With all of our pictures and stories and signs
Though trapped we may be in our heads and our hearts
Our dreams and ideas are all that we are."
Kent John Starrett is an American author and illustrator of primarily young adult and juvenile fiction. He is known for his high-contrast neon art style, sardonic prose, bizarre and uncanny creatures, and a general sense of quirkiness that balances cutesy, cartoonish art/prose with creepy atmosphere and deeper themes. His works include Jackie and Craig and The Star Pixie and the Serpent Queen. He maintains an active web presence, and you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr and Youtube as Thoughtful Devil.
Kent J. Starrett's works include:
Tropes featured in Kent Starrett's body of work include:
- Antihero: all of his protagonists are either deeply damaged, broken individuals or otherwise flat-out Heroes in name only.
- Admiring the Abomination: Very unusual monsters with unique concepts and well-thought-out biologies and anatomies are almost everywhere.
- Author Appeal:
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: People getting eaten is usually played for laughs. The short story Sweet Tooth, from Human Resources, is a notable exception.
- Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: Shows up on most characters, human or otherwise.
- Warped humanoid entities like living caricatures, often playing on the Uncanny Valley.
- Odd Friendship: So far, two out of three of his published works have featured mismatched friends in a Protagonist Title.
- Perky Goth: at least one character usually either is or admires Body Horror Monsters or whatever unnatural catastrophe is occuring in the story somewhere.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Starrett struggled with depression, anxiety, and insomnia throughout most of his life; and uses it to paint his character's perspectives.
- Teenage Wasteland: Adults seem nonexistent in his works, even in settings where they logically should be around somewhere. The existence of parents or other guardians is usually explained away in a sentence or two, resulting in stories about Free-Range Children (though it has been argued that certain characters in The Star Pixie And The Serpent Queen are actually stand-ins for parental figures).
- Monstrous Feminine creatures, similar in concept but usually more surreal in execution to Witches, Sirens, Succubi, etc.
- Black Comedy: Everywhere outside his picture books.
- Body Horror: His only adult work so far, Human Resources, is rich with it. Jackie and Craig has a bit more of it than the typical YA fiction, but not nearly as much as H.R.
- Children Are Innocent: Subverted, always.
- Color Contrast: a signature of his artwork is the high contrast, pastel color scheme, somewhat recalling the work of Chuck Jones and other, similar artists.
- Crapsack World: Jackie and Craig live in one, based on Starrett's own childhood hometown.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Creepy or eccentric characters or monsters sometimes turn out to be friendly and likable. Ex:
- Dark World: Both the last act of Jackie and Craig and all of The Star Pixie and the Serpent Queen take place in one. Human Resources features a few, as well.
- The Grinch: according to the epilogue of Human Resources, the best Christmas of Starrett's life happened when he was housesitting for relatives and didn't have to see anyone for a week, giving him solitude and relaxation that he desperately needed.
- Lovecraft Lite: Jackie and Craig. Arguably, The Star Pixie and the Serpent Queen is as well, though very, very lightly, as it's a children's picture book. Human Resources goes full Cosmic Horror in some stories, most notably in The Secret Game and Vestibulum Horridus.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: The creatures are always very strange, and usually fully realized, with some editions of Jackie and Craig featuring a section on the biology, cladistics and evolutionary relationships of the monsters featured therein.
- Shown Their Work: Jackie and Craig is a bit more Hard Sci-Fi than it has any right to be, and it's clear more thought went into the "Science" part of the Science Fiction than most YA fiction usually does. Where Human Resources concerns the Science parts of the Fiction, it does well.
- Signature Style: Body Horror? Check. High Color Contrast? Check. Freakish abominations best fit for Deranged Animation? Check. And above all, a weird balance of cutesy, whimsical and quirky with creepy, scary and melancholy? Check.
- Surreal Horror: Common, whether intentional or otherwise. Though in most of the stories in Human Resources, it's very obviously intentional.
- World of Weirdness: Every book he's written.