We’re super-excited that Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl) is going to be doing two graphic novels for us! The first one will be illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong). EW just announced this project this morning.
Here they Q&A each other!
Rainbow Rowell: You’re such an amazing storyteller. I feel like you can do everything – draw and write – so well. Why collaborate with other writers?
Faith Erin Hicks: Working on my very own comics where I get to both write and draw is awesome, and that’s mostly what I want to do when I make comics. But there are other writers out there who are amazing, and sometimes they can bring me stories to draw that I would never in a million years write myself. That’s the fun of working with someone else: I get to explore different worlds, different characters, and different perspectives.
Rainbow: Is the collaboration experience different every time? Do you have to learn how to dance with each partner?
Faith: Hm, that depends on the collaboration. If it’s a job like when I drew Brain Camp (with Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan) or the Bigfoot Boy series (with J. Torres), I was just handed a script and went away for a few months and drew a comic. Not much interaction with the writers was necessary. Other jobs I’ve had more of a chance to interact with the writers, which I really appreciate. I like having story input, but it depends on whether or not I’ve been hired as a co-writer on the project (like when I drew and co-wrote The Last of Us: American Dreams for Dark Horse) or just as an artist. I’d really love to have a more balanced collaboration with someone, where together we can push and pull a story into shape. I haven’t yet had that, but . . . maybe soon.
Was there a particular book or series (or anything, really — maybe a movie, or comic book) that really clicked with you and made you want to tell your own stories? Did you ever read or watch something that made you say “yeah, I want to do something like that!”
Rainbow: That’s a good question. Sometimes I feel like the opposite thing happens. Like I’m so content taking in other people’s stories that I’d rather read or watch than make anything of my own. (I still have to make myself write; I’d always rather read.)
I wrote my first book Attachments as a reaction against romantic comedies I was watching. I love romantic comedies, but felt like I’d seen a string of them that leaned hard on the same stupid tropes. I wanted to see if I could write a romantic comedy without cheating.
Hey, you know what? I just thought of something specific: Clerks really inspired me. I was like, “Wait a minute. You can write a whole movie that’s just talking and relationships and Star Wars jokes? I CAN DO THAT!”
One thing that I think is striking about your work is how expressive it is. Your characters say so much with their faces and posture. Do you think that comes from your background in animation?
Faith: Possibly! That’s the theory at least: as an animator it is your job to translate the emotion of the character on to the screen. I’ve heard some animators compare the job of animation to being an actor or a director. But I was kind of a terrible animator, so I’m not sure how much of that training actually sunk in. I’ve always been someone who likes observing people and who’s over-sensitive to emotion (I am a gold medal champ at social awkwardness), so it feels natural to put that down on the page when I draw. I like thinking about what the character is feeling in a particular moment, and trying hard to convey that.
I’ve noticed in all three of your books there have been strong geeky themes. Eleanor & Park has comics, Attachments has a whole subplot about D&D, Fangirl has … fandom! On a scale of Blorgons to Daleks, how geeky do you think our collaboration will be?
Rainbow: On a scale of Blorgons to Daleks? I’m going to go with Tom Servo.
Something that I really love about following you on Twitter is the way you’re up on all the cool-kids comics and animation stuff — but you’re also livetweeting your way through Deep Space Nine. I love the all-over-the-place-joy you take in it.
I’ve never written sci-fi or fantasy, but that’s always been my favorite stuff to read and consume — so those are my references. It’s been interesting to see how readers ignore or grab onto the geekery.
Faith: I’m kind of musically inept. I like music, but I don’t know much about it beyond Daft Punk and U2 (the only time I buy an album is when one of those two bands puts one out). You’re very music knowledgeable; is there hope for someone like me? Is there a shortcut to true musical appreciation and coolness?
Rainbow: Faith! I didn’t know you liked U2! The other day, you and I were talking about likes, and whether it’s important for your spouse or partner to like the same things you do. U2 is practically the only big like that my husband and I have in common. He’s also a two-band person. (Well, maybe a five-band person.)
I think it’s important to follow your own heart with music. Not everyone has the same hunger for more or different — or the desire to fill their ears with music as often as I do. It’s an important part of my writing process. I use music to help me find tone in my writing — and to take emotional snapshots of a scene. (Like: this scene equals this song.) But we’ve also talked about how artists often can listen to TV shows and podcasts while they work, and writers usually can’t. . . .
If you really do want to listen to more or new music, my advice is to find someone whose taste is similar to yours and subscribe to their playlists. You can listen to my playlists on Spotify, but all the uber-plugged-in music nerds are probably using some other service.
Please staff your fantasy Star Trek command crew, including a doctor.
Faith: Okay, here we go: Captain Picard. Major Kira Nerys, Dr. “Bones” McCoy from the JJ Abrams movies (LOVE me some grumpy Karl Urban), Counselor Troi, both Lt Uhuras (they are both fabulous), Lt. Commander Data (one of my TV boyfriends). And Spock. Because I would really like to see Spock and Data in a room together. Oh, we don’t have an engineer in there … um, I can’t pick. I love Scotty, O’Brien and Geordi about equally. I’ll take them all. Just think of Scotty and O’Brien’s dueling accents.
Faith: Obligatory Star Trek question: as a socially awkward geek girl in high school, I had a huge crush on Data from The Next Generation. You posted an outtake from Attachments on your blog where a character mentions she has a crush on Data. What is it about Data that is so lovable, even if he could never love us back?
Rainbow: But, Faith, Data would sincerely try to love us back, and that’s practically the same thing.
I’m a sucker for Data because, in trying to be human, he embodies the best of humanity. Like, what’s more human than trying to understand what it means to be human? And he’s so sincere. Which is my favorite quality in actual, non-fictional, flesh-and-blood people, too.
And he’s gentle. And he has a cat. And what if I’m the girl who could finally help him transcend his programming?
(I have this all plotted out: The philosophic chats in Ten Forward. LARPing Sherlock on the holodeck. The moment when he gets his emotion chip and realizes his emotions for me haven’t changed at all.)
Note to self: Pitch Faith a robot love story.
Faith: We talked a little bit about X-Men on twitter, where you awesomely revealed to be one of only two people I know who have an appreciation for the character Marrow. Do you have a favourite X-Men era?
I probably have a few favorite X-Men eras.
I have a soft spot for the Chris Claremont stuff in the mid-’80s because that’s what got me hooked on comics. Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Longshot, mohawk!Storm.
I also got into the big Age of Apocalypse crossover in the mid ’90s. With Dark Beast and Nate Grey. (I used to understand what was up with the Summers family.)
Also: the early years of New Mutants and Peter David’s X-Factor.
What is the best time of year for me to come visit you in Nova Scotia?
Faith: Hmmmm. I’d say September, because fall is really nice in Nova Scotia. The weather is gorgeous, the trees turn amazing colours and you’d get to celebrate my birthday!