The best books in life are the one you’re surprised by — the ones where you see the cover and think, “Huh. This looks cool.”…and then you don’t come up for air until you’ve read all the way through to the end. That’s what happened with Lora Innes’s The Dreamer. There’s a beautiful young girl on the cover of the graphic novel with 18th century trousers, a tricorn hat, and a tied-up t-shirt with an American-flag heart on it. In the backdrop is the old thirteen-colony flag I haven’t seen since grade school. “She’s cute,” I thought, and picked it up. In the first three pages, Bea kisses some hot Revolutionary War soldier on the deck of a ship and then wakes up in her own bed here in the twenty-first century. How many girls haven’t wanted to do THAT in their lives?
I burned through the graphic novel and then went online to read some more. I became more and more a fan of author/illustrator Lora Innes with every page, and now I’ve made myself a note to drop back by the website every Friday to see what’s new. Give it a shot yourself — you can read the whole comic online at www.thedreamercomic.com. And then you can be jealous of me for getting to do this here interview with the Author, Artist, and Wonder Woman Herself.
Alethea Kontis: What inspired you to do a web comic?
Lora Innes: I didn’t think anyone would actually publish The Dreamer on a pitch alone. (“Chaste, high school girl with average sized boobs dreams about history, and… she kisses a boy.”) But I thought it was worth publishing even if it didn’t fit into the comic book norm, so I decided to try it out on the web. If it got big enough I figured someone would want it. And someone did. It just surprised me that it was IDW.
AK: Is getting two pages posted to the website every week easy or hard?
LI: Actually, it’s the bane of my existence. I always feel sheepish when I miss an update because other webcomics update much more frequently than I do, and readers expect that. I don’t know how other people do it, but for me, it’s my full-time job, and I still struggle with meeting deadlines. (It’s not because I’m a procrastinator, either. I work all the time, ask any one of my friends who is waiting to have coffee with me or wants me to return a phone call.) I have to put all of the business/management/networking tasks on top of the writing/drawing/coloring, and the workload really becomes enormous for just one person.
AK: My kid sister and I used to spend hours making up dresses for Betty & Veronica. How fun is it to draw Bea’s 18th century wardrobe?
LI: Well, so far Bea has only worn one dress in the 18th century so I haven’t been able to dress her up too much. I have more fun doing the 21st Century clothes, actually, just because I get to draw new outfits for every character each issue. I really do love drawing the Continental Uniforms, though, I won’t lie. I’ve always loved drawing historical soldiers….
AK: Did you act in High School?
LI: Nope. Secretly I wanted to, though. My sisters & I always played ‘pretend’ so I was an actress at home, way longer than was socially appropriate.
AK: What/Who is your favorite romance novel/author?
IL: Hmm… I don’t read much romance. I love romance, but usually when it’s a part of a bigger story, not the story itself. I’d have to say Jane Austen. And my favorite of her books is Mansfield Park… though… that’s a romance between cousins and maybe we shouldn’t go there.
AK: Bea and I both have pink iPods. What color is your iPod? What’s the first song that pops up when you press play?
LI: It’s blue! But it wears a kelly green skin that matches my kelly green converse sneakers when I go walking. The most played song on there is “Stolen” by Dashboard Confessional. To me, that’s Alan & Bea’s song, and I listen to it all the time when I go walking to come up with ideas for The Dreamer. (Bea is actually listening to that song on her pink iPod in Issue #2 when she’s getting ready for her date with Ben.)
AK: What’s your favorite kind of apple? Do you take your family apple-picking?
LI: My favorite kind of apple is my Mac Pro Tower. Oh–like the kind you eat? Mike and I buy Gala Apples a lot. I like Jazz Apples too, but they’re 20 cents more and I can never justify the excess.
I spent my entire trip to New England last year hunting down the infamous Warren Russet Apple that Joseph Warren’s family developed and is still grown as an heirloom apple in Massachusetts. I wanted to taste it so badly, because it’s the kind of apple that Alan Warren would grow. But we came back to Ohio without ever having found some. Only after I got home did I find out that it’s also known as the Roxbury Russet, and we definitely had seen those at farmer’s markets! I was so disappointed. But I found a guy who grows them at Hocking Hills about an hour from me here in Ohio, and this fall nothing will stop me from tasting the Warren Apples!
As for picking apples with my family, we had a small orchard in our backyard growing up and I mostly remember having to throw all the rotten ones into the creek. It smelled like cider. Sometimes I get nostalgic for it now, though I hated it then.
AK: What’s the last dream you remember having?
LI: Last night I had a dream that my best friend told me in a very intense way that I didn’t measure up. Most of my dreams are actually emotionally traumatic like that. I wish I had dreams like Bea.
AK: What was your favorite book as a child?
LI: It was always changing. I remember one little Scholastic book I bought at a school book fair called The Empty Grave. That book creeped me out and I could only bring myself to read it about once a year, but I secretly loved it.
I also loved The Enormous Egg, probably mostly because I wanted my own pet dinosaur. But really, who didn’t?
AK: Who, in your opinion, is the coolest X-Men character?
LI: The thing I always loved about the X-Men was that they were a team, but a team of hotheads and loners. Because of that they were most interesting when they were together interacting. But if I had to pick just one: Gambit. The Ragin’ Cajun will probably always have my heart.
AK: If you could be any superhero, who would it be?
LI: Rogue. For obvious reasons.