Now after 25 years, with the encouragement of students who have reached out, I have compiled my sketches with short Stories, Mini Comics and Drawing Tips to create, Heavy Sketches Among Worldly Distractions. A unique graphic novel of epic proportions.
SIX MINUTES WITH RED ROHL:
Author Red Rohl is a 20-year teaching veteran who has most recently been teaching at-risk middle school students. He is on a mission to inspire kids with his cross-over “graphic novel,” Heavy Sketches. This groundbreaking title combines elements of several books in one massive collection. It is the compilation of thousands of sketches Red has saved for the past 30+ years. It features “Stories" to encourage literacy, "Mini Comics” for kids who are fans of the more traditional graphic novel style, and drawing tips with "Master the Skills” for all the art lovers. One of the most exciting aspects of the book is the way Red’s foundation in education is expressed. With themed pages like Abraham Lincoln, Pirates, Greek Mythology, and Environmental Awareness - Red has incorporated learning in a captivating and entertaining way.
Red is starting to share Heavy Sketches with middle schools and encourage students to get involved in the various writing and art contests he is sponsoring.
How did you get started writing?
I took creative writing in the 4th grade, and thankfully, my teacher allowed us to illustrate in the margins before we started writing. As a more artistic and visual learner, I enjoyed being able to express myself through my sketches - it made the writing process much more enjoyable. My mind is constantly in motion; writing has become a way for me to channel my thoughts.
Who influenced you?
Dr. Seuss has been a big influence in my life. Growing up, his books were definitely my favorite. Seuss' short rhymes and unconventional illustrations not only inspired me to write but also to illustrate the crazy creatures that pop up in my head. Many of his books are not only on the shelves in my classroom but also at my house. When my son was younger, we read his books over and over again.
Years later, as I transitioned from teaching Elementary to Middle school students, Jeff Kinney became a major influence. In fact, Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a factor in motivating me to finally finish Heavy Sketches.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
The Hobbit is still one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it in the 6th grade, and there’s no doubt, my love of fantasy books began after reading Tolkien’s epic tale. To this day, I love sketching monsters.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Write what you are passionate about - as an author, you will definitely get more joy out of writing. You also need to be persistent, have patience, and be your own critic. Having the drive and determination to push forward for months and even years is crucial.
Authors need to have the willingness to accept both positive and negative feedback. I have collected more than my share of rejection letters - most writers have experience with this when trying to break into the field. With each letter, I became that much more motivated to not give up and focused on pursuing my dream. If someone truly has the desire to be an author - don’t be put off by the challenges that are faced along the way.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Alone in any quiet place - currently my garage.
Aside from our 3 rescue kitties who love to chase each other and run through their noisy tunnel, it’s the one place I can go to create in peace.
What else would you like to tell us?
I have always struggled with focusing on one project. (My teachers would probably have called me ADD.) I have to admit, I’ve started and stopped hundreds of projects over the years. One of my biggest problems was deciding which one of my thousands of characters to develop.
About 8 years ago, I started sorting the sketches I saved since I was in grade school. I photocopied them and put them in spiral-bound booklets. It was with the encouragement of my 4th-grade class and one of those moments of epiphany, that I was finally able to focus my attention on this one project - a graphic novel called Heavy Sketches. Heck, I’m not even sure that this unique book truly fits into that genre.
I hope Heavy Sketches will pave the way for a new kind of book - one that is a balance between the illustrations that captivate and hold the attention of most kids, with more writing and educational content that parents and teachers look for.
Red, thank you very much for joining us for an interview. We are so glad you kept all your sketches over the last three decades! What a neat compilation you have created.