Yehudi Mercado is the author and illustrator of the new middle grade graphic novel Chunky Goes to Camp. His other books include Chunky. A former art director at Disney Interactive, he is based in Los Angeles.
Q: This is your second book about Hudi and Chunky--why did you decide to set this one at summer camp?
A: My time at Jewish summer camp was such a special time in my childhood that I couldn't not do an entire book about it. I wanted to celebrate my friendship with Pepe and the idea of having a friend you're so connected to also have the ability to see my imaginary mascot was so fun.
Q: Do you think Hudi's changed from the first book to this one?
A: I think by the end, Hudi knows that some adults can just be wrong. I have an idea for a third book that explores how Hudi develops contempt for authority figures and takes his comedy too far.
Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Hudi and Chunky?
A: Chunky is a positive inner voice. As an overweight kid living in a country that is openly hostile towards minorities, it's easy to let the negative inner voice take over. I created Chunky as a way to combat those bad thoughts. Also he's like an adorable stuffed animal come to life.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope kids realize that if they don't feel like they fit in anywhere that it's okay to keep looking because out there somewhere you will find your tribe.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm working on a middle grade graphic novel for DC set in the Batman world. And I'm working on a middle grade action adventure graphic novel for HarperCollins called Viva Los Machos.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: By the end of 2022 I will have released three graphic novels that I wrote and illustrated: Sci-Fu: It Takes 2, Chunky Goes to Camp, and Shazam Thundercrack (11/29) for DC comics. That has to be a record.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb