Meet Natalie Andrewson, illustrator and adapter of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King!
What initially drew you to comics?
Well, it took me a long time to learn drawing comics was actually something I could do (and love) with my skills but I always enjoyed drawing stories and making up worlds for my characters to live in. In school I drew comics to make classmates laugh and would pass around a composition notebook full of little, silly comics to friends between classes. But it wasn’t until I graduated college that I realized how fun drawing comics was, and how satisfying it was to use so many of my skills in one place. I used to love singing, composing music, dancing, writing, drawing and acting, and could never choose just one to pursue. It was hard giving up acting classes in favor of drawing classes, even though I loved them both. In comics, I can use all my creative skills together to create the right mood and flow of the story I’m writing. The acting and creative writing go hand in hand with drawing the comic, but the emotional flow and movement of the drawings makes up a great deal of what I do too, that’s where my dancing and musical skills play in. It’s vital for me to choose songs that will emotionally guide me through a chapter, choosing epic romantic movements or quiet classical period pieces (or Tchaikovsky’s music itself for this book!) to help my drawings really come alive and feel right for the moment in the story. The fun I have while mixing all my skills together is what drew me to comics, and keeps me pursuing new stories to tell in this medium.
What about the Nutcracker story inspired you to make a graphic novel adaptation?
I particularly loved the original story by ETA Hoffman and was fascinated that it wasn’t more well known. The whimsical fantasy and fever-dream-like storytelling was right up my alley and totally indulgent. I’ve always thought The Nutcracker was a fun, energetic ballet, but at the end I would always walk away wanting more from it. I wanted to pursue the original story to truly understand Marie’s emotions and imagination and what the author had intended for her.
What scene or panel sequence did you most enjoy drawing?
My favorite panel sequence was drawing the Orange Brook Forest that Marie and the Nutcracker walk through on their way to the Nutcracker’s kingdom. It’s so magical and lush, and the transition between the coat closet in the foyer of the house and the windy, sparkle-y field where they see the castle felt especially satisfying to draw. A close runner-up was drawing Fritz’s face when he’s reprimanded by his father to be a better ‘general’ to his toy soldiers (by not making them fight while wounded!). Fritz’s long, ashamed face was especially fun to act out while I tried to get his emotion exactly right.
About the Book
Natalie Andrewson brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s surreal and fantastical story to life like never before in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
Of all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, only one captures Marie Stahlbaum’s heart: a humble nutcracker.
He’s a curious little man, with kind eyes, sweet red cheeks, and a friendly appearance.
And as midnight nears, he comes to life, revealing a fairy-tale world of magic and wonder, wicked princesses and fierce battles . . . and an ancient curse that can only be broken with the help of a true friend.
With the evil Mouse King looming and her dream world threatened, Marie will have to find the strength to stand up for her nutcracker—no matter what it takes.