Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interview with Hope Larson

New York Times bestselling author, Hope Larson has advanced the medium of comics in many markets and demographics. She is a comic book powerhouse, with a following among indie comic book fans, children, tweens, young adults, and lately Supper Hero fans. To date she has earned two Eisner awards and an Ignatz award. She was kind enough to take time out of her bus schedule to answer a few question for me.

MH: You have experiences with indie and mainstream direct-market (comic
book store) publishing, as well as traditional book publishers. How do
the editorial and distribution differ?

HL: Traditional publishing and comics publishing are apples and oranges in almost every way. In my experience, I'm writing for two completely different audiences; they hardly intersect at all. My graphic novels are, for the most part, personal projects in a way that a book like Batgirl can never be, so my editors and I are generally working together to realize my vision in the best possible way, while also making books that will connect with kids/tweens/teens. Batgirl is much more commercial, and for better and worse comes with a built-in audience that has very specific expectations. I truly love writing both kinds of books. They stretch very different writing muscles.

MH: Who would you list as comic book influences?

HL: I'm a long way into my career, so this is a weird question to get. I've always hated the "influences" question. I love lots of comics, books, films, TV shows, but I wouldn't necessarily call them influences. Being alive on planet Earth is my primary influence.

MH: How does your writing process differ when you write for an illustrator
compared to when you are illustrating the book yourself?

HL: It doesn't, really, except that if I'm writing for myself I have to play to my weaknesses as a draftsman. Ideally I'd be writing
characters floating in a void, haha. What I'm really saying is that
it's easier to write in an unbridled way when you aren't the one who has to execute it. Coming from cartooning, I'm very aware of when I'm asking a lot of my artist (lots of crowd scenes, for example), and I try to balance things out on the page so they won't get too worn down.

MH: What did you see as the future of comics back when the Flight
anthology came out, and how does it compare to the comics landscape of

HL: When Flight came out, the future I saw for myself was definitely indie comics. Very, very arty stuff. I realized fairly quickly that I'd rather be entertaining people, and the rest of my career has been an attempt to marry my love of literary, lo-fi, emotional stories to commercial, action-packed, fast-paced stories. But I digress...

I don't think I understood the comics and publishing industry back then, so I didn't have any expectations. I'm not even going to pretend I know where it's going. I love doing monthly comics and graphic novels, and I hope I continue to have both kinds of opportunities.

MH: Are there other exhibitors your looking forward to hanging out with a Staple?

HL: Scanning over the exhibitor list, I don't personally know anyone! The only guest I know is Ngozi, and I don't think we've actually met in person. I'm excited to meet some new folks and see what all the exciting up-and-coming comics are.

MH: Do you have any new projects you are willing to hint about?

HL: Sure! I'm still writing Batgirl, and I have a new middle grade graphic novel, All Summer Long, coming out next year. Rebecca Mock and I are working on our third graphic novel together. And I have pitches in for a few different things in both traditional publishing and the direct market, so I'm curious to see which projects "go".

Here are links to were you can find some of her work, and some excellent interviews Hope.

Bookslut’s “An Interview With Hope Larson”

School Library Journal “Interview: Hope Larson on ‘Knife’s Edge’”

Comicsverse “BATGIRL: Exclusive Interview with Writer Hope Larson”

Comics Alternative Interviews: Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock

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