From a young age, local author Grant Snider found a passion in illustration. While a competitive fire with his twin brother, Gavin, helped spark that, the Derby native has been drawing ever since. Starting on old sheets of computer paper to having comics posted in publications such as “The Kansas City Star” and “The New Yorker,” Snider has continued to let his creative side run wild.
“These [sheets of computer paper] were like our big canvasses where we could just kind of put all these different characters, worlds and scenes on,” Snider said. “I think cartooning’s let me keep that sense of imagination.”
Now, Snider’s work is gaining national critical acclaim – as his most recent collection of comics, “I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf,” has been nominated for a 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for best graphic novel/comic.
Snider, who works as a dentist at Derby Orthodontics when he is not writing comics, noted he will not be quitting his day job anytime soon. In fact, he admitted having that job is what gives him the freedom to pursue his illustrating and writing career – now having published five works (two collections of comics and three children’s books) since 2017.
Once he went off to college at the University of Kansas, Snider began drawing comics for the student newspaper, “The University Daily Kansan.” He was drawing comic strips five days a week during his junior year. When he went off to dental school, that passion followed and he kept drawing, submitting to local publications like “The Kansas City Star.”
Eventually, those works evolved into Snider’s brand of Incidental Comics and website – where he posts to weekly. Those comics were then collected for his first book, “The Shape of Ideas,” published in 2017 – something Snider said he was always working toward from a young age.
“I remember sending my aunts and uncles stories I’d done or sending my parents these really long, detailed stories I’d done about turkeys getting in a fight with Santa Claus over Thanksgiving/Christmas, silly stuff like that,” Snider said. “I always just wanted to tell stories and to put my words and drawings on paper.”
Having done this for so long now, Snider has a routine. Each comic strip he publishes takes roughly a week to create – starting with the brainstorming of ideas, moving on to penciling, editing, inking, coloring and posting. Another constant is the feedback from his twin brother, as well as his wife, Kayla, to help determine the accessibility of those ideas.
Seeking out that feedback and digging for those ideas is something from which Snider said he takes a lot of enjoyment in illustrating and creating his comics.
“For me, the search for the ideas and the shaping of that idea itself is the pure joy of the artistic process,” Snider said.
With the comic collections, Snider noted the process has been quick in turning those into books, while the children’s works take a little more time (usually six months to a year).
A love for reading helps fuel Snider’s work, which he said revolves around creativity and introspection. He admitted he draws for himself, but hopes readers will respond to his comics and the ideas they illustrate.
Over the years, Snider’s style has evolved, with “The Kansas City Star” giving him a big push. Back in 2011, he moved from black and white to publishing comics in color for the Star’s Sunday Comics special section. There were some hiccups, but he admitted that has helped define his current work – a blend between traditional ink and paper cartoons and the more modern style, created on tablets or laptops.
In “I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf,” Snider said one his earliest comics is collected in the publication – though he noted his eyes are always on the future and his next work.
While Snyder’s work has been recognized in the past, having two Kansas Notable books and winning the Charles M. Schulz College Cartoonist award while in dental school, the nomination from the online resource Goodreads is something he hopes can be another push for more exposure – allowing him to keep pursuing his passion.
“It’s really neat … and I just kind of hope it gets more people interested in the book who wouldn’t notice it a lot,” Snider said. “I just hope that people keep responding to the work enough for me to keep making more books because it’s what I love doing. It’s a big joy to have it as a career.”
Voting will determine the Goodread Choice Awards winners, with the first round live through Nov. 8. Voting can be done at goodreads.com.