Blog/ Writing

Continuity, comics, prose, etc.

As most of y’all who read this regularly know, I’ve published two novels and several short comics. Two of my comics feature characters who also appear in the novels: “Me and Edith Head” is about Katrina Lansdale from Empress of the World, and it takes place before Empress happens. “Click” is about Battle Hall Davies, who is in both Empress of the World and The Rules for Hearts; “Click” takes place between the two novels.

Claire Hennessey recently asked some good questions: “What are your thoughts on that kind of mixed-format (sort-of) series/continuity – have you had readers tell you they weren’t going to catch up with Katrina or Battle in graphic format because they wanted a novel version instead?

I think the comics can be a way into the novels, and vice versa, but I don’t know if my readers would agree. (Would you?) I’m not sure how much crossover there is between the audiences. Nobody’s told me they wouldn’t read a comic because they wanted a novel, though I think there are a few Empress fans who won’t read Rules because what they want is more Nicola Lancaster. But when someone asks me when my next book is coming out, and the answer (as it so often is) is No Time Soon, I’ll point them toward the comics.

As regards continuity, I often write to answer my own questions. Rules came about because after I wrote Empress, I found that I wondered the most about Battle and her brother. I wrote “Me and Edith Head” because I knew Katrina hadn’t always been a costumer, and I wanted to figure out how she found her way into that world. I wrote “Click” because I wanted to know what happened to Battle between the Empress summer and the summer of Rules. There are things I’ve wondered about Isaac Shawn, and — yes — about Nicola Lancaster, and maybe they’ll find their way into short comics, too.

The comics are also a way for me to revisit characters without committing to entire novels about them.

Hmm, am I saying that the comics are flings and the novels are long-term relationships? Not a bad analogy, but it will only hold until I write a graphic novel, which I hope to do at some point.

Do you think/know/hope many of the Rules readers have read “Click,” and does it make much of a difference if they have, and do you think it would be different if it had been a prose in-between story/novella?”

I really don’t know. It’s certainly not hard to find; all you need to do is, well, click, but I don’t know how many Rules readers have. I try to make all my work readable as stand-alone pieces, but also to make it more rewarding if you’ve read other things I’ve written. You don’t need to have read Empress to read Rules, but if you have, you’ll get resonances that you wouldn’t otherwise. Ditto for “Click.”

And I’ve always liked it when characters who were protagonists in one story show up in cameos in another. I think Battle’s brother might someday cross paths with Flytrap Circus, f’rinstance, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Nicola Lancaster was in the orchestra that went to Vienna in Einbahnstrasse Waltz.

Would it be different if the short stories were prose? Possibly. It’s hard for me to consider, because I find short prose stories far more difficult to write than short comics, so I can’t really imagine writing them. I need to get over this, clearly, but right now, the only short form I’m comfortable working in is comics.

The next question I’m going to answer is from Zoe Trope.

Do you have a question, too? Ask, and I will answer it!

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  • Claire
    December 13, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Yay for answers! This was really interesting to read. For the record, I’m not a visual-type person at all, and feel like I don’t exactly ‘get’ comics, but I did really like ‘Me and Edith Head’ and ‘Click’. Though I probably wouldn’t have read them had it not been for their quasi-tie-in-to-the-books nature.