Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent English-language release of your graphic novel series, A House Divided: The Accursed Inheritance of Henrietta Achilles, with Lerner Publishing Group! As life-long friends and creative partners, what inspired this action/adventure series?
Marius Pawlitza: Thank you! Since we were kids, we've been playing roleplaying games like Dungeon & Dragons, Warhammer Fantasy, Dark Heresy, Shadowrun, and more. When we started creating A House Divided, one of the biggest inspirations was that special feeling of a Dungeon & Dragons campaign with all those epic and funny moments we enjoyed so much.
Haiko Hörnig: The other big influence, especially on the look, were classic 2D animated Disney movies and the films of Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki! We loved the look of flat-colored characters with bold outlines in front of lavishly painted backgrounds and tried to create something similar for our story.
BD: Given your frequent collaboration efforts, how would you describe your shared creative process, and do you find that there is a shorthand to your work together?
MP: Yes, it's a bit like telepathy! The good thing about having a writer who is not only your best friend but also your long-term Dungeon Master is that you know exactly what – and how - he's thinking. It is very rewarding to share a common vision and bring it to live.
HH: I think the big thing is, there's a lot of trust. I know Marius pretty well, and I try to write scenes that play to his strengths as an artist. We also like to do page layouts together, so we usually sit at the same table and start scribbling panels, and then cut and paste them on a fresh sheet of paper until we have a finished “Frankenboard” we're both happy with.
BD: In light of A House Divided’s popularity in Germany, what are you most looking forward to in sharing the series with new readers?
HH: You always hope your work resonates with as many people as possible, and unlike France or Italy, comics are still a very small market in Germany. So, for me, it's just very exciting to be able to reach so many more potential readers!
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Henrietta’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
MP: When I was a kid, I was home alone a lot. My parents immigrated from Poland to Germany and had a difficult time with multiple jobs. I had to entertain myself and I think especially at this time, the stories I read, watched, or played affected me and shaped me in a way – a positive way. The idea that our story could do the same with somebody else on this planet is just mind-boggling!
HH: Henrietta is a pretty normal kid who's forced to deal with enormous challenges. And instead of running away, like the adults do, she stands her ground. I think we could all use a little bit of hope and inspiration in these trying times.
BD: What makes Lerner Publishing Group the perfect home for A House Divided?
HH: The good folks at Lerner have plenty of experience when it comes to publishing European comics and immediately understood the particular mix of humor and intrigue we were going for.
MP: They were also very open to suggestions and supported us every step of the way. This was probably the smoothest working relationship with a publisher I ever had!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MP: It takes a crazy amount of time to produce several 100-page, full-color comic books; that’s why my only big upcoming project at the moment is "completing A House Divided." Right now, we are putting finishing touches on book three. And after that, we will immediately start with the fourth and final book!
HH: I'm currently working on a screenplay for an animated feature film, and in my downtime I'm rewriting the script for A House Divided book 4. The next big project after that is sleep training my 6-month-old son (which will probably take longer than all comic books together!).
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about A House Divided and your other work?
HH: You can follow us on Instagram @ahousedividedcomic for updates on the next books, or hit me up on Twitter (@derGrafX). Marius is @pengboom on Twitter and Instagram, but he never checks his notifications.
MP: I'm just too busy drawing! But you can also check out our website, www.pengboom.de. Currently, it's under construction, but it should be up and running in a few weeks!