The following is an interview with Jennie Wood and Dozerdraws regarding the upcoming release of the coming-of-age graphic novel, Paper Planes, through Mad Cave Studios. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Wood and Dozerdraws about their shared creative process in bringing the story to life, what they hope that readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Paper Planes! Jennie, I believe that this story to be a personally meaning one for you for a variety of reasons. What can you share with us about your inspiration for bringing this story to life?
Jennie Wood: Thank you, Barbra! The opportunity to write Paper Planes came during the pandemic, shortly after I found out that a close grade school friend had passed away. The news of her death sent me down a rabbit hole of grade school friendships, how they leave their mark on you, and help shape who you become – even if you don’t stay in touch, which is often the case. I re-read Stephen King’s The Body. I rewatched Stand By Me. Thankfully, around this time, Erica Schultz approached me on behalf of Mad Cave Studios to write a graphic novel about an intense grade school friendship that gets tested after the two end up at a summer camp for troubled youth. So, I got the opportunity to write this story at the exact moment I needed and wanted to write this story. I still can’t believe the timing – what a gift!
BD: Dozer, did you have a specific art style in mind when you first read the concept for Paper Planes, or do you feel that your design evolved over time after working through the script with Jennie?
Dozerdraws: The story takes place on two levels; the present and the past. I wanted to use a clean art style for all present-time scenes and because the flashbacks are such an important part of our story, we wanted those to stand out. The lineart in the flashbacks is a little rougher, and I worked with paper textures to get an old photo album kind of look. The color palette of the past is simpler than in the present scenes, but not less saturated. It was a lot of fun to brainstorm with Jennie and Erica (our wonderful editor) about how to create this contrast but still end up with a homogenous look for the entire story.
BD: The story is an incredibly impactful one, tackling not only the processing of traumatic events for youth, but also in providing a wonderful vessel for a non-binary lead character. How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story to life on the page?
DD: Since we’re both nonbinary, working on this book was especially personal to us. Reading Jennie’s scripts, I felt a deep connection with Dylan (and Leighton at times), which helped me bring their emotions to the pages. The book is a very personal and emotional one, so hitting those beats was super important to me.JW: Dozer and I were on the same page from day one. They just got the story and the characters exactly. They made it come to life – exactly what was in my head or in many cases even better. Every time Dozer shared a new chapter of the art, my reaction was YES! Working on this book was definitely one of the rare experiences where we were all on the same page from beginning to end – artist, writer, editors, letterer Micah Myers, and the entire Mad Cave staff. Erica Schultz, our main editor on this book, is a longtime friend of mine. With that friendship came a lot of trust. She knows my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and as a person. She knew when and how to nudge me, and I think Paper Planes is a better book for it!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Leighton and Dylan’s story will connect with and impact readers?
JW: In the midst of a lot of internal and external turbulence, both Leighton and Dylan are able to accept and embrace who they are. My hope is that readers will read Paper Planes and be reminded that no matter who they are or where they are in life, they are amazing and SO worthy of being seen and loved however they wish to be seen and loved.
BD: What makes Made Cave Studios the perfect home for this story?
JW: Mad Cave Studios and their YA imprint Maverick are committed to creating and publishing stories with a lot of representation, and stories about embracing who you are. They want people who usually don’t see themselves in books to open the pages of a Mad Cave or Maverick book and see someone who looks and/or feels like them. Also, everyone at Mad Cave is so thoughtful and respectful. It’s a very safe space, a refuge for creators who want to tell stories like Paper Planes.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DD: It looks like I’ll keep making comics in the future. But with the projects yet to be announced, I can’t share any more details at the moment 😉
JW: I’m currently doing final revisions on my second YA novel, New Romantics, which is loosely based on my experiences in a high school performing group. I’m also in the early stages of a new YA graphic novel. More info to come on both of those projects. In the meantime, I’ll have new work in John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight, Volume 9, which is coming this September from Storm King Comics.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Paper Planes and your other work?
DD: You can find Paper Planes on the MadCave website, and I’m mostly active on Instagram and Twitter where my handle is @littledozerbaby.
JW: You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter. My handle is @jenniewoodndid for both. My website, jenniewood.com, is the best place for more on my work and upcoming events.