After chatting with comic book editor and writer Mariah Huehner during Comic Chat, we talked more about Emily and the Strangers with Mariah and creator of Emily the Strange and founder of Cosmic Debris, Rob Reger. Check out the interview below to learn more about Emily’s transition from skateboard graphic icon to comic book series rockstar!
Geek & Sundry: Thank you for joining us! What originally attracted you to Emily? What is it about Emily that you find draws people to her?
Rob Reger: For me, there was a sense that this could be a character that had more than meets the eye, and that it could be fun to develop her and her dark world. For others, it’s a number of things, I think. There has always been the appeal of an underdog (or cat?) and an outsider that is okay in her own skin. We all have felt like that at some point in our lives. She has always had an attitude and creative spirit that is also hard to resist. Also, she loves cats- at least half the word loves cats!
Mariah Huehner: Emily is very do it yourself and has a lot of drive. Her goal is to win the Kraken guitar and the second I saw it I knew I could write this comic!
G&S: Have there been any challenges with adapting Emily the Strange into a comic book series?
RR: Initially, it was tricky to create stories that could last longer than a few pages. My in-house team and I were very used to “telling a story” in a single T-shirt design with a single phrase. The adaptation into short stories pretty easily, but the longer stuff (beyond the jokes) was challenging. It was many issues of comics before it felt right to have a longer story that demanded another issue to follow the previous in the series. I think this is key to any book series; it’s a delicate balance of finishing a comic book leaving the reader satisfied, but also wanting to know and read more.
MH: For me, the biggest challenge for writing Emily was finding her voice. She’s a bit snarky so I had to get her voice right. [Emily’s] not a bully, but she can be pushy at times. I’m not like that at all so there was a bit of a struggle in the beginning.
G&S: Has the process of writing a comic book series changed Emily as a character?
RR: The process of writing a compelling story has created the need to find the “weaknesses” within Emily. [We needed] to show her vulnerabilities and how she overcomes and deals with those. Had it not been for trying to tell a bigger story about her, I likely would have continued to just show her as the uncompromising kick-ass creative character all the time. But in asking the question, “where is her weakness?” we open the book up to challengers, villains, stuff to take action on, and we get to see “what Emily would do” in such situations. Ultimately, writing stories creates a mythology and deepens the world around her in a way that product and graphic design alone cannot.
MH: A character needs to have a realistic flaw. For Emily, that is working with others and now she has to work with her band! By the end, she’s still herself and is a bit of a loner, but she knows how to work with others.
G&S: For Rob, how has working with writers/ artists like Mariah and Dark Horse been for you?
RR: It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Mariah. She understands and can craft better scripts to read that allow for the artist to help tell the story. Mariah is very clear about what needs to be drawn in each panel and how the art helps tell the story beyond the words. I think she has a great sense of timing and she allows Emily to be vulnerable with a character arc without losing the sense of who she is.
G&S: For Mariah, how has working with Rob and Dark Horse been for you?
MH: Rob is a sweetheart of a guy… He could easily be really protective [of the Emily property] because it is a personal thing for him, but he’s been great! After the first series, he really trusts me. Dark Horse has been great, too. If I was having a bad time with this project, I would let people know.
G&S: What adventures would you like to see Emily go on next?
RR: Eventually, I’d like to see Emily explore the adventures and challenges of a more mature girl. Specifically, the leap from how she sees the world at 13 years old to how she might see and deal with the world at 16.
MH: I would love to do a “Just Emily” story. We’ve been focusing a lot on the rock and not her other talents. Maybe [a storyline] more focused on science and Emily building a creature or her own Frankenstein and see the creative way she approaches situations. I’d also love to see her time travel!
Looking forward to more Emily and the Strangers? Check out these release dates from Dark Horse Comics!
- #1 for $1 reprint of Emily and the Strangers #1: April 16, 2014
- Emily and the Strangers: The Battle of The Bands HC: May 14, 2014
- Emily and the Strangers: Breaking the Record #1: June 25, 2014
- Emily and the Strangers: Breaking the Record #2: July 30, 2014
- Emily and the Strangers: Breaking the Record #3: August 27, 2014
Featured Emily and the Strangers artwork by Cat Farris. For more Emily and the Strangers comics, please visit DarkHorse.com. Check out more of Mariah Huehner’s work on her blog, Squidy Girl, and follow her on Twitter!
Interview by Brittany Sandler. Follow her on Twitter!