Nicole Espinola Talks About Illustrating Danny and the Detention Demons

Pilinut Press:  How did you get started in art?

Nicole: I've been drawing as far back as I can remember. My mother's an artist, so that probably influenced me to some extent... However, I didn't know manga (graphic novels.. Japanese comic books, basically) even existed until about 7th grade, so before that I was trying exclusively for a realistic look. Not that I've stopped drawing in a realistic style, but "Danny" has a definite "manga" feel.

Pilinut Press:  What about the story "Danny and the Detention Demons" appealed to you when you first read it?

Nicole: Eve and I liked the idea of little imaginary creatures distracting schoolkids. Being in school ourselves, we've had plenty of experience with dull last periods... and I even had a friend who loved to make up imaginary creatures. Like the flock of nunuins (pronounced none-ones, a flock of pudgy multicolored birds not unlike Danny's "demons") she'd tell us were hovering over our math teacher's desk. The sleepy girl sitting behind Danny is based on this person, by the way.

Pilinut Press:  How did you approach each illustration?  How did you get the concept for the drawing?

Nicole: I'd read over the part of the story I was drawing and the note about each illustration. Then I'd sort of.. let a picture/impression of the scene form in my head. And...that was what I drew.

Pilinut Press:  Your drawings have the feel of the very popular Japanese style of "manga".  Are you interested in "manga"?  What characteristics in your drawings do you feel contribute to making the drawings feel like"manga"?

Nicole: I'm interested in manga, though less so than I was a few years ago, I guess. The style is usually characterized by big eyes.. spikey hair, maybe.. more often than not the lips are just a line, not lip-shaped. Sometimes things are a little out of proportion, too...

Pilinut Press:  How did you come up with the delightful (and very distracting) "demons"?

Nicole: I was a little concerned about whether or not I would do the "demons" justice, but I always had a clear image of what I wanted them to look like and it turned out to not be a problem. It wasn't so much coming up with them as making sure they got out on paper alright. The dragon I had no problems with, but the hippo was a bit... elusive.

Pilinut Press:  If someone asked you for advice about being an illustrator, what would you advise?

Nicole:  Mm.. I'm not sure I'd really consider myself qualified to give advice as an illustrator...but if someone else was doing it and they DID ask me for advice..I guess I'd tell them to have fun with it, I guess? Try not to stress too much, but most of all make sure you don't put stuff off, haha.

Pilinut Press:  What did you enjoy most about the process?

Nicole: I liked drawing the expressions of Danny and his classmates.. that was fun. I enjoyed the coloring, but my least favorite part was probably the inking. Too many desks.


Are you interested in learning more about the creative process? Visit the interviews with our contributors.

Who are these people? Find out more on our Biographies page.

Visit our Reference Desk page for a complete listing of articles and worksheets.