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Fanbase Press Interviews Norm Harper on the Upcoming Deluxe Edition Release of the Fantastical Coming-of-Age Graphic Novel, ‘Haphaven,’ with Oni Press

The following is an interview with writer Norm Harper (Rikki, The Sequels) regarding the upcoming deluxe edition release of the graphic novel, Haphaven, through Oni Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Harper about the exciting additions to this deluxe version of the graphic novel, his experience in revisiting his work with artist Louie Joyce, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the Haphaven Deluxe Edition! For those readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story?

Norm Harper: Haphaven is the story of Alex Mills, a thirteen-year-old girl who is incredibly superstitious. One day, after a fight with her mom over how tightly Alex has been holding to these superstitions, she impetuously steps on a crack and, sure enough, it breaks her mother’s back. That night, Alex is shocked to meet Hubbub, a warrior leprechaun from a magical world called Haphaven who has come to help Alex heal her mother. Haphaven, you see, is the magical world from which all of Earth’s superstitions draw their power. It’s the reason why certain actions or talismans are good luck and certain ones bring bad luck. Hubbub promises Alex that if she goes with him to retrieve a rabbit’s foot, it will have the power needed to heal her mother. But, of course, this journey doesn’t go exactly as planned, and Alex finds herself part of a much larger conflict that her family has been embroiled in for many, many years. Louie Joyce and I had a ton of fun sending Alex on this perilous quest and crafting a larger, overarching mythology for nearly every superstition you can think of – from spilling salt to knocking on wood, black cats, and four-leaf clovers.

BD: What will readers have in store with this new expanded edition of the story?

NH: The story itself is pretty much the same as the 2019 edition. We have gone in and cleaned a few things up, but this isn’t like a director’s cut where we’ve put deleted scenes back in or anything that impacts the narrative. That said, we have added a lot of backmatter, which gives some really great insight into Louie’s art process for the pages. There’s also some info on how the entire team worked together to develop some of the characters, world, and lore. So, I definitely think this new edition has something to offer people who loved the original release, as well as people who will be traveling to Haphaven for the first time.

BD: In looking back at the creation and development of the project, what can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Louie Joyce that really made this story unique?

NH: Working with Louie was such a blast, because of the way our interests intersect and especially in how they diverge from each other. We had a shared vision for the project from the 10,000-foot view, so we were always aligned on the big picture part of it. But Louie and I have such different individual inspirations as creators, and that would really prove itself out in terms of the little details. So often the work he turned in was exactly what I’d described, while also being nothing like I’d imagined it looking. And that kind of thing is so invigorating and keeps you excited through the whole process. Opening his pages was always like unwrapping a gift. You know how you can sometimes tell from the shape or the weight of a present what it is – oh, this is a hardcover book or a box of LEGO…but which book, which LEGO set? It was like that. This is going to be the page I’d written, but what did he do that’s going to surprise me?

BD: What makes Oni Press the perfect home for this story?

NH: Oni Press is sort of a double blessing as a home for Haphaven. On the one hand, a lot of the team who helped us release the original edition at Lion Forge are at Oni now. But, also, the new leadership at Oni seems to really be embracing the publisher’s history of putting out these very left of center, counter culture type books with strong artistic visions. And, while Haphaven is definitely a kid-friendly read, I think it wrestles with some themes about challenging dogma and institutions that allow it to fit very neatly into the space Oni tries to aim for on the comic shelves.

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 Alex’s story has connected with and impacted readers?

NH: Well, as mentioned, I hope it’s inspiring readers to think about those themes of challenging dogma and institutions. In the book, Alex ultimately is given a very hard choice; in order to save her mom, she has to hurt someone else. That’s what her dogma tells her is the right thing to do. But does she agree? And if she doesn’t think it is, what else can she do? “Make your own luck” is a way I’ve seen a lot of reviews sum up the book’s themes, and I think that’s just another way of saying the same thing. Because a lot of forging your own path in life, or charting your own destiny, comes from determining right from wrong for yourself. And that’s ultimately what Alex has to learn to do.

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

NH: Yes! Firstly, I should mention that Louie Joyce is writing and drawing a new miniseries for IDW called Godzilla: Skate or Die, and issue #1 drops the week after the new Haphaven edition. It combines his love of kaiju with his involvement in the skating culture in Australia. I think it’s going to be total blast, and readers who love his art should definitely check that out.

 Additionally, I’m working with artist Meaghan Carter on a new miniseries coming to Kickstarter this summer called The Iron Barge. It’s a road-trip adventure about a prisoner and his captor who go on the run to evade a band of pirates that are looking to extract their revenge on the prisoner…but the twist is it’s a talking animal adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Imagine Mouse Guard meets Mad Max. It’s some of the most fun world building I’ve ever done, and Meaghan’s as adept at drawing adorable animals as she is at crafting kinetic fight scenes. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about the Haphaven Deluxe Edition and your other work?

NH: I’m “thatnormdude” on all the social medias: Twitter, Instagram, Blue Sky, etc. And my website is Also, make sure you’re following Louie as “louiejoyce” on Twitter and Instagram, too.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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