Former Gaucho Kazuhiro “Kazu” Kibuishi has turned newsroom experience into a series of successful graphic novels and a possible movie deal.
Kibuishi, who is known for producing comics and graphic novels, enrolled at UCSB in 1996 while pursuing a degree in film studies. He is now working with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s children Jaden and Willow to make a film adaptation of his two-volume graphic novel “Amulet.” The first book, released under publishing company Scholastic’s Graphix series, is currently available in stores.
The graphic novel focuses on a brother and sister who move into their late great-grandfather’s house following the death of their father. The children must use his amulet to save their mother from a beast that leads her into an underground world.
Five books are planned in the series, with the second installment scheduled for release this year.
Kibuishi is a former Daily Nexus artist. While he said he had drawn for his high school paper before, he said he did not begin pursuing illustration as a career until college.
“It all began when I started writing comics for the Nexus,” Kibuishi said. “I actually went to UCSB for film. I was trying to quit drawing.”
However, he said one night at the Nexus office reversed his plans.
“My friend was a photographer for the Nexus,” Kibuishi said. “[I was at the office] and I left a napkin on the art director’s desk. It was a little immature, a shot glass chasing a joint with a shotgun. Ryan Altoon, [the art director at the time], called me the next day and asked me to try out.”
That tryout turned into three and a half years as the Art Director of the Daily Nexus.
During his career at the Nexus, Kibuishi drew a comic named “Clive and Cabbage.” The comic followed a talkative rabbit and a cabbage on a series of wild adventures.
Kibuishi went on to work as an animator at ShadedBox Animations for two years. Afterward, Kibuishi said he decided to work independently on his own projects. He then published Flight, a comic book anthology.
“Being the art director for Flight was very much like being the art director for the Nexus,” Kibuishi said. “Since the Nexus, [I’ve found that] the best things come out of working together. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my friends.”
Flight took off, and there are currently four volumes available in bookstores nationally.
As for his future plans, Kibuishi said he intends to continue working with his wife, fellow illustrator Amy Kim Ganter, and friends making comics and graphic novels. Updates on his work can be found at www.boltcity.com. He also maintains a webcomic known as “Copper,” which follows a boy and his dog as they experience strange adventures.