Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome Back, Julie Cohen!

by Anna Sugden

I'm thrilled to welcome back my very dear friend and Lair favourite, Julie Cohen! Julie is here to celebrate the release of her fabulous new book, Girl From Mars.

As you know, these days, great single title contemporary romances are thin on the ground. Julie's books are always a treat and I can promise you Girl From Mars is the perfect read for the waning days of summer. I know there are a number of you who love comics and sci fi series and movies - this is the book for you, as you'll see below. And even for those who aren't into comics, Fil is a heroine you can't help but love.

So, without further ado, let me hand over to Julie who will tell you a little more about Girl From Mars.

Thanks for having me again, Banditas!

My latest book, Girl from Mars, is about a female comic book artist who takes a vow (in Klingon) not to get a boyfriend.

As soon as I got the idea of writing about a female comic book artist, I knew I had to do it. I’m a comics fan, always have been. Especially Batman and The Sandman, and the more “serious” comics like Maus and Persepolis, but I’ll read any comics I can get my hands on.

More recently, it’s occurred to me that comics and romance have quite a bit in common. Aside from the fact that comics is a medium, and romance is a genre, the two are similar in that they have very loyal and voracious readers. Also, despite romance and comics both being regularly plundered by the mainstream for stories, they’re often looked down on by the “establishment” as being somehow inferior to more “literary” works.

There’s one very big major difference. With some notable exceptions, romance is usually chosen by females, and comics are usually chosen by males. When I was researching Girl from Mars, I asked the editor of long-running British comic magazine 2000AD how many female artists he had on his books. “Er, none,” he said, looking vaguely surprised. “It’s not on purpose. I just haven’t had any women interested.”

So the job of comic book artist fit my heroine Fil exactly, because she’s a female who’s not quite sure how to be a woman. She’s a tomboy whose best friends are male. And when I made up the comic she drew, (also called “Girl from Mars”), I took a bit of Dan Dare, a bit of Superman, a bit of Wonder Woman, mixed them all together with two X chromosomes and made her a kick-ass alien girl with green skin and a tragic past.

One of the most fun parts of writing a book about a comic book artist was writing the comics themselves. I had to write a six-part story arc for the comic Fil is drawing, and I had to write some parts of the script in comic-script format. It was awesome.

PANEL SIX: Jackson presses the buttons to open the service hatchway to the radioactive core fuel supply of the space station.

Another great bit was learning about how comics work. One of Fil’s major problems is a new writer for the comic, Daniel McKay, who’s a famous Hollywood screenwriter and director, but has never written for comics before:

“Listen, Dan, I think you’d be insulted too if I decided to step into your studio and direct a film without bothering to learn anything about how to do it. Your script isn’t even a comics script, for God’s sake.”
He frowned. “What do you mean?”
“The panel descriptions, for a start. They’re too detailed, except when they’re not detailed enough. And they don’t match up with the dialogue.”
“I don’t understand.”
I sighed, picked up my bag from the floor where I’d dropped it, and rummaged around for the script I’d stuffed in there yesterday. “Look,” I said, spreading the battered pages out on the drawing board.

Dan got out of his chair to stand beside me. He had a lemony smell, which I realised I’d included in my dream, although I hadn’t consciously noticed it.
Ignore it.

Since he seemed to be willing to pay attention, I decided to start with the easy stuff, so maybe we could get that sorted out once and for all. “When you write a film script I’m guessing you have two people standing in front of a camera and they can say whatever they want to whenever and move around the room and stuff. But comics are static, so there are some major differences. For example, here in the panel description you have Girl from Mars and Jackson standing at a table looking at some plans, with Girl on the left. But then in the dialogue, you have Jackson speaking first.”
“A single panel of comics reads from left to right. People will start with the top left-hand speech balloon. So generally it’s easier if you have the left-hand character speaking first.”
“You mean, every time?”
“There are ways of getting round it, but it’s easiest if you stick to that rule for the majority of panels. In this panel, you just need to switch the characters’ places.”

I loved learning little tricks like this, that you don’t really think about unless you’re writing for comics (or, in my case, writing about writing for comics). Of course, one of the things about Dan that annoys Fil the most is that he’s going to add romance to her comic. And maybe her life, too.

How about you? Are you a comics fan? What’s your favourite? Do you think there are any similarities with romance? How about romance comics—have you read any, and did you like them?

One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Girl From Mars.

Girl from Mars, and Julie's other books (Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak; One Night Stand; The Honey Trap) available with free worldwide shipping from The Book Depository:

You can find out more about Julie and her other books at her website:


Jane said...

Welcome Julie,
Congrats on the new release. I love comics. My favorites include X-Men and the Justice League. I haven't read any comic romances.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


Congrats on capturing the GR!

Welcome back to the Lair, Julie.

"Girl from Mars" sounds like such a fun story. I must admit I haven't read any comics in about 20 years. Back then I read "WolfQuest."


Pissenlit said...

SQUEEEEE! A DALEK! That just made my birthday(apparently, I am easily amused)! :D

Congrats Jane!

Hiya Julie. I love comics as a medium but I don't follow many. Though I very much like them, I just can't keep up with all the story arcs, incarnations and crossovers of the popular superhero comics. My favourites out of the comics I have are Thieves & Kings, Northwest Passage, Steed and Mrs Peel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen, Ruse, Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron and Kingdom Come. I'm not sure I've read any comic that qualifies as a romance. Girl From Mars sounds fun! I love that it's about a female comic book artist!

Anna Sugden said...

Congrats, Jane!

I don't know if they're still doing them, but Harlequin did a few of their romances as Manga. I know my friend Caridad Pineiro had one of her romances released as Manga in Japan.

Anna Sugden said...

I'm like you, AC. I haven't read comics for many years, though I always check out the funnies when I pick up a paper. I loved Kathy when I was younger.

Hubby is into graphic novels, big time. Like the two Julie mentioned: Maus and Persepolis, but also many others. He's a huge Art Spiegelman fan (the one who did Maus - which, BTW, is a fabulous graphic rendition of WW2).

For my birthday, recently, I got a collection of comics about the Moomins - who are one of my faves.

Anna Sugden said...

Happy Birthday, Pissenlit! You're my kind of gal if you squee about a Dalek on your birthday *g*.

Your selection of comics is interesting - eclectic! We see a lot of collectors of those comics at the memorabilia fairs we go to. Some are worth a lot of money, even the modern ones.

I know what you mean about keeping up with the arcs and incarnations. It used to be much simpler in 'the old days'

Anna Sugden said...

That reminds me, I actually have some old romance comics from the 50's that I picked up in a second-hand book store. I have Love Tales, Romance Tales, Romance Secrets and Romance. They're such fun - like the old Mills & Boon romances.

I also have one or two of the old Hollywood comic books - graphic renditions of famous movies like Robin Hood.

Julie Cohen said...

Congratulations on capturing the Golden Rooster, Jane!

Do you know (shameful admission) I haven't read any X-Men comics. I've just seen the movies. I know that is wrong of me, but I can't resist Hugh Jackman.

Julie Cohen said...

Thanks for the welcome, AC! Pick up a comic book or two when you have a minute—there are some great ones out there.

Julie Cohen said...

Pissenlit! Happy birthday, fellow Dalek lover! I was so excited when I went to the BBC and saw a Dalek right there. Now, if David Tennant had been there, too, my life would have been complete.

I've read some of those comics too. I, too, prefer the standalone ones, or the ones where I can follow the story arc without having to read every single one. But one of the things I love about Batman comics, for example, is how the character gets reinterpreted with every new author/artist.

Julie Cohen said...

Anna, thanks so much for having me here, babe! I love hangin' with the Banditas.

Your husband and I really must spend more time together. To talk about comics, obviously. :-) I've got to look for the Moomins.

MAUS is not only one of the best comics I've ever read, it's one of the best books I've ever read. It's amazing.

It's my dream to have one of my books made into manga or comics one day...

Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats on the GR, Jane, and welcome, Julie.

Ooooh, comics in a romance novel? Count me in! I haven't read many North American comics, but for about three years I lived on manga. Of the comics I have read, I'd say Maus and V for Vendetta are my faves - Maus because, duh, it's Maus, and V because I'm a sucker for dystopias, David Lloyd's artwork is purty, and I have a thing for mysterious fictional anarchists.

I haven't really read any romance comics - unless you count Dramacon as a comic, but it's published by Tokyopop and usually shelved with the manga - but hoo boy have I read romance manga. Shoujo, josei, seinen, shounen... you name it, if it has romance, and I'm guaranteed to have tried it. I've read the majority of licenced English manga, and have also both read and worked on scanlations. I never felt uncomfortable reading them, becuase I'd use them to decide whether to buy a series in English or not - when you get to a series that's 10+ volumes long at $10 a volume, you want to make sure you're going to enjoy it - and I chose to buy a LOT of manga.

My favourite manga series ever, though, is so not a romance. It's Naoki Urasawa's Monster, and it's FANTASTIC. There are so many reasons why I love it: Urasawa's plotting is genius, his characters complex, his setting well-researched, his drawing perfectly suited to the series... basically, it's just everything manga should be. It's a story told through both words and pictures, more effective together than they would be apart. Plus his Asian characters actually look Asian.

Oh, and there's nothing wrong with being unable to resist Hugh. Nothing at all. He's just so... mmm. Words alone are not enough.

Lynz Pickles said...

Oh, and I forgot to say: you nailed that explanation. I've had to explain to so many people the order in which speech bubbles are read - they hear manga, they think backwards, they ask "But how do you read it???" - and you summed it up perfectly. I'm anxious to read other lessons from Fil now! (Are there more? Oh please let there be more!)

Helen said...

Congrats Jane have fun with him

Happy Birthday Pissenlit have a great day.

I haven't read a comic for many many years but I used to read all the cartoon ones Donald Duck etc yes a loooong time ago.

I haven't read any comic romances either but I do remember seeing them around a long time ago.

Julie this books sounds like lots of fun.

Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Ah Julie, you know my hubby loves you! Two other faves of his are Jason Lutes (Jar of Fools) and Osamu Tezuka (Buddha, Adolf).

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Lynz - our first Manga gal! My favourite store used to be the Japanese store in Manhattan, because you could browse all the puzzle books and check out the manga for romances. It's the best.

So, do you read Japanese?

I also love the Japanese animes (I know they've been given Disney make-overs) the animations and imagination is awe-inspiring. Howl's Moving Castle is spectacular.

Anna Sugden said...

BTW - the Book Depository with its free shipping worldwide is a great resource for those hard-to-find books.

Anna Sugden said...

Did you read any of those teen mags, Helen? The ones with the love stories in photo or cartoon form?

You'll love this book, I promise!

Alison said...

It probably dates me, but I loved Bunty in the 1970s, which had all its stories in comic strip form. Not so much romance, but I still remember a dream I had about one of the stories, about a pop star's son. Gosh, i need to get out more - or read more!

Lynz Pickles said...

Anna said: So, do you read Japanese?

I don't, but I'm working on it. I can read hiragana, some katakana, and about fifteen kanji. Kanji are evil, scary beasts, though. So many little parts! The structure of Japanese is so interesting - it's very different from the other languages I know, but I like it.

And I love anime too. I generally prefer subs to dubs, but the dubs on Howl's Moving Castle were just something else. Chistian Bale's voice is incredibly sexy, and Studio Ghilbli makes the most fantastical, breathtaking films.

Oh, and your husband and I totally agree on Tezuka.

Deb Marlowe said...

Your book sounds like such fun Julie! A perfect end of summer read!

It's been years since I read comics, but my kids and I really enjoy Studio Ghilbli films too. I think we've all sat and watched Spirited Away a hundred times! My youngest is chomping at the bit for Ponyo!

Anna Sugden said...

Nothing wrong with reading Bunty, Alison. I'm sure many of us were inspired to dreams about those stories!

I know a few people collect Bunty annuals - they often appear at the memorabilia and collectible fairs.

Anna Sugden said...

WOW! Lynz - I'm bowing in your general direction! How very cool! I'm in awe - Japanese always looks so hard to read.

I have thought about learning Japanese as I'd love to read what is said in the Hanjie puzzle magazines I get.

Hubby says his current favourite is someone called Tatsumi, who he discovered recently.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Deb! I loved Spirited Away too. A surprisingly complex and layered story - quite dark in places.

I got Grave of the Fireflies for my birthday - looking forward to watching that.

One of hubby's faves is an anime called Three Godfathers.

Lynz Pickles said...

Deb: Ponyo looks adorable, I must say. I'm really looking forward to hearing it in English myself. And I like your kids' taste - Spirited Away is tied with Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle for my all-time favourite Ghibli movie.

Anna: It's very tough, which is why I really don't know much of it. It takes me ages to memorize kanji, too... I keep meaning to force myself to focus on Japanese for a while, but I'm working on my Spanish too, and since I'm lazy, I tend to work more on the easier language. Bad Lynz!

Tatsumi as in Yoshihiro Tatsumi?

Lori x said...

I love the sound of Girl from Mars and can't wait to read it. Unfortunately I think the last comic I read was Rupert the Bear - and I'm not even sure that counts!!
Definitely could be tempted by the X-Men though...
and a terrible, terrible confession, not comics but cartoons - when I was little I used to fancy He-Man. The cartoon version that is...(and I won't even mention who the competition for my adorations were), I think I'll just go and book a session with the psychiatrist ;-D
Lori x

Julie Cohen said...

Lynz! *bows in Lynz's general direction* Wow, how cool are you? I have to admit I am totally ignorant about manga and I'm writing down your suggestions, and Anna's DH's, too. I actually have a good manga shop down the road from me (there's a Japanese university nearby) and I will need to go in there with a list and spend some money.

Yes there's more discussion about comics and how they work in GIRL FROM MARS, because the comic itself is so important to the plot.

My favourite book about comics is UNDERSTANDING COMICS, by Scott McCloud. It's a history of comics and an explanation of how they work—drawn as comics. It's fiercely intelligent, passionate, and interesting.

Julie Cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Cohen said...

(Sorry about deleted post, I put the link up twice.)

Hi Helen! I introduced my son to Donald Duck comics last month... :-)

Alison, I know many people remember Bunty fondly. I made up a similar comic for my book called Lacey—the heroine's editor is always threatening to reassign her to the "girly" comics, to her horror. ;-)

Deb, I don't know those films, but I have a feeling I will!

Lori...He-Man? I am learning all kinds of interesting things about you lately... ggg

Anna Sugden said...

Hmm Lynz - maybe if I ever get some spare time, I'll give it a try. You're learning two languages! Amazing!

Yes - that's the man - Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Lori!

Rupert is a well-respected cartoon. He too has his fanatics at those collector fairs!

Is fancying He-Man any worse than fancying GI Joe? I'm sure many young girls fancied Batman and Superman ... or wanted to be Wonder Woman.

Joan said...

Congrats on the chook, Jane! Maybe you could put him in his own comic?

Welcome to the lair Julie again, a place rift with opportunities for a comic series "Cabana Boys Gone Wild" "Tales from the Arena"

Just sayin'

I have not read a comic book since I was a kid and then it was "Archie and Veronica, Betty and Jughead"

Up until recently, I never quite knew where you could buy with Manga popularity they are in the bookstores though I have yet to be drawn (pun intended) to read any. Perhaps "Girl from Mars" will change that :-)

Anna Sugden said...

Julie! I'm amazed you haven't got into the animes! We'll have to put that right!

Joan said...

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Pissenlit......Happy Birthday to you!

In honor of your bday the boys have baked you a, don't drive after eating it cause yanno...they had limited ingredients and most of it was leftove margharitas.

Joan said...

I know I'm going to look like a barbarian but I am so not a fan of Japanese anime/cartoons.

It came from my exposure to "Speed Racer" cartoons from my youth. The characters mouths did not MOVE in sync with their speech. Drove me nuts!

And the monkey got on my nerves (He did not chatter in sync either)

Margay said...

Wow, Julie, the book sounds interesting! I haven't read many comic books myself, but my younger daughter is crazy about manga and from what I gather, there seems to be a lot of hints of romance in them, at least.

MsHellion said...

Hi Julie! Your book sounds great--and very clever. I'm not a comic book fan--though I do remember when I was a kid, my brother had some Aristocrats comics and Lady and the Tramp, but I don't think they count--but I do agree that comics and romance share the spotlight for being treated as "less than literary".

I did try to read some of The Sandman--that's the one by Neil Gaiman, right?--because it had Lucifer Morningstar in it and I was intrigued by that concept.

EilisFlynn said...

I'm a comics fan, worked at DC Comics, wrote a few Superman stories, wrote a romance novella for an online comics site,, in addition to writing a superheroine romance, Introducing Sonika, available at Cerridwen Press, so yeah, I'm a fan! "Girl from Mars" sounds great -- those females in the industry, writers and artists, needed to be represented! Don't understand why she would make a vow in Klingon (Star Trek fandom and comics traditionally don't intersect), but it sounds fun!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Julie!! Glad to have you back in the lair. Your new book sound fabulous! I love the comic strip idea.

I read comics when I was younger, mostly because I had older brothers who were always bringing them into the house. I don't think I ever intentionaly went out an bought one.

Can't wait to read the new book!

Anna Sugden said...

To each their own, Joanie! Different tastes are what makes the world go round

Though, I have to say the Studio Ghibli animes are a huge cut above Speed Racer! Beautifully animated with touching stories and great heroines!

On the other hand, I can't say the same for The Water Margin - another of hubby's faves (not an anime, but a very badly dubbed TV series). I don't get his affection for that one!

Anna Sugden said...

One of the things I love about Julie's books, Margay, is that her heroines are always interesting ... and real.

It amazes me how wide a category 'comics' is: with manga, graphic novels, cartoons, comic strips etc. Another way in which it mirrors romance - so many genres.

Anna Sugden said...

Ahhh - two of my fave Disney's The Aristocats and Lady and the Tramp (though I'll always have a soft spot for Thumper!). I know you're talking about comics, but I adore the movies! Wonder if I love them because of the romances in them Tramp and O'Malley are my kind of heroes!), or just because they're so well-written?

Anna Sugden said...

EilisFlynn - another WOW! I'm bowing in your direction too!! You worked at DC comics!! You'd be mobbed if you ever came to one of the memorabilia fairs.

What a cool background you have.

So, how hard was it writing a Superman story? Were there particular rules you had to follow? Which issues does your work appear in?

Nancy said...

Jane, congrats on the rooster! And a high-five on being a fangirl. Don't let him near your comics, though. He won't take care of them.

Anna, thanks for bringing Julie in.

Julie, welcome back! High-five on being a fangirl to you, too. You have plenty of company here, as Anna says. I fell in love with Superman when I was seven and branched out from there. I don't love comics as much as I once did, but I still have a "pull bag" at our local specialty shop.

I just ordered your book. Since I go with my local independent store whenever possible, I won't have it for a bit, but it's coming. It should arrive about the time my class routine settles down for the semester.

The analysis of social attitudes toward romance and toward comics is dead on. When someone in a movie is reading a comic, it's a signal that the person is both stupid and a thug. My American Fantasy and Culture class discussed this question (re: comics only) one day last spring. The class thought attitudes were changing, citing the popularity of graphic novels and comics-based movies. I'm not so sure, but I don't move in their demographic group except when I'm teaching them.

Love the picture of you and the Dalek! A couple of years ago, our family went through the DragonCon badge pickup line with a woman who works on Dr. Who in the UK. Having nothing else to do but shuffle forward with the masses, we chatted most of the way.

Nancy said...

AC we will have to get you a graphic novel!

Have you ever seen the Wendy and Richard Pini series Elfquest, which were later released in squarebound paperback books? Elves riding wolves? If you like wolves, you'd like it, I think. I can obtain one for you . . .

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, happy birthday!

I wasn't aware that LXG was available in comic book form. In fact, you read a number of books I didn't know were comics. Clearly, I need to look at the shelf and not just at what's in my bag when I pick up my comcis.

Nancy said...

Anna, what are Moomins?

I have to confess that I don't read the more serious graphic novels, like Maus and Persepolis, though it's not because the shop owner doesn't recommend them. He does, enthusiastically. Comics are escapism for me, and the superheroes seem to offer more of that, at least for me.

When the dh and I went to London, I was eager to visit Forbidden Planet, the comics shop. They used to, and maybe still do, sponsor a huge comic convention in the UK.

Nancy said...

Lynz, the boy loves manga. He used to be into super-heroes (can't imagine why, when his mom plopped down with him in front of the TV to watch tapes of the Cartoon Network Batman series), but manga really floats his boat now. He met his girlfriend at DragonCon, when she stopped to talk to him because he was dressed as one of her favorite anime characters. She loves manga, too.

Listening to them talk about it, I know how my parents felt when my friends and I talked about the Legion of Super-Heroes. *sigh*

Nancy said...

Helen, those Donald Duck comic books have a giant fan base all their own. I worked Saturdays in the comics shop for about a year, so I learned a lot about the different kinds. An artist named Carl Barks was hugely popular.

Nancy said...

Anna, the boy loves Miyazaki's movies, like Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away. The art in anime films really puts US animated cartoons to shame. It's just gorgeous.

When the boy was little, his dad let a student from Thailand audit one of his classes. At the end of the semester, the student presented him with a video of the film My Neighbor Totoro, which is based on a Japanese folk tale about a forest spirit. The boy watched it until the videotape literally wore out. Eilis Flynn and her husband sent him the storybook, which he also loves.

Nancy said...

Alison, back in the 1970s, I think, there were a couple of comic books about models. I can't remember the titles, but I had some of them. They were romance-oriented, if I remember correctly.

Minna said...

Some of my favourite comics are Asterix, Oumpah-pah, Lucky Luke,
Disney comics, especially I like the ones by Carl Barks and Don Rosa. I still hope to get the Uncle Scrooge magazine with Rosa's story, A Quest for Kalevala -in English. I also like Finnish comics Viivi and Vagner and Väinämöinen's Return.

Nancy said...

Julie, I actually know a female comic book artist, Colleen Doran. She has been working in comics a long time and has sometimes been the Lone Ranger in her field. Her art work is detailed and beautiful. And I love her original series, A Distant Soil, which was originally an SF comic about people with unusual abilities going to distant planets.

There seem to be a few women writing comics these days--Devon Grayson on Nightwing comes to mind (Nightwing is Dick Grayson, who used to be Robin until he grew up and shed that identity, which led to whole Robin "thing" in the DC universe)--but still not many.

Have you read Gerard Jones's Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book? It puts the development of the medium into its social context. It's very readable popular history.

Nancy said...

Julie, I LOVE Understanding Comics. There's a sequel, Reinventing Comics, which I also like.

Carol A. Strickland turned me onto McLeod's wonderful Zot!. I was so disappointed when he stopped publishing that. It was b&w about a teenage superhero who comes to our world. It had sort of art deco influences. The collected volume is on my Christmas list.

Nancy said...

Eilis--hey, speaking of fangirls! Are your ears burning? I was just "talking" about you.

Eilis blogged with us about Sonika. Don't you have a bounty hunter story out now? Or coming soon?

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Christie! Boys were always big comic readers when I was young - especially stuff like Eagle.

Anna Sugden said...

I keep telling you, Nancy - forget the culture stuff and researching France - come to England and join me at a memorabilia and collecors fair! You and the boy would love it!

This last one, we had star troopers, Daleks and the Tardis and some other characters I didn't recognise (but from the reaction to them, they were very popular).

Beth said...

Hi, Julie!! So glad to have you back in the lair and it was great to see you a bit in DC! Congrats on the release of Girl From Mars. Sounds fantastic *g*

I pretty much love to read anything and read a few comics when I was a kid. I really enjoyed them though I didn't follow any one character/storyline.

Maybe once my TBR pile gets whittled down I'll have time to explore the world of comics :-)

Anna Sugden said...

Ah yes, Forbidden Planet - I know they're involved with those fairs I talked about and I'm sure they still do a comics con too.

Moomins are wonderful little creatures with big snouts; they were created by Tove Jannson - one of my favourite children's series. There are some amazing pop-up books in the Moomin series and they just recently did a collection of the comic strips.

If you Google them, you'll see how cute they are.

Anna Sugden said...

I loved Asterix, Minna. Wasn't so keen on Tin-Tin (I know, sacrilege *g*), but there was something in the Asterix humour I loved.

Anna Sugden said...

Nancy, you make me so proud! A fan-girl after my own heart!

Donna MacMeans said...

Welcome Julie!

I haven't read a comic book in decades - and I didn't even know such a thing as a Romance comic book existed. I think I learned to read on comic books purchased by my older brothers so I can a steady diet of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Archie & Veronica at an early age. The comics I see in the store are really slick but I haven't picked one up yet.

ON a related topic, I read in the Wall Street Journal not long ago that comics are REALLY big in Europe. The universities are crammed full with young adults wanting to be comic book illustrators - but comic book writers are hard to find. It's obviously a unique talent.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Elfquest is what I meant to type last night. It was late and I was tired...

Anyway, it has been over 20 years since I read them, but I did meet Richard and Wendy Pini (and get their autographs on one comic) once at a local store. GREAT FUN!

I know I'd enjoy some of the graphic novels, but just can't seem to fit one more thing (including more reading) into my schedule! :-(


Nancy said...

Minna, I read Asterix the summer I was in England. I mostly stick to super-heroes now, but Asterix was a lot of fun. Back then, it wasn't available in the US.

EilisFlynn said...

Anna, writing comics aren't hard, but like any medium, you do have to get used to a certain style of doing things and meet the challenges of telling a story that way. I wrote scripts that artists interpreted, as opposed to Marvel style, which requires more interaction between artist and writer. (The scripts are like TV or movie scripts, actually.) I'd have to look up the issue numbers for those, because it's been decades!

Lynz, good luck with the Japanese -- it was my first language, so even though I'm rusty, bits and pieces leak through. But the kanji in manga shouldn't be too complex. (Not that I want to take the job on...)

Hey, Nancy! This is certainly our topic, isn't it? My bounty hunter romance, ECHOES OF PASSION, came out last month, but this post has me hankering to write another super-heroine book!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Julie, just swinging by to say hello and welcome back! I'm in the deadline cave at the moment! The new book sounds out of this world (yeah, I know, pun intended!). Actually speaking of out of this world, I used the word astronomical, meaning huge, in my latest wip and dear Madame questioned its Regency credentials. Looked it up in the Oxford and that meaning wasn't even included in my 1970s OED. Huh, who knew? Anyway, astronomical is henceforward banished from all Anna Campbell books set prior to 1990!

Nancy said...

Donna, did you see that Archie is marrying Veronica? Every year, back when I was in my teens, I bought Betty and Veronica's Summer Fun. Betty was way nicer, but Veronica had dark hair and all those rich-girl goodies.

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

Anna, don't tempt me. If I had the money and an updated passport, we'd ALL be camping on your doorstep!

I had to laugh over the characters at the collectors fair. Since I always go on and on about it this time of year, you probably remember how much I love DragonCon. Before I started teaching, I used to go down on Wednesday afternoons so I could get a room in my preferred (quiet) area of the hotel before those rooms filled up. The people in costumes started turning up Wednesday night or Thursday morning. I used to tell the dh I knew the con was about to kick off when stormtroopers appeared in the hotel lobby.

Nancy said...

AC, I'm not sure Elfquest is still coming out, though back issues are always around. It was all the rage among independent comics for a while. But I know what you mean about the time.

And the TBR pile just keeps getting bigger . . .

Minna said...

I've never really cared the Moomin comics, but I do like the books. And the Finnish-Japanese Moomin animation.

I also like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes.

Nancy said...

Beth, whenever you get ready to "explore the world of comics," come out here. I'll take you to our local specialty shop, where the people are all very friendly and helpful. I'm pretty sure I was the first female, other than the owner's wife, to work there. I hated to give that job up, but I needed my Saturdays back.

Nancy said...

Joan, I repeat my offer to Beth. Come down here, and I'll take you into the world of four colors and help you pick. :-)

Minna said...

Nancy, did you ever read Lucky Luke? René Goscinny wrote also many of those comics.

Nancy said...

Eilis, yes, this blog might've been pitched straight at us. When the page loaded with a Dalek picture, I actually went, "Squeee! A Dalek??!"

And I'm not even a Dr. Who fan. I just know what they are from DragonCon and fannish friends.

Nancy said...

Anna, I feel your "astronomical" pain. I once used "medieval" (or maybe it was "Middle Ages"--I forget) in a Restoration-era historical. Reading it, the dh questioned the usage.

And the OED shot me down. *sigh*

Minna said...

Ha ha haa! i just have to share... Just saw this one on Dangerous Women group:

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary......

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity...

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They
dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or
some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I
nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to
disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I
had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly
demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending
comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed
in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could
hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due
to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it
to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my
tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again
tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.
The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to
be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the
guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors
have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.

Minna said...

I almost forgot Mad from my list.

Nancy said...

Minna, no--I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with Lucky Luke.

The dh loved MAD, though!

Becke Davis said...

What a cool post, and I HAVE to check out this book -- I love the premise! I'm not all that big into comic books or graphic novels but my husband is, and my daughter is hooked on mangas. It's a fascinating idea for a story, and I look forward to reading it!

Minna said...

Nancy, Lucky Luke is worth checking out. And Oumpah-pah. And A Quest for Kalevala, too.

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Beth - you know we like to tempt you with new things to try on this blog! I'm LOL at the idea of ever getting my TBR pile down low enough to try something new.

Anna Sugden said...

See, Donna, there is something to visit in Dayton *g*. That's where the shop is that had the romance comics!

Anna Sugden said...

There used to be a huge underground movement in the comics/graphics arena - with people like Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. Stuff like the original RAWs are amazing.

We were lucky enough to hear Art S speak, when we lived in NY. He was excellent. Oh and if you've never seen his amazing cover for the New Yorker for 9/11 (not a cartoon) - check it out.

Anna Sugden said...

Eilis - how interesting. I'm fascinated by the process - and that it differs from house to house. Did you have the same issues script-writers (and indeed authors) have with your script being interpreted correctly?

Yes - do look up those issue numbers! I'd love to check them out.

Anna Sugden said...

And people think it's easy writing a romance, Anna! The things you have to research and check!

Good luck in the cave - your legion of fans are so excited that there will be more of your books soon.

Anna Sugden said...

The Moomin books are great, aren't they, Minna. I have the little cuddly Moomins in my office - they seem to get on well with the hockey bobbleheads!

Anna Sugden said...

How funny, Becke - you have a hubby into the graphic novels too! The parallels are spooky!

EilisFlynn said...

Anna, yes, the same issues that TV and movie script writers have pop up in comics. I'd forgotten about that until I wrote the script for a graphic novella for, where the hero and heroine were interpreted very differently from what I thought of them as. Not wrong -- just different. Comics are definitely a collaborative effort, and it's never more clear than at times like these.

And okay, I'll look up those issues. There weren't that many (I was a freshman in college), but they were far in the past. Wow, I'm almost nostalgic!

Becke Davis said...

Anna - My husband has been a comic book fan since he was a kid. He especially liked Spiderman and Fantastic Four. He has the original Watchman book, and a huge collection of the newer Batman comics. My daughter has always like the Archie comics and now mangas.

I remember having some Casper the Friendly Ghost comics, and maybe some Archie's, but that's about it.

My son had some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics and some Simpson comics, but he wasn't really into them.

Do comic strips count? We have several books of Zits, Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts and Mutts comics.

Julie Cohen said...

LOL! Wow, I go away into the revision cave for a few hours and look at you guys, having like the comics discussion of the century!

I'm going to have to go back over everything but I definitely need to say to Ellis—one of the conflicts in Girl from Mars is the collaboration between the artist (Fil, the heroine) and the writer (Dan McKay, the grandson of the creator of the comic, and a Hollywood film writer). I talked to some comics writers about the problems they've had and tried to read between the lines of what they were saying, heh heh heh.

And the Klingon thing...Fil's best friend, Jim, is a Star Trek fan and that's why they do the vow in Klingon. She's not that keen about the Klingon part; she thinks it sounds like someone choking to death on a ham sandwich.

Anyway, I feel like a comics novice in here. I'm definitely writing down recommendations of what to read as a reward, when I finish this current ms. Usually I know what I like and I go for it, but I'm thinking I need to try some new things. Definitely some more McCloud too, he is awesome.

And Anna, I'm very jealous of you hearing Art Speigelman. I used to teach bits of MAUS to my yr 7 kids at school--they were blown away by it.

EilisFlynn said...

Funny you mention the Watchmen -- The Hub was a marketing guy at DC (not when I was there), and he was involved in the initial marketing for that book! And when Eastman & Laird, the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, came out with the book, The Hub picked it up and wrote them a note about its originality -- they wrote back, happy their work had gotten attention! (This was a LONG time ago.)

And comic strips are where comic books started from! Of course you can count those!

Louisa Cornell said...

Jane, you caught him! Wonder what sort of comic book we could make out of the GR's adventures?

Julie, what a fascinating interview and what a great idea for a book!

I used the Maus series of comics in my Holocaust class when I taught high school. I designed and taught the first Holocaust class in the area. Even though I have retired from teaching the class is still used in a couple of schools, something of which I am very proud. The Maus comics were perfect for getting teenagers interested in the subject.

I will confess to being a huge Calvin and Hobbes and Far Side fan.

Now when it comes to the tried and true really old comics I am a Superman, Batman and Archie and Jughead reader.

Oh and I inherited all of my Dad's Andy Capp comic books. He bought them when we lived in England and they are a real treasure!

Cassondra said...

Hi Julie, and welcome back!

I am NOT a fan of comics. It's tragic. I think it's because I was exposed to so few of them as a kid.

I do, however, LOVE the concept of this book.

And I am so envious of your learning about comic writing and production. Because I want to know everything.

Thank you for sharing this with us, and a huge thanks to Anna, for having Julie back!

Cassondra said...

Oh, and congrats Jane! (high five)

Becke Davis said...

A young man I mentored in high school was and is a comic book fanatic. He recently had an article published about the first gay kiss in a comic book:

Becke Davis said...

Wrong link (although that was another comic book related article he wrote):

Lynz Pickles said...

Man, of all the days for my Internet to act up!

Julie: Aw, shucks. You made me blush! I never really though about the similarities between comics and the romance genre, but you're so right. Don't forget that both have booming online communities, too! Also, I love love love books which explain comics/manga in comic/manga format. Last year, Wired featured an article on the state of the manga industry in Japan. They also included a ten-page story on the history of manga, in manga format. I loved that issue. And while Monster may be my favourite, I've read plenty of other great series and would be happy to recommend some good ones - any specific genres you're interested in?

Anna: Aw, shucks again. I don't think I'm amazing, I just think that all my math and science smarts got sucked into the languages part of my brain. I may be able to ask how you're doing in several languages, but give me anything more complex than simple addition and I'm in trouble. It all evens out that way. And I'm so jealous of you for getting to hear Art Spiegelman speak!

Joan, you said: The characters mouths did not MOVE in sync with their speech. This is why I'm not a fan of dubs, though I have to admit that modern dubbing is a lot better at lining the voices up with the mouths. But I totally feel your pain. (Though Anna is right about Ghibli, if you're ever willing to give anime a try again, you should start there.)

Nancy, you said: He met his girlfriend at DragonCon, when she stopped to talk to him because he was dressed as one of her favorite anime characters. Awwwwwwwwwww, that's so cute! Who was he dressed as? And I thought your comment about understanding how your parents felt was hilarious. Also, I think that in some respects I agree with your class. Reading manga is indeed becoming more acceptable, but I don't really see that change towards North American comics. I do see a change in attitude toward graphic novels, though, especially ones which have been made into movies. And Archie is marrying Veronica? What? When did this happen? And most importantly, WHY? Why Veronica when Betty's clearly the better choice? What a stupid, stupid fictional boy. Hmph.

Eilis: I bow to your awesomeness, oh great one! No, kanji in most manga isn't too complex, and usually comes with furigana. The exception to that rule is seinen, especially the more mature titles. Since they're directed at an older age range, I think the expectation is that readers should be able to understand kanji already.

Minna: that Dangerous Women joke? The best thing I've seen all week. Nice find there.

EilisFlynn said...

Lynz, the languages portion and the math portion is the same part of the brain, isn't it? And music? Busy, ain't it?!

Lynz Pickles said...

Lynz, the languages portion and the math portion is the same part of the brain, isn't it? And music? Busy, ain't it?!

I know they're all supposed to be in the same portion, but I'm pretty convinced my math skills got sick of the noise the language and music parts were making while practicing and moved out to a portion of my brain which then proceeded to shut down. Because I'm good at languages and music, I really am, but I was lucky to pass math at all.

Llehn said...

I love, love, love comics especially Neil Gaiman's Sandman series! It totally blew my mind and introduced me to the likes of Alan Moore, Mike carey, Bill Willingham, Kurt Busiek, just to name a few.

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks for all the fascinating info and insights Eilis!

Anna Sugden said...

Yes, comic strips count, Becke. That's where it all begins!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Louisa about Andy Capp - he and Fred Bassett are always good for a giggle.

I love The Far Side too. Oh, and I forgot Dilbert - which is so spot on, it's unbelievable. The stuff he did about teachers as well as the stuff about business.

Anna Sugden said...

Graphic novels may change your mind, Cassondra. Maus is certainly one that has changed a lot of people ... brought them over to the four-colour side!

Anna Sugden said...

Lynz - I know how you feel. I think my artistic skills disappeared into a black hole somewhere. I know what I like, but can't make anything and have it turn out right (except possibly cross-stitch).

Anna Sugden said...

Ooh forgot one other thing - I have been to Persepolis! Many, many years ago.

traveler said...

Welcome Julie,
Congratulations on your new releasse. It looks amazing and wonderful.
Comics are always a delight for me and my favorite one is For Better or Worse.

Janet Mullany said...

Hey Julie,
Can't wait to read Girl from Mars--what an awesome cover LBD gave you! My daughter (whom you met in DC) is a major comics fan as you probably know, and she forced me to read Maus which I thought was brilliant but I haven't read any other in, uh, years.
Great post.

Keira Soleore said...

Hooray, Julie's book is out. I'm still very bummed that her publisher didn't have any at the book signing in DC. *grumbles* I wanted a signed copy. *more grumbles*

Thanks to the Banditas, I was introduced to Julie's brand of brilliant humor. Since then, I've read every one of her books and cannot dream of not doing so.

As far as comics go, how come no one is showing Phantom any love? Talk about that love story. And ooh that river scene where we get to see Phantom's back? *thud*

Agree with Janet's comment. LBD does the most marvelous covers.

Keira Soleore said...

Persepolis, Vrai? WOW! Lucky you. Some day I'll visit Cyrus and Darius's great kingdoms.

Julie Cohen said...

Okay, so I had to finish revisions (on my next book, NINA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM) and I missed out on a lot of the discussion here. But lovely Hostess Anna has done such a fab job that I'm sure I wasn't even missed.

I do have to say I'm looking forward to the Romance Bandits comic—CABANA BOYS GONE WILD!

Nancy said: The analysis of social attitudes toward romance and toward comics is dead on. When someone in a movie is reading a comic, it's a signal that the person is both stupid and a thug.

Except in Kevin Smith movies, of course. But it's true. It's another reason the topic appealed to me to write about, because I love writing outsiders. My heroine's parents are university lecturers in English, and they're totally bemused by my heroine's choice of career. They think she's far too intelligent to be drawing comics. It drives her crazy.

Nancy said: When the dh and I went to London, I was eager to visit Forbidden Planet, the comics shop.

There's a scene in GIRL FROM MARS set in Forbidden Planet in London. :-)

I'm going to look for Colleen Doran's work and Jones's history. Thanks for the recommendations.

Anna, I'm going to have to go to a memorabilia fair with you and DH. It sounds fantastic.

I am quite shocked to learn that Archie is marrying Veronica. Betty was WAY better.

I love Asterix!

LOL Anna C, you must have been astronomically disappointed not to be able to use "astronomical"! This is only one of the many reasons I write contemporaries...

Louisa, I think MAUS is such a good way of teaching the Holocaust. It's accessible, and yet it doesn't pull punches.

Becke, you must be so proud of your student!

Lynz, for manga recommendations, I'd need a gripping plot, blow-you-away art, and..well it'd have to be in English. :-) I will look for Monster.

Llehn, a fellow Sandman fan! "The Doll's House" has to be one of my favourite comics ever.

Janet...yes, I have a signed original cartoon by your daughter! She is awesome.

Keira, I was disappointed about the lit signing too. My publisher did send the books, but the postal system apparently ate them. Somewhere, there's a box with lots of copies of my books in it. Possibly floating out on space...

Sorry for all the people I've missed. But I have LOVED this discussion and I'm going to be saving it for reference. And I hope if you pick up GIRL FROM MARS, you enjoy the rest of the story. :-)