“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.
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.
It’s not out until April, but you can get your hot little hands on Hope Larson’s upcoming graphic novel Mercury in a matter of days! At her LiveJournal, Larson has announced a contest for eager readers to win a copy of the book. In keeping with what I think is the book’s storyline, all you have to do is email her or post a comment on the contest LJ entry with a story about what your life would have been like in 1859. The deadline for entries is January 4th, so flex those fiction muscles! (Unless you actually remember your past life in 1859, in which case get your autobio on.)