I’m slightly hesitant to even bring it up given what a bizarre, unnecessarily nasty clusterfuck our last comment thread on the topic became, but one project I’ve been tracking with great interest is cartoonist Hope Larson’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. That’s why I was so struck by John Scarff’s report on the Hope Larson spotlight panel at last weekend’s WonderCon 2011:
Having been met by a few audible gasps when she mentioned that she would be adapting A Wrinkle in Time earlier in the panel, Larson explained how her involvement in the project came about. Jokingly referring to “a dinky little interview” a year ago when she suggested that it would be the only other author’s work she could see her self adapting, she was contacted by the publisher and the estate of Madeleine L’Engle. “I just can’t imagine a book that fit me as well as that one,” she said. “I wanted to be the one who was gonna screw it up.”
From Larson’s lips to God’s ears, apparently! I’m always delighted by stories about creative enterprises coming about in so fortuitous a fashion; I feel like it’s a good omen for the resulting work. Fingers crossed!
“It’s utter BS that MERCURY is in its third printing, and yet unavailable through the direct market.”
–Cartoonist Hope Larson on her young adult graphic novel Mercury, which is apparently a hit everywhere but the one system of stores that’s supposed to specialize in selling graphic novels.
One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.
Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.
In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:
The past 15 years have brought about one of the strongest — and broadest — generations of new comic creators since the medium’s inception in the early 1900s. For that you can credit the groundswell acceptance of manga, the opening of doors to more genres thanks to the graphic novel format, and a generation of children brought up on comics, cartoons and countless other artistic entertainment. One of those is cartoonist Hope Larson.
Larson started out in comics during her junior year at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, when renowned cartoonist Scott McCloud happened upon her personal art website and posted on his blog that she should be doing comics. Shortly after that, Lea Hernandez invited her to contribute a webcomic to girlamatic.com. Although Larson calls the comic she did there a failure, it put her on a path toward a career in comics. Hand-made minicomics soon followed, as well as stories in several anthologies including Flight. Her first full-length book, Salamander Dream (2005), was originally serialized as a webcomic. In the following years, she completed three more books, coming to the attention of book publishers and the wider young-adult market.
Following a move west from her native North Carolina with her husband, Larson resumed work on her biggest project yet: a graphic novel adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s classic sci-fi novel A Wrinkle In Time. It’s Larson’s first adaptation, and one she chose out of love of the book; but while her drawing board might be full with the adaptation, her keyboard is keeping busy as she finishes the script of a new YA comic series, to be illustrated by Tintin Pantoja, that is her first attempt at a series, mixing the magical girl genre of manga with her own takeaway of superheroes.
If you’re one of those people who know that there is such a thing as a tesseract, then you’re in for a treat: Above is cartoonist Hope Larson’s take on Meg Murry, one of the young heroes of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved science-fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time. Larson’s adaptation of the book for Farrar, Strauss and Giroux is slated to debut in Fall 2012, clocking in at a whopping 392 pages. Visit Larson’s blog for more on the book and this piece, from the bruise on Meg’s face to the reason you won’t be seeing her in this outfit in the book itself.
Legal | As rare Tintin memorabilia sold at a Paris auction for more than $1 million, an attorney for Moulinsart told a Brussels court that an attempt to ban the controversial Tintin in the Congo for racism is akin to book burning. “I cannot accept racism but I consider it equally lamentable that we burn books. To ban books is to burn them,” said Alain Berenboom, who represents the organization that controls the rights to Hergé’s works.
The civil case, which began last month, is the result of a nearly three-year-old effort by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, to have the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. The Court of First Instance is expected to announce on June 21 whether it, or a trade tribunal, should consider the case. [Agence France-Presse]
Comics publishers often think they know what girls like, but once we get out of Disney Princess territory, it’s harder than it looks. DC had a good try with their Minx line, but they made a lot of missteps; they totally ignored the popularity of manga and produced a first round of books that were like the graphic novel equivalents of Afterschool Specials. They got better, but by then it was too late. It’s very, very hard to connect with teenagers.
Rather than sit in a air-conditioned office and think about it, creator Hope Larson (Chiggers, Mercury) did something original: She asked the girls what they like—actually, she polled 198 women who reported having read comics in their teens and tweens.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the way online discussions usually go on this topic, superheroes emerged as the favorite genre, although manga was a close second (yes, I know manga is a medium not a genre, but I didn’t write the survey). X-Men was the most popular series, followed by Sandman, Batman, Rumiko Takahashi’s manga (Ranma ½, Inu Yasha), Spiderman, Sailor Moon, and comics by Alan Moore and CLAMP. And this:
Welcome once again to What are you reading? Today our special guest is comics retailer James Sime, owner of the world-famous Isotope Comics in San Francisco. As a retailer, James has the opportunity to read a lot of comics, and his submission this week reflects the diversity of great stuff you’ll find in his shop.
Click below to see what he’s been reading lately, as well as what the rest of the Robot 6 crew has had on their reading lists this week ….
Great news for fantasy fans: Mercury cartoonist Hope Larson has announced on her Twitter account that she will be adapting Madeleine L’Engle’s classic SFF novel A Wrinkle in Time as a graphic novel.
It’s been a while since I read the book — “a while” meaning “not since elementary school” — but I recall the story of a group of children’s interstellar search for their missing scientist father via the use of folds in the spacetime-continuum called “tesseracts” as being dazzlingly smart, imaginative, and at times dark. I believe the planet Camazotz was the first dystopia I ever encountered in literature. (I always suspected IT was the inspiration for the landmark Orb song “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” too.) The book racked up awards upon its 1962 release and launched L’Engle’s four-book “Time Quartet.”
For her part, Larson seems aware of the heady legacy she’s tinkering with. “According to my editor, Margaret Ferguson, L’Engle never wanted her books to be illustrated,” she tweeted. “I’m doing my best not to screw it up.”
I’ve been collecting David Bowie sketches from comics artists at shows and cons since MoCCA 2007. What can I say? He’s my favorite superhero. In that time I’ve amassed drawings of the chameleonic musician from 97 different artists, and adding to the collection is always a high priority for me at every show. I had exceptionally good luck at this year’s MoCCA — you better hang on to yourself as we flip through this year’s haul!
Niklas Asker (above): Oh man, look at that, just look at it. How can a sketch be shiny? Niklas Asker pulled it off with maybe the most elegant and sexy Bowie of the batch–no surprise, if you’ve seen his graphic novel Second Thoughts.
I came to shop.
Seriously, I was just about as excited for this past weekend’s MoCCA festival as I’ve ever been for any comic convention. And it wasn’t because of the guests or the panels or even getting to see so many of my friends and colleagues — it was because of the comics. The best thing about a small-press show is your ability to dig into the tables and come away with enough treasures to keep you reading happily for weeks. Proceeding from the top left of the picture above in as logical a fashion as I can manage, here’s a rundown of my personal treasure trove…
At CBR, cartoonist Hope Larson talks to Kiel Phegley about her new graphic novel Mercury, hitting stores April 6. Mercury tells the parallel stories of two teenage girls living 150 years apart in the same Nova Scotia town, and the very different paths their young lives end up taking. And to hear Hope tell it, creating a graphic novel targeted to teens opens up a whole host of headaches that even prose writers dedicated to that demographic don’t have to face:
The problems I’ve run into being a cartoonist in book publishing have usually been with things like swearing or anything that’s kind of ‘racy.’ [...] They crack down way harder on that kind of stuff, because if you open the book and there’s a naked breast – if a parent opens that up and sees it, you’re automatically not selling the book to them. You have to be a lot more careful. It’s the same thing with dialogue. If a parent opens a [comic] and there’s ‘Shit,’ it can’t hide behind those other words….I don’t feel like I’ve had to compromise or make changes I really didn’t want to make in terms of content. I had to make changes to make sure my book got into school libraries and libraries in general, but my editors definitely let me know when something was going to be an issue. And most of the time, I figure it’s less important for me to have ‘Fuck’ in my story than for the story to be in a library where kids can get at it.
PG-rated language notwithstanding, if you tend to think of YA books and comics as rather gutless affairs, Mercury will set you straight — this book’s got an edge. In addition to Larson’s trademark hints of the supernatural, there’s a tinge of darkness that really flourishes by the book’s climax. I was really impressed by it — you can check out my review of the book to see how much.
Well, the snowstorm that socked the East Coast may have shut down everything from Virginia to Philadelphia, but it won’t stop the What Are You Reading train from keepin’ on a rollin’. Our guest this week is Phonogram, Thor and S.W.O.R.D. scribe Kieron Gillen, who was kind enough to offer his thoughts on his current reading matter. To find out what exactly he is reading, click on the link below.
When it’s complete I’ll compile the whole thing–script, thumbnails, roughs, inks–into a short comic for print and web. The idea isn’t to make a comics how-to, but to show how much work goes into something as basic as a 10-page short story.
It’s nerve-wracking to show work to the world when it’s vulnerable and new, but that’s the whole point. Once I make it through the roughs I’ll enlist someone to play editor, make his/her notes public, and address those notes in the final art.
I find this sort of behind the scenes stuff fascinating and plan on checking back on the above links frequently over the next few weeks.
I’m filling in for Kevin on our daily roundup of news items, so my apologies for the lateness and any dip in quality in today’s edition. –JK
Conventions | The 36th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival starts today in France, running through Jan. 31. NBM’s Terry Nantier is on the ground and blogging from it, while Bart Beaty has kicked off his usual thorough coverage at the Comics Reporter. [Angoulême International Comics Festival]
Legal | An Australian man has pleaded guilty to downloading “graphic cartoon porn images” featuring child characters from The Simpsons, The Powerpuff Girls and The Incredibles. Kurt James Milner, 28, was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but it was “wholly suspended” for five years.
“The 28-year-old is now a registered sex offender and will have to report to police after pleading guilty in Ipswich District Court to having the bizarre images on his computer,” the Queensland Times reports. [Queensland Times]