It’s been amazing to be in this world of authors and readers as Missouri Vaun (http://www.MissouriVaun.com). After years of creating comics, using my great-grandmother’s name allowed me to write in a different voice. I was able to tell more serious stories, but I realized after the first few novels came out that I missed my comedic roots.
I had basically stopped creating new Jane’s World (http://www.pb9.com) comics so that I’d have time to work on the Missouri Vaun novels. But that meant walking away from a character that had basically been a constant companion every night since 1995. After working all day I’d come home and stay up until the wee hours of the morning crafting Jane’s universe. Jane, Dorothy, Chelle and Ethan have been there for me through up times and down times. Through lonely nights, new jobs, cross-country moves, and break-ups Jane has been there.
My friend, Terry Moore, who created “Strangers in Paradise,” (http://www.strangersinparadise.com/) said to me once, “good characters are a gift.” He’s right. And after working on the Missouri Vaun novels I realized I missed these characters. It was really fun to delve back into their psyches and their deeper motivations, but comedy is in my nature. So the Jane’s World novel has affirming friendships, unrequited crushes, sharks, rogue waves, luxury yachts, trailer park hijinks, surly cats and a sweet romance.
Jane started back in 1991, originally pitched as a single panel comic for the Women News section of The Chicago Tribune. The editor passed on the comic at the time, but there was something about Jane. I kinda liked her.
By 1995, I was working for The Atlanta Constitution. I’d leave work around 9:00 p.m. Most of my friends who had day jobs were in for the night, so I’d entertain myself by eating a giant bowl of Frosted Flakes, watching episodes of Silk Stalkings and drawing Jane comics with a sharpie marker. As you can see, this was a highly sophisticated development process. Some might refer to this sort of process as “organic” or “intuitive.” But you will know the truth. Jane’s World was the result of too much refined sugar, bad TV and sleep depravation.
Fast forward to 2001. Jane’s World, became the first gay-themed work to receive online distribution by a national media syndicate in the U.S. And then, eleven comic book collections later here we are: Jane’s World, the novel.
After writing a few manuscripts for Bold Strokes Books as Missouri Vaun, I sheepishly asked Sandy Lowe if she thought Radclyffe would ever be interested in publishing a Jane’s World novel. Rad said yes!
Then the panic set in. Could Jane truly break out of her comic book world and be a novel?
The process for creating a comic is very different and I had a really hard time switching gears. After a few false starts trying to get the narrative moving in the right direction, my wife, Evelyn suggested I visualize drawing the story first. Genius. Once I started visualizing the story, the whole narrative came together with a bonus of 14 illustrations published in the novel.
And listen, don’t worry if you’ve never read the comics, because you won’t be lost. I wrote the book as a standalone story. I hope readers enjoy it and that it makes people laugh. Most of all, I hope readers fall in love with Jane just like I have.