Catalog of Inspirations, a guest post by Zach Smith
Hey there, faithful reader. I know you’ve been eagerly awaiting to hear from me, your favorite author, America’s sweetheart, Zach Smith. Author of the Dolphin Girl series of graphic novels. Well the wait is FRIGGIN’ OVER!
I could write something very profound, or very thoughtful (I tried, this is like the 3rd draft) about the making and meaning behind Dolphin Girl. But instead I’ve compiled a short catalog of places and things that inspired the world of Dolphin Girl.
So take my metaphorical hand and follow me, ON THE JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME (The author runs away into the distance and we never see or hear from him again).
I have an Uncle that once told me “People were always getting in fights at Caesarland.” I don’t remember that happening but I do remember the restaurant, which was Little Caesar’s own version of Chuck E. Cheese. It had a person dressed as the Little Caesar character, play structures, THE WORKS, but it was all very ‘low rent’ and maybe a little dirty, and I’m pretty sure it only existed in Detroit, which was where Little Caesars was headquartered. This OBVIOUSLY very special place was the main inspiration for Pizza Paradise.
Munch’s Make Believe Band
The robotic band that used to exist within the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant pizza chain was the direct inspiration for the Funk Machines.
My dad wore them. Captain Dugong wears them in the 90’s flashback scenes in the book. HECK I’m wearing them right now. Anyway more people should be aware of these pants. In that awareness, you should sit mindfully, let the loud patterns of the pants engulf you, engulf your spirit.
The Uniroyal Tire
There is a very large tire that sits on the side of the I-94 highway between Detroit and Ann Arbor. I used to work at a Michaels Arts and Crafts store near it. I always thought it was so bizarre, it would get all covered in snow in the winter, and there was no signage or anything to let you know why the tire was there. Upon further research I found out that it used to be a tire shaped ferris wheel from one of the World’s Fairs and now it just sits there, quietly, looming. This tire features in a few scenes of the 2nd book.
West Oaks II Plaza
I later transferred to another Michaels in a strip mall in Novi, MI. It was called West Oaks II Plaza and it was directly across from the Twelve Oaks Mall. This was the last job I had before moving to LA to work in animation – although they did say that I could be management material, VERY TEMPTING. It was in this space that I think I started to put together a world of endless strip malls, parking lots, municipal golf courses, and garbage hills. Sometimes I think in times of great anxiety and anticipation of what’s to come I will become nostalgic for the place I am currently rooted. When I know that one day I will not live here, one day I may never be back here. So I start to miss the place before it’s even gone. I think this leaves me open, and the sense of places just permeates me. IT STICKS!
Anyway, maybe all this information will be helpful when you’re reading the books, or maybe not. IT’S IN YOUR HANDS DEAR READER!
Meet the author
Zach Smith is a cartoonist, author, illustrator, and show creator. Currently, he is creating an upcoming show for Nick Jr. and works as a storyboard artist in the animation industry. Zach lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs. Before becoming a professional artist, he delivered pizza for a living. Dolphin Girl is his first graphic novel series.
Social Media: @zachsmithdraws on Instagram
About Dolphin Girl 2: Eye of the Baloney Storm
Attention fans of Lunch Lady and Steven Universe! Middle grade graphic novel superhero-in-training Dolphin Girl is back fending off cold cut storms and learning to deal with a new (super-annoying) rival in the second book in this side-splitting series.
Ever since the evil Sea Cow tried to steal Dolphin Girl and Captain Dugong’s restaurant/hideout in Trouble in Pizza Paradise!, business has been bad. Dolphin Girl attempts to rebrand the restaurant, but everyone who works there hates the new outfits and the new music. Even worse, there’s a new superhero in town—everyone loves, Wonder Friend and they seemingly can do no wrong. On the other hand, Dolphin Girl is getting everything wrong.
But when Sea Cow returns to cover Midwestern Deerburbia in a blizzard of baloney, Dolphin Girl and Otter Boy have no choice but to team up with the all-too-wonderful Wonder Friend to prevent their town from becoming a big Jimmy John’s sandwich!
With bold, bright, energetic illustration Into the Baloney Storm serves up a graphic novel that fans of Steven Universe will be eager to sink their teeth into.
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 01/18/2022
Series: Dolphin Girl #2
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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