First up is Ira Marcks! Ira is an incredibly talented and hard working artist/writer/illustrator/teacher who I met several years ago. We’ve worked together in a few different capacities – we helped print some posters for projects he was working on, he designed a poster for our Troy Night Out poster series, and he would stop in our store frequently with his students to show them what we were up to.
He recently published a new graphic novel called “Shark Summer” which came out amazing, and I know was a ton of work. I asked Ira some questions around how this project came to be and what his process was for writing and illustrating this book.
Be sure to check out the Shark Summer website to purchase the book, and check out some cool process images like these:
What was the inspiration behind Shark Summer?
I was looking for a reason to visit the summer of 1974 on Martha’s Vineyard. This was when Stephen Spielberg and his crew arrived on the island to film JAWS. I love stories about the creative process, especially ones about filmmaking. I’d read a few books about the behind the scenes of JAWS and the way it turned the island into a pop culture landmark. It seemed like the perfect moment in time to tell a story about friendship and storytelling.
How long did it take you to write and illustrate?
Shark Summer was created through the COVID pandemic. I feel lucky to have had something to focus my attention on and keep me productive when not much else was happening in my day to day life. With minimal distractions, the book took about 16 months from original conception to actually holding the final product in my hand.
Can you give an idea of the artistic process?
If I were to choose one word to describe my process these days it’d have to be ‘organized.’ That sounds pretty lame to say but I like to break my projects down into clearly defined stages (plot synopsis, scripting, layout, line art, color, etc) in order to focus on exploring the artistic elements unique to that part of the process. For example, I try not to think too much about drawing when I’m writing or color when I’m inking. Making a comic has many stages of production staying organized helps me keep from getting overwhelmed and burnt out!
Did you learn anything in the process of putting this book together that you will be able to take to other projects?
With each new book I’ve learned to take the responsibility of the storyteller more seriously. I’ve been lucky enough to have shared all my books in classrooms and I’ve seen the deep effect a story can have on a young reader. While I certainly want to be true to myself with each new project I also find myself thinking a lot about the experience of the young reader and what my stories are offering them.
What was your favorite part about putting this book together?
I think every stage of the process brings its own joys to the complete experience. That said, nothing beats the feeling of sitting down to design the cover 🙂