Tag Archives: Odd Squad

Better Puppies Through Chemistry

oh160406I love this dog design. The second panel is awesomazing. Awesomazing is word I made up for the Odd Squad books.

It is copyrighted.

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My Acceptance Speech for the Denise McCoy Legacy Award

The Denise McCoy Legacy Award goes to the best humorous children’s book of the year. Past winners include Lois Lowry (The Giver), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda), Tommy Greenwald (Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading) and Jarrett J. Krosoczka (The Lunch Lady).  The late Denise McCoy was a beloved Albany NY bookseller who loved children’s books. Her friends and family give this award every year together to honor the best in humorous children’s literature. 

Thank you so much for honoring me with Denise McCoy Legacy award. Thank you to Lynn Derry and Tom O’Brian, the 15-Love program and of course all the Albany area librarians that chose to honor Odd Squad King Karl. I’d also like to thank my publisher, Disney-Hyperian, my fast-talking editor Lisa Yoskowitz and the hardest working man in show business, my agent: Dan Lazar.

It’s humbling and a little surreal to see my name along with past recipients like Lois Lowry and Jeff Kinney. When I sit down to write I don’t think about awards all that much. A little. Maybe a little more than a little. Okay, I wrote this speech two years ago. Thank goodness you’ve saved me the embarrassment of never being able to give it.

I am not a natural writer (or cartoonist for that matter).  It does not come easily for me. I come from the self-loathing school of writers. As Alain de Botton said, “Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.”  It’s a fear based business for me. I fully realize this is not healthy. Two years of therapy have convinced me it’s not healthy. Despite that I procrastinate. I waste time. I play Candy Crush.

Why do I struggle? After all, this is supposed to be a FUN job. It’s better than almost any job I can think of. Maybe not as much fun as being Beyonce, but a lot more fun than being Donald Trump.

I think I struggle because writing is rewriting. It never comes out fully formed or even semi-formed. It comes out ugly and stupid and unfunny and just plain bad. I once did a presentation where I showed the first paragraph of King Karl from the very first draft to the 25th.  I’ve only done that presentation once. It’s too embarrassing. And boring. No one really wants to see how the sausage is made. I’ll give you an example. I was fortunate to sit on the sidelines and watch the making of a 70 million dollar movie based on the comic strip I co-created. It’s not pretty. They made that movie twice. Once with Jim Carrey as RJ and with a completely rewritten script with Bruce Willis as RJ. About six months out from release it was just okay. The bones of a good movie were there, but it hadn’t quite gelled. Then, with the pressure of a deadline, it got better. Then, a lot better, And finally it came together and turned out to be pretty darn good. The point is you can’t tell when you’re watching the process (or you are the process). And that’s terrifying.

So, you’re wondering… Mike, if it’s so horrible, why do you do it?  Four reasons:

  1.  I do it because I have to.  It’s a compulsion. I would (and have) done it for no money.
  1.  I do it because it’s hard. It uses all of my abilities. It pushes me to do my absolute best. It gives me an opportunity (but not a guarantee) to succeed.
  1.  I do it for the “mystery, the surprise, the thing you don’t know you don’t know.”  Writing is one of those pursuits where the whole can add up to more than sum of the individual parts.  It’s like the movie, Shakespeare in Love. Whenever there was some conflict with the staging of the play that would then be somehow miraculously solved, a character would stare dumfounded at the producer (Jeffrey Rush) and he would say, “It’s a mystery.”  There’s a moment when creating something when it goes from the thing you want it to be, the thing you hope it can be to the thing it is. It suddenly and mysteriously flies. All on it’s own. When that happens (and it doesn’t always happen) it’s a beautiful reward.
  1.  I do it for for the best review I’ve ever gotten.  A ten year old girl once wrote. “I read each Odd Squad book four times.  That’s my review.”

Writing children’s books is an honor and a privilege. As difficult and tortured as I make it sound, in the end it’s worth it. I get to create something out of nothing. I’m like a magician, except the first two dozen times I reach into the hat I pull out a beet, or a potato or a dry-cleaner ticket or a coupon for nasal strips.  Eventually, I find the rabbit. And it’s beautiful and perfect and Publisher’s Weekly says “it’s circuitous story line and over the top characteristics can get in the way of the points Fry tries to make about friendship, bullying and outward appearances.”

This is when the rabbit looks at me and says, “Publisher’s Weekly can kiss my furry ass.” And I smile. Because even though I pulled him out of thin air. I had no idea he could talk.

How cool is that?

Thank you again for this wonderful award.

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Praise for Odd Squad: King Karl from School Library Journal

From the August issue of SLJ:

Gr 3-7–Much like Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books (Abrams), comic strip creator Fry’s latest series entry brings readers a middle school student low on the totem pole, with harebrained schemes that play out through a mix of text and imagery. Lead character and narrator, Nick, also has an astronaut who often appears in his reflective comments, acting like a blend of a conscience and a parent, reminding Nick that his ideas usually look better on paper than in practice. In this installment, Nick and his best friend, Molly, both members of the school’s “Safety Squad” (part hall monitors, part crossing guards), begin to worry about him, but not because Karl owns a talking bird who wears a top hat and spends much of his time talking to sea monkeys. Instead, they worry that a “secret” group, known as MELZ (after their school’s namesake Emily Dickinson) is recruiting him and not them. Nick also worries about state testing; caring for his grandmother after she “breaks her butt” dancing with her boyfriend, the school janitor; and his maybe crush on Molly. The story is a humorous blend of outrageous and believable. The content is young and the text simple, making this most likely a better fit for upper elementary students than for middle school.–Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA

Check out the first four chapters of Odd Squad: King Karl by clicking on the link to the right.

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If Everyone’s Not A Bully, Then Who Is?

Check out my new Not A Bully tumblr. Post a photo/video and support Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.

jacknotabully

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ComicCon Appearance

I’ll be a ComicCon next week signing FREE copies of Odd Squad: Bully Bait at the Disney – Hyperion Booth at 3:30 on Sat. Then on the Kids: Comics in Action panel at 10 AM on Sun. Irony alert: It’s a drawing competition. Like selling tickets to a train wreck. You won’t want to want to miss it.

 

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Pasta Banana Campers!

oh130629The chubby kid may be Karl from my Odd Squad middle grade illustrated novel series. Ch20-7final

I’ll have to check and get back to you.

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The One With the Sleepy Butts

oh130603In the Odd Squad books Nick calls it Zombie Butt.

Speaking of all things Odd Squad, I just got back from a great trip to the Book Expo America convention in New York City.  Had a couple great signings, gave a three minute Odd Squad pitch twenty times to twenty tables of groovy bookstore folks and even sort of had dinner with Kareem Abdul-Jabar (he was two tables over and we almost made eye contact). It was exhausting, yet inspiring. Disney’s got lots of cool promotional stuff set for the fall launch Odd Squad book 2: Zero Tolerance.

OSZTsig2

As with the last book, send me a copy of your pre-order receipt to overhedge@verizon.net and I’ll send you a hand drawn thank you note back.

Click here to pre-order.

 

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