The Hunger Heroes

Who ARE the Hunger Heroes?

The Hunger Heroes are superpowered taco ingredients who help the kids of their city whenever they need a snack!

Just look at these happy campers!

Below you will find information regarding each of the Hunger Heroes books, several Hunger Heroes-related activities, plus behind-the-scenes pictures/information regarding all the work that went into the creation of the Hunger Heroes series and books.

The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem

In this first installment of the Hunger Heroes graphic novel chapter book series, the Hunger Heroes – a quartet of superheroic taco ingredients – fly their taco-shaped hovercraft to James H. Pinchkid Elementary School. Once there, they must make their way into the building and all the way to Jason, avoiding hair-raising dodgeball games and rogue vacuum cleaners along the way. Jason hasn’t had a bite to eat since last night’s mac-and-cheese, and he’s having trouble concentrating in class. Can the Hunger Heroes get him a snack before his math test begins? (Best for Grades 1 to 5.)

The Hunger Heroes: Snack Cabinet Sabotage

In this second installment of the Hunger Heroes graphic novel chapter book series, the Hunger Heroes find themselves flying their taco-shaped hovercraft to the Richardson’s house, where babysitter Gabby is trapped without any snacks. What seems like a simple, straightforward mission gets increasingly complicated as one suspicious obstacle after the next gets in the heroes way. Is someone out to sabotage the Hunger Heroes? Can the crew rise to the occasion and get Gabby fed before she gets seriously HANGRY? (The Hunger Heroes: Snack Cabinet Sabotage is scheduled to publish on August 23rd, 2022.)

Activities

Jarrett’s artwork is known for its “thoughtful simplicity,” and this approach to visual expression very much informed the creation of the Hunger Heroes and their books. Jarrett intentionally designed the four main Hunger Heroes characters in a way that would both encourage and invite kids to imitate and learn from them (and then hopefully be inspired to create characters and comics of their own!). In the How to Draw activity sheets below, you can see how the Hunger Heroes are drawn using (1) basic shapes, (2) simple lines, and (3) letter forms. This same spirit and approach is used throughout the Hunger Heroes books.

Click HERE to download the above activity sheets.

The Making of The Hunger Heroes

In the weeks leading up to the release of the first book in the Hunger Heroes series, The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem, the superheroic taco ingredients took over Jarrett’s social media feeds. Jarrett invited readers behind the scenes of the book-making process, sharing pictures and information about the work that went into the creation of the series and this first book in particular. Jarrett shared all this in the hopes that it would be fun and interesting for his readers to see, and also in the hopes that educators, librarians, and parents might share the pictures and information with kids who might want to learn more about storytelling, book-making, and the creation of graphic novels. Below are Jarrett’s posts.

From Jarrett: “I got the idea for The Hunger Heroes at a conference in Kansas. I was hungry. We weren’t being taken to lunch for hours. ‘What if,’ I wondered, ‘my lunch could come to me?’ I made a doodle on a pad I’d taken from my hotel. A year later, I’d developed the doodles into characters. How did I spend that year? Filling notebooks/sketchpads with hundreds, even thousands, of drawings and notes. I began playing around with story ideas for the foursome, and this helped further develop each character, until they were sharp and clear both in my head and on the page.”
From Jarrett: “These are the sketchbooks I filled while refining the design of the four Hunger Heroes, settling on an art style for their world, and coming up with story ideas for their first book. Most of what I did in these pages was freewheeling play and random experimentation. I make sure to do a lot of this at the beginning of a project, because it’s when I’m creating playfully — when I’m not worrying about how things look and whether or not they’ll work, when I’m not thinking too much (and so not OVERthinking) — that I have my best, biggest creative breakthroughs. Gradually, I begin to think more and more, to make decisions about what I like, to figure out what works, and then the creation becomes more focused and intentional. I narrow in on what I want to do and how I need to do it. But I’d never reach that point if I didn’t allow myself the time and space for all that play.”
From Jarrett: “Of all The Hunger Heroes, Leonard changed the most during the creative process. Here you can see that evolution. He started as a blocky doodle on a piece of hotel stationary, then developed into a partially shredded rectangle, before I finally settled on a wedge shape. But his evolution still wasn’t complete. He was first oriented with the thicker side of the wedge for his base, but I ultimately thought that made this shaky, nervous character look too stable, so I flipped it upside down. As you can see, it took LOTS of experimentation before I landed on Leonard’s final form. But his nervous personality? THAT was there from the very beginning.”
From Jarrett: “By the time I began putting together a first full draft of Missed Meal Mayhem, the Hunger Heroes were pretty well formed. This was thanks to my spending months filling sketchbooks with drawings of, and notes about, them. Above are some initial sketches of each character’s “introductory page,” side by side with the final pages that appear in the book. The biggest change: in Missed Meal Mayhem, Leonard nearly misses the whole introduction, and instead of having his own introductory page as the other characters do, his personality is introduced in the form of a brief scene.”
From Jarrett: “Like my storytelling process, my character design process begins with a whole lot of play and more or less random experimentation. Eventually, as I start to figure out who a character needs to be for the sake of their story, and what their particular wants and motivations are, I become more intentional about my drawing/designing, trying to figure out if there are particular shapes, lines, angles, postures, etc., that best encapsulate the character.”
From Jarrett: “Here’s a look at the scripting process (as it generally goes) for the Hunger Heroes graphic novels. After weeks, and even months of drawing the characters, and playing around with them in various situations and settings, I begin to get an idea for a story. As it takes shape, I write scenes, both dialogue and notes about what the characters are doing and how they are feeling while delivering the lines. These scenes are extremely wordy. I know that much, if not most, of the words will eventually be removed. As I start this process of refining or revising, I sketch the characters, figuring out what parts of the story I can tell using pictures instead of words — and, more to the point, what parts of the story are told BETTER by the pictures, and what parts its necessary for me to tell using words. Finally, I start putting together comics — the story, broken up into panels (in which words and pictures are doing roughly an equal amount of the storytelling work), carefully paced and arranged on pages.”
From Jarrett: “Although the characters’ shapes and sizes continued to develop after I made this sketch on the left, I knew early on that I wanted my quartet of superheroic taco ingredients to make a splashy first appearance. On the right is The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem‘s final title page.”
From Jarrett: “I must’ve made a hundred sketches of this spread. Getting the Heroes’ positioning just right, making sure they didn’t get lost in the book’s “gutter” (the middle of the book where the pages meet), arranging them dramatically against the bricks — there were dozens of subtle but hugely significant elements to consider and decisions to make.”
From Jarrett: “I knew this spread would in The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem from the graphic novel’s very first draft. But figuring out the amount and arrangement of elements, and making sure the colors and expressions gave off the aimed-for feel — frightening, for my four superheroic taco ingredients, but not for my readers — took lots and lots of experimentation. Pictured here along with the final spread are just SOME of the sketches I made throughout the process of figuring it all out.”
From Jarrett: “Occasionally — like, VERY occasionally — something you write in a book’s first draft survives round after round after round of revision, more or less intact. This joke/page was in the first full draft of The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayehm and made it into the final book, too! But again: this is extremely rare. More often things change so much that only the barest bones of the first draft are visible in the final — if even those!”
From Jarrett: “The Hunger Heroes books are supremely silly. They’re about a bunch of superheroic taco ingredients who fly around in a taco-shaped hovercraft — how could they NOT be silly?! But like all my work, I try to balance the humor with some heart. This spread from Missed Meal Mayhem gives readers a heads-up that they’re about to learn why Mrs. Sternbladder — a “despiser of snacks,” a “crusader against crumbs” — can be so “mean.” I hope that this, and the pages that follow, expand my readers’ empathy (which is one of the most powerful, important, and amazing things that books an do!) while also keeping them entertained.”