Manga Madness

July 2nd, 2007

ONE MORE DAY, people! One more day until Avalon High: Coronation, Volume 1: The Merlin Prophecy hits shelves (that would be the Meg Cabot shelf in the YA section of your local bookstore, AND the manga section).

Here’s the thing I posted to my Myspace blog (with some added photos and links and some commentary), since I know a lot of people had problems accessing it (I know He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog kept getting an error message. Even though I have asked him repeatedly not to read my blog or to go to Myspace, since it only causes him to have a heart attack when he sees what I wrote about him: “My EYE? You wrote about how I poked myself in the EYE?”):

I’ll admit it: I was one of the kids who used to yell at the clerk at the corner store to hurry up and restock the comic book spinner store every Wednesday when the new issues came in. I was addicted to Spiderman, X-men, and, most of all, Star Wars.

(Yes, I still have my collection. No, you can’t have them. They’re mine.)

I also spent hours writing and illustrating my own comic books (which, when I look at them now, I realize are pretty sad looking….And no, you may not see them. Well…okay, here’s a link to a few). I graduated from college with a B.A. in fine arts, and even moved to New York City determined to get hired as a freelance illustrator, hopefully with a major comic book line.

(Oh, wait, I forgot, I also collected The Mighty Isis.)

But writing turned out to be where my real talent lay. When Tokyopop contacted me through my publisher about the possibility of writing a manga, I said yes right away! All my old dreams of one day creating my own comic book came rushing back—only this was even better, because I’d be working with a professional illustrator, and could concentrate all my efforts on creating a killer story, writing realistic dialogue, and developing characters that readers could relate to.

(Now I collect Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic books. They are fantastic. To order your own, go here.)

I’m sure there are tons of people out there who, like me, have always dreamed of writing their own comic book or manga (mangas in some ways are even better than comic books, because they’re longer, and give readers more of a chance to get into the story), but don’t know how. It turns out there’s no standard format for how a manga should be written (believe me…it’s the first thing I asked)! Tokyopop sent me a few sample “scripts.” Some were written like a book, with tons of detail, and some were written more like screenplays, leaving a lot of the decisions up to the artist…which is how I chose to write mine.

Here’s an example from the script of the Merlin Prophecy that I handed in:

(Show: Ellie’s bedroom)

Will (stepping away from Ellie): “Wait—when did we decide this?”

Ellie: “Today. At the mall. What’s wrong?

Will: “What’s wrong? What’s wrong is that you made plans with them without even asking me first if I wanted to see them.”

Ellie (confused): “Will. This is good news. Your mom wants a reconciliation. I thought–”

Will: “No, you didn’t. That’s the problem. You didn’t think. At least, not about me.”

Ellie (looking hurt): “Will. You’re all I think about.”

See? Not a lot of detail there…but based on the character sketches I’d received from Jinky Coronado, the artist who’d be bringing Will, Ellie, and their friends to life, I knew she didn’t need huge amounts of direction from me. Tokyopop had given me character sketches from a number of artists, all of whom had been given copies of Avalon High–my paranormal novel about a young girl who may—or may not—be attending the same high school as the modern reincarnation of a teen King Arthur–to read. Out of all the sketches, I felt Jinky’s most closely captured the spirit of my characters, which is why I chose her to illustrate the sequel.

So when writing my script, I kept that in mind…Jinky had already captured the essence of the characters. Let her capture the essence of my story, too. It isn’t easy for a novelist, who’s used to working by herself, to let go of the reins like that…but I’m so glad I did, because the end result is just beautiful!

And don’t think when I’m in Indiana next week, I’m not going to go to that old corner store and show it to the clerk…except I’m pretty sure he’s not there anymore.

But I’m going to make sure Avalon High: Coronation is!


Sorry this photo is so bad, but I still don’t have a scanner in Key West—I do in Indiana, though. Anyway, I am including these panels from Star Wars Volume 1, Number 23, May 1979 issue to show that George Lucas had NO IDEA that Luke and Leia were brother and sister at that time, because not ONLY does he have them making out in the novel Splinter of a Mind’s Eye, but they are making out here, where Wheel Administrator Greyshade, who is warm for Princess Leia’s form, is forcing her to marry him, or he’ll kill Luke (a few panels before, Luke almost beats up a guy because, as he puts it, he’s about to lose the girl he loves). I will translate the dialogue for you:

First panel, Leia to Luke: “There’s still time to say good-bye. Whatever you feel about my decision, it’s time we may never have again.”

Luke to Leia: “I—I—”

Second panel, Luke: “I guess that’s what bothers me most.”

Then they kiss.

Narrative: The embrace is clumsy, the kiss awkward. But as he watches from the yacht’s hatchway, Wheel administrator Simon Greyshade senses feeling and emotion he can never know.

Me, looking back at this comic years later, after having seen Return of the Jedi: GROSS!!!! SO GROSS!!!!!!! SHE FRENCHED HER BROTHER!!!! EW!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, George Lucas. You scarred me for life. And then you did it AGAIN with Star Wars episodes I-III. If you think I am going to see Indiana Jones IV you are insane (unless Karen Allen is in it).

Oh yeah—CHECK OUT AVALON HIGH MERLIN PROPHECY. THERE IS LOADS OF MAKING OUT BUT NO ONE TURNS OUT TO BE ANYONE’S SISTER, I PROMISE!

More later.

Much love,

Meg