“We like each other and we drive each other crazy—that’s a good match for writing,” says Richard Scrimger, describing partnering with fellow Canadian author Marthe Jocelyn on Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book (Tundra, May), illustrated by Claudia Davila. In the book, partly told in comic panels, a boy and a girl who meet at ComicCon fall through a portal inside a comic book drawn by the girl’s eccentric uncle Viminy, and navigate through an adventure there.
“The idea was something we batted around at a library conference in Toronto,” says Scrimger. “We thought it would be much easier to each write half a book than a whole book. And early on we knew that we wanted to have a story within a story. But I’ve never co-authored before. It turns out that it’s just us being ourselves at age 13, pretty much.” Though Jocelyn and Scrimger say that “nailing down” the plot was relatively easy, the project took on new complexity when it came to mapping out its comic-book inspiration. “We found ourselves very aware of the limitations of the medium,” says Jocelyn; neither of them had done a comic before, though Jocelyn had worked on picture and board books. “Each page turn really meant something.” Scrimger agrees. “The way that Claudia visualized the story really helped us,” he notes. “But the hard part came toward the end, when we were synching the art and text.” As a result, the creators had a marathon work weekend. “The three of us were at a big conference table looking at the mock-up,” Scrimger recalls. Jocelyn adds, “We spent 19 hours without shifting from our chairs.”
But both authors agree that the challenges were well worth the effort. “For all the tears we shed trying to work with what was new to us in a couple of ways, it has been a whole lot of fun,” says Scrimger. “And the idea of readers having a whole lot of fun is what kept us going.”
“It’s always fun to have a lineup of cheery book lovers at signings,” says Jocelyn of BEA. At the show, she’s prepared for “the basic networking stuff, booth hopping, glad-handing,” and also hopes to visit local family and friends while in New York. With any of his time away from Javits, Scrimger plans to “walk the streets looking for music, off-off-Broadway theater, and cool indie stuff. How freakin’ cool is it to just walk around in New York?”
Jocelyn and Scrimger will sign finished copies of Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book today, 2:30–3 p.m., at Table 9 in the autographing area.