Hotels and Whodunnits: Hope Larson Talks Teen Detectives and Comics for Kids at ECCC
Over the last few years, Boom! Studios has made huge strides in the all-ages market, through their KaBoom! imprint. The imprint focuses on books aimed at kids, publishing original works by talents like Roger Langridge, Becky Dreistadt, and Mike Kunkel alongside popular licenses like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Over The Garden Wall.
That the publisher has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards for their all-ages books is a testament to their commitment to making high quality, kid-friendly material—it’s arguable that no other publisher in the direct market is doing as much for all-ages books as Boom!
Available this week on Boom!/KaBoom! is Goldie Vance, a new original series from creators Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Batgirl) and Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker, a.k.a Hellcat). The highly anticipated series follows Marigold “Goldie” Vance, an aspiring teenage detective who spends the majority of her time at the Crossed Palms Resort, where she works. It’s a great book, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can check our preview of it here.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Larson for a few minutes at Emerald City Comic Con, where we talked a bit about Goldie Vance, the difference of writing for a series versus a full length graphic novel, and how to get more comics in kids’ hands.
Matt Carter: How’s the con been so far?
Hope Larson: It’s been great, I haven’t been to ECCC in 6 or 7 years, and it’s really changed a lot since then, for the better. It was a good show then, but now it’s like, the crowd just seems really inclusive. There are so many families and little kids, the cosplay’s amazing, and I’d always heard before that it was a great indie show, and I think it’s really true now.
MC: That’s what I found, as well. There’s a lot of representation here, for independent creators, women, kids, it’s everyone.
Your new series, Goldie Vance, comes out this Wednesday, and I’ve already pre-ordered it. Is this your first creator owned series?
HL: It is! It’s actually my first series, period. I’ve never done issues before.
MC: Yeah, you’ve done a lot of full-length graphic novel work, and web comics work. How did you come to Goldie?
HL: I was contacted by Daphna [Pleban] and Shannon [Watters], my editors at Boom! and they asked me to pitch a girl detective book, and I thought that sounded like an awesome idea, and definitely sounded like something I wanted to write. So I pitched them, and it came together really fast. Brittney came on board almost immediately, so we had this great team on board before we even knew what this great project was going to be, which is a pretty cool way to work. Usually, when I’m doing graphic novels, I will write a full script, and I will sell on outline or on script, and an artist will come in after the script is locked and revised, and gone over a million times, so it’s really cool to have an artist come in and actually be a co-creator in a true sense. And it’s so much fun to play with this format which is pretty new to me.
MC: I know Brittney has a background in character design, did she handle that aspect of the book in this case as well?
HL: I wrote character descriptions that were not physical in any sense, they were basically like, “this is what Goldie’s personality is like, and she’s grown up at this hotel, and she’s into this that and the other, she’s into cars, she likes to fix things, and she’s got a lot of energy, she’s spunky.”
MC: Tell me about the hotel, that’s an interesting setting, I don’t think it’s one you see very often in comics.
HL: Goldie works in the hotel, and spends most of her time there. I have this long term fascination with old hotels and specifically from like, the ’20s and ’30s and ’40s, and I sort of see this hotel as a place that’s been around since the glamorous ’20s in Florida, and now it’s the ’60s, so it’s gone through a couple incarnations. It has some history and the main thing that I like about the hotel idea is that you have this little world unto itself…all kinds of people who work there and interact with it differently. It’s almost like a feudal thing, because you’ve got the guy who owns the hotel who is like ‘the king,’ and then you’ve got everybody that works there, and there are levels of power, and secret passageways—there aren’t actually any in the book, but there could be, in the future! Goldie knows all the ins and outs of this place and she knows everybody, so it’s just a great place to set a mystery series.
And people are always coming through, that’s the other thing that’s really great. Tourists are always coming to this hotel to stay there, so you could have people from anywhere in the world with any kinds of motives, and when you travel, you’re not the same person you are at home, so that’s a cool thing to play with.
MC: Just to sum it up for people that don’t know about the book, what would you want them to know about this before they even picked it up?
HL: It’s a pretty classic Nancy Drew type story. I pitch it as Eloise of the Plaza Hotel meets Nancy Drew. It’s like if Eloise grew up and started solving mysteries, that would be Goldie Vance.
MC: And she’s got a supporting cast, too?
HL: Yes, her best friend Cheryl works the front desk. Another friend Rob is her friend co-valet. Goldie’s job is to valet, so she parks cars at the hotel. And she has friends outside of the hotel. It’s set in this small beach town, so she knows all the people in town as well, because her mom works in the town.
MC: So you have been around comics for a while, and it seems you’ve finally hit a stride between this and your upcoming Batgirl series, what is it like to move from one world to the other?
HL: So I’ve been doing comics professionally for 12 years or something like that, and mostly I work with book publishers like Simon and Schuster and Macmillan, and the direct market is a completely different world. The fans are much more engaged and vocal, which is really cool, and things come out really fast, as opposed to writing a graphic novel and two years later, three years later, it comes out, and people think you haven’t been working and you’ve just gone away; really you’ve been working the whole time. As opposed to the direct market, where I pitched Goldie in September, it’s April now, and the first issue is coming out, which is really fast. And then it’s going to be one a month.
MC: Did you write the whole thing at once?
HL: For this I wrote the whole thing, because it’s a mini-series, and because it’s a mystery, I had to focus and make sure everything made sense and that my clues were in there. Writing it was not super different than writing a graphic novel. Now I’m working on Batgirl, too, which is a completely different writing experience, because it’s not a mystery, so you don’t have to know every single detail ahead of time.
MC: Many creators, when I talk to them today, they say, “Oh, I got into comics when I was 8 years old, and knew that’s what I wanted to do.” It can be a little difficult or intimidating, I think, for a parent to walk into a comic store and find comics for their kids these days, though. What influenced you, and what books today would you recommend for that next generation of creators?
HL: Well, there is a huge kids comics market, but it’s mostly on the book publishing side. So something like Raina Telgemeier, everybody’s kids are reading that, her work is so important to everybody. Faith Erin Hicks is doing great stuff at FirstSecond, Gillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, and then on the direct market side, I really like Gotham Academy—there’s a preview for the Gotham Academy/Lumberjanes crossover in the back of Goldie #1. I’m really psyched for that because I really like both of those books and those are two that I’d recommend to younger readers.
MC: Is there hope on your end for a Goldie on-going? Is that something you’d be interested in doing?
HL: We hope it works out that way, but we don’t know yet. We just set all of this up, and it’d be great to take it on the road.
Project-Nerd would like to thank Hope Larson for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit with us for this interview. Goldie Vance is available at your local comic shop.