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The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza Paperback – March 25, 2014
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James Kochalka in Conversation with Tom Angleberger
James Kochalka is the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. He's the author and illustrator of several popular children's book series, but he's also won the Harvey Award and four Ignatz Awards for his books for adults. The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza is his first book with a traditional publisher. Tom Angleberger is the author of the bestselling "Origami Yoda" series. He is also the author of Horton Halfpott and Fake Mustache, both Edgar Award nominees, and The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! Here, they chat about blowing minds, monsters, and magic robots.
I like authors who are capable of blowing kids' minds and aren't afraid to do it. Did you have that amazing ending in sight when you started?
Honestly, it kind of blew my own mind too! It turned my light-hearted adventure into actual science fiction, which I thought was pretty cool. I definitely didn't know how it was going to end when I began scripting... but somewhere along the way I figured it out. Actually... near the end, when the Magic Robot pointed out the Glorkian Warrior's mistake, that was the first I knew about it. And then as I drafted the final chapters, I pieced together the reasons why. What's really great about the ending is that it will totally change your reading experience of the beginning if you go back and read the book a second time.
Did anyone say to you, "This is just too weird for a kids book?" or maybe "This is just too weird for an adult book?"
The biggest knock I've received so far was from myself. .. after finishing the final draft, I read the book to myself and was actually kinda overwhelmed and embarrassed by how relentlessly stupid the story is. When I first submitted it to First Second, the publisher brought the draft home to read to his kids. The kids declared it the "stupidest book ever written," but they absolutely loved it. I guess it's the kind of stupid kids like. Which makes sense because I drew the whole thing as a bedtime story to entertain my own sons.
What did you read as a kid that blew your mind?
The Bad Island by William Steig definitely blew my mind. It's like non-stop constantly escalating monster destruction. And in the end EVERYBODY DIES! It's since been republished as The Rotten Island... and the language has been altered a bit since the first edition. Almost all of Steig's books are more intense than your standard children's book, but this one in particular used complicated language and especially wild imagery. It has the best monsters ever drawn, for sure.
Will there be a Return of the Glorkian?
Oh yeah! I'm well into book two, but I haven't chosen a title yet. By the time The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza actually comes out I will already be finished drawing book two. It's probably even stupider than book one and will have an even more ridiculous ending.
James Kochalka & Tom Angleberger
From School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—The Glorkian Warrior, a three-eyed, amiable alien dunce with an overdeveloped sense of drama, and Super Backpack, his sentient portable weapon system with a yen for action, receive a mysterious call to deliver a pizza. "You say wrong number… I say… DESTINY!" the Warrior declares, and the book continues in this vein of tongue-in-cheek lunacy. The mild adversarial relationship between the Warrior and his backpack mimics the sibling dynamic found in Kochalka's other books-most obviously in the "Johnny Boo" series (Top Shelf, 2008)-and provides much of the humor and the engine with which most readers will find a recognizable hook amid the flights of fancy. The book is leisurely paced, featuring large panels with lots of breathing room padding out most of the surprising length, with zany miscommunication and humorous confusion slowing down the action. Kochalka uses this ambling storytelling style to have a gag with each turn of the page, thus ensuring engagement with readers. While the character renderings are rather staid, the expressiveness of their eyes and mouths is effectively dynamic, and the eight-bit, retro-aesthetic color palette helps establish the extraterrestrial bona fides of the setting. Quirky, funny, lighthearted, and interestingly subversive.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
He’s also a really prolific artist who has written and drawn numerous other comics besides American Elf like Pinky & Stinky, a comedy about two spacefaring pigs, Monkey Vs Robot, a silent deathmatch style comic between a monkey and a robot (which also spawned a sequel), and the hilariously expletive-filled superhero parody-turned-internet cartoon, Superf*ckers (google the Superf*ckers theme song for a catchy burst of sweary pop, which Kochalka also wrote and performed).
In recent years Kochalka’s turned primarily to comics for young readers producing his hit series of Johnny Boo books, Dragon Puncher (incorporating photos of his children and cat into the comic), and, most recently, Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza.
Glorkian Warrior is a computer game character he came up with along with some game developers a while back for a retro platform game and here he is in his very own book. Glorkian Warrior is a cheerfully idiotic alien with a talking backpack who’s his best friend and can shoot lasers. Together they spend over 100 pages trying to deliver a pizza, despite not offering a pizza delivery service. If that premise seems flimsy, you haven’t read Kochalka before. He can turn a minimal concept like pizza delivery into a completely engaging, adventure-filled story that’s enormously fun to read and features some of the most colourful and attractive art any comics reader could wish for.
One of the best things I love about this book, and really every James Kochalka book I’ve read, is how effortlessly easy he makes writing and drawing comics seem. His storytelling has this beautiful flowing quality to it that just radiates creativity. Glorkian Warrior and his backpack bounce happily from one situation to the next with Kochalka able to take anything that comes their way from fighting a monster to feeling lost to reacting to weather, and weave it masterfully into a narrative that never once bores, loses its momentum or feels contrived and out of place.
Tonally, Kochalka’s gentle humour and characterisation is appropriate for young children to read and enjoy but I’d recommend it to adult readers as well who simply love well-crafted comics, and Glorkian Warrior really is a well-made book. As enjoyable as the story is, the Twilight Zone-esque ending is so brilliantly conceived that it brings the chaotic book together into one cohesive whole. It’s a really inspired finish that belies the overly-simple beginning with Glorkian Warrior lying on his couch staring at his feet.
As much as I miss American Elf, its absence is easier to take so long as James Kochalka keeps making comics, especially books like this. Glorkian Warrior is a gloriously entertaining and fun comic by an artist at the peak of his craft.
It’s a slow day for The Glorkian Warrior. No amazing adventures on the horizon. Nothing much going on. And though his Super Backpack is bugging him to go out and do something heroic, until the Emergency Space Phone rings our hero is out of ideas. Turns out the phone call is from someone ordering a pepperoni pizza and, not one to back down from a challenge, our Warrior sets off to complete this mission. Granted, the only pizza he has in his possession is the partially eaten peanut butter and clam concoction in his fridge. And granted, nothing seems to go according to plan. But between busting up his Supercar, blowing up a little bully (don’t worry, he’s not hurt), acquiring a baby space cat head sucker thing, and encountering a Magic Robot capable of mucking up time itself, it’s all in a day’s work for The Glorkian Warrior and his newfound pals.
I’m not one of those children’s librarians that claims to have the sense of humor of a 9-year-old kid. There are folks out there that can say this in perfect seriousness and though I do understand where they’re coming from, it’s not really my thing. After all, there are some works of children’s literature that just baffle me with their popularity. That said, I found myself grudgingly really liking what Kochalka was doing here. It’s no mean feat to create an honest-to-goodness quest novel that fills itself from tip to toe full of silliness. The tone in this book is also consistent throughout. It has a clear vision, even if the reader does not, and even manages at the last minute to pull a little surprise coup on the reader. So while it will not be to every adult’s taste, I have absolutely zippo problem with the kiddos picking it up. Heck, I’ll be recommending it to them myself. This is for the kid who wants something along the lines of “Adventure Time” but without the existential philosophy.
Not that there wasn’t at least one element that struck me as particularly fascinating. Put a little time travel into a book and you’ll find folks like myself examining it from every angle, no matter how silly it is, for inconsistencies. I’ll repeat that. I, a 35-year-old woman, read a children’s graphic novel called “The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza” and when I hit on the time travel aspect I looked for mistakes. Just put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. For me, the only possible problem I could come up with was the fact that if The Glorkian Warrior called himself to order the pizza, why did he call his own number thinking it was a pizza delivery place? So, yeah. Continuity-wise it’s a bit shaky, but honestly if that’s what you take away from the book you’re probably looking at it from the wrong angle anyway. Besides, I love the philosophical quandary of how The Glorkian Warrior learned about the existence of pepperoni pizza from himself rather than some outside source.
You can’t help but love a book where the Don Quixote of space is accompanied by a Sancho Panza-like talking backpack. And yes, it’ll get its own fair share of objections from various quarters. Not every parent will get it, but it’s awfully hard to find anything to object to here. It hasn’t the scatological warning signs of a Captain Underpants or the “bad” language / “bad” attitude of a Junie B. Jones. Instead it’s just a good-natured tale of a dumbo making a date with destiny. It’s not going to blow you away with its insights into the nature of humanity itself, nor would it want to. It’s just here to make kids laugh. And honestly, we could do with a couple more books along those lines these days.
For ages 7-11.
He wasn't interested at first (he's just starting to read on his own, a little bit) and needed some coaxing. But once I explained to him that it's supposed to be a pretty silly book and easy to read and another comic book (he's read one or two other easy ones), he reluctantly decided to start reading it.
That took about a chapter and a half of begrudging reading until he was hooked, and now he's just devouring it, plus pausing periodically to tell me the funny lines in it.
Really big hit with him. Definitely recommended.