Mike Hawthorne’s new graphic novel memoir, ‘Happiness Will Follow,’ earning praise

Though next week marks Mike Hawthorne’s first appearance at the Brooklyn Book Festival, he’s certainly not a novice cartoonist, or a newcomer to the world of illustration.

He’s an Eisner and Harvey award-nominated artist, honored for his creative achievement in American comic books, and he’s best known for his work with Deadpool — so much so that, two years ago, he officially became the artist who’s drawn more pages of Deadpool than anyone else in Marvel history. The rest of his work is a huge collection of work on some of the genre’s greatest hits, from Spider-Man to story art and illustration for Fox, Illumination, and Epic Games.

The cover of 'Happiness Will Follow,' by Mike Hawthorne, Illustration Faculty.

The cover of “Happiness Will Follow,” by Illustration faculty member Mike Hawthorne.

 

But that’s probably only part of the reason Hawthorne, a member of PCA&D’s Illustration faculty, has been invited to this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival, a weeklong celebration of hundreds of authors, artists, and publishers that kicks off Sept. 28.

He’s been invited for his first appearance at the festival “presumably,” he says, “because of my new book, ‘Happiness Will Follow’.” He’s part of Virtual Festival Day programming on Sunday, Oct. 4, from 10 am to 8 pm. Nearly 100 national and international authors are scheduled to participate in this virtual feast of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics programming.

You can find the Brooklyn Book Festival here. Hawthorne will participate in a panel discussion, “Putting the I in Graphic: Drawing the Self,” Oct. 4 at 10 pm. His fellow panelists are Yao Xiao (Everything is Beautiful And I’m Not Afraid) and Tyler Feder (Dancing at the Pity Party); moderator is Nola Pfau, editor-in-chief of Women Write About Comics. To register to watch or ask questions, visit brooklynbookfestival.org and click on Register Now.

The graphic novel is garnering massive praise — Publishers’ Weekly calls it a “gut punch of a graphic memoir” — a result that pretty much amazes Hawthorne.

What can you tell us about what you’ll be doing on the Virtual Festival Day? Will you be focusing on Happiness Will Follow? Other projects?
MH: Yes to a certain extent, though I believe we’ll be discussing the comics-making process as well as the unique challenges of non-fiction storytelling. 
Speaking of Happiness Will Follow: The reviews and outlines have been remarkable — an incredible outpouring of support. It sounds amazing. Has this reception surprised you?

MH: Honestly, it’s left me speechless. I’ve been lucky to have had the career I’ve had, but this is a new experience that I’m still trying to come to terms with. It’s a privilege to get to tell a story like this, but to have it touch people the way this has been a true honor.

How was this graphic novel a departure for you in terms of your usual work? (In terms of truly personal investment, or style, or process?)
MH: In some ways it’s similar to my other work in that I have to focus on visual storytelling, do the research, get readers to feel like the characters they’re reading about are real people. With this book I felt the additional pressure to really get it right, to be respectful to people’s experiences, and to allow myself to be vulnerable in a way that I haven’t done before in my work. 
What other projects do you have in the works right now that are highlights?
MH: A lot! I have my Marvel work, illustrating books like Hulk and Daredevil. I’ve also done some design work for an upcoming Marvel animated Hulu show called “Hitmonkey.” Additionally, I’m designing a line of Deadpool collectible statues, starting with four with many more in the works. This is in addition to my personal projects like my new artbooks, “Life Studied” & “All City”.
Is this particular festival a milestone in any way for you?
MH: It  is. It marks my return to “cartooning,” where I draw what I write. It’s how I began my career, and it’s a pleasure to return to that and share it with book lovers (like myself!).

Hawthorne is active on Instagram; you can follow him here. Below, scroll through an excerpt from “Happiness Will Follow.”

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