Yehudi Mercado is a writer-artist-director known for his graphic novels Buffalo Speedway, Pantalones, TX, Rocket Salvage, Fun Fun Fun World, Hero Hotel, Cat Ninja and Sci-Fu: Kick It Off. He is also the showrunner for the Hero Hotel and Crime Origins podcasts, based on his graphic novel Hero Hotel. His newest book is the highly anticipated middle-grade graphic memoir Chunky. Born in Mexico City and raised in Houston, TX, Yehudi is also a former Art Director for Disney Interactive.
Yehudi Mercado will be one of the featured authors at the Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family. L.A. Libros Fest will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, September 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Our theme this year is Imagine a Better World. How do you think your books and stories help us accomplish this?
I have always made a character of color the main protagonist of my stories and I make sure to portray them as real heroes. So many portrayals of Latinos show us as victims, or as the lesser quality hero. I want to show kids that they can be heroes.
What are some of the things you do to bring to life the world you’ve imagined?
I like to put a lot of detail into drawing food. In Fun Fun Fun World, I had to draw a lot of churros and that was very satisfying.
What stories inspired you as a young reader?
I read mostly newspaper comics as a kid. Far Side, Calvin & Hobbs, Garfield, those were my early inspirations.
If your book was turned into a movie/series, who would you cast?
For Fun Fun Fun World I would cast Eugenio Derbez as Captain Minky. For Chunky I would cast Gabriel Iglesias or Jack Black as Chunky.
What advice would you give to young writers?
I always tell young writers to start small. Start with a 4-page comic and complete it. Once you complete that book then move on and work on your next book. The most important part of the process is finishing the project.
How did you feel the first time your work was published? How was your publishing journey?
My first published book was called Pantalones, TX and it was published by Archaia which later became Boom. I loved seeing my jokes out in the world and showing little Mexican kids being funny.
"I have always made a character of color the main protagonist of my stories and I make sure to portray them as real heroes. So many portrayals of Latinos show us as victims, or as the lesser quality hero. I want to show kids that they can be heroes."
What are the challenges of writing for young readers?
I don’t really find that I face many challenges. The real challenge is making them fast enough before my audience ages out of them.
What was your experience like getting your book translated into Spanish or English?
I haven’t had the pleasure of having my book translated yet, but I look forward to it.
How do you think libraries make our world a better place?
I would not have a comics career if not for librarians. They embraced my book Sci-Fu and made it my biggest success to date. I love librarians. They help curate a young reader's imagination.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Sci-Fu 2, a Shazam graphic novel and Chunky 2.