Duo behind medieval squirrel graphic novel to visit Austin – Austin Daily Herald

Duo behind medieval squirrel graphic novel to visit Austin

Published 10:00 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

Visit coincides with Austin Public Library’s Comic Con

Sometimes things just work out, which is exactly what writer Chad Corrie and artist Matthew Wendt are finding out.

Corrie and Wendt will be making several stops in Austin on Saturday, March 16, in support of their graphic novel, “Sons of Ashgard.” Aside from stops at Hot Off the Press Comics and Coffee and Sweet Reads Books and Candy, the duo will be making a stop at the Austin Public Library’s first-ever Comic Con.

“It’s kind of a trifecta thing,” Corrie said and added that he wasn’t even aware of Comic Con until a chance meeting at a library event by the Minnesota Library Association. “I interacted with the librarian in Austin and that was the initial introduction to it. Let’s look at some other things.”

The pair will be starting with a meet and greet at Hot Off the Press from 9-11 a.m. on March 16 and then they will be at Comic Con from noon to 1:30 p.m. before making their final stop at Sweet Reads between 2-4 p.m.

A medieval adventure set at the pint-sized level, “Sons of Ashgard” follows a band of Norse-inspired squirrels on a quest through stories tied together by a common universe. Filled with characters such as Erick Redfur and Bruna Mirardottir, the book has gained favorable reviews from within the comic world since its release in 2023.

However, the idea goes back nearly 10 years to prior to its release.

“That’s when I initially talked to Matt about it,” Corrie said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

“Sons of Ashgard,” is published through comic mainstay Dark Horse, but the pair had to wait for the company’s restructuring to get picked up.

Going back to 2014, the idea itself found traction through simple observation.

“The squirrel thing came about at my parents house, who have a wooded backyard area,” he said. “There was a huge amount of squirrels running through the back yard in unison. It was like a mini army.”

With the idea formulating, Wendt said Corrie started talking to him about being the artist for the book in 2016. The two of them put together the first five pages in 2017-18.

Wendt himself, a self-described “80s nostalgia kid,” has been creating art for years, going back to his youth. As he met more and more friends with a common interest, they started creating their own comics throughout junior high and high school.

During the process, the idea of pulling together stories and giving them life based on his own inspirations has always been alluring.

“I don’t understand how a lot of these companies say it’s hard to come up with new ideas,” Wendt said. “I enjoy creating characters and worlds and scenarios. A lot of the time I’ll create little vignettes in my head while listening to music.”

However, working with Corrie provides a chance to expand on a creation, rather than simply waiting for a story.

“A lot of times, the artist is a gun for fire. For the most part you’re working in someone else’s toy box,” Wendt said. “In my case, Chad needed a designer. He had the stories and characters flushed out in his head, but he didn’t have a look.”

Wendt said he liked the idea of anthropomorphic squirrels in a Dungeon & Dragons setting.

“They’re interesting characters,” he said. “They wear swords and wear clothes and that’s kind of fun.”

For Corrie, who is also an author of young adult novels and has been writing for around 30 years, “Sons of Ashgard,” has him excited to get out in the public to further promote the book.

Stops in places like Sweet Reads, Hot Off the Press and the library’s Comic Con are helping get the word out on more of a grassroots scale.

“We’re trying to find ways to make people aware of it independently,” he said. “We do a lot of comic book conventions. That seems to get people’s attention. A lot of word of mouth.”

Wendt agreed.

“It’s getting yourself out there. Putting a face to it,” he said. “Back when I was growing up, you just heard these names, but you didn’t know what they looked like. It’s nice to be able to get out there. People can put a face to the work. It gets personal and you get to develop a relationship with fans.”

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