Regular readers will recall our report earlier this year that Hodder & Stoughton had acquired the rights to a graphic novel from Joe Sugg, best known for his channel ‘ThatcherJoe‘ on YouTube. Well, Username: Evie – featuring art by the hugely-talented Amrit Birdi, coloured by Joaquin Pereyra and lettered by Mindy Lopkin – is on sale tomorrow in all good bookshops and, given Joe’s seven million-plus followers, we think this graphic novel stands a fairly good chance of being something of a smash hit.
(All right! All right! a very good chance of being a monster hit. Put the sellotape down…).
Joe Sugg, aka ThatcherJoe, is an online sensation with a total of over seven million subscribers to his YouTube channels and more than three million followers on Instagram. Joe’s first book is a graphic novel which is “as imaginative and original as the man himself”. Joe has always been a huge fan of the comics, from early obsessions with the Beano and Watchmen to creating his first graphic novel for a school A-Level project.
Username: Evie is described as “quintessentially Joe” – the story and illustrations are shot through with references from his own life and online antics, and the central character of Evie was inspired by fans who have shared their stories with him online, and the issues they face on a daily basis.
Like anyone who feels as though they just don’t fit in, Evie dreams of a place of safety. When times are tough, all she wants is a chance to escape from reality and be herself. Despite his failing health, Evie’s father comes close to creating such a virtual idyll. Passing away before it’s finished, he leaves her the key in the form of an app, and Evie finds herself transported to a world where the population is influenced by her personality.
Everyone shines in her presence, until her devious cousin, Mallory, discovers the app… and the power to cause trouble in paradise.
Counting down to the release of Username: Evie
Joe has collaborated on Username: Evie with illustrator Amrit Birdi and writer Matt Whyman. And, as ever, his fans have been integral to the process, even deciding on Evie’s name via an online poll.
Joe started posting videos on his YouTube channel ThatcherJoe in 2011 and currently has nearly five million subscribers on his main channel, over two million on his vlog channel – and nearly one million on his gaming channel. His videos include pranks, impressions and challenges, as well as collaborations with other prominent YouTubers, including his older sister Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella.
In 2014 he featured on the Band Aid 30 single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ as well as starring in the YouTube Boy Band that raised money for Comic Relief.
Joe previously worked as a roof thatcher in Wiltshire, where he grew up. Now 23 years old, he lives in London with his flatmate, fellow YouTuber Caspar Lee.
Matt Whyman is a bestselling author, also known for his work as an advice columnist for numerous teenage magazines, and as a ghost writer. He has written widely for all ages across a range of subjects – in fiction, advice and memoir. His adult books include Man or Mouse, Columbia Road, Oink! My Life With Minipigs (published in paperback as Pig in the Middle), and Walking with Sausage Dogs. For teens, he is the award-winning author of titles including Superhuman, XY, XY:100, Boy Kills Man, The Wild , the So Below trilogy, Inside the Cage, Goldstrike, The Savages and American Savage.
Amrit Birdi is an illustrator based in London who has been working in comics for over four years, quickly developing a unique, versatile and accessible style which can and has been used across commercial illustration, childrens illustration, fashion illustration, medical illustration and concept illustration, as well as a unique approach to the design and branding process.
“There is something I find fascinating in telling a story with not just Illustration, but Sequential Illustration,” says Amrit. “My biggest reward is when a comic book project is done and looks complete with no words at all. I’m not saying the writer or letterer isn’t needed – in fact they’re absolutely essential – but it just means I have done my job well”.
Working from his London-based studio, Amrit has has the opportunity to work with many clients both small and large.
“Joe is an amazing young talent,” said Senior editor Briony Gowlett, who bought world rights to Joe’s book from Lucy Lendrem at Gleam Futures. “His YouTube videos are some of the most inventive around and this imagination will shine out of every page of his book. Joe keeps his audience at the heart of everything he does and this project will be no different.’