Sean Rubin on His New Graphic Novel, Bolivar

Bolivar Cover

Last month, I attended New York Comic Con. While I was there, I had the opportunity to talk with some incredibly talented comic creators about their work (it was super cool and I was so excited). Sean Rubin, known for his illustrations for Redwall and Mouse Guard, is bringing us a new and totally original graphic novel/picture book, Bolivar. If you were at comic con, you may have gotten an early copy, but if you weren’t, be on the look out because it will be available in November!

To start us off, can you tell me what the book is about?

Bolivar is about a dinosaur that lives on the upper west side of Manhattan because he doesn’t want anyone to notice him. Everyone in New York City is very busy and it’s easy for him to just live life and not really run in to too much trouble. And of course, somebody does notice him, a little girl named Sybil who lives next door. And the book is really about her attempts to convince everyone around her that he exists and that he lives in her neighborhood.

I’m really excited about this book. It sounds super adorable! So, would you say this book is more about Bolivar or is it about Sybil?

Really in a lot of ways it has two protagonists. It’s about both of them. They kind of have competing motivations, you could say. Bolivar doesn’t want to be seen and Sybil wants everyone to believe that Bolivar exists, but they’re not each other’s enemies, they just have different goals and that’s really where the story comes from.

This is an all-ages book, right?

It’s a picture book-graphic novel hybrid, so it’s 224 pages but they aren’t all comic panel’s and dialogue boxes. Some of them are two page illustrations and some people have been calling it a “chapter picture book” or a “picture chapter book.”

So, with that being said, what’s kind of the message you’re trying to portray with your book? Or what do you hope people and children can get from it?

Well, Bolivar doesn’t want to be seen – at least at first – and I think most, if not all, of us have something that we’re afraid to share with people, something about ourselves we’re kind of afraid to let out because we don’t know how other people will react, and this book is about the process of what that looks like if you’re willing to take that risk.

Does this book have any, I guess personal, connection with you? Was there a specific inspiration or … did you just really like dinosaurs?

Well, I actually used to live next to a dinosaur on West 80th – No, but I did actually live in the neighborhood that the book is about for a number of years and I’m from New York, and it really in a lot of ways was inspired by – at least the atmosphere was inspired, not so much the story itself – but the atmosphere was inspired by my experiences wandering around New York City for years. Just different things you’d see or different things you’d notice.

In that sense, it is personal. All the places that are in the book are usually the places I take people when they’re visiting the city for the first time, if I want to show you New York, that’s where I’m going to bring you on the tour. A friend of mine pointed it out to me recently, I took her on a tour, and she said, “Hey, these are all the places in your book” and I’m like, “Oh yeah. These are all the places I like to hang out”.

For a last question, I want to ask, what do you want to say to your audience about the book?

Well, I hope you enjoy reading it. I’ve been told by book-sellers and librarians that it’s really great to read sort of as a whole family because there are different parts that you could assign – younger readers could read the voice over, older readers can read the dialogue – everything is encoded, the speech balloons or dialogue balloons are colored based on characters – its 5 chapters, so 5 week day nights in a week and it’s good bedtime story reading.

Bolivar is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

Alright. There’s the scoop! If you want a fun, new, interactive story to read with your kids that they’ll love, or if you just really like dinosaurs (me!) and a good story, then this is exactly what you need. Check your local comic store on November 28th or pre-order it now on Amazon. Whatever way you choose, get yourself a copy. Or get it for someone else. The Holidays are coming up, after all.