Today I'm excited to be a part of a very special blog tour for Compass South, a MG adventure graphic novel by Hope Larson and illustrated by Rebecca Mock. Each stop on this tour is going to be sharing some behind-the-scenes info about what went into the making of Compass South, so be sure and follow along to get all the juicy details! I'm kicking things off today, so I'd like to extend a very warm Supernatural Snark welcome to Hope Larson!
I have always loved adventure stories. As a child, all my favorite books were fantasies and quests. I spent weekends traveling through Narnia, Prydain and Middle Earth. When I discovered comics, I traveled the world along with Tintin, and Europe with Astérix and Obélix. I loved quieter books, too, but I never tired of seeing a protagonist rise above humble beginnings to become a hero. For an introvert, it’s a great comfort to be told that one can become more than she is; that friends and guides will appear to help when they are needed; that there’s a happy ending on the way.
Still, it took me a long time to write a story like this. Compass South, my first adventure book, is my seventh graphic novel. There are several reasons for this: While adventure stories are the bread and butter of the comics industry, they are mainly confined to the mainstream comics industry–that is, superhero comics. No one would discount the importance of Bone or Amulet, but they remain exceptions in traditional publishing. It’s tricky to fit a big, rollicking story into 200 small pages, and equally tricky to make a publisher commit to more than one graphic novel at a go; comics are expensive and time-consuming to produce, and backing one is a significant financial risk.
Compass South would not have been possible without A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel. The success of that project enabled me to lobby for a bigger, bolder, more action-packed story, and it also showed me the important of such stories: because they appeal to reluctant readers. When Wrinkle came out, I heard from many parents who explained that my adaptation was the first book their son or daughter had read on their own. This touched me, and for the first time I was able to justify my work as a cartoonist. I love comics, but for years, when I was asked to explain the importance of the medium, I didn’t have a solid answer. Because that’s what I’m drawn to? Because I love words and pictures? Because it’s how I envision the stories I tell? Just . . . because? Now I could see that comics were a way for kids intimidated by walls of text to enjoy reading. That kids with learning disabilities or autism could pick up a comic and understand the characters’ emotions through pictures in a way that is impossible with words alone.
I started writing a story that would be big and fun, but not intimidating. I made my protagonists brother and sister, so the book wouldn’t feel gendered. I adopted the episodic, chapter-based structure of A Wrinkle in Time and broke the story into small chunks. I enlisted the help of illustrator Rebecca Mock to bring it all to life on the page, and found the sort of brilliant, passionate collaborator all comics writers dream of.
I am so proud to share Compass South with the world, because getting it out into the world has been its own adventure. The story began humbly, a few sentences scribbled down on a plane. It swelled into an outline, then a script. An artist and editor appeared to lend their aid, and the three of us had many adventures and endured many trials. We sacrificed sleep and evenings and weekends, but we knew it would be worthwhile–that, someday, there would be a book. I can’t think of a happier ending than that.
Thanks so much Hope!
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It’s 1860 in New York City. When 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra’s father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are caught by the police pulling off a heist. They agree to reveal the identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans. But once there, Alex is shanghaied to work on a ship that is heading for San Francisco via Cape Horn. Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother. Neither Alexander nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in — they are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. How they outwit the pirates and find each other makes for a fast-paced, breathtaking adventure.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR
Hope Larson adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, for which she won an Eisner Award. She is also the author and illustrator of Salamander Dream, Gray Horses, Chiggers, and Mercury. She lives in Los Angeles.
Rebecca Mock is an illustrator and comics artist. Her work has appeared in various publications, including theNew York Times and the New Yorker. She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is her first book
Be sure and check out all the stops on the tour for more peeks behind the book creation curtain!