Lethcoe, Jason

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Lethcoe, Jason

PERSONAL:

Married (divorced); married; second wife's name Nancy; children: Olivia, Alex, Emie.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Children's author and cartoonist. Disney Studios, former character animator and storyboard artist for films, including The Pagemaster, The Tigger Movie, and Surf's Up.

WRITINGS:

FOR CHILDREN

(Self-illustrated) Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy (graphic novel), Ballantine (New York, NY), 2005.

(Self-illustrated) Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy: The Capture of the Crimson Cape (graphic novel), Ballantine (New York, NY), 2006.

The Mysterious Mr. Spines ("Wings," Number 1), Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2009.

SELF-ILLUSTRATED; "THE MISADVENTURES OF BENJAMIN BARTHOLOMEW PIFF" SERIES

You Wish, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2007.

Wishful Thinking, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2007.

Wishing Well, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2007.

Wish You Were Here, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR; GRAPHIC NOVELS

Gail Simone, "X" Marks the Mutant, Spotlight (Edina, MN), 2006.

Gail Simone, The Amazing Gus Beezer!, Spotlight (Edina, MN), 2006.

Gail Simone, The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer with the Hulk, Spotlight (Edina, MN), 2006.

Gail Simone, Gus Beezer with Spider-Man, Spotlight (Edina, MN), 2006.

ADAPTATIONS:

Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy was adapted as a film starring Tim Allen titled Zoom, produced by Sony Pictures, 2006. Lethcoe's "The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff" series was adapted for audiobooks.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author and cartoonist Jason Lethcoe was encouraged early on to pursue a career in comics, and a meeting with noted comic-book artist Jack Kirby when Lethcoe was a teen was also inspirational. Not wanting to go into mainstream comics, and unaware of the many independent publishers, Lethcoe was hired by Disney Studios, where he worked as both an animator and a storyboard artist, drawing out the plots for feature films in a style similar to the sequential art featured in comics.

Lethcoe came up with the idea for Zoom's Academy while working at Disney, when he started creating a monthly comic book. Eventually published in graphic-novel format, Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy and Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy: The Capture of the Crimson Cape focus on thirteen-year-old Summer, a girl who is unpopular at school and unhappy in life. Her parents have just gotten divorced when Summer and her best friend also part company. When the teen discovers that her father actually works for a school for kids with super powers, she is eager to apply.

Lethcoe's own experiences helped inspire the "Zoom Academy" saga. "I wanted to do a book that dealt with some real issues—issues that kids today are dealing with. Having gone through a divorce myself, I really wanted to address that from a kid's point of view," he told Adrienne Rappaport in an online interview for Sequential Tart. Lethcoe also explained how he drew on his own childhood for ideas: "I had a tough time in school growing up and had always thought ‘Wouldn't it be great if there were a better place to go to school?’ And when I was little I had always had that fascination with ‘What if I really had super powers and didn't know it?’"

Lethcoe has also done work outside of the comics format. His "The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff" books are illustrated novels for middle-grade readers that star a young orphan. The first book in the series, You Wish, introduces readers to the battle between the Wishworks Factory and their counterparts, Curseworks. Young Benjamin wishes for unlimited wishes on his birthday, and when his wish is granted, the balance between wishes and curses is thrown askew. The boy soon finds himself standing between the people from Wishworks, who make sure that wishes are well used, and the people from Curseworks, who are hoping to develop unbreakable curses. Reviewing You Wish, a Kirkus Reviews contributor predicted that Lethcoe's "exciting, well-paced adventure … is sure to be a hit," while School Library Journal critic Denise A. Garofalo cited the book's "inventive plot and entertaining characters."

Working as an illustrator, Lethcoe has created the art for Gail Simone's "Gus Beezer" graphic novels, which are set in the Marvel Universe. The star character, Gus, meets such superheroes as Spider-Man, Hulk, and the X-Men. "The visual interpretations are a hoot," wrote Joel Bangilan in his School Library Journal review of the series.

In his interview with Rappaport, Lethcoe explained his preference for the comics medium. "I've never found anything as satisfying, artistically, as doing the comic," he explained. "It's great to work at a studio and be part of a team. But when you feel really passionate about a story, and you get a chance to tell that story in the best way you know how, it's a really satisfying feeling."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Daily Variety, October 10, 2005, Gabriel Snyder, "U Puts Kids Series atop ‘Wish’ List," p. 5.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy, p. 1141; April 1, 2007, review of You Wish.

School Library Journal, January, 2006, Tim Wadham, review of Amazing Adventures from Zoom's Academy, p. 106; March, 2007, Joel Bangilan, review of Gus Beezer with Spider-Man, p. 239; April, 2007, Tasha Saecker, review of You Wish, p. 140.

Variety, August 21, 2006, Joe Leydon, movie review of Zoom, p. 25.

ONLINE

Jason Lethcoe Home Page,http://jasonlethcoe.com (July 1, 2008).

Sequential Tart Web site,http://www.sequentialtart.com/ (May 1, 2001), Adrienne Rappaport, interview with Lethcoe.