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My Next Graphic Novel


The Saga of Selling My Next Comic
I've been holding off announcing this for various reasons, but now's the time, I think. Drumroll pls. Okay! First Second Books, towering publisher of such luminaries as Gene Yang, Nick Abadzis, and Paul Pope (eventually, I assume) has been suckered into - I mean, will be publishing my next graphic novel. Completely written and drawn by ME. HAHAHAHA. Oh man, cool, huh?

The (hopefully) entertaining odyssey of how I and this particular comic ended up at First Second is a story of rejection, crashing comic book imprints, San Diego Comicon and me in search of food. As all my stories seem to end up, strangely enough. Anyway! Back in 2007 I did a pitch for DC Comics now defunct Minx imprint. I was really thrilled about the whole thing as I thought I'd be perfect for the job. Hey, I'm a girl! And I draw comics! These comics are for girls! I'm PERFECT. Yeah, it didn't happen. I was pretty crushed. I don't know if the book still would have been picked up if the Minx imprint hadn't been cancelled, because I never got an official "sorry, this is not what we're looking for" from the powers that be at Minx. But I do know that if I'd gotten the job and the imprint had still been cancelled, my book would have been shot off into limbo, as I was pitching for the 2009 line. So even though I cried many tears over that lost job, it ended up actually being okay, and I was lucky the book was never bought by them.

Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, and was pretty morose for the beginning of 2008. I was working on The War at Ellsmere and that was a lot of comfort. Well, nobody else in comics liked me, but SLG did, and that was awesome. And then First Second emailed me out of the blue, asking if I'd try out for drawing a script then titled The Fielding Course. I did, and got the job. Yeehaw! Moving up in the world! I didn't get to write & draw my next comic, but I got to draw something and be paid a bit of money. So that was good.

Before I got drawing The Fielding Course I started casting around looking for an agent. I didn't really know much about agents, but one thing I'd learned is that I really hate dealing with the business end of comics, and I thought an agent would help me with that. Fortunately, Bernadette Baker of Baker's Mark came recommended, and I fired off a query to her. I was so sold on the idea of having an agent, when we talked on the phone I honestly couldn't think of a single thing to ask her, although she kindly told me about her selling history, who she represented and etc. I mostly wanted to know if she'd deal with the stressful 'dealing with publishers' end of the thing, as I couldn't stand it. I think the only question I asked was "what is your role as an agent?" while in the midst of of a serious case of flop sweat. Dear god I hate phones.

Anyway! It all happened really fast. I went from Minx also-ran to Cartoonist With Agent, Drawing Book for Major Publisher in about the span of a week. Pretty heady stuff.

Aaaand flashback: Previously, my friend karine and a few other mutual friends had plotted to go to San Diego Comicon. I kept waffling on the whole issue, as I was unemployed and not sure how I'd afford the trip. Luckily everything fell into place and I was able to secure a cheap flight and cheap accommodations thanks to karine. At this point, San Diego was simply a "fun trip." I wanted to see the spectacle of the convention, and thought it would be mostly a 4 day thing of wandering around in Nerdvana, nothing else.

So! Newly signed up with my agent, I told her I was gong to Comicon. She said she was too, and why didn't we take any pitches I had to a few publishers? Heck, why not, I thought. I really couldn't see past The Fielding Course, but the idea of pimping out a new project, and hopefully one I'd get to write as well as draw was pretty appealing. And hey, lo and behold, I had this Minx pitch just sitting there, pretty much ready to go.

The pitch had changed quite a bit by the time San Diego rolled around. Shelly Bond (who headed up the Minx imprint) had been very specific in what she wanted for the Minx imprint (this pitch was rejected, as they were looking for stories more grounded in reality), and I had worked within those specifications. But now that it wasn't a Minx pitch anymore, it had evolved a lot. However, the core characters remained the same, as well as the backdrop of "girl goes to high school after being home-schooled," which isn't based on my life AT ALL even though it happened to me. I gave the pitch to my agent, and she liked it and suggested we take it to a few publishers at San Diego.

So that's how I ended up at a breakfast with head First Second guy Mark Siegel, my agent and her business partner at at hotel in San Diego during Comicon. AND BOY WAS I STARVING. Have I mentioned how hard I found it to find food at the convention? SO HUNGRY. Anyway, BEST DAMN BREAKFAST EVAR, because not only did I get some delicious foodstuffs, but I also got a chance to pitch my story to Mark, and a month after San Diego, my agent called to say that First Second had made an offer on the book.

Bernadette was really awesome throughout the whole thing, helping me through the process and talking with me about various options for the book, and I'm very glad to have had her guidance throughout the whole scary thing. I'm always panicked about screwing up, or offending someone or getting blacklisted, and it was fantastic to have someone to help me with the business end, 'cause I just hate that part of it so ... damn ... much. So thanks to Bernadette, to my friend karine, without whom I wouldn't have been at San Diego, and the PTB at Minx, since I wouldn't have had a pitch ready to go if it wasn't for them.

And now here it is, a YEAR later (ah, the glacial pace of book publishing) and I'm starting to work on Friends With Boys. That's the title, and it's nothing to do with the little comic strips I did years ago. I just liked the title enough to reuse it. It's the first time I've used my own life as a jumping off point for a comic, although I'd like to stress the book is not autobiographical, nor is the main character me. It's about a girl named Maggie, who has three brothers (as I do), who was home-schooled (as I was), and is now entering her first year of public high school (as I did). She also is stalked by a ghost (that has yet to happen to me). She gets mixed up in High School Drama, makes friends with the wrong people, and because the story is written by me, it will contain two things: 1) Zombies. And 2) Someone will, eventually, get punched in the face.

Here's some development artwork:

This was the very first image I drew, what I pitched to Minx.

An early version of Maggie. She was a little gothier in early versions of the story. Now she's nerdier. :D

Two of Maggie's three brothers, Lloyd and Zander (gold star for who can guess that reference? C'moooon!). They fight a lot because they're twins.

Maggie makes friends with these guys at school, Lucy and her slightly mysterious brother, Alistair.

There's a lot of male characters in this book (4 or 5 main male characters, 2 female), and I'm looking forward to writing/drawing them, as I've done a couple of very girl-centric graphic novels and want to do something different.

There will be a lot of mohawks in this book.

This is the most recent, assumedly "final" drawing of Maggie. My art has developed a lot over the past year, and I'm looking forward to seeing a new, all-mine book drawn in this style. Viva Winsor & Newton Series 7 watercolour brushes!

Anyway, whoa, that was a novel I just wrote there. But that's the crazy story. It's funny how things end up, yeah? I was really devastated by the Minx thing because it seemed so perfect, and like the job was meant for me, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. I'm so thrilled First Second is publishing this book, it's been wonderful to work with them. They're pretty damn awesome.

I don't know yet when Friends With Boys will be published. I'm hoping for 2011 (AAAH! So far away!), but I'll keep you posted. Brain Camp is slated for publication in Fall of 2010, even though it's completed now ... ah, book publishing is not made for the impatient. But at least I have this wonderful new project to work on, and I hope you all will read it. I think it's going to be pretty cool. :)

Comments

Sounds great! Gawsh, that's awesome, I'm intrigued, such great looking characters, their personalities really shine through.

I'm looking forward to it, keep us all posted on the progress!
SQUEE! Fabulous news!

I am totally smug every time I see the copy of The War at Ellsmere on the new releases shelf at the library.

Also: Lloyd Alexander? Time for me to reread the Chronicles of Prydain...
Lloyd Alexander indeed! Gold star.
Congratulations! The final drawing of Maggie is really great, I love the line work! I can't wait for the next written and drawn book by you comes out!
Thank you so much for posting your backstory, I find it incredibly inspirational! :) I can't wait to add Brain Camp to my bookshelf, and just wanted to let you know I adooore your brushwork, it's so organic and lovely.
I always enjoy hearing stories about how one's book came into being. The art looks really solid. I have yet to find any of your books in the states, perhaps amazon will have to help me out on that one.
I don't know if the story is *that* inspirational... now if I'd lost a limb while saving the world from terrorists and *then* sold a graphic novel, that'd be cool. ;)
truuuuuuuuuuuuuuue... alright I just get overexcited when it comes to comics :D
*laughs* Love the twins' names! That series was one of my favourites when I was a kid.
These look SO FREAKING GOOD, Faith!
Thank you!!! It's all the brush, really. :P
Ahh can't wait!
Awesome tale of rejection and hunger and publication! ^_^

Words cannot describe how hungry I was. I lost 5lbs in 4 days. Comicon weightloss miracle!
Sounds kinda like that flu diet I was on a few months ago.
That looks beyond amazing, I seriously can't wait for more on this!
i really liked zombies calling and the war at ellesmere, and am thus TOTALLY looking forward to friends with boys and brain camp. exciting!

(are maggie's brothers named after lloyd alexander? does that mean the third brother is named taran? :D )
Hahah, no, but that would've been funny if he was. His name's Daniel. ^^
I've long enjoyed your art style. :) It's interesting how you've managed to simultaneously improve your art while retaining your own signature style. I can see the roots of D101 in your most recent drawing of Maggie.

There are very few print comics I get these days. I'll have to remember to put this one on that list.

Rob H.

(Anonymous)

I'm super-excited about this, and not just because of the Lloyd Alexander reference (which I have to admit I would never have gotten myself).

Congratulations!
-Lianne
I love the Lloyd Alexander reference! And it's really neat to hear the full saga of how the book came to be....now we just have to wait for it to come out!

(Anonymous)

This sounds awesome. I love seeing sketches you've been using to hint at stuff for so long (ZC, WaE).

I haven't bought WaE yet because I'm having a little trouble finding a new e-bookstore since bookdepository stopped shipping to Denmark (fuck our tax and toll systems).

But I was wondering, how DO you survive? I mean, you don't have a regular job, right? And you books are awesome beyong what even inlightened buddhists can comprehend, but they don't sell as well as the Da Vinci Code. So how do you not starve? Acceptable royalties? or are you payed by the publisher while drawing? Or something third? Or a mix?
Well, first of all, I live very cheaply. I only have a student loan, and I share an apartment, so my base expenses are low. Mostly I'm living off the money that First Second paid me for drawing Brain Camp (an advance), and money they also paid for Friends With Boys. With an advance, you get half on signing, half on completion of the book. However, this is not usually enough to live on, and if I was a normal person with a house and a dog, I'd need a regular job. But I'm not and I've chosen to sacrifice material stuff in order to do comics fulltime. I live a little above the poverty line, but it really isn't that bad. I also do freelance work, which helps.
Some tip-top stuff, here! Bravo!
Gosh, that's quite a story, but it's really great to hear you're doing more books! And doing another of your own stories, which are always extremely awesome. =D
Awesome novella about your experience. I do vividly remember reading about how you were starving at Comicon last year, and I can't believe that was a year ago.
Yeah, I'm a bit alarmed by the passage of time too. Guess it flies when you're having fun.
Hooray!

First Second is lucky to have you.
Well, I'm jealous you get to do a series at Oni. I wanted to do thaaaat. Mutal jealousy, I guess. XD
Such great news~! Thanks for sharing the epic saga that went along with it! It's really enlightening to see bits behind the process... I'm still kinda clueless as to how this all works since I'm still in the self-publishing realm. ^^;

Much congrats on the new project! Does this mean we'll hear less from you as you enter deadlines mode?
Honestly, I would write more if I had more interesting things to say! ^^;;; I love blathering on my twitter, because I don't have to say anything important. I feel like I have to do well thought out ESSAYS here. Which is stupid, I know, but it's how I feel.

AWESOME

I'm so, so very happy you are having another book published. I've been following you since D101 was updating (around Episode 2). It was the very first webcomic I ever read and got me into making webcomics and had me considering comic artistry as a career (that I'm still working on).

I hope it does well. Your art definitely has gone through a fantastic evolution. I can't wait to see it.

(Anonymous)

2011 is definitely too long

How will my library survive without a new Faith Erin Hicks? Zombies and Ellsmere are some of my favorite gns to booktalk at school visits...*dramatic voice* "Armed only with a spork, Joss must defend her friends from the forces of the undead". And I can see quite clearly that you are an enlightened and open-minded person who does not equate homeschooling with either 1. parents who are hippies or 2. cults. Can't wait! Oh, and I've never figured out how to get an id onto livejournal, but I'm Jennifer from www.JeanLittleLibrary.blogspot.com

Re: 2011 is definitely too long

Well, my parents were kind of hippies. ;) Lovely to hear you think so highly of my books, hope you'll pick up Brain Camp when it comes out next year, even though I didn't write it. It's still pretty good. ;)

PS. I grew up reading Jean Little.
Congratulations that's some awesome news and the artwork looks stellar so far.
I actually have a bit more involved comment now that I think about it, you showed a new character design for Maggie, how many iterations of a character design do you go through and what kinda process do you go through when you are designing a character?
Never got around to reading the original FwB till just now. Very funny. Though I disagree about the height thing (except when they're really tall, cuz that just IS scary), seeing as I tend to go for girls shorter than me (once dated a girl that was 4'9''). Only time I toss a girl in the "little sister" category is when she's younger than me, and has a really noticable little sister personality.

And I have no problem hitting back, regardless, cuz I'm all about that equality to its actual fullest meaning :D

Anywho, looking forward to the book. Maggie looks super adorable with her little gothy pig tails.

But why does mohawk girl have an X on her head?
Those are hair clips I believe. :)
In a mohawk? In the front like that? I guessss.

Oh, forgot to mention, totally love the pic of her and her brother. I love seeing a brother and sister that love each other like that. Makes me warm and fuzzy.
"1) Zombies. And 2) Someone will, eventually, get punched in the face."

That has made me happy. Congrats! I love the concepts you've done here, it's cool to see such a variety of characters within the one story, Lucy is really cool.

Kung Fu action grip!
Wow! It's sounds really cool! I liked that one story pitch you had, the one with the guy with a hole in his chest. I hope you get to make it someday.

(Anonymous)

Girl who's been homeschooled, just starting high school, makes friends with a boy and a girl... Like Demonology 101 almost? Just joking, I'm actually really looking forward to your next graphic novel. Hope it goes well.

^_^

Looks great!...Very encouraging...My son would love this and and its really fits to his interest...Excited to have a copy of this! Keep it up!

From the Philippines,
Imee
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