Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Hannah Moffat’s debut middle grade Small!, with both my review and a guest post from Hannah on how to create comic characters. Onto the post!
This was featured in one of my debut spotlight posts either at the end of 2021 or the start of 2022, so it’s fair to say I’ve been anticipating it for a while and as such, I was so pleased to be asked to be part of the blog tour! It’s the story of Harvey Small, who has been expelled from so many schools that his mum decides to send him off to a school for giants despite the fact he is very much NOT a giant and has to wear stilts to fit in.
The fish out of water setup provides an instant basis for comedy, and I was chuckling pretty much straight away as soon as I started. Harvey is such a likeable character, who feels like he’s to blame for everything but finds unexpected friendship and acceptance at the giant school, and seeing him settle in was simultaneously hilarious and lovely. My favourite thing, though, was the Beastly School Inspector Ms. Sugar Plum, with her penchant for whacking people with clipboards and her constantly increasing suspicion of Harvey.
I feel like this has big Roald Dahl type vibes, and would be a perfect updated, modern version for young readers today. There’s a tantalising hint of book 2 in the series in the epilogue end as well, and I’m intrigued to learn more about the vampires and what they’re like in this world.
And now, over to Hannah with her fab piece!
How to create comic characters One of the reasons creating comedy characters is so much fun is that there are so many ways to do it. Here’s a quick look at three characters from Small! along with tricks you can nick to give your own characters a dose of the daft.
1. Put them in a seemingly impossible situation – Harvey Small
My hero Harvey is far too busy worrying to crack jokes. But it’s his sincerity in the face of absurdity that made him so fun to write. When Harvey’s mum sticks him on stilts and packs him off to Madame Bogbrush’s School for Gifted Giants, he’s as bewildered as the rest of us. Somewhere in the tension between us thinking surely he’ll get found out and watching him somehow get away with it lies the comedy (I think). If you’re writing your own comic characters, the bigger and dafter the situation you can put them in, the better!
2. Give them an unfortunate flaw – The Fortune Teller in the Cellar
One fun way to create a comic character is to give them a trait that makes it seemingly impossible to do their job or get what they want. For the Fortune Teller in the Cellar, that trait was falling asleep whenever she was about to reveal the most important bit of her predictions. Can you give your characters a quality that makes life harder for them?
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat – Ms Sugar Plum
I’ve always loved the Stewart Lee approach of repeating something endlessly – until you hit the point where the more you hear it, the funnier it gets. That’s something I tried to do with the Beastly School Board Inspector, Ms Sugar Plum. The grumpy fairy says ‘tut’ to just about everything the giants do (usually while whacking someone over the head with a clipboard). Can you deliberately repeat a joke to make it even funnier? I had loads fun writing Small! so I hope a few of my characters make you smile, too. I can’t wait to read some of your comedies soon!
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read this, or are you planning to? Who are some of your favourite comedic authors or characters? I’d love to have a chat in the comments!