Back in 2012, publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux released Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel adapted by Hope Larson (Gray Horses, Chiggers, Mercury). The graphic novel went on to win numerous awards and praise, including the Eisner for Best Publication for Teens, reached #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List, and was the California Library Association's Best Graphic Novel of 2012 as well as Barnes & Noble's. Larson's illustrations and vision of L'Engle's classic time-travel fantasy book brought the fantastic world of Meg, Calvin O'Keefe and Charles Wallace Murry to life for a new generation of readers, and has become a staple in classrooms as well. At 400 pages, it's one of Larson's most ambitious comic projects to date, taking her 2 years to complete, and her passion and hard work can be seen on every page, in every detail. March 31st sees the release of the trade paperback from Square Fish, and Larson was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions via email.
Cameron Hatheway: It's been three years since your A Wrinkle in Time adaptation was first published as a hardcover. Since then, you won the Eisner for Best Publication for Teens for the graphic novel, and the trade paperback is going to be published at the end of March. What's the journey been like since your adaptation first debuted? Do you see any signs of it slowing down anytime soon?
Hope Larson: It's been an incredible experience. When I finished the book I had no idea what the reception would be–if people would love it or hate it or just shrug. It was a huge relief to discover that most readers have approached the book as what it is: a labor of love created out of respect for, and not in competition with, the original novel. Winning the Eisner was nice–although a little weird because I was up against so many of my equally-deserving cartoonist friends–and I was so happy to be on the New York Times Bestseller List for the first time. It's slowed down a bit after the rush when it was first released, but I don't think it's going to fade out anytime soon. I've heard from a lot of teachers who use the book in their classrooms, especially with kids who are reluctant readers or have learning disabilities, so I think it will endure for a while.
CH: The trade paperback has bonus materials inside, including interviews with you and Madeleine L'Engle, as well as a behind the scenes look of your page layouts and illustrations. What was it like revisiting and providing a glimpse of the rough and final illustrations you created several years ago? Were they fond memories?
HL: They were fond memories. It was nice to look back through all that stuff and remember the hard work but know that it paid off; that it was worth it. I actually sorted through all my art last year when I sent my archives off to live in the Ted Hipple Special Collection at the University of South Florida. I'm very happy that it's safe there, and accessible to anyone who wants to visit it.
CH: Unfortunately Madeleine L'Engle passed away before you ever got to meet her, let alone share with her your adaptation. Do you feel more, or less pressured that she never got to see the graphic novel?
HL: I'm relieved she never saw the graphic novel, but I very much regret not getting to meet her. I've heard so many lovely stories about what she was like from people who did.
CH: The adaptation spans about 400 pages. Looking back, is there anything else you wish you could have added or expanded that you didn't get the opportunity to the first time around?
HL: No. Almost everything in the novel is in the graphic novel. A few lines got trimmed, but it's quite faithful. That's why it's 400 pages long!
CH: What's been the biggest compliment you've received since A Wrinkle in Time came out?
HL: The one that sticks with me is hearing from a reader that this was the very first book her 7-year-old reluctant-reader nephew read voluntarily, and by himself. I'll carry that memory with me forever.
CH: Outside of comics, you're also a writer and director. If given the opportunity, would you be interested in directing an animated or live-action version of A Wrinkle in Time? Your adaptation could definitely serve as the backbone when it came to storyboarding.
HL: Yikes, no way. I think I've spent enough time with this story, and I also don't think it would translate gracefully to film. It's long, and sprawling, and it's episodic in a way that doesn't suit film. A new version has been in development at Disney for years, and that makes me think that they're not sure how to tackle it, either. We'll see!
HL: Jaime Hernandez, Sam Alden, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, and Moyoco Anno. And a special shout-out to Jen Wang and Rebecca Mock, both of whom I'm collaborating with on separate projects.
CH: Any other projects coming up, or are you 100% focused on your webcomic Solo right now?
HL: I wish I was 100% focused on anything! I have way too many irons in the fire. I'm finishing up the first draft of the script for a new graphic novel I'll both write and draw. I'm working with Rebecca Mock on our Four Points graphic novel series–the first volume will be out next spring through FSG. I'm getting ready to pitch an animated show (which I've been working on with Jen Wang) for the first time. I'm writing a few scripts on spec. I'm working on Solo when time permits. And I have a few other projects that may or may not pan out.
I am very busy, but this list makes it sound as though I never sleep or leave my house. A lot of these projects have been underway for years; it's just that they're all coming to a head at the same time. The good news is that, after years of working behind the scenes, I'm entering a period when I'll have new work on bookshelves for the next few years.
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel will be available to purchase March 31st. Special thanks to Larson for taking time out of her busy schedule and Gina Gagliano for helping put this together.