right into the adventure. I think this is one of the reasons there is such a lack of diversity in middle-grade and young adult books. Books about cultural heritage are great, but they don’t all have to be about cultural heritage.
It sounds like Avani meets some pretty interesting characters in Star Scouts. Which famous aliens would you want to meet if you had the chance?
Mike: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Mrs. Whatsit, and the Doctor. In general I like aliens who appear out of nowhere to show the hero the wonders of the universe – a combination of the wardrobe and Aslan. Zaphod is the alien I’d most like to grab a beer (or Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster) with.
Finally, how can readers stay in touch with you and learn more about Star Scouts?
Mike: Working from home is quite lonely so I’ll be updating my social media accounts on a regular basis. I love seeing other artist’s process shots, so I try to do the same. On Facebook my art page is called Mike Lawrence Illustration and on Instagram I’m @mikelawred.