“Even in those pee-drenched moments, it’s still funny,” says Chicagoland artist and father to two Jeffrey Brown. And the New York Times-bestselling author definitely knows funny.
While the catalog of his critically acclaimed graphic novels runs the gamut from poignant to hilarious, it’s his parentally focused–and universally understood–works like 2014’s “Kids Are Weird” that those with tiny tots can’t get enough of.
“I wanted to do something to celebrate parenthood,” Brown says. “The lack of sleep, the frustration … but at the same time there’s a lot of joy.”
He takes that joy to the next level with his feting of an underrated dad, Darth Vader. What started out as a Google doodle idea–an awkward father/son moment between Vader and Luke Skywalker in honor of Father’s Day–became a collection of inspired books featuring an overwhelmed father.
“My son was four at the time, so I immediately thought, Oh, I should just make Luke four and put Vader in my shoes.”
2012’s “Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son” went on to include four books in the series (Leia even jumped into the act with “Vader’s Little Princess”), and paved the way for his three tween Jedi Academy graphic novels.
His newest book, “Lucy and Andy Neanderthal” (which hits the shelves on August 30), originated as a cartoon pitch. But as Brown’s eldest son became enamored of all things prehistoric (passed down, no doubt, by a dad who was a self-proclaimed “dinosaur kid”), he realized that Lucy and Andy might work even better as a book. So Brown set out to put as much research as possible into the actual, groundbreaking science of Neanderthal history. The result? A smart graphic novel aimed at the tween set, following the everyday antics of two regular kids who just happened to live 40,000 years ago.
So what could possibly follow toddlers with lightsabers and eye-rolling Neanderthals?
“I wouldn’t mind doing something with “Star Trek” … even something like ‘Harry Potter’ could be fun,” Brown confesses. “’Lord of the Rings’ is probably the top of the list.”