Katie O’Neill asks fellow Harvey Award winner Jen Wang, 3 Questions
The 2018 Harvey for Best Children or Young Adult Book was a tie between Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second) and Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society (Oni Press).
To celebrate these wonderful graphic novels, the CBC Graphic Committee invited each winning creator to ask the other “3 Questions”. This Creator Feature is the first of two.
O’Neill: The Prince and the Dressmaker perfectly captures that timeless fairytale feeling- what do you think are the important elements of creating a modern fairytale?
Wang: I feel like this answer depends on what fairytales represent to the individual creator! For me I tend to enjoy stories set in the real world, and the thing that makes it fairytale are the things we fantasize about in our real lives. In The Prince and the Dressmaker, the characters live in the real world (as opposed to an explicitly sci-fi or fantasy world) but it touches on that desire we all have to feel special and glamorous. Most of us will never become a princess or walk a red carpet or attend a huge fashion show, but we can experience that feeling through characters we relate to.
O’Neill: If you were able to give advice to your younger self as a creative, what would it be?
Wang: This is a tricky question because a lot of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a creative were things I had to experience for myself. But broadly, I would say: sleep more! Your work will be better if you’re healthy and well-rested!
O’Neill: What would be your no-holds-barred dream project if you had the opportunity?
Wang: These days I’m learning a lot about community and how my role as an artist can be a part of that. I’d love to create a program that would give young readers in book desert communities in Los Angeles (where I live) free access to comics. Librarians and teachers tell me all the time how much their kids who aren’t big readers love comics and I’d love to be able to expand on that!
About Jen Wang
Jen Wang is a cartoonist, author and illustrator living in Los Angeles. She is the author of The Prince and the Dressmaker, Koko Be Good, and co-author of the New York Times Bestselling graphic novel In Real Life with Cory Doctorow. Her work has also appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, The Believer, Hazlitt, Slate, and McSweeney’s. She has also written for the Adventure Time and Lumberjanes comic series. She is the co-founder and organizer of the annual festival Comics Arts Los Angeles.
About Katie O’Neill
Katie O’Neill is an illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. Author of Princess Princess Ever After, The Tea Dragon Society, and the newly-released Aquicorn Cove, she has received Eisner, Harvey and Dwayne McDuffie awards for her graphic novels for children. She mostly makes gentle fantasy stories for younger readers, and is very interested in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life.