Talking Monsters and French Cooking with Dragons Beware! Creators Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

Comics Features

Writer Jorge Aguirre and illustrator Rafael Rosado’s new graphic novel, Dragons Beware!, snuggly fits into the qualifications of universally endearing adventure yarns. The authors blend humor and danger with artwork that’s equally expressive, establishing an immersive sense of location while also allowing for some of the more cartoonish aspects of the book’s humor to shine through. Published by First Second, Dragons Beware! is a genuine all-ages story, but a succession of interesting character moments and impressive visuals will entrance readers of any background.


This graphic novel is also the second book in the “The Chronicles of Claudette” series, continuing the exploits of the titular adolescent monster hunter, her culinary-inclined brother Gaston and her friend Marie. In this case, the creature in question is a dragon—specifically, one with whom Claudette and Gaston’s father had a fateful encounter many years earlier. The narrative also unleashes sinister gargoyles, magical amber and a couple of returning characters from the series’s first volume, Giants Beware! Paste emailed with Aguirre and Rosado about the project’s history, its influences and where it’s going from here.


Paste: You’ve worked in television and animation. Where did the idea for this set of characters and their adventures come from?
Rafael Rosado: Claudette, Gaston and Marie had been bouncing around in my head and my sketchbook for awhile. Originally, I drew them as French street urchins. And I had an idea for a story, which became the first book. I brought that to Jorge and he developed the world and story.

Paste: How long after you’d finished Giants Beware! did you have the idea for the sequel?
Jorge Aguirre: We had some of the story figured out for Dragons Beware! before we even started Giants Beware!.

Dragons Beware! Art by Rafael Rosado

Paste: Several of the plot elements in Dragons Beware! stem from things hinted at in the first volume: Claudette’s father’s previous encounter with a dragon, for instance. What do you find is the best way to balance the plot with laying the foundation for future storylines?
Aguirre: I’m not positive we’ve figured out the best way to balance plot and foundation. We do outline the heck out of stories to keep ourselves from getting lost. There were a lot of different ideas we threw out in the first book, and we’re trying to spend the next couple (or few) books unpacking all those ideas and exploring them bit by bit.

Paste: Can you see yourselves ever doing a volume exploring the childhood of some of the adult characters in these two books?
Rosado: Yes! We hint at some of that in the third book, but beyond that, we cannot say.

Paste: From an artistic perspective, it looks like more was done in this volume with double-page spreads. Were there other layout changes that you experimented with this time around?
Rosado: We had fewer pages on this book, so there were times where I had to find ways to compress action, as opposed to expanding it, which is my tendency. Besides the two-page spreads, I wasn’t really doing anything that different from the first book. I’m not one of those artists that does multiple version of a page, I don’t have that kind of time. My approach to layouts is very instinctual, and informed by my storyboard work in animation.

Dragons Beware! Art by Rafael Rosado

Paste: In this volume, you establish a connection between Gaston’s fondness for cooking and the practice of magic. Where did the idea to connect the two come from?
Aguirre: Those things seem related to us. Both involve following “recipes.” Both involve some artistry and practice and ingredients.

Paste: There are several allusions to the genre in which you’re working, like the archetypal princes courting Marie in this volume. What are some of your inspirations, as far as mythology and folklore are concerned, for these books?
Aguirre: I’m heavily influenced by Greek mythology. I love those stories. And Rafael and I both like the idea of taking archetypes and turning them a little on their head.

Rosado: We also take a sample of European mythology and folklore and then we toss it out the window and make it our own. We usually talk about this stuff early on, when we’re breaking down the story. After that it’s all about the characters and their particular journey.

Dragons Beware! Art by Rafael Rosado

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