With the ringing of a cell phone and a shower of rose petals, bookish teenage Lin transforms from an ordinary new-girl-in-town to a badass, spear-wielding superhero ready to battle a binary villain in the pages of Hope Larson’s newest graphic novel, “Who Is AC?” Larson, who is best known for her winsome, magical works including “Chiggers,” “Mercury” and her recent adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” is approaching the superhero genre for the first time — with a twist.
This stand-alone book, illustrated by Tintin Pantoja, is closer to shojo manga and anime than your typical cape-and-cowl hero comic: think “Sailor Moon” with an extra helping of quick-witted, sarcastic humor. Pantoja compliments Larson’s fiercely independent characters with bold black and white artwork that blossoms into purple highlights when Lin becomes her alter ego, AC.
An unlikely heroine, Lin would rather spend her time creating a ‘zine for the local bookstore shelves than fighting bad guys. However, an unseen world of magic-via-technology infiltrates Lin’s reality, forcing her to save the day rather than simply writing about it. No pressure, right? Wrong. An anonymous blogger has a lot to say about the new hero in town, and isn’t shy about sharing his or her scathing reviews. Between trading blows and mending mistakes, Lin begins to discover exactly who she is, and who she wants to become.
â€¨Comic Book Resources spoke with Larson about her new work, digging a little deeper into the story, her collaboration with Pantoja and the possibility of finding more answers to the question, “Who Is AC?”
CBR News: I love that your first superhero story is still quite nerdy at its core, Lin being a writer, and technology being the platform for her powers. What inspired you to tell a superhero story?
I see her as a person who doesn’t think she’s brave or strong, and wishes she were. She’s writing a character who’s strong in ways she wishes she could be, but isn’t (in her opinion).
I noticed that the ideas both Lin and Melly put out into the world came to influence their character arcs. Melly’s sadness and negativity made her vulnerable to an attack — do you believe that the ideas you put out into the world will realize themselves?
The way you choose to frame yourself influences the way others see you. The persona you choose, online or off, does have an effect, which is why so many people are concerned with their online ‘brand.’ But what I was thinking about while writing the book is how the Internet has become aÂ receptacleÂ for the deepest, darkest feelings of so many people — including me — and what if someone could take the secret outpourings of your heart and turn them back on you?
I read that you andÂ TintinÂ were interested in writing more AC stories. Any updates on plans for future AC books?
I would love to, because this was conceived as the first book in a series. It’s the pilot episode — self-contained, but we’ve just introduced the cast. We’re just getting started. Whether or not we get the chance to draw additional books depends upon how well this one sells.
If you do get the opportunity to continue the story, what kind of powers could we expect to see evolve in Lin?
That would be a spoiler!
Hope Larson and Tintin Pantoja’s “Who Is AC?” is available in bookstores now and in comic shops April 24.