Meet the creator of the graphic novel series InvestiGators, John Patrick Green! This laugh-out-loud sleuth series introduces two gumshoe gators Mango and Brash, the super spy duo who crack cases and catch criminals in the jaws of justice! John shares more about his inspiration for this series, his most memorable teachers and librarians, his favorite childhood books, and more here.
When describing InvestiGators, what’s your elevator pitch?
John Patrick Green: InvestiGators is a chapter book graphic novel series about two alligators, Mango and Brash, who solve mysteries and wear vests. The vests are actually Very Exciting Spy Technology, that have all sorts of gadgets to help with their investigations. And to get around town, Mango and Brash flush themselves into the sewers. It’s altogether very silly and full of puns.
What inspired you to create InvestiGators?
John: I’d say this is more motivation than inspiration, but I wanted to do a book that recaptured the experience I had of making comics when I was eleven years old. I’ve pretty much been making comics ever since then, and for the most part the audience was still kids, but the how and the why changed as I grew as a person and an artist. InvestiGators felt like an opportunity for me to rediscover the enthusiasm I had for making comics in the first place.
Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.
John: This is tough. Just about every teacher I’ve had made some sort of impact on me, good or bad. But I’ll say my middle school art teacher, Mrs. Rosenstock. She was also the advisor for the art club, and when we had the opportunity to take a field trip, I suggested we go to the Marvel Comics offices in New York City. I’m from Long Island, so it wasn’t that far a trip, but everyone was game and the trip was a hit enough that the club went back a number of times after.
What advice would you give to young writers/illustrators?
John: I’d love to give some unique advice. I feel like everyone will have heard the usual “don’t give up/keep practicing” type of advice. Which is perfectly good advice, but pretty standard. I would say… don’t let others define what being a writer and/or an artist means FOR YOU. I’m not saying to reject criticism, just that you shouldn’t compromise on your own creative desires just so that you can conform to the type of creator someone else wants you to be.
What is the first step in your creative process?
John: My absolute first step is really just writing down random ideas on scraps of paper. These ideas are often jokes or gags, or funny dialog, or possible plots, character names, that sort of thing. These notes usually get piled on a desk and forgotten about. When it comes time to actually construct a story, I’ll try to find all these notes and see which ones make sense together. So every story kinda begins on a post-it note or a takeout menu or whatever was nearby I could write on at the time. Not infrequently I’ll come across a note I wrote for an idea to include in a story that, when it was all done, I’ll realize I forgot to include. I’ll hang on to those in case I find a place for them in the future.
What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?
John: Probably Garfield: His 9 Lives. I was a huge Garfield fan as a kid, and the newspaper strip is probably the biggest reason I got into comics in the first place. His 9 Lives was a collection of short stories by other writers and artists that depicted different incarnations of Garfield, like as a viking or noir detective. It’s quite bizarre, because some of the stories are cartoony, some are drawn more realistic, and one is downright terrifying. It was pretty inspiring, because it also showed that different people could draw Garfield in different ways, and they’d all still be valid interpretations of Garfield. Seeing stuff like that helped me to discover my own drawing styles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Patrick Green is a human with the human job of making books about animals with human jobs, such as Hippopotamister, Kitten Construction Company, and InvestiGators. John is definitely not just a bunch of animals wearing a human suit pretending to have a human job. He is also the artist and co-creator of the graphic novel series Teen Boat!, with writer Dave Roman. John lives in Brooklyn in an apartment that doesn’t allow animals other than the ones living in his head.
ABOUT THE BOOKS:
InvestiGators by John Patrick Green
John Patrick Green’s goofy graphic novel series follows the super spy alligator duo the InvestiGators as they travel through the sewers and fight the forces of evil.
MANGO and BRASH are the INVESTIGATORS:
sewer-loving agents of S.U.I.T.* and scourge of supervillains everywhere!
With their Very Exciting Spy Technology and their tried-and-true, toilet-based travel techniques, the InvestiGators are undercover and on the case! And on their first mission together, they have not one but two mysteries to solve! Can Mango and Brash uncover the clues, crack their cases, and corral the crooks—or will the criminals wriggle out of their grasp?
Praise for InvestiGators:
“…has heaping helpings of surreal alligator action and wordplay gags to keep new readers bent on solving the mystery.” —The New York Times
“With its rampant good-natured goofiness and its unrelenting fizz and pep, this feels like a sugar rush manifested as a graphic novel. Silly and inventive fast-paced fun.” —Kirkus
“In high-intensity colors, straightforward panel artwork by Green (Hippopotamister) offers plenty of slapstick gags to Brash and Mango’s tale. Fast-paced fun for the bad pun and dorky joke crowd.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“Like the heroes of Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man” or “Captain Underpants,” the Investigators are bound to resonate with kids.” —School Library Journal: XpressReviews