The ambitious Monsters 101 cartoon adventures of Pugroff & Mort, by African-American independent cartoonist/publisher M. Rasheed, is coming up on its tenth and final title of the graphic novel series with the release of Monsters 101, Book Ten: “Class Dismissed.”
Raleigh, North Carolina (FPRC) July 06, 2013 – Cartoonist M. Rasheed is wrapping up work on the tenth title of his genuinely epic Monsters 101 series of cartoon books (graphic novels). The first such work completed by an African-American cartoonist and independent publisher, the 2013 Glyph Comics Award winning tale will have completed 1,320 pages of artwork by the project’s end later this summer.
Started back in April of 2000, the tale chronicles the adventures of a former school bully turned monster Pugroff, and his partner the former favorite nerd victim Mort, an aspiring sorcerer. Each book has 132 pages of story, featuring black and white interior artwork with color covers, and the original saga is finally scheduled to come to the end of its impressive ten-title run, much to the relief of its prolific creator.
“I feel very proud to join the very short but prestigious ranks of the other similar independent cartoonists with a long-form story to tell,” says an enthusiastic M. Rasheed, ticking off the other writer/artist graphic novelists before him with an unmistakable admiration. “There’s Jeff Smith of the kid-friendly Bone (1,296 pages) and the ever-controversial Dave Sim with his massive Cerebus (6,000 pages).” But unlike Sim’s story, where he spends a great chunk of it paying homage to classic prose novelists that he admired, Monsters 101 is a completely original work. Not that the 42 year old Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art alum hasn’t been influenced by great past writers himself… like the admitted late Jack Vance… he just prefers to keep the focus on the story itself and not distract the reader. “I subscribe to the ideal of honest self-expression being the definition of art. You can easily do that in the cartoon form. Monsters 101 absolutely represents me, with everything I care about being in between those covers.”
M. Rasheed speaks enthusiastically about his masterwork series, and especially the nearly finished Book Ten, stopping himself repeatedly to keep from giving away the surprises. Available in both 150 page print editions of each title, as well as Amazon Kindle eBook versions, the series has been described as “a page turner” by comic book industry legend Tony Isabella. “I’m looking forward to reading more of his work,” said the famously fastidious reviewer.
Despite the cartoonist’s general audiences friendly art style, resembling traditional Saturday morning television work developed from an early childhood interest in animated shows like Underdog, The Mighty Heroes, and Fang Face, “Monsters 101 is not a children’s story,” he says. “I don’t talk down to my audience, or otherwise write specifically for children.” Consequently, even though M. Rasheed says children can read it “if they’re mature enough,” Monsters 101 can be quite heavy with violence, heart-stopping suspense, great tragedy, as well as black humor, all quite a handful for a pre-teen to deal with.
M. Rasheed is a strong proponent of cartooning being able to hold its own as a powerful art medium, with the graphic novel being a prestigious edition to a creator’s body of work. Composed of skillfully drawn and composed illustrations, combined with the novelist’s world building and character development, the graphic novel has the ability to move the reader potentially more than any other medium, especially if it’s a pure vision unrestrained by outside interference such as a soulless work-for-hire arrangement or a desperate attempt to create for a specific affluent audience.
“I subscribe to the creator’s ideal of ‘write for self.’ If I entertain myself… make me laugh, make me angry, make me scared, gross me out… I always felt I would create a pure form of art that many people would understand organically, as opposed to creating what I’d think an audience would like based on a sterile demographic marketing analysis. It’s important to me that cartooning be seen as it really is… a full medium that any kind of story can be told in. Traditional comic book subjects like comedy, science fiction, or superhero fantasy are just genres. Cartooning is by no means limited to telling just those kinds of stories. The graphic novel form is quite versatile enough, as much as any other art medium like novel writing or painting, to enable the cartoonist to express whatever his/her creative vision might be. Mine happens to be an eclectic mix of redemption, consequences for antisocial acts, self-sacrificing heroics, and even shades of spirituality.”
Monsters 101, Book Ten: “Class Dismissed” by M. Rasheed, the end cap title of the scheduled ten book graphic novel series is due out later this summer.
Second Sight Graphix, the publishing company that M. Rasheed creates under, so far has a total of twelve titles. This includes the nine previous graphic novels in the Monsters 101 series, as well as nonfiction titles on his specific methods for cartoon and comic book creation. All can be found through his Website.
For more information please visit www.mrasheed.com