Rob Harrell on How Creating His Comic Strips Evolved Into Writing Graphic Novels

Cartoonist and children's author Rob Harrell has always been obsessed with comic strips, even as a child. As he grew up and continued to hone his own writing and illustration skills, he kept trying to come up with new comic strip ideas. After working as an illustrator for a few years, he landed on an idea that got a lot of attention — Big Top, which is about a motley combo of circus characters. It was syndicated worldwide for five years before Harrell decided to discontinue it in 2007. During that time, he also took over a second comic strip called, Adam at Home, which he still creates today.

After years of writing and illustrating comic strips, Harrell was ready to stretch his creativity beyond the four panels he was used to working with. He was ready to further develop characters and worlds, and started exploring graphic novels. This led to his popular, Monster on the Hill, which was adapted to an animated movie in 2021. Harrell has also written and illustrated two graphic novel series - Life of Zarf and Batpig. Harrell saw the success that other author-illustrators were having with middle-grade novels for readers 8 to 12 years old, and decided to pursue that genre as well. This resulted in his critically acclaimed novel, Wink, which is an Amazon "Teacher's Pick".

Harrel has found this storytelling evolution to be challenging at times since the formats are all so different, but has enjoyed the freedom that has come with writing longer pieces.

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