(Apple Valley)– The world has changed in many ways: some good, some bad. One of the greatest changes I have seen in the modern era is the creation of Kickstarter.com. Kickstarter allows people to post up their projects, ranging anywhere from books to music to food and more, and it lets the world back the projects they want to see made into reality. It’s the ultimate form of choosing what we want, as the public is directly responsible for the funding of a project. I will be spotlighting various High Desert Kickstarter projects, but for this first project, I am honored to introduce to you: Jack and the Zombie Attack by Chris and Amy Hernandez.
The husband and wife creative team, who are based in Apple Valley, have their first ever children’s book up right now on Kickstarter. But what exactly is Jack and the Zombie Attack, and how did it come to be? Artist/Graphic Designer Chris Hernandez helped break it down. “It’s called Jack and the Zombie Attack, it’s a children’s book, and it’s inspired by our five year old son, Jack, who has a love for zombies. After watching old monster movies and shows like The Walking Dead, which Jack was not allowed to watch- he tried to watch but was not allowed to, he wanted to become a zombie. So he would chase things in the backyard and say he was going to eat them, he would bite his brothers and bite us and say I’m a zombie. So, one day, we decided, that I don’t know if he realizes that zombies are fun, but they are just make believe and honestly, have you seen them? You really don’t want to be a zombie. He said, “No, I want to be a zombie” and basically that I was running his fun, I was raining on his parade.
It was their youngest son’s love of the undead that sparked the idea of what would become Jack and the Zombie Attack. After doodling sketches and writing tag lines here and there, Chris knew he had a story, but he wasn’t quite sure how to put it to paper. That’s when he asked his wife Amy, a teacher at Hesperia Unified School District, for her assistance. “I explained to her that I want there to be a moral. I don’t want there to be just this little boy that runs around terrorizing the town and eating people. We don’t want any of that. We basically want this book to be for kids. We know several children’s book creators who don’t really write for kids even though they say they’re for children. We really wanted to create a book for children, it was our dream to collaborate years when our first son was born to write a children’s book based off of him. It’s the prodigal son tale that children and parents will always lose their way eventually and always go down the wrong road. We all do it, we all make mistakes, and we’re not perfect. What we have to do is get back on the right road and lesson learned, chalk it up, and let’s move on.”
With Amy writing it and Chris leading with illustrations, the idea soon became a reality. Each page is packed with a painstakingly huge amount of detail: from Jack, the zombies, and the world they inhabit. The words flow perfectly, and in the end, a moral is learned and the story ends on a positive note. Yet, creating a book is one thing, but publishing is a whole other world, as the Hernandez’s soon found out.
“As soon as we started looking into publishing, we realized we needed to self publish; this was the way to go,” Chris stated about the eye opening process. “As soon as we started looking into buying our own barcodes and printing, we realized “Holy smokes, what did we get ourselves into?” This is a lot of money. So then we came across Kickstarter. We had heard of Kickstarter before, so we decided “let’s give it a shot” and we started looking at all these stories, decks of cards and posters and books that people were writing, and they seemed like they were doing pretty well.”
When people imagine children’s books, the image you think isn’t normally of zombies, so did the couple ever imagine they would be working together on such a book? “No, we were thinking somewhere along the lines of cute, little fluffy bunnies and turtles,” Amy stated with a smile across her face. “We had been throwing turtles around for a while and then they came out with a bunch of cartoons, like on Nick Jr, with turtles. I never thought it would be zombies, but our cards fell into place that way, it’s what we were given: a child who loves zombies and not bunnies. I think it’s actually more entertaining to dive into what children really do like.”
The book, which is stunning to see in person, is definitely something that the world should see. Yet, why should the High Desert community support this local, creative project? Amy gave us a glimpse into her history with the High Desert for the answer. “I wasn’t born in the high desert, but when I was one I moved here. I have lived here for 33 years, I went through the school system, I went to Kingston Elementary, I was the first graduating class from Ranchero Middle School, and I graduated in 1996 from Hesperia High School. Now, I’m a teacher in Hesperia Unified, I have basically devoted my life to the High Desert to try to give back to the community for what it has given me. I have been so rooted in the High Desert; I believe that they should support people that have been home bred. To have another success for the High Desert, not just a rock band or a movie star, but a children’s author and illustrator that live in the High Desert: I just think that is an amazing contribution. I believe that other people that have lived in the High Desert like me understand what I’m saying and will support it.”
The Kickstarter Project will only be funded if their goal is reached by the deadline, which is on December 27th. Remember, by backing this project, you are not only supporting local creative works, you are also getting something in return, depending on what you pledge. Tiered merchandise includes a signed copy of the book, t-shirts, original artwork and more, all depending on how much you decide to pledge. To check out their Kickstarter page, head over to www.Jackandthezombieattack.com, where you can watch their video, see their story, check out some of their artwork, and more. You can also find Jack and the Zombie Attack on Facebook and Twitter.