Ephraim author, illustrator
releases graphic novel
By Robert Stevens
EPHRAIM—An Ephraim man channeled his own experiences with a learning disability into the hero in his first graphic novel and it’s being published by none other than DC Comics.
Award-winning video game developer and bestselling author, Dustin Hansen is releasing his debut graphic novel, “My Video Game Ate My Homework.”
“Creating graphic novels is the biggest personal creative challenge I’ve ever undertook,” Hansen says. “I’ve worked in the video game industry, film industry, designed toys for Hasbro and written seven ‘traditional’ books. But I really had to dig in deep and experiment when it came to making a graphic novel.”
In Hansen’s new release, he incorporates his own love for comic books, as well as his personal experiences with dyslexia, into the storyline of the graphic novel. Written for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12), the standalone novel tells the story of protagonist Dewey Jenkins, who is struggling with his upcoming final science project.
Jenkins, like the character’s creator, struggles with dyslexia in the story, and Hansen pulls from his own experiences to write about struggles with self-esteem and confidence due to the learning disability.
The book was written and illustrated with people who have learning disabilities in mind. Even the way it was designed was meant to be easier to read for people who struggle with conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia.
Hansen says the artistic process in the book was daunting, but he was up to the challenge.
“The entire process was fun, if I’m being honest,” he says. “I’ve been a huge fan of reading comics my entire life, so just getting a chance to work with DC was a dream come true. I think the first real big surprise for me in this process was seeing color on my pages for the first time. I wrote the story first, then sketched every panel, then inked them meticulously after a few rounds of edits. I’m sure by that time there were some pages I’d seen fifteen times by that point. But when I got them back from my colorist, who happens to be my son, Davis, it was like a whole new life had been given to the page.”
Hansen’s son Davis helped him with the creation of the new project in both coloring and brainstorming. Davis also has a learning disability—ADHD—so his experiences where also transferred to the book.
Hansen is an old hand in the video game world, having written, directed and created art for bestselling games such as “The Sims” and “Madden Football.”
He also wrote the bestseller, “Game On! Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft and More.” He has also worked in film, for theme parks, and as innovation director for Hasbro Inc.
“My Video Game Ate My Homework” will come out in April and can be preordered at DCComics.com. There will also be a launch event at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 25, from 2-4 p.m.