Megan Miller is a New York Times bestselling author and graphic artist from the USA. Born in Talara, Peru, and raised in Surrey, England, she has moved across the globe until finally settling in New Mexico, USA. She is an active gamer and plays Minecraft regularly. In 2014, she was approached by a book packager, Hollan Publishing, to write Minecraft guides. As her relationship with the company developed, she started to create cover art for other Minecraft books using 3D animation software. They loved the images, which led to the idea of creating graphic novels, the first of which was published in 2015. Among her works can be cited Quest for the Golden Apple (2015) and THE S.Q.U.I.D. SQUAD series, which includes titles such as The Legend of the Coral Caves (2020), Zombies vs. Turtles (2021) and Game of the Guardians (2020). All of her graphic novels are adventure stories for kids set in Minecraft-inspired worlds, with the intention of creating appealing accounts for 7–11-year-olds to draw them into the amazing world of reading and ‘occasionally bring up “food for thought” topics in an open and non-patronizing or authoritative way, and hopefully a laugh or too. I also hope to satisfy or interest kids in the aesthetic experience of graphic novels, if I can’. Additionally, she recognises that engagement with gamic creation is helping with improving her storytelling and artistic skills.
Interestingly, she is one of the few artists who have been able to publish gamics commercially, which has mainly been possible due to Mojang’s (the game developer) flexible approach to derivative content. As a result, Megan states that ‘a remarkable achievement is simply having the opportunity and experience of creating graphic novels that are sold in bookstores and being paid for it. Still can’t believe it!’. The creative process she follows involves the employment of a variety of software at different stages:
Zombies vs Turtles. Excerpts of this book have been used with permission of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. The Minecraft game is copyright © Mojang AB. This artwork is not associated with, authorised or sponsored by Microsoft Corp. or Mojang AB.
Although Minecraft vanilla game assets (models and textures) are already included in Mine-imator, Megan builds settings and other elements in Minecraft and the ‘World Edit’ mod, and extracts them as schematics that can be imported to the programme. She also imports the skins and textures created in Photoshop and Illustrator into Mine-imator, where assets can be modified. While Minecraft characters have static faces, she does not use different skins to show their reactions and gestures, as she finds them unappealing or against the spirit of the pixelated quality of the game. Instead, she prefers to show feelings through body pose, text, composition, etc. She also tries to avoid clashes with the game’s universe, ‘for example, there are no duck models in Minecraft, but there are chickens and parrots; so, no duck stories’, and multiple characters in a scene since this takes a significant amount of time to prepare.