Monday, September 17, 2007

In the Coop with Mo Willems

We love Mo Willems. And though we already know so much about him from the very useful clues in our contest, we wanted to know more. So we asked. And Mo answered!

Mo's Website
Mo's Blog
The Pigeon Presents

We are especially excited because Mo has a new book out in stores even as we speak. It's called Knuffle Bunny Too. To read more about it, check here.

Thanks, Mo! And thanks to all our readers who stopped by to play along in our last contest! Here's to a great new year at Three Silly Chicks!


When you create a book, do the pictures or story come to you first?

Pictures or words never come to me, I actively seek them out.

As a cartoonist, I find the supposed division between images and words perplexing and arbitrary. It’s like asking if I walk with my feet or my eyes; take away either at any time and I’m guaranteed to stumble.


Is your latest book Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity autobiographical?

Everything in that book is true except the parts I made up.

The non-fiction is that I live in Brooklyn, NY with an irrepressible daughter and wife who, unlike me, is wiser than she is tall. The fiction is the part that reminds me to be a better dad than I actually am.


How do you know when what you write is funny??

The trick is to develop the ability to tell when your writing isn’t funny. Then all you have to do is take the unfunny out and trust your audience to enjoy whatever is left.


Can the pigeon operate other large motorized vehicles?

The Pigeon’s skills are limitless, his insurance premiums, however, can be problematic.


Do you have any tips for writing funny books?

Short answer: Keep the body count very small or very, very large.

On a practical level, the characters I create don’t know they’re funny. Instead, they approach the absurd situations they’re forced into with utmost seriousness and determination. The funny comes from watching them fail wholeheartedly.


Do you have any tips for illustrating funny books?

Short answer: Keep the body count very small or very, very large.

On a practical level, the characters I create don’t know they’re funny. Instead, they approach the absurd situations they’re forced into with utmost seriousness and determination. The funny comes from watching them fail wholeheartedly.


Has being funny ever gotten you into or out of trouble?

Oh yes, both. During high school, I was nearly suspended for including the word ‘fart’ in a cartoon in the student paper, a notorious scandal quickly labeled “Fartgate” (I know it sounds crazy, but you must remember that I attended a conservative prep school in the South during the late Renaissance).

Any-hoo, to clear the air, I was compelled to pen a public mea culpa to all offended Faculty members and student body. Contritely, I produced a document apologizing for my “uncivilized and regrettable mention of anal gaseous emissions in one of the State’s oldest running publications” and added as a post-script, “P.S. This whole fart thing stinks, but it will blow over soon.”

And you know what? It did.


What are some of your favorite funny books?????

I grew up on Peanuts and Doonesbury anthologies, Woody Allen’s Without Feathers and the radio scripts for Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but choosing favorites is like picking teams in second grade, someone funny always gets left out.


If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

The Dull Adventures of the Lucky Little Boy Whose Wife Made Bolognese Every Night And Never Had to Do the Dishes


Do you prefer The Marx Bros or Three Stooges?

Are you kidding? Even without Harpo the Marx Brothers would be the funniest comedy group ever to grace The Great White Way or The Silver Screen. Harpo’s gleefully surreal shtick adds sublimity to the mix.

The Three Stooges punch each other, right?


What was your best Halloween costume ever?

An other time I got in trouble in High School was when I arrived on Halloween in khakis, pressed oxford shirt, and letter jacket. Satire trumps Vampire, I say.


What is your Dream Job for a Day?

Sheep farmer.

Seriously.


Clown V. Mime Deathmatch.? Pick your winner.

Who’s Mime Deathmatch? She sounds all sexy and goth and obtusely mysterious. I’ll take the clown.


Funniest dead person you'd like to meet??

The dead are, by and large, the least funny people you are likely to meet, which is, frankly, odd. I mean, they don’t have to worry about deadlines, or book reviews, or marketing plans, do they?

Actually, Harpo

1 comment:

Storyteller John Weaver said...

Thank you for that. I laughed out loud, and so did my son--both of us big-time Harpo Marx (& Mo) fans.

Mo Willems rocks. Want to find 5 great, funny, just-plain-fun books to read to a group of kids or adults? Just pick up 5 Mo Willems books at random. And his cartoon journal, You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons, is a fun read for adults!

Thanks, chicks, for the interview with one of our modern greats!