Kingdom of the Dwarfs

I was about 10 or 11 years old, in middle school, and I was telling my history teacher about a fascinating book I had just read. In 1979, a dagger with a blade of tempered steel was discovered buried in a garden in northern England. Carbon dating placed its manufacture at some 500 years before the Iron Age. The Royal Academy of Archaelogical Sciences contacted Dr. Egil Dvaergen, a specialist and professor from Storhamar University in Norway, who went on the lead the subsequent excavation of the garden. This revealed a deeply buried passageway, that lead to a vast underground complex, filled with ancient artifacts that pointed towards the existence of a previously unknown civilization…of Dwarfs. 
Because flash photography can be damaging to the delicate patina of ancient artifacts, illustrator David Wenzel was brought on board to attempt to capture some of the sights the archaeological team unearthed. The result was the book I had read, Rob Walsh’s and David Wenzel’s KINGDOM OF THE DWARFS.

My history teacher listened patiently, and then carefully explained the concept to HISTORICAL FICTION to me, a format I was unacquainted with. In short, he assured me that the story was meant to seem real and convincing, but it was a work of fiction. Later that year, he assigned a project in which we would each write a piece of historical fiction. We were free to choose the subject and era. I wrote a “first-person account” of the 11th-century Viking king Harold Hadrada’s doomed attack on the English mainland, told from the point of view of one of his raiders.

But the effect David Wenzel’s illustrations had on me was very real. It’s hard to pinpoint any one influence, because I was inspired and influenced by so many things as a kid, but these DEFINITELY and SPECIFICALLY made me want to learn to paint, using the exact tools and materials I perceived Wenzel was using: pen, ink, and watercolor. My parents found a local watercolorist, Diana Patton, who gave lessons at her home, and I studied with her for a few years. That’s where I learned all my painting skills.

In 2013, I saw on their website that David Wenzel would be exhibiting in Artists Alley at New York ComicCon. I retrieved my dog-eared copy of KINGDOM OF THE DWARFS, and spent some time at his table rambling about what a huge influence his work had been on me. He was gracious enough to sign it for me:

”To Mike! Thanks for enjoying this book for so many years—I really am touched—Thank you and Best—David T. Wenzel”

I just saw that a new edition with more illustrations was released in 2018, and decided to grab a copy of that too, if only in the hopes of supporting the authors a tiny bit.

30 years later, I’m still staring at this book with awe. It’s truly a masterpiece!

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NICO BRAVO AND THE CELLAR DWELLERS Out Now!

Order NICO BRAVO AND THE CELLAR DWELLERS

Book 2 in the NICO BRAVO series from First Second Books. 192 pages, All-ages.

Ahriman, God of Evil, is fed up with young Nico thwarting all of his heinous plans
and sends a shapeshifter named Orcus to Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop on a
covert mission to take Nico and his crew down! But nothing goes as planned,
causing the bumbling God of Misfortune to enter the fray, What will happen to Nico
and his friends when all their troubles converge in a desperate battle for the fate
of the Universe?

 

Praise for NICO BRAVO:

2019 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
2019 Junior Library Guild Selection
2020 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List Selection

KIRKUS: “Smart, fast-paced fun…filling it’s full-color panels with enough intrigue and explosions to keep pages flying.”

SEQUENTIAL TART: “It has adventure, battles, self-discovery, and alliterative exclaimations. The art is excellent. The coloring is outstanding. There’s tons of humor too.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “[A] fun, fast-paced graphic novel. VERDICT: An engaging series opener recommended for most middle grade collections.”

GRAPHIC NOVEL RESOURCES: “A real smorgasbord for any fan of myths and legends. [It] features great characters, a plot full of twists and turns, and lots of mythological hi-jinx.”

PAGE 45: “There’s much you’ll find to chuckle at here. This is also, though, a substantial and sophisticated adventure yarn.”

 

 

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NICO BRAVO and the CELLAR DWELLERS trailer

NICO BRAVO and the CELLAR DWELLERS, Book 2 in the Nico Bravo series, drops on 8/25/2020.

Ahriman, God of Evil, is fed up with young Nico thwarting all of his heinous plans
and sends a shapeshifter named Orcus to Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop on a
covert mission to take Nico and his crew down! But nothing goes as planned,
causing the bumbling God of  Misfortune to enter the fray, What will happen to Nico
and his friends when all their troubles converge in a desperate battle for the fate
of the Universe?

Praise for NICO BRAVO:

2019 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
2019 Junior Library Guild Selection
2020 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List Selection

KIRKUS: “Smart, fast-paced fun…filling it’s full-color panels with enough intrigue and explosions to keep pages flying.”

SEQUENTIAL TART: “It has adventure, battles, self-discovery, and alliterative exclaimations. The art is excellent. The coloring is outstanding. There’s tons of humor too.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “[A] fun, fast-paced graphic novel. VERDICT: An engaging series opener recommended for most middle grade collections.”

GRAPHIC NOVEL RESOURCES: “A real smorgasbord for any fan of myths and legends. [It] features great characters, a plot full of twists and turns, and lots of mythological hi-jinx.”

PAGE 45: “There’s much you’ll find to chuckle at here. This is also, though, a substantial and sophisticated adventure yarn.”

Ask your local bookstore or comic shop, or order online at:
https://us.macmillan.com/series/nicobravo/

 

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2019 Miami Book Fair – UPDATE

I’m back from Miami Book Fair, I had a great time despite the cold I brought with me from NY. Really too many great experiences to list…but I’m going to try!

Kicked things off on Thursday 11/21 by visiting students at Horace Mann and Henry H. Filer middle schools in the Miami area. That night, some live drawing and elementary deduction with George O’Connor, Nicole Swift, Conor McCreery, and Jeffrey Brown for the “Drink & Draw Exquisite Corpse Murder Mystery.” Given my cold, I was calling it “Sick & Draw”, but I did ok, except for my inability to draw a charades version of “In Cold Blood.” My “Farewell To Arms” rocked, though.

(This photo’s from my previous visit to MBF in 2017, but my presentation was in the same room both times.)

Friday started with a conversation between KidVision host Penny Bernath and myself, broadcast on South Floriday’s public TV station WPBT. Later, my NICO BRAVO presentation to a large group of students on Friday at the fair in the MDC Live Arts Lab was a blast. So many great questions in the Q&A portion, and signed about 150 books for the kids afterwards. A great hangout in town that night with other cartoonists attending the fair. 

Saturday I got to catch up with family and friends and just enjoy the fair, then the Author’s Party on the bay at the Standard Hotel.

Sunday morning I spoke with host Marc Bernier for his BookMarc radio show broadcasting from the fair. Marc was great to talk to, set this nervous cartoonist right at ease, and asked some great questions about comics and animation. His show can be heard on WFHG in Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. It’s also archived online, and you can LISTEN HERE.

Later that afternoon, I joined a panel discussion moderated by Juan Navarro with George O’Connor and Jarod Rosello where we talked comics craft and publishing for a while. One of the highlights was having the panel drawn, live, by New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein! 

At the fair, I picked up a first printing of Robert E. Howard’s KING KULL. It was coming across Marvel’s KULL THE DESTROYER #35 as a kid that helped kickstart my comics obsession to begin with. Happy to add that book to my collection!

Just a great, energizing experience. Then it was a long trip back to Queens thanks to Amtrak. Hope to return to MBF soon!

 

NICO and I are headed to Miami Book Fair next week! I’ll be doing some local school visits, live drawing events, and a few presentations at the fair, including bits for KidVision, on South Florida’s public TV station WPBT, and BookMarc with Marc Bernier on WFHG AM/FM!

The Fair features over 500 authors–a book for every age and interest–panels, readings, street fair, children’s events, live music, food, and BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!

Visit https://miamibookfair.com for more info, or head directly to the free, downloadable guide to see the whole calendar of events and plan your visit: https://www.miamibookfair.com/downloadable-guide/

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Order NICO BRAVO AND THE HOUND OF HADES

ORDER NOW

Take another look at your favorite myths and legends in this hillarious new graphic novel by Mike Cavallaro!

Got a problem? At Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop, you can find the magical merchandise to set things right. The seasoned staff—a kid named Nico Bravo, a sphinx named Lula, and a unicorn named Buck—pride themselves on providing “legendary service and expertise in all areas of the arcane.”

But Nico’s world is about to be turned upside down, and it’s all thanks his latest customer: Eowulf, the pint-size descendant of the monster slayer Beowulf. Determined to carry on the family business, this would-be warrior plans to slay Cerberus, the terrifying, three-headed hound of Hades. There’s just one problem—Cerberus is the only thing preventing the hordes of the Underworld from entering the land of the living. Can Nico stop Eowulf from unleashing a zombie apocalypse?

ORDER NOW

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Order IMPOSSIBLE INCORPORATED trade paperback

  Buy IMPOSSIBLE INCORPORATED here!

Buy IMPOSSIBLE INCORPORATED here!

The fantastical sci-fi adventure of an extraordinary teenage girl and her amazing teammates, seeking the truth about the universe–and her own mysterious past.

Join seventeen year old Number Horowitz, daughter of legendary genius-adventurer Goliath Horowitz, as she and her companions board a cosmic train called the Non-Local Express, riding across the quantum sea and into the Infinite Spiral that leads anywhere, everywhere, and every place in between.

Time travel, other worlds, new dimensions, parallel universes: the Impossible Incorporated team can journey any place the mind can imagine–and also into mysteries far beyond imagination’s reach. But the greatest mystery of all is–what happened to Goliath Horowitz? Number’s father vanished when she was seven years old and she’s determined to discover the truth about Goliath’s disappearance, find him, and bring him home.

By J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro

PRODUCT DETAILS
Paperback | $12.99
Published by IDW Publishing
Jun 04, 2019 | 128 Pages | 6 x 9|
Middle Grade (8-12)|
ISBN 9781684054350

 

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