In her debut prose YA novel, Comics Will Break Your Heart, Faith Erin Hicks takes on contemporary romance with a nerdy twist. Check out our interview below to find out where the idea came from, what surprised her most about publishing a YA book, and more:
Where did the idea for Comics Will Break Your Heart come from?
When I first started working on Comics Will Break Your Heart, it was a back up idea for a new graphic novel. I wanted to write and draw a middle grade fantasy series, which eventually became the Nameless City trilogy, but it hadn’t sold to a publisher yet, and I wasn’t sure if it WOULD sell, so I started developing Comics Will Break Your Heart as a possible pitch idea. Then Nameless City sold to my publisher First Second Books, but I still liked the idea of Comics Will Break Your Heart, especially the themes of art verses money and the rights of comic book creators. I’d never written a prose novel before, but I just started writing it, and then added in my feelings about growing up in a small Canadian town, living in Nova Scotia and being the only kid who moved far away from her family. A few years later, Comics Will Break Your Heart was an actual finished book! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d actually finish the thing, but I did, and now it’s being published and it’s all pretty magical.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Comics Will Break Your Heart?
Haha, I can’t say I had much of a process, to be honest! My process is “hm, I’m hiding in a corner at an airport and I have an hour before my flight leaves, let’s see how much writing I can get done in that time.” When I write and draw comics, I’m very methodical. I have many steps I take before I start drawing the book. I do an outline, I do thumbnails, I write the script. Only then do I start drawing the finished graphic novel. But with Comics Will Break Your Heart it was fun to just dive in and see where the story took me.
Comics Will Break Your Heart is your debut prose novel. Was there anything that surprised you on your path to publication when compared to your previous experiences with graphic novels?
Just how much bigger the YA book industry is! It’s huge! So many people! The comic book industry is tiny, and everyone knows everyone else, which can be weird.
I loved reading about Miriam and Weldon’s relationship and their families’ drama. What did you enjoy most about telling this story, and what did you find most challenging?
I actually really enjoyed dunking on cartoonists and what a nutty lot we are. ;) I’ve been making comics since I was a teenager, and it’s absolutely my life’s work and my passion, but you have to have a little bit of madness in you to make comics your job. It was really funny to write that observation from an outside perspective, such as when Weldon talks about the comic book writers and artists who used to hang out at his parents’ house.
If you could spend a day with a character from Comics Will Break Your Heart, who would it be and why?
There’s a character at the end of the book called Stuart Samuel. He’s a comic book artist and a bit of a salty guy, with his own opinions about comics. He’s based a tiny bit on someone in comics who I have great respect for, and I’d love to hang out with him and just talk about this bizarre art form and industry.
About the book:
Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.
About the author:
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. She started making comics “for fun” and putting them on the web when she was in college. Her first published work was Zombies Calling (SLG Publishing) in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels, including The War at Ellsmere (SLG), Brain Camp (with Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, First Second Books), Friends with Boys (First Second Books), Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (with Prudence Shen, First Second Books), The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse Comics), The Last of Us: American Dreams (with Neil Druckmann, Dark Horse Comics), and the Bigfoot Boy series (with J. Torres, Kids Can Press). She won an Eisner Award in 2014 for The Adventures of Superhero Girl.
Faith currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner, Tim, and their helpful cat.
Comics Will Break Your Heart is on sale now!