In the latest Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel from Scholastic Graphix, Kristy and the Snobs by Chan Chau, based on the prose novel by Ann M. Martin, Kristy’s family has relocated to the rich part of town, and that could mean new business… but it definitely means new, snobby neighbors!
The Beat caught up with Chau over email to find out all about where they found inspiration for reaction panels, which cartoonists influenced their work, and to find out which animal is their favorite to draw!
AVERY KAPLAN: Kristy and the Snobs runs the emotional gamut: readers will laugh and cry over the course of this book! What’s it like to depict both comedic moments and sad moments?
CHAN CHAU: Working on Kristy and the Snobs was amazing as I already have a fondness for melancholic stories. Ann Martin’s original novel was a wonderful foundation for my adaptation, as I felt it had struck the perfect balance between the tender lightheartedness of the rest of the series and the personal somber tone of love and loss.
KAPLAN: This book has some INCREDIBLE reaction panels! What goes into an amazing reaction? Did you turn anywhere in particular for inspiration?
CHAU: Oh gosh, reactions are so fun to draw, as well as incredibly finicky. For me, I try my best to have the eyes of a character do as much of the “emoting” as possible. It probably shows, but a lot of my inspiration comes from watching anime and reading manga! Cartoonists, like Rumiko Takashi for example, have such an incredible range and understanding when it comes to simplifying expressions to as few lines as possible.
KAPLAN: While most of the book is from Kristy’s perspective, there are also portions from the perspective of other members of the BSC! Did your creative approach change when centering different characters?
CHAU: My creative approach did not really change when switching to the different characters. Rather, it was often a much-needed breath of fresh air between the very heavier scenes throughout the book. I loved getting a little more quality time with the other girls.
KAPLAN: There are lots of different characters in this book, and they all have their own style sensibilities (some more fashionable than others)! Where did you turn for inspiration when it came to the clothing?
CHAU: On top of being a cartoonist, I also dabble in merchandise designing! I spent a lot of time on Pinterest for ideas, but I also check out local shops and boutiques to see what’s trendy. Although Kristy is a very T-shirt and jeans kind of girl, there were a lot of challenges to try and switch up her outfits every chapter. Hahaha!
KAPLAN: In addition to plenty of human characters, Kristy and the Snobs also has plenty of animal characters! Do you have a favorite animal to draw? Are there any animals that are especially challenging to draw?
CHAU: Frankly, I have a difficult time drawing all kinds of animals. I grew up mostly studying human anatomy, so this book was a challenge, but ultimately super fun in the end. My favorite animals to draw are birds, specifically budgies, since I have one at home! Unfortunately, there were no birds in this book!
KAPLAN: I notice that your previous work includes working on backgrounds for animated TV shows. Is this a skillset that translates to comics, or are they very different disciplines?
CHAU: Animated TV shows and comic books tend to have different needs depending on the job. However, I will say that having worked as a background designer helped my comics immensely. I have a much bigger craving to draw establishing shots and embellishing rooms to make them feel more lived in.
KAPLAN: Back when this book was announced in November 2019, you mentioned that Gale Galligan had been a role model for you! Would you mind elaborating about your relationship with them, and how they have proven supportive for you?
CHAU: Gale Galligan was the reason why I was even familiar with The Baby-Sitters Club series and middle grade graphic novels in general. We have been peers for a little while now, and I mostly admire them from afar. They’re working on such incredible things, and am looking forward to supporting all their future endeavors.
Kristy and the Snobs is available at a bookstore or public library near you today.