Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the graphic novel anthology, Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World, from Knopf Books for Young Readers and award-winning indie print magazine Kazoo! As the Editor-in-Chief of Kazoo, how would you describe the genesis of this anthology, and what remained the driving force and theme of the collected stories and artwork?
Erin Bried: Thank you so much! This anthology felt like a natural extension of our magazine. In every issue, we run a 6-page True Tales comic about a woman who’s made history, and her life always relates to the theme of the issue. For instance, Julia Child was beloved in part for laughing off her mistakes and persisting through them, so we featured her in our Magnificent Mistakes issue. We featured Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the world, in our Explorers Issue and pilot Bessie Coleman in our Flight Issue. But the book isn’t just a completion of comics we’ve already run. Most of them are completely new!
Kazoo’s mission is to celebrate girls for being strong, smart, fierce, and true to themselves, and everything we do supports that mission. I’m so thrilled to introduce our young readers not only to so many of these amazing and powerful women in history—stories they may not otherwise learn—but also the amazing and powerful artists—all women and non-binary—who brought those stories to life.
BD: Given that Kazoo is best known for its quarterly magazine, what made this project the ideal opportunity to move into book publishing, and do you have interest in pursuing other publishing opportunities in the future?
EB: Absolutely! We have a two-book deal with Knopf, and Noisemakers is the first. Beyond those first two, I have a million other ideas for future books we could create, and I certainly hope to have the opportunity to make them one day.
BD: What can you tell us about your approach to managing the various (and supremely talented) creators associated with the book in order to ensure a cohesive narrative?
EB: The book is broken into chapters, much the magazine: Explore, Grow, Create, Tinker, Play, and Rally. So, it made it easy to wrap our brains around. If you’d say make comics about any 25 amazing women in history, it’d be really tough to narrow down the field. But if you said, find 3 to 5 women who changed the way we think of building, or art, or activism, then it becomes an easier process.
Each comic is prefaced by a checklist, where we highlight character traits of each hero. We want our readers to see themselves in each of these women. For instance, the idea of becoming a world-famous paleontologist might sound like an impossible or distant dream for an 8-year-old, but if she realizes that she has all the same qualities that Mary Anning had—a love of climbing, drawing, digging for seashells—then it feels a lot closer and more possible. We want to get across the idea that greatness that resides in each of our featured Noisemakers also resides in every girl reading the book. She, too, can be anything. That’s the thread that ties the whole book together.
BD: What age group(s) do you feel would be most appropriate for Noisemakers, and what do you hope that readers will take away from the anthology?
EB: Our magazine is targeted to 5 to 12-year-olds, so we had those kids in mind when we wrote the book, but, honestly, I wouldn’t put an age limit on the readers who might enjoy these stories. Even if you know them already, the artists have given them new life. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented women and non-binary creators. Each of them put something special into their comics, and you won’t find that anywhere else, especially all in one place.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you would like to share with our readers?
EB: We’ve got big plans for the magazine this year, and we’re 100% subscriber-funded, so I hope that everyone who loves Noisemakers will also subscribe and love Kazoo just as much. We’ve worked with some incredible contributors, including Stacey Abrams, Alison Bechdel, Elizabeth Warren, Margaret Atwood, Misty Copeland, and the US Women’s Soccer team. And we run original fiction by top women authors in every issue, including Meg Wolitzer, Kristen Arnett, Angela Flournoy, Erin Entrada Kelly and others.
BD: Lastly, where can our readers find more information about Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World and Kazoo magazine?