Monday, September 19, 2016

Mighty Jack Tour

Hey friends! Here is a list of some of the places I can be found in the coming weeks. Will I see any of you? Let me know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Double Day: Mighty Jack and Missy PW

Well today kind of snuck up on me. It's the official release day for my new book, MIGHTY JACK. Here's what you need to know about MIGHTY JACK:

1. It's a graphic novel! (Or whatever we call comic books these days). It's a modern kinda-sorta retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk story featuring a boy named Jack, his little sister Maddy, and a wild homeschooled girl from down the road named Lilly. The three kids plant a whole gardens worth of strange seeds from a local flea market, and the plants that rise up from the seeds are clearly not from this world. Adventures ensue.

2. It's only the first part of a two-book story! I feel it's very important to warn you, my readers, that this book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Or, at least, it ends on an unresolved dramatic moment. which is, okay, the same thing as a cliffhanger. The second book (which is almost finished!) will be out next year at this time.

3. I had colorist for this book! The beautiful colors in this book were accomplished by Alex Campbell and Hilary Sycamore. They did a beautiful job.

4. You can get this book in bookstores and all over the Internet! Here are a few links: Indigo, Barnes&Noble, Amazon.

5. I will be doing a 10-day tour for this book covering much of the South and the Midwest. I will post more about that soon.

6. Here's a short video of me flipping through the book (the song in the background is Little Boxes, performed by my sister Annie):

Untitled from Ben Hatke on Vimeo.

Is that all the news? NO THAT IS NOT ALL THE NEWS.

As it turns out there is a SECOND BOOK that I was involved in which is also releasing today. That book is Missy Piggle-Wiggle, by Ann M. Martin. It Continues the stories of the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, but instead follows the exploits of Mrs. P-W's young niece, Missy. The book has illustrations by me. They were very fun to create. And Like Mighty Jack you can find it in stores and online.


Monday, May 9, 2016

New Books, Studio Visits, and the Eisners

What a busy year it is! As I write this I am closing in on the last 30 Pages of Mighty Jack Book 2 (that's the best title I've got so far). I spent last week in Sicily visiting a school on the Sigonella Navy Base and when I returned the very first physical copies of Mighty Jack (book 1) were waiting on my desk. They look great! The paperback edition has spot gloss and fancy flaps! Here are a few pictures:

And here it is with Nobody Likes a Goblin:

Both books are available for preorder. Goblin releases on June 7th and Jack releases on September 6th. (I'll throw some permanent links up on the sidebar soon).

And so...

Last year my friends at Mirandum Pictures helped put together a little studio visit video for me. They were so patient with how much I wanted to cram into this video and even went so far as to climb up to a mountaintop for firebreathing. We totally got lost in the woods after dark on the way down. The video finally debuted over at Paste. You can follow that link or watch it here:

Finally on my list of things to mention today: Little Robot has been nominated for an Eisner Award! (Best publication for early readers). Remember, all industry professionals can vote here:


Maybe you will vote for Little Robot? But I will be just as happy if you vote for my friend Liniers' lovely book Written and Drawn by Henrietta.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Where has Ben Been?

I haven't abandoned this old blog. No, not yet!

Here's a quick peek at my desk:

I've been in heavy production mode lately on the second (as-yet-untitled) volume of Mighty Jack. It's another 200+ page graphic novel and, now that it's all written, over the next few months my working hours are all focused turning tiny sketched out pages into finished art. It means turning little gestural sketches like this:

...into finished panels like this:

All of this is an awful lot of drawing in a relatively short time and it doesn't leave much time for Not-So-Great-Pumpkins and other fun side adventures.

The book is due right around the time that spring turns into summer (a few days before my birthday). And a handful of days later my next picture book, Nobody Likes a Goblin, will be released. I'll be talking more about that book as we get closer to June. Trust me, there will be goblins everywhere.

And for those who want to catch me in person, I will be doing some book related travels over the summer. I'll post more about those soonish, but for now the big news is that I'll be a special guest at this year's San Diego Comic Con! I haven't been to SDCC before and I know it's crazy and crowded and a zoo, but I really am very excited.

Will I see you there? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Not-So-Great Pumpkin

Last year, for Inktober, I drew up a little world of Wizards. This year, with so much else going on I made a shorter (and quicker) series of 11 drawings all about a small, sad Halloween spirit called the Not-So-Great Pumpkin.

Here you go:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Talk It Up

Hey friends.

Last week I made mention of an upcoming project that was "unlike anything I've done before." Well that project is launching today -it's a podcast called Galaxy of Super Adventure!

GoSA is an art-of-storytelling podcast that I'm co-hosting with my friends Zack Giallongo and Jerzy Drozd. Some episodes will be more technical (art tools, plotting, working on licensed characters) other episodes will explore more purely fun topics (80's fantasy movies, Role Playing Games).

And with Halloween almost upon us our first episode is all about MONSTERS. Have a listen:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Swording Again

Yikes. I seem to have let this poor blog languish a bit. Kind of a lot has been happening...

I've been juggling several projects, finishing one book (Mighty Jack) and plowing into the next (Mighty Jack 2). I'm home from my West Coast tour and Little Robot is out in the world being read by kids and their adults too. At home we're stacking firewood and doing other chores to get this old farmhouse ready for winter. I'm finishing off a new studio space, which I'm hoping to move into next month. I'm living on dreams and schemes.

And I have another new project coming up that's unlike anything I've done before. I'll be posting something about that right before Halloween. Stay tuned.

I do have one thing I can share here and now, though. Back in May I mentioned that I had helped out in the filming of a sword fight for a book trailer. The trailer is part of a new company called Serial Box that serializes fiction for readers. It's cool. It's how Charles Dickens would have released his stories if he had the internet.

The trailer I was a part of was for a series called Tremontaine. Here it is:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mechanical Pilgrim and Robot Travels

As promised, here is a list of my upcoming West Coast Rambles!

Will I see you at any of these events? Let me know! Oh and feel free to download and share the image below!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Day for Robots (and Humans)

Today is the official publication day for my graphic novel Little Robot!

I have to say that, in the time between turning this book in (last October) and this time now when the book is finally drifting out into the hands of readers, I've come to be quite proud of it. Or, at any rate, I can confidently say that some of my happiest book-writing-and-drawing memories are associated with this one.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of Litle Robot I urge you to call your local bookstore (they may or may not carry it) and for internet shoppers here are links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the books Goodreads page (which has links to many other stores).

There will be a "blog tour" for Little Robot which will include some interviews and giveaways and things. Here's a link to the list of participating sites:

And later in the month I will be traveling up the West Coast visiting bookstores and libraries and schools in San Fransisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver! I will be posting my full schedule for that in just a day or two.

So hooray for robots! And for humans. I leave you with a couple recent bots from my sketchbook:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Little Robot Contest Winners!

First and foremost I have to thank everyone who left such uplifting comments about my work. This was our biggest Jolly Giveaway yet! Thank you all, too, for spreading the word about Little Robot. It's a little book in a big world and every little signal boost makes a difference. Thank you all VERY MUCH.

Now on to the winners (drawn randomly thanks to the magic of

Our 3rd place winner, receiving a copy of Little Robot is:


Our 2nd place winner, receiving a copy of Little Robot AND a page of original concept art is:


Our Awesome 1st place winner, receiving a copy of Little Robot AND an original page from the book is...


Congratulations to the winners! Please send me an email (there's an email button on the sidebar) with an address for shipping.

Thanks again everyone!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Contest Update, Goodreads, and Zita

1. Contest Update: I failed to mention in the last post the length of the raffle! I will close down the comments on Tuesday, August 4th and post the winners names on Wednesday, August 5th. Keep an eye on the blog!

2. Goodreads: More chances to get a free copy of Little Robot! Goodreads is giving away 5 copies over on their website. Click here find out more.

3. Zita!: Oh, Zita the Spacegirl... I hadn't drawn her in awhile so I recently drew up this little model sheet. Gesture is one of the most important tools in visual storytelling, and little character sheets like this are great for nailing down just how a character moves and emotes (and how they crash into things):

That's all for now!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jolly Raffle Giveaway Contest: Little Robot!

It's contest time again, my friends!

We are roughly a months away from the release of my graphic novel Little Robot, my little love letter to summer and friendship and robots and makers. And, while I have exactly zero copies of Little Robot here on my desk, I can assure you that there are big piles of the book littering the offices of First Second. Have a look:

And so, in celebration, I am hosting a drawing to give away THREE COPIES of Little Robot along with some ORIGINAL ART from the book. To enter the drawing all you need to do is leave a comment in the comments section of this post. So simple! (do remember to leave your name, or some internet handle that I can announce. Anonymous can't win).

As with my previous giveaways, you can increase your chance of winning by spreading the word about Little Robot. Mentioning the book on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, your own blog or other social media gains you TWO EXTRA ENTRIES. Let me know in your comment if and how you've spread the word!

AAAANNNND... that's all there is to it.

The FIRST jolly person whose name I draw will receive an advance copy of Little Robot, straight from the publisher, and an ORIGINAL PAGE from the book.

The SECOND person whose name I draw will receive an advance copy of Little Robot and a piece of concept art from my Little Robot sketchbook.

The THIRD person will receive an advance copy of the book.

One last thing: Due to the fact that I am away from my regular studio this summer, the books and the art will arrive separately, with the art arriving a little later. I will not be able to send out the original art until the week of September 14th.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Everything I Need

Hello Gravagna Montale. I'd forgotten how much I loved you.

The picture above is my little studio space for the summer. It's a simple space that has everything I need for the project at hand and very little more.

There is a door, for coming in and going back out. There is a window that looks out onto a courtyard and the mountains beyond. The window is for daydreaming, but it also doubles as a light table for tracing (I've been doing more tracing and less dreaming lately). I have one big table full of pens and pencils and paper and sketchbooks. I have a computer, and a scanner and an internet connection that allows me to send the words and pictures from my table out into the wide world (or at least to my editor). I have a pair of quality headphones which, when the need arises, I use to tune out the distractions of my boisterous family.

I have a very specific task this summer. I'm working on a graphic novel called Mighty Jack. The book is completely written and I have a complete draft drawn out in thumbnail sketches -I had that part all finished before I came here. My job this summer is to turn those 200 pages of rough sketches into 200 pages of finished art. I'm fine tuning the story in small ways as I go, but mostly it's steady, quiet work.

Mighty Jack is the story of three young people and a magic garden. Here's some early concept art:

The style and characters have developed a bit and look a little more like this now:

I said I had everything I need here for the job I'm doing but there is one thing I'm missing. I used my own house as a model for Jack's house. I took plenty of reference photos before I came here, but it would have been nice to draw a scene or two from life like I did with Little Robot.

Anyway, here are a few more pictures from the past couple weeks:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hidden Away

The No-Longer-So-Little Hatke Family has arrived in the magical village of Gravagna Montale, where we will be hiding away for the summer. And I am just now fully back online after a brief (and cleansing) hiatus.

It's good to be hidden up in the mountains for a little while. For the next few months I will be drawing comics pages like they are gong out of style (which I hope they never do) and the girls will be hunting lizards, eating gelato and jumping in mountain streams.

As promised here is a first batch of pictures, these from our journey from Virginia to New York and from New York to Gravagna. For more I suggest following Anna Bertolini's Instagram feed.

And finally, in book-news, here's a link to a short video from Book Con, where I answer some questions about my next-to-be-available graphic novel Little Robot:

And here is another video where I am playing host in a conversation with Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier and Jenni Holm:

More to come!