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Kids' Q&A

Gareth Hinds

Describe your latest project.
My new book is The Merchant of Venice. It's a graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare's dark comedy about feuding merchants, religious intolerance, and the entanglement of love, hate, money, and justice. I won't give you the full synopsis here, but the women outwit the men quite handily. I've set my version in modern-day Venice and drawn it in a very graphic style. Most of the art is drawn from life — the backgrounds on location in Venice, and the characters from real people. I've also adapted the language more than in my previous books, but always with a very high degree of respect for the original.
The Merchant of Venice

  1. The Merchant of Venice
    $8.00 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    The Merchant of Venice

    Gareth Hinds
    "Hinds's beautiful new offering now sets the standard that all others will strive to meet....Easily on a par with his stellar adaptation of Beowulf, it's a captivating, smartly executed work." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    "[A] powerful visual showcase for Shakespeare's work..." Booklist

  2. Beowulf
    $6.50 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist


    Gareth Hinds
    "This epic tale is exceptionally well suited to the episodic telling necessary for a successful graphic novel....Hinds's version will make this epic story available to a whole new group of readers." School Library Journal

    "[F]abulously detailed, action-filled artwork....This blood-drenched, battle-packed story of one of the first superheroes is sure to interest a new generation." VOYA

Describe your most memorable teacher.
I had a life drawing teacher at Parsons named Dave Passalacqua. He was a force of nature. He liked 15-second poses, and wouldn't ever let you spend more than five minutes on a drawing, and if he thought you were slowing down and getting too comfortable he'd yell, "Change!" so the model would switch to a new pose. When most of our teachers were telling us to settle on a particular style and look for freelance work, he'd tell us to create our own project, market it, create spin-off merchandise — basically create a package that a publisher couldn't refuse.

He died a few years ago, and Parsons had a memorial gathering for him, where his students and colleagues shared amazing stories about him. The famous illustrator and teacher Murray Tinkelman was there, and he talked about how long Dave had been teaching (something like 40 years!), and told amazing stories about the crazy stuff he had done with his classes, like having a model bring in her boa constrictor to pose with. I really, really miss Dave — except that I still have him in my head, encouraging me to take on bigger projects, push them farther, keep drawing from life, and never get slow or hung up on one drawing.

The Merchant of Venice

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
My girlfriend is the children's book buyer for an independent bookstore (Alison Morris, Wellesley Booksmith), so she's constantly bringing home good books. She introduced me to Shaun Tan, whose graphic novel The Arrival is spectacular, and she brought home Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, which is one of the best historical graphic novels I've read.

What is your idea of bliss?
Well, when I was working on Merchant, I took a trip to Venice, and I spent days and days just walking around and drawing potential locations for the book. That's my kind of heaven — nice weather, beautiful things to draw, no deadlines, art by the old masters in every church...

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A ninja.

Why do you write books for kids?
Actually, I don't. I try to make the classics more accessible to anyone who might be a little intimidated by either the language or the length of the originals — which includes both kids and adults.

The Merchant of Venice

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I recently met a teacher who told me that several years ago she gave my Beowulf to one of her students who was really entangled in gang life, in danger of failing school and maybe getting imprisoned or killed at a young age. He really liked the book, and he looked on my website and saw that I was using a computer to do some of my illustration. Apparently that lit a spark, and he got very interested in computer graphics, and I guess now he's gone to design school and become a graphic artist. That's the kind of thing that really makes my job seem worthwhile.

Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
The one where Homer learns that if he becomes fat enough he can qualify for disability. "The fingers you have used to dial this number are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now." I love that one. Especially because Bart idolizes him for doing it; so it says something about role models.

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Gareth Hinds is the creator of Beowulf and other graphic novels based on classic works. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


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