Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Yummy: A History of Desserts! What inspired you to tackle this illustrated history of the delectable confections?
Victoria Grace Elliott: Thank you so much! I’m really excited for the book to be out in the world later this month. I’ve always loved the cultural context around food—in fictional stories or in travel shows—and my first work, a webcomic about a witch who bakes, had me looking back into the past a lot to try and figure out how people made bread before ovens and quick rises. And, well, I’ve been a fan of “tiny food” toys and making little displays out of them for most of my life! We can probably blame Calico Critters for that one.
All this culminated when my agent, Steven Salpeter, heard Gina Gagliano at Random House Graphic was interested in a book about food history. He knew to turn to me immediately! Those sparks became what’s now Yummy today.
BD: What can you share with us about your unique creative process in blending cartoons with historical facts, legends, and recipes, and what have been some of your creative influences?
VGE: For Yummy, I had to switch things up a bit from fictional comics. First off, there’s a LOT of information I had to convey! To keep it cute and interesting, three food sprites guide us through the history of desserts. Peri, our narrator, conveys the biggest fun facts in spreads where I highlight particular desserts in cute illustrations. To keep it light and engaging, I also added in Story Times, Interview Corners, and Science Labs. That way, I get to highlight the different personalities and strengths of the sprites, letting life and character guide the way you learn about the history.
A big influence behind this style of drawing were my favorite cute mascot characters like Hello Kitty from Sanrio or the cuddly animals of Sumikko Gurashi–the illustrations where they’re with cute food are some of my favorites! I wanted Yummy to feel like those characters were guiding you along, and really make all the dessert spreads look as adorable and colorful as those illustrations.
BD: Do you feel that there is a recommended age range for the book for any young readers who may themselves be aspiring pastry chefs?
VGE: The official age range is between 8-12, but honestly a lot of stuff in the book will be accessible to readers of all ages, especially anyone who is passionate about baking or is an aspiring baker! There’s so much I learned working on it, so there’s likely a lot of new information for many readers. And if you like cute things or desserts, it’s definitely for you!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Yummy will connect with and impact readers?
VGE: When writing Yummy, I wanted to highlight a holistic view of looking at and learning about history. Peri tells us several legends of desserts in her Story Time sections, where we learn stories that we tell each other about how a certain dessert came to be. But is the story true? How could it have actually happened? Why do we love to tell those kinds of stories? What can we learn from them?
I hope these legends connect with readers and encourage them to look at history—and the stories we tell about history—with curiosity and an open mind. That’s my main goal with Yummy. Stories are so important, and they can tell us so much, especially when we look at them from many different angles.
BD: What makes Random House Graphic the perfect home for this book?
VGE: Honestly, I was so excited to be a part of the Random House Graphic family. So many incredible creators making charming and lovely works have found homes for their graphic novels there. RHG has a unique sense of brightness that makes Yummy a perfect fit for their lineup. And I’ve been so appreciative to work with the team there–Gina Gagliano, Whitney Leopard, and Patrick Crotty. They have a deep love of comics and have really helped me bring this book to life from concept to final!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
VGE: In fact, there’s a second Yummy book I’m finalizing right now! It’s called Yummy: A History of Tasty Experiments. This one explores more savory foods like cheese and pickles, but also other tasty treats like gelatin and soda. I kept developing new questions about other foods as I researched the first book, so I got to make another to answer those for myself! This book will be out in 2023, so if you love the first book, or even if you just want to learn about those foods, keep an eye out for the second!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Yummy: A History of Desserts?
VGE: I recommend following Random House Graphic on Twitter and Instagram (@RHKidsGraphic)! They’ll keep you up-to-date on Yummy news, and you can find out about their other releases, as well. I also occasionally post videos at the TikTok (@yummyhistory), including some behind-the-scenes looks at my process and how to pre-order the book! And for anyone who wants to follow my personal account, I'm on twitter (@fridayafternoon).