Friends With Boys - Page 168

The best place to go after you have a meltdown is under your bed.

I have a treat for you guys today! AND we’re having another giveaway!  Fellow First Second cartoonist Dave Roman agreed to let me ask him silly questions (and maybe one serious one) about his comic making, and we also get a sneak peek at the sequel to Dave’s graphic novel Astronaut Academy.

So click the link to read Dave’s interview, as well as information about how you can get a free copy of Astronaut Academy (yes, I’m going to make you work for it)!


1) First off, I wanted to mention how fun Astronaut Academy is. It’s like you made the ultimate Awesome Kid Comic. Astronaut Academy is about being away at a magical space boarding school where the students get to drive dinosaurs, compete in super dangerous science fiction sports, and are taught by these teachers who look kinda like certain favourite Saturday Morning cartoon characters.  I have to ask the inspiration question: where did Astronaut Academy come from? 

I started off wanting to do a funny homage to Japanese culture, specifically anime and all the cute stuff I’d find in Sanrio stores and NYC bodegas. But I also wanted to play around with something that channeled the newspaper comic strips that I grew up reading and copying, when I was learning to draw as a kid. So it just became this mashup of influences and things that make me happy. Some of it is totally on the surface, like the videogame and 80s cartoon references, but there’s also an attempt to re-create the feeling I had as a kid when I first discovered the random humor and whimsical wordplay of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. As the diverse cast of kids in Astronaut Academy started taking shape, I wanted them to have fleshed-out lives, balancing serious emotions amongst all the wacky outer space hijinks.

2) At Astronaut Academy you can take classes in Anti-Gravity Gymnastics, Fire Throwing, Advanced Heart Studies and my favourite, Dinosaur Driving (I have wanted to drive a dinosaur ever since I read Dinotopia). What classes at Astronaut Academy do you think you’d excel in? 

Dinosaur Driving definitely works off the kid logic. It’s the type of thing you’d draw on loose leaf paper, without worrying about any logistics beyond: it would be cool if dinosaurs also had tank wheels. Even though the curriculum at Astronaut Academy is mostly wish-fulfillment classes, and I’m the one who gets to make them up, I still don’t think I’d excel as an astronaut. I just don’t have the right stuff! But I would like to have multiple hearts like the kids at Astronaut Academy, so I could survive whirlwind blast-attacks from enemies.

3) I’m a little sad that the only robot in Astronaut Academy was a vicious killing machine, because I like robots. Will there be nice robots in the second book? (I am fishing for plot hints here, so if you can tell us a bit about the second book, that’d be nifty.)

To be fair, Cybert never would’ve tried to kill anyone if he hadn’t been programmed to do so. He would much rather play Monchichimon card games and quote Tori Amos lyrics. While writing Astronaut Academy Book 2, there were several scenes where it would have been useful to have robots that clean up and do specific tasks (like the ones in Wall-E). But in Book 1, The Principal says that robots don’t go to school because they are “too easily impressionable.” So, I wrote myself into a corner…but I’m okay with it, because the off-kilter logic of it makes me laugh. Having fewer robots in the world of Astronaut Academy makes Cybert’s creation a bigger deal. And there are other villains out there like Team Feety Pajamas (MWAHAHAA!) who would love to get their hands on that kind of technology for their own nefarious schemes.

4) Okay, serious question: A little while back I posted about my comic making process on the website. I’m really interested in how other cartoonists produce their comics, especially those that both write and draw. Can you tell us a little about your process? Is there any part of it you like best/dislike? (I hate doing thumbnails. Also, scanning. )

I write in thumbnails/rough drawings, which has always been easier for me than typing up detailed descriptions for each panel. These drawings used to be very loose and messy, but I’ve had to tighten up since I’m working with editors who have to decode the story based on my early scribbles. The less guesswork the better! Luckily, the folks at First Second also allow for some wiggle room, so I can still make improvements along the way and improvise new bits of business when drawing the actual penciled pages (which are drawn on 11×14” Bristol board). I ink the pages using watercolor brushes and India ink. This is probably my favorite part because it’s fun to see my indecisive pencils commit to a single shape. Plus, inking is a lot less stressful on my wrists than penciling. Eventually it’s all scanned into the computer so I can make corrections and add graytones in Photoshop. Then I make last minute changes, and a few more LAST-last minute changes, and send everything off to the publisher!

5) Not serious question: The X-men (Wolverine, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman) vs. the Avatar: The Last Airbender kids (Aang, Katara, Toph, Sokka). Who would win and how quickly would the fight be over? 

Even if Toph could metalbendadamantium, I would place my money on the X-Men. Sokka’s charms would be no match for Jean Grey’s telepathic mindbending. Katara and Iceman would be on equal footing and cancel each other out. Aang, as the master of all elements, would be able to hold his own, but I think a few blasts of Cyclops’ eye beams would knock him out of the sky, permanently.

Dave Roman is the creator of Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity and Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. He has contributed stories to the FLIGHT series, and is the co-creator of Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and the upcoming Teen Boat!, which will be released as a full-color graphic novel in May 2012.


(Faith here: I politely disagree and think the Avatar: TLA kids would triumph!!!!!!111 But since Dave is the one who’s actually written those characters in an official capacity, I bow to his superior knowledge. Anyway, visit Dave’s website here. Thanks so much for the interview, Dave!

AND we are going to have a giveaway! I have 5 copies of Astronaut Academy to give away, but again, I’m going to make you guys work for it. Tell me what class (real or imaginary) you think you’d be best at if you went to space school, and my 5 favourites get a free book. Yay!


45 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    That looks a little uncomfortable.

  2. Zach Stay says:

    What class would I take? Easy.

    The How To Make Awesome Sound Effects Class.

    Quite possibly the most important class in all of the universe. Especially for astronauts. Would Darth Vader be Darth Vader without the breathing? Would Star Trek be Star Trek without the sweet explosions and background music? Would Apollo 13 have a problem with Houston if there was no sound in space? Wait….

  3. ElCapitan says:

    Oh noes, hiding under the bed? I did that on numerous occasions after fights with my big brother hah oh the joys oh tight, hidden spaces!

    For my Astronaut Class of choice, I would have to go with the ever-awesome Team Space Combat Laser Battle Simulation 101! It’s like laser tag, but in zero gee! With lasers! And there would be all sorts of lasers you could use and scenarios to run through, like many small teams in a free-for-all or a really big battle between two armies! (a la Ender’s Game)!!!

    Now I wanna play laser tag…

  4. Caitlin says:

    H.A.L. 2.0 programming. Nothing could go wrong in that class!

  5. Onanymous says:

    Wow, this page is really beautiful. I just love the quilt on her bed.

    As for classes – Anti-gravity eating maybe? It would be a bit like bobbing for apples, just in 3 dimensions.

  6. Kat says:

    Under the bed is only the best place to go if you aren’t allergic to dust mites! (I admit it – during scary movies set in spooky, dusty old houses, all I can ever think of is how much I’d be sneezing if I were there, which probably isn’t what the moviemakers were hoping for.)

  7. Tom says:

    I come from a long line of dairy farmers and as such am confident that that the class I would be best at is Moon Cheese Farming. I mean, can’t be more difficult than milking a cow, right?

  8. Tanya says:

    Definitely Intergalactic History, Epic Poetry, and First Aid. Umpteen years of college, and the best I can remember of the liberal arts are details of Mexican history and the Song of Roland. I can visualize a class where the students bandage up molting dragons while reciting epic poetry that tells the history of the intergalactic alliance.

  9. Welllensittich says:

    Since she already did the “grown up thing” and admitted her fault at the police station (and defended the others): Isn’t she a big too grown up to hide under the bed? I thought she was going right back to the police station. With her Dad or without.

    However: The course I’d be taking at Astronaut Academy would be DD: Dinosaur Dentistry. Since the dinos are already there, SOMEBODY must take care of their oral needs? Sounds like the ultimate challenge to give a T-Rex a root canal filling WITHOUT anesthetization.

    • Arabia says:

      “Since she already did the ‘grown up thing’ and admitted her fault at the police station (and defended the others): Isn’t she a big too grown up to hide under the bed?”

      Ahhh, but that’s the magic/bipolarity/frustratingness of being an adolescent girl. One minute you’re making huge leaps into adult logic and ethics; the next, you’re breaking family portraits and hiding under your bed. You’re right on the cusp of adulthood, your inches are expanding (in several directions), but you still want to have your sandwiches cut a certain way and you get pissed off if your mom forgets you hate chunky peanut butter. You’d die of embarrassment if any of your peers saw you hugging your favorite stuffed animal, but you’d totally freak if it went into the garage-sale pile. You’re expected to act like a grown-up, but you’re still treated as a child. You want to put on high heels and makeup and do hair-experimentation, but you simultaneously want to just stick to pigtails and you’re really humiliated about the whole bra thing. It’s a rough patch of life’s highway full of speed bumps and potholes.

  10. Beautiful panel. Maggie’s sad face is the saddest sad face ever.

    As for the Astronaut Academy class I would rock: Zero-grav dodgeball! Zero-gravity would put everyone on equal footing. It would be a zen like exercise, red rubber balls floating gently by…granted, the games could take a long time.

  11. Glennnnn says:

    The poor little thing needs support and guidance- not a dark place.
    The real reason that robots don’t do school is because they have apps for that already.

  12. Tim Canny says:

    Just the other day I was reading a serious article about the study of the consequences of astronaut flatulance while in space so I’m pretty sure I would excel at Advanced Space Flatus Control and Emergency Micro-Gravity Flatulance-Event Response Training.

  13. Georgia says:

    I like to believe I’d make an exceptional Healer-like person and be awesome at bandaging the Dinosaurs and give them medicine and then run off to have space adventure with them.

    I’m wrong, though – what I’d actually be could at is Languages, Translating, and Other Stuff That Is Tricky When There Are Millions Of Completely Rude Species In The Galaxy, and also Theoretical Spaceship Designing, because DRAWING. (ftr, all my designs would include special rooms that are, in fact, comics libraries)

    (But if it counts, my Galaxy Psychology essay would be about “The Dynamics of Han Solo/Leia Organa, or: Why Han is such a dork and why Leia is freakin’ amazing.”)

  14. B! says:

    I used to go under my bed all. the. time. whenever I was distressed.

    Okay…my Astronaut Academy class is…Bubble Diving! Everyone starts off on a high ledge, looks down into a long, giant tube. Participants get an oxygen pack, some goggles and nose plugs. Everybody jumps on the count of three. Halfway down there’s an invisible barrier, and once they pass that barrier, gravity stops. They make their way to the giant water bubble floating near the bottom, and the first person to retrieve the diving ring inside the bubble wins! (Did I overthink this? Probably, haha).

  15. Sarah says:

    “Space Cuisine 101”: When I was in elementary school we made “astronaut food”, in which we crunched up graham crackers in little ziplock bags with peanut butter. Then you cut off one of the corners and squeeze it out into your face. Classy, right? And I ROCKED it. (Actually, it’s awesome and fun and delicious.)

    Just imagine what fun combinations someone motivated could come up with –– mushed up cheeseburgers? Garden salad paste? Squished spaghetti? Possibilities are endless!

  16. Alex says:

    I’d definitely go for the Space Flight classes, so when I graduate I could get my dream job as an intergalactic courier. I’d also take the Alien Language classes because if you’re flying through space making deliveries you’re bound to run into an alien or two. Gotta be prepared.

  17. Warren says:

    ‘The best place to go after you have a meltdown is under your bed.’

    I had a waterbed when I was Maggie’s age, so … yeah, that was kinda out of the picture for me. Nicely emotive art here, especially with her hands in the second panel. (I’ve always, always had trouble making hands look good, even when I use the cartoony three-finger default – though that does seem to help a little.)

    Classes at Space School. Well, this is one I wouldn’t want to be in, necessarily, but I could see it as a graduate school class: Applied Polytemporal Perversity. You’d get high marks for going back in time and successfully becoming your own grandfather – and great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather. The instructor, of course, would be Professor Heinlein.

    Actually, you could do an entire suite of college-level courses along those lines. For instance you could have classes in ‘Verdant Mating Customs’ and ‘What Is This Thing Called Kissing’, taught by James Kirk. You could do classes on ‘Dating Much Much Much Much Much Younger Women’ taught by The Doctor. There’s also ‘Be Your Own Favorite Orifice’ taught by Mr. Fantastic (substitute-taught as necessary by Plastic Man), and the perennial favorite, ‘How to Dress as a Space Alien and Probe Random People for Fun and Profit’.

    And let’s not overlook the value of core curricula, such as ‘Frakking 101’ and ‘Just Because It’s a Different Species Doesn’t Mean There Won’t Be Chimerical Offspring That Are a Grotesque Joke Upon Nature and All That Is Decent’. (Shorter course title: ‘Why My Mothers Didn’t Love Me’.)

  18. Chris says:

    A class I could really use in space academy would be ‘Escapism 101’ There you learn how to get out of those devious traps set by your arch-nemesis such as when you’re tied up and hanging upside down over a pool of water, chained to a table with a laser slowing inching its way toward you, and being blown out of an airlock.

  19. Rosa Colon says:

    What class would I take?

    Charting the uncharted: Map design for navigation systems

  20. Chuk says:

    I’d be really good at “Exoskeleton Combat 101”, where I would use cargo loading devices to battle aliens. (It also covers other mayhem with improvised tools, like flying in zero G with a fire extinguisher or using the food replicators to make explosives.)

  21. SKleefeld says:

    Is there a class on Reading Comics In My Bedroom All Day? I would totally ace that class!

  22. Oraxia says:

    Apparently I’m not terribly imaginative, but I think I’d like “Telekinetic Propulsion in Zero-G.” It would likely also be the prerequisite class for “Telekinetic Flight,” since it would be easier to learn to fly telekinetically in zero gravity ^^;;

    Realistically, though, I’d be interested in “Zero-G Botany” (partly because things like “Zero-G Animal Husbandry” sounds awful) and other things exploring the effects of zero gravity on farming/growing things.

  23. Nick Perkins says:

    My favorite class would be Atmosphere Surfing. Every kid neds to learn how to maneuver their spaceboards to a planet’s surface without burning up! While it is definitely more dangerous than beaming down to a planet, beaming is less fun and more cliche.

  24. ephrielle says:

    Anti-Grav Pudding Sculpting

  25. Carapace says:

    I would focus my efforts on Space Home Ec- Low Grav Cooking! Dusting in Zero G! Washing with Recycled Water!

    Oh, you think it sounds unglamorous. But I’d end up being the ONE person no ship or station could do without! And also my food wouldn’t always taste like cardboard. That is crucial to my joy, even if otherwise I’m riding dinosaurs!

  26. Carolyn says:

    Great interview!

    My space school class of choice would be “Dancing with the Stars.” And we all dance of the moon and do cool robot moves and of course, The Moonwalk.

  27. Santiago says:

    My favorite classes would be:
    • Moon Jumping (gotta learn how to jump using the Moon’s lower gravity)
    • Asteroid Evading Maneuvers (How else can we go to Jupiter?)
    • Alien Bio 101 (learn how to difference E.T. from Alien)
    • Stargazing (just because there would be tons of stars to look at!)

  28. Ryorin says:

    That is a gorgeous page.

    My best class would probably be Weightless Target-Shooting. It would be harmless, like laser tag in spaaaace, until alines attacked and our lasers are set to “Kill”. I would annoy everyone by sniping.

  29. Anna Martino says:

    I love everyone’s responses. I’d want to take Atmosphere Surfing that’s for sure.
    But, I think I would excel in an Alien Languages course. I wish I could think of a more clever name but I can’t. It would have to be a bit like the Klingon Institute. You have to know alien languages if you are going to a space academy.

  30. Ink says:

    My classes would be either Writing and Conducting Space Music (the Star Wars soundtrack didn’t write itself!) or Giant Yellow Floating Words 101 (another Star Wars reference hahaha me so clevaarrrrrr).

  31. DRigley says:

    Phlanurbian Yodeling Class – Despite some people’s insistence that it’s a real artform, it’s actually just making fart noises with your mouth. Best. Homework. EVER!

  32. pseudonym says:

    how to win a game show in no garvity class would roq!
    just imagine: (que wavy lines) it would be like minute to win it combined with wipe out pure awsome!!! oh, and you would have and awsome person like toph from
    last airbender
    as the instructer
    pure awsome wrapped in bacon with BBQ sauce on top!!!!!!!!!

  33. Arabia says:

    Communications department would have a class called:
    Scream of [Supposed] Defeat
    — the final is coming up with the best rendition of “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!”

  34. The Astronaut Academy class that I’d be best at? Are we allowed to list more than one?

    “Inter-Dimensional Visual Communications.”
    This class specializes in contacting beings from different dimensions and using a series of sequential drawings to form a universal system of communication without speaking. (The necessity for this being that we can make a visual link with other dimensions, but have no audio output.)


    “Day Dream Building.”
    A class on perfecting internal world building and escapism to the point of altering reality.


    “Demonology 101.” (HA!)
    Can you tell your extra-planetary being from your spirit-realm being? Was that a resident of another world, or a denizen of the hell-dimension? Learn to tell the subtle differences, including:

    -Physical characteristics (Textbook Image: )
    -Mode of travel (flying saucer, or rips in the fabric of time?)
    -Idiomatic expressions, such as “We come in peace” vs. “WE SHALL FEAST UPON YOUR SOUL!”
    -General and inherent evil practices (Scientific experimentation, or possessing and contorting the human body)

  35. Pamela says:

    What class would I take?

    Weightlessness and nausea 101: the beginner’s guide on how to not hurl into your hurl.

  36. Emily says:

    What a coincidence. Same day this page goes up mentioning Avatar, I had a dream about the Avatar characters. I am psychic!

    I would take a space biology class. That would be awesome.

  37. My favorite class would be “Astro Technology Maintenance Specialist 101” because then I’d get to fix stuff with duct tape, tie wire and bubble gum.

  38. Charlie says:

    God, this page is GORGEOUS!

  39. […] plus what the final version of the page looks like inked and toned, head over to the webcomic Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. I did a short interview with Faith talking about Astronaut Academy and some fun stuff about X-Men […]

  40. Dan says:

    Great drawings, I wish I could draw that well! =)

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Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.

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