Monday, February 28, 2022

Q&A with Amy Kim Kibuishi


Photo by Kazu Kibuishi



Amy Kim Kibuishi is the author and illustrator of the new middle grade graphic novel The Rema Chronicles: Realm of the Blue Mist, the first in a series. She also has created the graphic novel duology Sorcerers & Secretaries. She lives in Washington state.


Q: What inspired you to create this first book in The Rema Chronicles, and how did you come up with the world you created?


A: The initial inspiration came as a dream when I was 12. The concept was fully packaged with a world, characters, and magic rules, but it was just a glimpse. I wanted to know more, so I kept working on it as I got older.


Most of Rema is deeply inspired by events in my life and the landscape of my mother’s hometown of Chumunjin, South Korea, but I kept adding fun stuff, too. Every time I was inspired by something – a good video game, a fantastic novel, or fun anime – it went into Rema’s development.


Q: How did you create your character Tabby Simon?

A: I don’t feel like I created Tabby, but I met her along the way. Designing her character was an effort to know her well enough to tell her story, and Tabby took years to understand. She was very shy!


In a way, the entire world of Rema centered around her development. As I got to the know the world, I got to know Tabby. Once I knew Tabby, the story wove itself together.


Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations--or both simultaneously?


A: Sometimes I focused only on the illustrations, sometimes only on the writing. When working on comics I act out the words in my head, hold onto the visual, then transcribe the vision into drawings as best I can.


Q: How did you first get interested in creating graphic novels?


A: When I was little, there were always comics lying around the house. My father used to buy superhero, horror, or Saturday morning cartoon spin-off comics and I would read them for hours.


As a teenager, my mother gave me Japanese comics translated into Korean and my obsession only grew! Those comics came in the form of graphic novels, which were four to five serialized issues printed together in one volume.


As an avid novel reader who loved to draw, it was my ideal medium: the visuals of comics with the length of a novel. It’s wonderful the medium is so popular now!


Q: What are you working on now? What's next for the series?


A: I’m working on book 2, which tells a part of the story I’ve been waiting YEARS to share with everyone! It’s super exciting. I won’t spoil it, but just know all questions from book 1 will be answered, and then some.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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