Graphic novel publisher BOOM! Studios announced plans to publish Girl on Film, a graphic memoir by noted YA novelist and comics writer Cecil Castellucci, in November 2019.
Castellucci will collaborate with four different artists to create the book: Vicky Leta, Jon Berg, V. Gagnon, and Melissa Duffy.
In addition to writing prose and graphic novels, Castellucci collaborated with artist Nate Powell on the prose/comics hybrid The Year of the Beasts and has written two opera librettos, most recently for Hockey Noir: The Opera. As a teenager, she attended New York’s LaGuardia School of the Performing Arts, and in the 1990s, she was a member of the indie band Nerdy Girl.
PW talked to Castellucci about her experiences and her plans for Girl on Film.
Your love of art and storytelling started when you saw the first Star Wars movie. What changed in that moment?
Seeing Star Wars was an inciting moment for me. When I (SPOILER!) saw that Darth Vader had spun away from the Death Star and hadn’t died, I knew that the story could continue. I wanted it to continue and I understood that someone would be tasked with the writing of that story. I wanted to be that person. So that whole summer I begged my parents to take me to see Star Wars over and over and over again (and we went to Europe that summer, so I saw it in French, English, Flemish) because I wanted to see and experience that moment.
How did you move between theater, music, and writing?
For a long time I thought that I had to choose one. I even had people in my life say to me, you have to choose a direction. But after a while, I realized that they were all the same thing. They were all different modes of telling a story. I always felt a little jealous that visual artists could choose the tool, pencil, pastel, water color, oils, ink, etc, to draw their picture. But it struck me at some point in my thirties that a song, a comic, a play, a movie, a novel, a libretto are also tools. And whichever one you use to tell your story colors the way that it’s told.
Why do you find writing more satisfactory than the other things you have done?
Writing is more satisfying because it’s the spark that can billow out into any other art form. It’s the big bang.
Did you read comics as a kid?
Oh yes! I cut my teeth on Batman, Peanuts, and Tintin when I was little, even before I could read. When I was in Montreal making music, there were comics being made all around me and that was really inspiring. I loved comics and always thought that it was something that I would like to do. I just didn’t know how you got to do that if you weren’t an artist. Lucky for me, comics asked me to come dance.
Did you start out writing novels and then transition to comics? Do you still write novels?
I did start out as a prose writer. I mean, technically, I started out as a lyricist. Which I still kind of have been doing in the opera librettos that I’ve been writing. But yes, I still write novels.
Why are you working with four different artists for this book?
When talking with my brilliant editor Sierra Hahn, we realized that since we organized the stories into different eras of my life and with the flavor of different film genres, that it might be cool to have different artists take on those aspects to show the fluidity of how we tell a story and also how we remember things about our own lives differently and not quite the same. I’m thrilled to be working with the very talented artists Jon Berg, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagnon, and Vicky Leta to depict those different memories of my life.
The book description says it “depicts the nuanced connection between experience and memory.” Can you explain that a bit more?
My dad is a retired neurobiologist. His specialty was the mechanics of memory, so the way that our brain remembers and forgets. When I was starting to think about the book and trying to remember how I got from there to here, I started thinking about how my relationship to the stories that I tell about myself waxed and waned over time. The book looks at the way that I remember things alongside conversations about memory with my dad to try to figure out why and how things change about how we remember and forget.