It’s no small task, indeed, to adapt the beloved novel A Wrinkle in Time in any format, much less into a graphic novel. Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Newbery Award-winning book is adored by legions of fans all over the world.
But Hope Larson is fearless. In what the Kirkus review calls “an adaptation done right,” the illustrator and graphic novelist faithfully and reverently takes the classic story and brings it to life for a new generation of readers. This coincides with the novel’s 50th anniversary, so the timing is good.
Read Seven Impossible Things' interview with Lauren Thompson about her new title, 'The Forgiveness Garden.'
I interrupted Hope’s drawing to ask her a bit about this well-executed, atmospheric adaptation and what’s next for her.
How did this project come about? And were you a fan of the book as a child?
I was a huge fan of the book as a kid—and of much of Madeleine's other work. I read the Time Quintet over and over again, and I'm sure it was a big influence on my own writing. Not long after I completed my last graphic novel Mercury, I got an e-mail from Margaret Ferguson, who would become my editor on A Wrinkle in Time, asking if I'd be interested in adapting the book into comics form. I had to read the e-mail a few times to be sure I hadn't misunderstood!
Was it at all terrifying to adapt such a beloved classic to the graphic novel format? What were the most challenging parts?
It was nerve-wracking, definitely. I'm pretty zen about it, now that the project's complete. But early on, I was intensely aware of what the response would be like if I did a bad job—or even if I did a good job. People don't like their beloved childhood memories messed with, and when you adapt a classic like Wrinkle, that's what you're doing.
At the same time, you can't make a good adaptation without bringing part of yourself into the mix. It's about finding the balance between respect and innovation.
Thinking back, the challenges that stick out are getting the design for the Dark Thing down and figuring out a way to draw the jump rope and ball bouncing sequence on Camazotz. One of the struggles with that Camazotz sequence was compressing it down to an acceptable number of pages, while conveying so much motion and rhythm.
But the biggest challenge was getting through the book, period. It's a monster.
Tell me a bit about the decision to use a primarily blue, white, and black color scheme. Do you create your art digitally?
We weren't able to do the book in full color, which I know from reviews has been a disappointment. Black and white with a spot color was the next best thing, and blue is always a good choice for a spot. It's a cool color, so it sinks back in the visual field and works better for shadows than a warmer color would. Much of the book takes place at night, or in desolate, cold places, so blue helped set the mood, too.
The art is about 50 percent hand-drawn, 50 percent digital. All the line art and all the speech balloons, I did by hand with a brush and ink. (The speech balloons alone took a month to draw and place!)
The lettering is a font that I created with cartoonist John Martz for Mercury. The blue shading was done digitally by cartoonist Jenn Manley Lee.
What's next for you?
I have another book, Who is AC?, coming out in spring 2013 from Atheneum Books for Young Readers. It's written by me and drawn by Tintin Pantoja, and it's about Lin, a girl who gains magic powers—digital magic powers—after she's zapped by her cell phone. It plays off ideas in the shoujo manga tradition, like Sailor Moon and Utena, so there are a lot of flower petals flying around. There's action and there's angst. It's about the interplay between the people we are online and the people we are in the "real world."
I'm also wrapping up the short film I wrote and directed this year, Bitter Orange. It's about flappers and mobsters, and it stars Brie Larson, Brendan Hines and James Urbaniak. I don't have a release date yet, but it will eventually be online.
Julie Danielson (Jules) has, in her own words, conducted approximately eleventy billion interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.