James Foley releases third children’s graphic novel Gastronauts

James Foley.
James Foley.

PERTH author and illustrator James Foley works from home in his spare room surrounded by books, boxes, pin-up boards, art supplies and a sleeping Labrador under his desk who lets Foley know when it is time for dinner.

The Palmyra creative, who grew up in Fremantle, had mostly illustrated picture books for pre-primary audiences until he wrote his first graphic novel in the S. Tinker Inc series, suitable for eight to 12 year olds.

“When I wrote the first S.Tinker Inc story, I realised it didn’t fit into a picture book format; it needed to be longer and to have more pictures,” Foley said.

“It also seemed to be more appropriate for an older audience. The stories might have worked as illustrated novels, but being such a huge fan of comics, and always having wanted to make my own, I decided the S.Tinker Inc series was the perfect way to start.

“I’ve always seen my stories as movies in my head, and graphic novels are the next closest thing; they’re movies on a page.”

Foley has released his third book in the series, Gastronauts, which follows young inventor Sally Tinker on her latest challenge.

“In the second book Dungzilla, Sally invented a growth/shrink ray, capable of making things very large or very small,” he said.

“That book focused on making things very large, so I wanted to do another book that focused on making things small.

“There have been a few versions of the ‘journey into the human body’ story over the years; it’s a sci-fi staple, so I thought it would be fun to do my own spin on it.”

The married father of one said he enjoyed writing and illustrating equally, as the two were closely intertwined when it came to graphic novels or comic books.

“They’re hard to separate as they’re part of the same process,” he said.

“I start with a draft script that is only words, but then when I start sketching out the story, the words and the plot can change and I end up rewriting the story as I illustrate it.”

Foley is currently working on new picture book ideas, two more S. Tinker Inc. instalments and another graphic novel project.

He also illustrated an anthology of funny short stories called Total Quack Up, which will raise funds for Dymocks Children’s Charities.