Meet Cartoonist, Writer, and Dessert Blogger Abby Denson
By Sally Deering
Imagine a place called Dolltopia where renegade dolls change the
world. That scenario is lifted from the plot of “Dolltopia” (Green Candy Press; paperback) one of several graphic novels by cartoonist, writer and dessert blogger Abby Denson.
The author of “Tough Love; High School Confidential” (Northwest Press; paperback) about a teenage boy coming out in high school; and the non-fiction work “Cool Japan Guide” (Tuttle Publishing, Paperback) on how to get around Japan, Denson earned a BFA from the Parsons School of Design in New York. She has written for the “Amazing Spider-Man Family”, “Josie and the Pussycats”, “The Powerpuff Girls”, “The Simpsons”, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Disney Adventures, and Nickelodeon Magazine.
Recently, Denson made an appearance at the Washington LIVE! Festival in Union City; and she will be at New York’s Comic Con in October.
RVO: Can you tell our readers how you got interested in cartooning?
AD: It started in elementary school. My friends and I would pass notes to each other and we would draw little comic books about day-to-day life in school. I had a younger brother and he and I would buy comic books. My favorite was “X-Men”. It has a large ensemble, and powerful female characters. Then I started getting into Indie comics like “Love and Rockets” and “Ranma ½” by Manga artist Rumiko Takahashi.
RVO: After attending Parsons School of Design, you got work writing stories for some popular comic book publishers? What was the process when writing for DC and Marvel?
AD: Writing for the format was a lot like working on a screenplay. The story comes first. Then the artist draws it. Interestingly when I was working on “Archie” they asked me to do some sketches; the artist followed a little pencil drawing I did.
RVO: How did you get into cartooning and writing long-form comic books?
AD: “Tough Love” was my first official book, I did that in 1996, I made a mini-comic and self-published. XY, a magazine for young gay kids ran it in serial form. “Tough Love” is about a teenage boy coming out in high school. Ultimately, Northwest published it. I then worked on Dolltopia.
RVO: Your book Dolltopia won a Bronze International Manga Award, and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. What is Dolltopia about?
AD: It’s about a ballerina doll that comes off the factory line, gets purchased by a girl and becomes under her control. The girl makes her play house with a male doll, but she’s not happy. She says I’m sick of this, I’m sick of you, and she runs away. She meets up with a soldier doll; they are both running away from their pre-ordained roles. They find Dolltopia a city of renegade dolls.
RVO: Can you tell us about your new book “Cool Japan Guide”?
AD: It’s the culmination of a very long interest in Japan. While I was in school, I went to Sophia University in Tokyo which has a summer session. From 2010 to now I’ve gone almost every year. I visit and have friends there. I had my honeymoon there. I made a mini comic about Japan. That led me to “Cool Japan Guide”. It’s my first color and non-fiction book.
RVO: Can you share a couple of tips from the Cool Japan Guide?
AD: it’s important to do certain things before you go to Japan. If you‘re going to travel outside Tokyo, you’ll want to purchase a Japan Rail Pass. You need to order it before you leave America. You have to go to a travel agency for a Japan Rail pass. Then you bring the voucher to the agent in Japan, show your Passport and they’ll give you the rail pass. It’s an “all you can ride “pass. It can be quite expensive but with the pass it’s cheaper.
Another tip: The Ghibli Museum (www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/) is a very famous animation studio, the equivalent of Disney. They have a museum, but you have to pre-buy the tickets before you go to Japan. They are the hottest tickets.
RVO: And you also write a dessert blog?
AD: Since 2008, I’ve been writing dessert blogs for CitySweetTooth.com
RVO: Are you working on a new book?
AD: I’m working on another travel book, non-fiction.
RVO: What is it about creating comic books that appeals to you?
AD: I do it because I enjoy. It. When you’re doing indie comics, when you’re the writer and artist, you’re in total control. You’re in your own world.
For more info on Abby Denson’s books and dessert blog
If you go
Thurs-Sun, Oct 8-11
New York Comic Con
Jacob K. Javitz Center
655 W 34th St, NYC