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Fanbase Press Interviews Mel Valentine Vargas on the Upcoming Release of the Graphic Novel Adaptation, ‘Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass’

The following is an interview with Mel Valentine Vargas regarding the upcoming release of the graphic novel adaptation, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, through Candlewick. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Vargas about their creative experience in bringing the award-winning novel (originally written by Meg Medina) to the sequential art medium, what they hope that readers may take away from the story, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass! What are you most excited for readers to experience with this adaptation of the award-winning YA novel?

Mel Valentine Vargas: Thank you! Meg Medina and I are very excited about it! I hope that having this book adapted as a graphic novel will both satisfy fans who cherish the original while also reaching new people who will love and see themselves in this story. 

BD: The creative process of approaching an adaptation of a prior work – especially one as well received as Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass – can be a daunting experience. How would you describe your approach to breathing new life into the story through the sequential art medium, and what did you find to be most rewarding/challenging about the process?

MVV: Firstly, I read my copy of the original book twice in preparation for this graphic novel. I actually did not know this book existed before I got presented with this project, which is crazy since I would have LOVED to read this as a teen. My copy now is so well loved, full of highlighter marks, notes, and color coded sticky notes.

I tried keeping the story as similar as possible to the original while also sprinkling it with more modern takes so that it stays relevant, though it wasn’t hard considering Meg wrote it out so perfectly already. It’s such a relatable story that it’s not truly necessary to change much in order to make it shine as a graphic novel.

BD: What makes Candlewick the perfect home for this story?

MVV: Candlewick has worked with Meg Medina for years, so I knew that there was going to be a lot of love put into this book from the whole team. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to work on this with skilled people who were familiar with the original and couldn’t wait to see this book blossom. 

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 Piddy’s story will connect with and impact readers?

MVV: No matter how you slice it, Piddy’s story is as relevant as it was ten years ago. Heck, it was relevant 100 years ago. What person hasn’t dealt with feeling different, family tension, friend drama, crushes, or bullies? It is imperative that stories like this continue to be told, because people need to know that they are not alone, that things will get better, and that they will survive.

For those who perhaps do not see themselves in Piddy, read this anyway. I would hate for people to think that because they do not fit into all the categories that Piddy does, that they shouldn’t pick up this book. In fact, I think it is important for us to push ourselves to read books about those that are different from us, so that we may understand others better.

BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

MVV: My next full length graphic novel, Pillow Talk, written by Stephanie Cooke and illustrated by me, will be out in 2024. Other projects are in the works, too, so keep your eyes peeled. 

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and your other work?

MVV: Readers can find more of my work on my Instagram (@Onlinevalentine), and if you have any questions or thoughts, you can email me at Melvalentinev (at) gmail (dot)com. 

I hope you all love the book as much as I loved working on it!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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