Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke
Rose Turner

Ben Hatke's first graphic novel was Zita the Spacegirl. He has published comics stories in the Flight series as well as Flight Explorer. In addition to writing and drawing comics, he also paints in the naturalist tradition and, occasionally, performs one-man fire shows. Hatke lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters.

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    Rose Turner

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    Q & A

    1. Do you tend to think of yourself more as a writer or as an artist?

    In my case, I think the two are pretty inseparable. I work a lot on the structure of my stories and I get a lot of joy out of that, but my art is not just in the service of the story, it's very much a part of the storytelling. I find things like characters' body language to be a wonderful storytelling tool. I've also lately been interested in projects that separate words and pictures -- illustrated novels on the one hand and wordless comics on the other.

    2. The Zita books feature some pretty strange creatures. You must've had a strange childhood!

    I've always been drawn to weird creatures. Some of my early drawings are vast underground scenes full of creatures that aren't that far removed from some of the species in the Zita books. I was lucky in that my parents exposed me to a lot of different influences -- all kinds of books and movies. And we spent days spent exploring rivers. We were even active members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms!

    3. Out of all that, what kinds of things influenced you the most?

    When I was a very small child my older cousin took me to see The Dark Crystal at the theater. We had to leave about halfway through the film because I was crying. The grownups all said it must have been too scary. I've seen The Dark Crystal since, but I also remember very clearly seeing those creatures on the screen for the first time. All these years later I wonder if maybe I wasn't just frightened, but overloaded by the the intense creativity. I still think that they did more with those puppets than we do with CGI today.

    4. How does Legends of Zita differ from Zita the Spacegirl?

    I feel like this volume lives up to the title a little better in that there are scenes that take place in SPACE. I'm finally putting some "space" in "spacegirl.

    5. Can you tell us about one of your favorite scenes or moments in this new story?

    There's a chase through the back alleys of a domed space city that culminates with the dramatic entrance of a new character. I'm proud of that part. There's another moment toward the end of the book, a moment of danger for Zita, that I decided to make into a single image spread across two pages with no dialogue. That's the joy of comics: you can show any given moment a hundred different ways but when it works it's a lot of fun.

    Books by the Author

    Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
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    Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

    Mighty Jack

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    Like a bolt from the blue, Jack's little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre.

    When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything...

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    Available 09/05/2017

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    Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Won't-Walk-the-Dog Cure

    Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Won't-Walk-the-Dog Cure

    Ann M. Martin and Annie Parnell; Illustrated by Ben Hatke
    Feiwel & Friends
    Feiwel & Friends

    A storm, damage to the upside-down house and children behaving badly... What's Missy Piggle-Wiggle to do? The second book in a middle-grade spin-off series of the wildly popular Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, about a young nanny in a world where magic can solve problems.

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    Available 09/05/2017

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    Mighty Jack
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    Mighty Jack

    Mighty Jack

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister,...

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    Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure
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    Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure

    Ann M. Martin, with Annie Parnell; illustrated by Ben Hatke
    Feiwel & Friends
    Feiwel & Friends

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has gone away unexpectedly and left her niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle, in charge of the Upside-Down House and the beloved animals who live there: Lester the pig, Wag the dog, and...

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    Nobody Likes a Goblin
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    Nobody Likes a Goblin

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang...

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    Little Robot
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    Little Robot

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming...

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    Julia's House for Lost Creatures
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    Julia's House for Lost Creatures

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting...

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    The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
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    The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

    Zita the Spacegirl Series

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure in this New York Times-Bestselling graphic novel trilogy for middle grade readers.

    Zita...

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    The Worm Whisperer
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    The Worm Whisperer

    Betty Hicks, illustrated by Ben Hatke
    Roaring Brook Press
    Roaring Brook Press

    You've heard of Horse Whisperers and Dog Whisperers, but Ellis thinks he might be a Worm Whisperer!
    Ellis Coffey loves animals. He spends so much time outdoors that sometimes he thinks he can...

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    Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
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    Legends of Zita the Spacegirl

    Zita the Spacegirl Series

    Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    Ben Hatke brings back our intrepid space heroine for another delightful sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Zita is determined to find her way home to earth, following the...

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    Between the Panels 2
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    Between the Panels 2

    Zack Giallongo; Ben Hatke; Thien Pham; J.T. Petty; Hilary Florido; Mark Siegel
    First Second
    First Second

    Have you ever asked yourself what goes on in comics between the panels and behind the scenes? Between the Panels 2 gives you an inside look at the making of four great new graphic novels: Broxo,...

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    Zita the Spacegirl
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    Zita the Spacegirl

    Zita the Spacegirl Series

    Written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
    First Second
    First Second

    A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    Zita's life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

    When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds...

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