Pizza Tree is a collaborative project between Mark Poulton and his son, Chase Poulton. Art is by Ryan Onorato. The art in this book is very well done and I absolutely love the colors chosen. It really makes for a fun read. The story is about, you guessed it, a pizza tree, but all is not what it seems. Will the pizza tree be a bounty of pizza deliciousness or is there a catch? You will have to read it to find out!
GTN has set down with Mark Poulton to pick his brain about Pizza Tree. Read the interview below:
GTN: I guess the obvious question is, what was the inspiration behind the story Pizza Tree?
Mark: The inspiration for Pizza Tree came a few years ago when my family and I were out to dinner. We were at our favorite pizza place and my son, who was 3 or 4 years old at the time, innocently said, “I know where pizza comes from.” Curious, I asked him where and he said, “It’s easy. You plant a slice of pepperoni in the ground and pizza tree grows from it.” I instantly thought it would make a great idea for a book.
GTN: How much influence did your son, Chase, play in the writing of the book and the look of the characters?
Mark: Chase was a huge part in the writing of the book. The idea was his, as well as the idea to use our family as the main characters. I suggested making it a Goosebumps style horror story and he really liked that, because he’s always asking me to make up spooky stories for him. He would then give me ideas and I would help him structure them and flesh them out. It was a lot of fun. As far as the look of the tree, Chase drew the very first pictures of Pizza Tree and we included them in the hardcover graphic novel.
GTN: Will we see other father/son team-ups on future books?
Mark: Defintely! Working with Chase on this book, and seeing it come together through his eyes has been the highlight of my career.
GTN: What was your inspiration for P’Thulhu?
Mark: It was a nod to my first published comic book, which was an independent series called Koni Waves. It dealt with supernatural mysteries set in Hawaii. What better villain for a pizza themed book than something pineapple related! Ech!
GTN: I love that the mom was the one that stepped up and kicked butt at the skill crane arcade machine. Is that based on real life or just a cool character trait?
Mark: Real life. My wife, Chrissy, is a buttkicker at that game. For Chase’s birthday last year, we went to a local arcade and he left with an armful of plushies thanks to my wife.
GTN: Another character I really enjoyed was the comic book shop guy. Was he based on anyone?
Mark: He wasn’t based on one specific person, but a collection of people I’ve seen over the years at different comic book shops and conventions. A little eccentric, a specific skillset and more than willing to help out in a pinch! That’s Teddy!
GTN: I also caught the self-promotion posters for projects you have done in the past, Koni Waves and A Cat Named Haiku, hanging in the comic shop. This made me chuckle because I didn’t notice it until the second time I read the book. Was this your idea or did the artist, Ryan Onorato, add that?
Mark: That was all Ryan. I did the layouts for the book and in that scene, I just drew a bunch of parody titles on the comic shelf and on the posters, but Ryan thought it was a nice touch to incorporate my past work into it and I really liked it.
GTN: Will there be a second book? The way it ends leaves it open to the possibility.
Mark: Chase and I are already brainstorming ideas for the next story, but it won’t be Pizza Tree 2 or Return of the Pizza Tree. Instead, it will be the Poultons getting in another crazy, spooky adventure. Pizza Tree will definitely make an appearance and events from Pizza Tree will carry over into the next installment including a new member of the family. But I like the idea of Pizza Tree being a one and done story and the family getting into different escapades.
GTN: What is your favorite part of the book?
Mark: As far as a specific scene in the story, it has to be when the Pizza Shack employee pulls a pizza cutter on Mark. For some reason, the employee’s line and the absurdity of a pizza cutter as a weapon just cracks me up every time.
GTN: A question I ask everyone out of pure selfish indulgence, what superpower would you most want to have and why?
Mark: For the indie comic creator, I think Multiple Man has the best powers. Imagine sending off one of your multiples to your day job, while you work on your comics or spend time with your family. There might actually be enough time in the day for once.
GTN: Pizza Tree is amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Where can people buy it?
Mark: Pizza Tree arrives in comic shops on August 30th from Arcana Comics. It’s the first release from their new creator-owned imprint, Artistacomics, which I just happen to run with my friends. It will also be available on Amazon and Comixology, but in the meantime you can buy it straight from me on my Etsy shop:
writer/co-creator – A Cat Named Haiku and Koni Waves
past writing credits – Avengelyne, Brigade and Savage Hawkman