“Wow!” is a small and often overused word of praise, but Liniers’s Written and Drawn by Henrietta is a Wow!-inspiring book. It is the newest addition to the Level Three Easy-to-Read Comics published by TOON Books. Simply put, it tells the story of a young girl creating her own book, but ultimately, Written and Drawn by Henrietta is a celebration of the creative process. I am smitten with Henrietta’s creative process: she brainstorms; she thinks aloud; she writes; she draws; she bounces ideas off of Fellini, her cat; and she occasionally deals with writer’s block and interruptions. Henrietta is completely absorbed in her project, so much so that at one point her own creativity and creation scares her. I can’t even begin to put into words how happy it makes me to see this character so emotionally invested in her work. Written and Drawn by Henrietta, paired with some art supplies and paper, would make the perfect gift for any young, aspiring author/illustrator. Without a doubt, many readers are going to want to create their own story after they read the book.
I had the pleasure of recently interviewing the book’s author, Liniers (whose full name is Ricardo Siri Liniers). A big “Thank You” to Liniers for answering my questions, and thanks, as well, to Kimberly at TOON Books for passing the questions along to him.
Beth: Written and Drawn by Henrietta is dedicated to your three daughters, and you mention that your daughter, Matilda, taught you to draw like Henrietta. How did Matilda help you to channel your inner child so you could make Henrietta’s drawings truly look like they came from the hand of a child rather than an adult?
Liniers: Once Picasso said all children are artists… I think he was referring to the lack of fear or doubt they encompass while drawing. They are not judging if something is done well or not, they do a doodle and tell you, “This is you daddy, and deal with it.” I think that playfulness and hubris is what Picasso was talking about. When one grows up all types of formal doubts troubles us. Not when we’re kids. We’re free! It was fun to go there and try to draw like Henrietta/Matilda.
Beth: What mediums did you use to create the art in Written and Drawn by Henrietta?
Liniers: Watercolors and ink for the Henrietta storyline, and colored pencils for the monster story.
Beth: Do you have a special place where you like to write and draw?
Liniers: I work at home, in my office, and I’m constantly visited by my three daughters. So even if sometimes it can get hectic, during the time I was doing this story I had insight from three experts in the world of children and three headed monsters.
Beth: At the beginning of the book, Henrietta receives a gift of a new box of colored pencils. How do you feel when you buy (or receive as a gift) art supplies? Do you also feel inspired, like Henrietta did, to create something new with your new supplies?
Liniers: The story began as a strip in my daily strip Macanudo. I had given my daughters a brand new box of pencils and remembered how cool it was to get that rainbowy present. So I decided to get a box just like it to Henrietta and see what happened. Then the monsters started showing up. I love getting new supplies. They have inside God knows what and you get to sit down and find out. I love that that´s my job.
Get your copy of Written and Drawn by Henrietta as well as other releases from TOON Books: